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BOB MERRILL/Tell Me Your Troubles-Songs by Joe Bushkin Vol. 1: Merrill and his trumpet have given us some great music in the past, but based on this effort, we are creating a new genre---son in law music. Merrill, the son in law of Sinatra pianist Bushkin, is the latest in a growing line of cats that are son in laws of some of the greats in danger of being forgotten that are keeping the music alive. Assembling a Sinatra worthy cast of contemporary jazzbos to lend a hand, this overview of the Bushkin/DeVries catalog swings and is leavened with the kind of love that can only come from appreciating these tunes up close and personally. While many are celebrating Dizzy Gillespie's centennial this year, Merrill tosses in a worthy ‘ahem, over here' that draws attention to the cats behind the cats. Nostalgia? Nope, killer stuff throughout whether you're a classic jazz vocal fan or not. Power to the son in laws!

VANCOUVER INTER-CULTURAL ORCHESTRA & LAUDATE SINGERS/Mystics & Lovers: And you thought you had to wait for some big budget movie to produce a soundtrack that sounds as sweeping and grand as this date! A brainiac record that has a classical music feel, this orchestra commissioned two cross cultural, middle eastern based pieces and delivers the goods with such ferocity, even a metal head would stop and give pause to digest the extravaganza on parade here. This is the sitting down listening experience of the year and you don't even have to be an egghead to get it. Well done throughout, this is a shining example of the passion it takes to keep classical music fresh and being more than a retreading of war horse repertoire.

IVOR S.K./Montserrat: Talk about your nu blues for nu times...S.K. is a white boy with the blues, but he's a young ‘un from Australia with a thing for Caribbean islands---and it all turns up in the mix. With that Delta tinge in his voice, he plays all the instruments on this romp for future frat boys to come. Moldy figs might not want to take a byte but those young adults you see whooping it up in contemporary beer commercials need to have this blasting at their next deck party. An original that knows how to make it his own, this is a wonderful peek at the future of back porch blues. Check it out.

MINKA/Born in the Viper Room: You knew contemporary frat party bands couldn't all be R&B/blues rock fans and here's the proof. These stars of the underground are house party champions keeping the uber underground alive and well. With no pretension and loads of humor and good cheer, these Devo meets Bowie revivalists seem like they are out to amuse themselves even more than they are out to amuse you. Easily in the tradition of left leaning rock bands that inspire massive cults, if you get it, you know you're part of a big tribe that identifies each other in passing with a nod and a wink. Check it out.

WALT WEISKOPF/Fountain of Youth: No matter how much fad and fashion slog meat and potatoes, there must be a reason why you keep coming back to it. This is a lofty meat and potatoes record. The sax man surrounds himself with Posi-Tone all stars for a classic blowing date that grabs you right out of the box. Playing around the horn with every one getting some, this set probably has Norman Granz looking down and saying "if I only could have made one more record...". A solid, hard hitting swinging date, this is a fine example of what you come back to after you've been to somewhere and found it was no where at all. Killer stuff throughout.

JEFF DALE & JEFF STONE/Southside Lives: Go Google these guys, their blues resumes are authentic. That said, these two lifelong friends form the south side of Chicago finally got to make the guitar/harp/vocal date of their dreams. An all original program, these white boys felt it and lived it making it all their lives along the way. A back porch take on urban blues, they might not have picked no cotton or had hell hounds on their tails but these guys give a better lesson in the blues than some far removed pedant professor could. It might not be authentic but it's as authentic as it gets and I smell some Handy recognition in the wind. Killer stuff, particularly for contemporary ears.

BEN BOSTICK: If you can make a living busking, that's really taking it to the people and knowing how to give them what they want. Bostick, an insurgent/outside country singer/songwriter with hippie/outlaw looks knows how to cut to the chase. Not with the same kind of radicalism Kristofferson had in his time but with an independent streak that carries the same velocity, Bostick's songs are meaty bones with a lot of what the real muso fans to gnaw on and think about. Tasty stuff for brainy countryaniacs.

SHERYL CROW/Be Myself: After 25 years of rock star boy friends, dipping her pen in angst and Nashville inkwells and other changes, we now find that through it all, all Crow wants to do it have some fun. How well does she do with competing with her younger self? The amateuristic rough edges that made "Tuesday Night Music Club" both endearing and annoying are gone making this a mature, polished version of same. Channeling Joni Mitchell if Mitchell was a young writer today, there's something here that reaches across then generations that the Internet won't let her deny. A solid pop effort that stands above a lot of today's offerings.

JENNA MAMMINA & ROLF STURM/Begin to Dance: Take a top flight acoustic guitarist, a top flight jazz vocalist, cast them as an acoustic folk duo that avoids every cliché out there by mixing Michael Johnson with Prince with Cheap Trick with ooga chukka with Nat Cole and a track by "Jerome" Garcia and more and you get one of the great records you don't know how to classify ever. Gift shop? Nope. Back porch? Nope. A shining example of doing more with less, you could almost call this mediation music for people that rock. Just call it a great record and enjoy it. Well done throughout.

WILD NOW/Afterglow ep: Little girl vocals and malcontent lyrics with murky music running underneath it all, this is a crème puff aimed right for the guts of malcontent young ladies whose hormones are raging with the heartiest of their metal head boy friend peers. The underground is alive and well.

Volume 40/Number 189
May 9, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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