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JESSE COOK/One World: 20 years in, if you don't know Cook by now, don't go saying he's picking up where...left off. He's an original guitarist doing his thing. Having found his way to PBS, this set is sure to build on the momentum his special has powering it up as a pledge driver. A killer world guitar session, Cook brings modern touches to ancient vibes and opens the ears with his new stuff just as mightily as he did back in the day when he was first breaking out. A high octane, modern flavored set, Cook's forward thinking really hits pay dirt here. Killer stuff throughout.

FISCHER'S FLICKER/Forever and Never: Hmmm...sunshine pop with an attitude? Prog rock? Arena rock? All that and more? Yep, While there might be a lot of mash up going on here, the one consistent is that Scott Fischer has his heart and soul in everything the 70s had to offer. A wild ride form top to bottom, this is modern rock for the adventurous recidivist.

ANDERSON PONTY BAND/Better Late Than Never: The prog rock vocalist and the fusion violinist were Atlantic Records stable mates back in the 70s but they've been pals forever. They finally got around to answering the question of what would happen if a jazzbo with rock chops and a prog rocker got together to let things fly. It feels like Yes wins this match but listeners that want their tales from topographic oceans with a different kind of spice are the real winners here. Ah, once upon a time, before arena rock became de rigueur... And just to make sure you get the point, this set is a twofer with a performance DVD in the package that shows these old timers are keeping an eye on today for today's audiences.

ORAN ETKIN/What's New-Reimagining Benny Goodman: First Goodman was a groundbreaking King of Swing. Then he was derided as being too commercial and jive in the 80s. Now the tribute train in pulling into the station with loads of chops on both sides of the glass flexing their muscles. The ace clarinet player, Etkin, rounds up swinging jazzbos that are delighted to be tootling along with him on this set that's a loving look over the shoulder but isn't an exercise in nostalgia. Quality will out and naysayers be damned, this is music for the ages. While we're at it, all hail the new king, this stuff is smoking.

JOHN WOJCIECHOWSKI/Focus: Chicago has it's own brand of skronk and this set with a a stellar Chicago crew in tow might not sound like Sonny Rollins playing under a bridge but he certainly knows how to deliver the goods. Using mainstream jazz as a starting point rather than a destination, he marshals his chops to bring listeners into the tent and keep them on board. A tasty collective effort that hits all the right notes with loads of daddio and modern in the mix, Wojo blows up a storm that doesn't make you run for cover. Hot stuff.

UNDESIRABLE PEOPLE/Eternal Vision of a Blind Future: When sunshine pop meets emo with a touch of prog thrown in, you have to wonder what they are doing up in Michigan. The voice of malcontents will be heard by a nu generation that have the 90s as a small dot in their collective rear view mirrors.

Volume 38/Number 322
September 17, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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