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MICHAEL KAESHAMMER/Keashammer: This guy doesn't sound like Dave Frishberg, but he's got a lot of that Frishberg hipster vibe and attitude. Keashammer is more of a showman and this record sounds like it had more of a budget than Frishberg's biggest budget record, but the seeds are such sown. An anti-Buble, this cat is a mainstream entertainer that's bubbly and effusive but he doesn't seem to be pitching himself to the blue haired crowd. Any time you aren't feeling too cool for school, you can let this cat do the work while you sit back and enjoy some of snappiest jazz/pop you are going to hear this year. A winner throughout.

JOSHUA: A diversion project from the two principals involved, this is some serious outsider/malcontent music that will either clear a room or keep hangers on transfixed, but there will be no middle ground. If your collection is top heavy in Tom Waits, you will be sure to get what's going on here.

BRIAN MOLNAR & THE Naked Hearts/Of the Fall: These Brooklyn cowboys should make Jack Elliot proud as they continue to push the boundaries of Americana in sound and spirit beyond what has become an ossification too frequent in the form. Fusing, pop, country, folk and concise lyrics that hit hard and fast tied together with Arlo Guthrie inspired vocals, this is grand folk music for now times. Put it this way, if you play this in the car, you might find yourself hitting the eject button less often than you think when the 11 tracks have run their course. Well done.

MORTEN SCHANTZ TRIO/Conveyance: This young Dane brings something of a minimalist approach to his piano playing showing his ECM influences, but he's actually too young to take the classic ECM vibe to heart. Sitting down jazz all the way, he's certainly one to keep and eye and ear on for the future.

BUDDY GUY/Icon: Oh, I don't want to be an old fussy pants, but if you have the 20th Century Masters collection that came out almost 10 years ago to the day, you already have this collection of highlights from Guy's seven year stay as a front liner at Chess (with a ringer thrown in). Since there's new fans coming on line all the time when there's a long, active career, if you weren't paying attention 10 years ago and are into some deep west side blues now, this distillation will show you why Guy was one of the top blues guitar slingers in town (Chi-town, that is).

BING CROSBY/Icon: It might be corny now, but there was a time when Crosby was the face of American popular song and these songs on this collection were the cornerstone of it all. Even if you do think it's corny, it is pretty irresistible. Hell, if you think it's corny you're just a jerk--this is fun stuff, even when it does get overly sentimental.

CHRIS WEST/Surprise Trilogy Disc 2: In which we find West pulling another rabbit out of his hat with a wild gumbo of jazz that you wouldn't expect to emanate from Nashville. Fusing traditional and pomo moves, West, his sax and his pals, all of which are national luminaries, cut loose with some over the top blowing that takes you around the horn and back again. Always smart and high octane, this is classic and classy in vibe and spirit. It's a tasty jumping in point if you haven't already. Well done.

ADDIS ACOUSTIC PROJECT/Tewesta Remembrance: This certainly isn't the high octane stuff you normally expect to come out of Africa which shows there's a lot more going on there than we're getting to hear. An incredibly hypnotic set from Ethiopia, this isn't vacation or gift shop music. It isn't inaccessible ethnic music. It's simply killer stuff, simply but elegantly played that grabs adult ears and just doesn't let go. The disc is packed out at 76 minutes and it all goes by too quickly. This music encourages you to get lost in your thoughts opening up delightful visions that you won't want to get out of your head. Amazing stuff that open eared adults need to hear when every day life needs to be shut out for a while.

Volume 34/Number 271
July 31, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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