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BOB DYLAN/Finjan /Club: This concert recording from a hole in the wall club recorded between the release of Dylan's first and second albums might seem like a throwaway if you aren't a real Dylan head but there's more here than crumbs of interest to Dylan garbologists. With some songs that were bumped from his second album at the last minute and the only known performance of "Hiram Hubbard" extant, uber fans have another real find. Striking a James Deanian rebel without a clue pose in the liner photos, who knew what "How Many Roads Must a Man Walk Down" would soon portent from this youngster that wanted to sound like an old timer.

PETER CALANDRA/First Light: Even in this age of the deconstruction of everything, one thing that survives is musical snobbery. Too often, not enough props are given to players that can highly function in the most jive of commercial settings only to turn around and play from the heart without suffering for their art. While a lot of players don't have the skills to jump from jive to art with their hearts in tact, those that do are special. Calendra hasn't starved for his art and he shows here that he can cross jazz/new age etc and fold it all into a fine blend that isn't capital A art or jive. A dandy instrumental record for the rest of us, this is simply a set of well played and composed music that entertains almost without you realizing it. Solid stuff that'll bring you back for more.

ART PEPPER/12 Classic Albums 1954-62: When dealing with reissues of old albums, the word ‘classic' is often thrown around too lightly. As regards this collection, it isn't thrown around hard enough. The weakest of the 12 records here can be called a classic, some of the others...fugetaboudit!!! Pepper's unique vibe was grounded in his being a dyed in the wool east coaster that dug the west coast. He merged his big apple daddio chops with west coast cool and forever became a part of the west coast cool jazz movement. Never one to shy away from playing at the top of his game no matter what was going on in the rest of his life, this is a bounty that sounds timeless and ageless without a false note in the bunch. Current jazzbo ears need to take a ride in this time tunnel and travel back as much as 60 years to hear killer stuff that isn't likely to come around again. Well done throughout.

GET TRIBAL/Radio God: In which we find goddess energy entering the field of shamanistic drumming, adding beats and other modern touches yielding a cool, chill album that you wouldn't really mistake for girl friend music. Equally appreciable by opium smokers as well as by chakra openers, it's no surprise that this nu world beat fusion is an underground sensation bubbling up to more and more appreciative ears with each spin. Check it out when you're ready to go on a nu kind of armchair excursion.

EMMYLOU HARRIS and the Hot Band/Hot Night in Roslyn: Apparently
Warners spared no expense in the making of Harris as there are a lot of 1976 radio broadcasts from key clubs surfacing lately. Also apparent, Harris was well aware the mics were hot and the tape was rolling as these shows all have a different special sauce all the way down to the personal on board. With the greatest edition of the Hot Band playing at the top of their game at one of the key showcase clubs in the country, you not only enjoy hearing these songs again but you wish you were there. Sure there would be Nash Ramblers and other super pickers in her future but this was the kind of evening where legends were made.

MILES DAVIS/San Francisco 1970: While you could blindly throw a rock and hit a Davis recording that has some particular significance. The particular significance of this record of a radio broadcast is that this particular Davis band was only recorded on "Live-Evil" and never in the studio making this is a rare chance to get a taste of the Jarrett/deJohnette/Henderson edition. Further significance is that this concert was performed 6 months after the release of the fusion benchmark "Bitches Brew" and most of the material from that recording was already abandoned. In his further effort to steal Jimi Hendrix's girl friends, Davis is once again played for stoned hippies, this time opening the show for Leon Russell. Such wild times 45 years ago. Characteristic to where he was at back then, this wasn't music for his "Birth of the Cool" fans as it helped to leave your gourd at the door to appreciate this in real time. Certainly a classic snapshot of a time and place that won't come again, this is a valentine for all the hippies that turned on to Miles without caring about his past and stayed for the funky space explorations.

AGRELIA'S CASTLE/Elders & Ancestors: One thing Paul Brown and the late Bob Johnston have in common is they both produced The Waterboys but I have trouble picturing Johnston veering off into new age land like this. Oddly enough, while this feels like it has it's roots in the cheesy new age records fly by night labels would knock off during the craze times, the heart of this set is Brown's B3, certainly giving this a different flavor throughout. Other than that, it's right in the classic new age pocket, but it is peeking out over the top. With haunting, wordless vocals and gentle rhythms, this is fine music for when you want to be that Corona guy on the beach throwing his celly into the ocean. Sometimes you just have to celebrate the classics by adding new special sauce. Check it out.

JOE LOUIS WALKER/Everybody Wants a Piece: While it seems like Walker's brand of rocked up blues guitar slinging can be a real palette clearer, it turns out that it's intentional since he declares that he wants everyone to know it's a JLW record from just the first few notes. The venerable ax man is rocking and swinging harder than any senior citizen should be expected to. With the snap, crackle and pop he was probably flinging off the fret board when he first checked out the Chicago scene half a century back, this is work from a cat that's setting the standard and raising the bar ditching all the clichés as he goes on in his travels. Hot stuff.

ROBERT CRAY BAND/4 Nights of 40 Years Live: The young hot shot has mellowed (sort of) into a top flight blues/soul master that melds the two mightily, tempered by 40 years of one nighters that took him from the bottom of the blues to the top of the rock. Burning with just the right blue flame, this deluxe package that has 2 discs of extra audio and video, and anyone who was ever a Cray fan will think Christmas came early if they get this before 12/25. Bridging old and new aspects of his career in the course of this recording, Cray was always a real crowd pleaser and here's his master class in how it's done. Killer stuff throughout.

ANNE TRENNING/Sunflower Waltz: Here's kind of a nifty throwback recording. Back in the day, when new age and contemporary acoustic music hadn't really jelled as commercial entities, there were a lot of good players that were playing with a lot of heart making music that simply spoke to you. This time around, Trenning ditches all the trappings and colorations letting her solo piano work stand on it's own, which it really does well. Stripping it down to it's back in the day essence, Trenning is playing just for you on a special piano that key heads would understand the importance of. Present, as well as in the moment, this is a piano recital that is elegant without being stuffy that merrily hits all the right notes. Well done.

Volume 38/Number 324
September 19, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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