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DAFNIS PRIETO SEXTET/Triangles & Circles: We're always glad to see it when the recipient of some serious arts council money doesn't let it take away from his elemental funk. McArthur grant awardee Prieto hasn't shed any of his Afro-Cuban roots in the process of cashing those checks. If anything, he's taken it closer to the streets. Adding more angular elements to the mix, Prieto takes it after hours for some blue lights in the church basement in Spanish Harlem where these jazz muscles are really given room to flex. Hot stuff throughout.

GHOST TOWN BLUES BAND/Hard Road to Hoe: I wanted to say this set was called "Hard Road You Ho" but their hard working publicist would call me saying there was a mistake that he hopes I would fix because he works too hard to catch that it was a joke. So, no joking around. What we have here is a crew that's just too indie to have ever fitted in with Stax or Capricorn even if that's where they would have belonged. A Memphis bunch that sounds like they've paid the dues, they sound like the cross pollination that happened when the north Mississippi cats headed to Memphis for some bbq and wound up in the studio after hours making the music they wanted to make even if they were the only ones that would hear it. Crowd funded, real southern rocking roots music, if you are hip enough to play this set you have to be prepared to pass the jelly glass (not Mason jar) full of whiskey and let the good times roll. Find out for yourself why these cats are this close to winning it all at International Blues Competition. Killer stuff.

MICHAEL WILLIAM GILBERT/Secret Stories: A veteran studio cat that has long since perfected the art of the neon tan, this electronic whiz could easily pass himself off as the heir apparent to Bernie Krause. Just when you think you know where this record is going to take you, the tour de force takes a turn you don't expect moving you from Africa to Windham Hill to more and other realms that keep you engaged just to hear where it's going next. His tastes are hip and wide ranging enough to have Bill Bruford and Mino Cinelu hanging out on the same record, even if only electronically. Certainly not for noodling fans, this is real pro playing at the top of his game and you root for him not to electrocute himself. Well done.

TOOTS LORRAINE/Make it Easy: If nobody out there remembers Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, Lorraine and her hubby are going to be a mind blowing experience for people that like it old school and bluesy. Putting more neuvo in the retro-neuvo mix than Smith did, this set of mostly originals sound like Memphis Minnie sides you just don't remember hearing. Tipping her hat just a touch to the real old school, Toots Lorraine (what a great name for a swinging, bluesy thrush) teases you just enough on record to make you want to see here when she comes rolling into your town. Modern west coast blues sounds like a great place to be if this is any evidence. Hot stuff throughout.

ERNESTINE ANDERSON/Swings the Penthouse: Is High Note starting an archival line? These recordings have to be over 50 years old and are just seeing the byte of day for the first time in any format. Recorded a while after her official solo debut, we find Anderson here swinging it in Seattle with a small group that knows how to deliver the goods and let her shine. Earning the title bestowed upon her shortly before this as one of the best new voices in the business, the live audience shows their appreciation and agreeance. Kicking it out on a set of what have become standards and chestnuts, only a real dope wouldn't have enjoyed this in real time. A real treat of a find for the classic jazz vocal fan who would be hard pressed to find anything served hotter.

RUSSELL MALONE/Love Looks Good on You: One of the cats that has the chops to turn in a winning date recorded in one afternoon, the guitar man doesn't add any fluff to the mix because he's been at it too long not to be able to do this in his sleep if he has to. Count on the Georgia Peach to deliver a really peachy date, and he shows how to do that here without having any pits. Drawing on a diverse set of songs that he brings out the jazz in whether originally jazzy or not, Malone has a solid set for any jazz guitar fan that surely will recognize Malone as a modern master.

ISAIAH B. BRUNT/Just the Way that It Goes: The last time this cat sent me his latest, it was this wild, ear opening discovery. Apparently enough people felt that way to inspire Brunt to bring his act from Australia to Nawlins and set up the most indigenous American roots album to come rolling down the blues/roots lane in quite some time. It seems like unvarnished blues rescued from the vaults but there's something pure in the heart of this that makes it timeless and modern at the same time. Clearly Brunt keeps getting to a higher position as he runs at the top of his game and this is the stuff the real modern blues fan really want sot hear. A killer set throughout.

CAMERON SIEGAL & FRIENDS/World Junk: The drummer isn't yet in his 30s but he plays with a combination of youthful energy and maturity that grabs you by the ear right out of the box. A world beat set that isn't your father's world jazz, an age appropriate mash up is in effect as all on board contribute to making a joyful noise that has you looking in so many directions at once that you aren't sure where to look first. Fun stuff that doesn't fit into any of the jazz/world pigeon holes easily, just chalk it up to something that will give you a wild ride that you're sure to enjoy. Well done.

ANDY GALORE/Out & About: Mike Stern has a wife that works so he doesn't have to do any session he doesn't feel like, but he turns up here, abetting his pal of forever on this nu fusion tour de force. Galore, a vet bass ace that helped write the book on fusion, does a little revisionist history here presenting fusion as he sees fit since he's running his own show on a free thinking indie label. A high octane, energetic romp throughout, this isn't exactly sunset on the beach fuzak, it's real front and center fusion just like when the genre was getting started. Hot stuff that keeps coming, this is how serious pros with nothing to prove sound when nobody is in the booth telling them what to do. Check it out.

JOE FIEDLER/I'm IN: When you're living in deconstructed times, you don't have to follow any rules. Fiedler starts out making you think he's discovered second line funk, and he probably has, but here he Fiedlerizes it. Mixmastering in other jazzy elements to make a jazz amusement that gives you a real ride through the fun house, Fiedler and his pals want to take jazz back to being fun music, but they aren't afraid to take the long way in doing so giving you full view of their jazz ideology. Winning untraditional stuff for open untraditional ears.

THE DAVID MOTEL/People, Places, Things: If we were back in the day, this is the kind of singer/songwriter stuff Rounder would put out, but hell, they don't even put out David Olney anymore and he's been playing at the top of his premium game lately. An Americana set driven by writer David Brooks facing the changes that happen when you move from Baton Rouge to Nashville and the road, it's enjoyable because it isn't self-pitying even when dealing with down in the mouth scenarios. Basically proving that life is short but it sure is deep, these are tales from the road any millennial can identify with whether on the road or just (yeah, just) the road of life. Smart stuff throughout.

Volume 38/Number 134
March 14, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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