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KIMIE MINER: Hitting you hard between the eyes like she's an unaffected Stevie Nicks or Sheryl Crow despite being in the music biz from a young age, Miner is so natural and in touch with her Hawaiian heritage that you could mistake this for a beautiful sea shell you just found on the beach---by accident. With just the right amount of genre splicing in her vibe, she has something for everyone especially if they like it on the mellow with an edge side. This record is simply one of those tasty taste treats you can't wait to play for your friends and turn them into believers. Well done throughout.

KINKY FRIEDMAN/The Loneliest Man I Ever Met: The Kinkster has made a bunch of records over the last 40 years, but this is his first time back in the studio in all that time. Rolling tape with nothing to prove this time around, Willie drops by to duet on one of his classics and Friedman works over Waits, Hag, Zevon, Cash, Dylan and others you wouldn't expect. Any disappointment that this isn't a new set of all originals quickly evaporates as Friedman knows what he's doing on this ‘cover' album and the vibe is alive. Fun stuff from one of modern times great ring masters.

PATRICK WILLIAMS/Home Suite Home: An old Hollywood kind of big band album from one of the guys that set the style, Williams loads the deck with first call musos and welcome guests that are all on board with the agenda. His rare album visits are always a treat and this lion in winter set is no exception. Playing in the tradition without leaving any dust in his wake, this is happy music that'll remind you that there's noting the wind can't blow away. A real solid outing, this is how it used to be when the only agenda was to make it right and make it swing. Killer stuff.

HANS LUDEMANN/Das Reale Klavier Ein Kolner Konzert: An original work commissioned by Steinway, this prized German piano man with some ECM stops on his resume crafted a tribute to the Koln Concerts. Assaying many august items all at once, this improv sounding date tips the cap to Keith Jarrett and his ground breaking and often controversial work. If you dig Jarrett, it's safe to say you'll dig Ludemann. And if you dig all that, you'll dig his dramatic, fearless playing throughout.

GRUPO FAMTASMA/Problemas: The Latin party orchestra brings in Steve Berlin to produce this outing since he knows a thing or two about Latin bands that want to keep the party going. One of those dates gringos can appreciate without knowing what's being sung about, there's a mixture of Latin jazz sounds brewing here in a fine stew that makes it easy for the beat and vibe to wash over you. Award winners that are sure to be called to the stage for some heavy metal again, all your musical south of the border/south of the equator fantasies are fulfilled here in a grand way. A high octane winner throughout.

MARNIX BUSSTRA/Firm Fragile Fun: The Dutch jazz guitarist doesn't have to play by our rules, so he doesn't. Kicking it out in fine style with some like minded pals, his latest set is loaded with thrills, spills and is too hot to have any chills. A killer work out like the kind fusion aces delivered back in the day, this set shows that journeys through the past don't have to be bad things or fall backs. Zesty stuff that careens along at a fine pace, this is a nice ear opener that goes the distance in fine style. Check it out.

MANUEL VALERA & Groove Square/Urban Landscape: Ah, back in the day when fusion was first getting it's corners rounded off to become smooth jazz, smooth jazz didn't suck. Valera has his finger on the pulse of that corner and uses it to show off another aspect of his creative reach. Keeping a New York feeling to the proceedings, Valera and crew are on the corner, even if it's not a noisy one. Fine stuff that jazzbo ears in search of not too mellow will love to groove to. Check it out.

MOA HOLMSTEN/Bruised Arms & Broken Rhythm: At some point, even pissed off foreign art chicks want to make a buck. This Swede metal band fronter ditches a lot of the art chick trappings, but keeps the leather jacket and chases the poetry in the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen. Not a screwy set but one of the most out there tributes to The Boss that goes left field but keeps the wheels from rolling off the rails. Well, it certainly freshens up the catalog for nu ears that really don't give a flip about classic rock.

MIKE LOVE/Love Will Find a Way: No, not that one--this is the conscious roots reggae cat. This one is championed by Jack Johnson and Usher (?). With a songbag full of tunes about love and keeping things in perspective, this is taking Marley to the next level of the game for nu ears with nu priorities (it is almost 40 years later, y'know). Tasty stuff that manages to send a message without needing help from Western Union. Check it out.

PLAINSONG/Reinventing Richard-The Songs of Richard Farina: It kind of sucks that beside me, Iain Matthews and HAAAAARD core Dylan fans, it seems like Dick Farina has been almost forgotten. Farina was one of the 60s folkies with songs that don't deserve to be forgotten. Long time fan Matthews feels the same way and brings the Plainsong banner back for one more round in service of bringing Farina into the present. Unshackling the songs from their 60s folkie trappings that wouldn't resonate with most of the listeners to this, Matthews just plays it from the heart without looking for particular embellishment letting the music speak for itself. The songs aren't unrecognizable so much as they are laid bare. A worthy match up of a pair of cult heroes, Matthews admiration pores from every byte. Well done.

Volume 38/Number 333
September 28, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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