RUSS LOSSING/Eclipse: A piano jazz improv-er that's flirting with contemporary classical, Lossing provides the oomph for Sunday afternoon recitals for contemporary longhairs who appreciate sounds from slightly off the beaten path.
GALEN WESTON/Plugged In: A guitar tour de force date like the kind they don't make anymore, this Canadian guitarist was itching to get back in the saddle after being a responsible grown up for several years. Not at all the kind of stuff you get from a wannabe that's been practicing in front of the mirror and wants to dive in with today's tools at hand, Weston has the chops and depth that shows he could have been a monster if he was around when the big boys were there to put a push behind this kind of skillful and soulful instrumental music. Fleetly and nimbly jumping between styles and genres, every air guitarist within 50 miles of this record has a new hero to look up to. Well done.
BRENT & CO: The word these days is that you make your money on the road. You can tell that this bunch of a bunch of road warriors that want to keep the floor filled and the beer taps flowing. Nu rock for the American night, they aren't afraid to do some genre splicing and mash upping to keep their sound live and lively. Recent college grad with no reason to need to be home before midnight? Here's a dandy soundtrack for the current story of your life.
WAYLON JENNINGS/Turn Back the Years: The only knock on this live FM 1977 broadcast is that you can hear the audience better than you can hear Jennings. Riding high on "Ol' Waylon" well before this outlaw bit had done got out of hand, this is the primo Waylon play list you would make for yourself if you weren't so lazy. If you weren't there back in the day, this is what the hub bub was all about. While it obviously wasn't intended to be a live album like "Waylon Live" or "Never Say Die", it really makes you wish you were there.
ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY/The Hope of Christmas: Can you imagine 60 years ago people going "Who does this Mel Torme prick think he is? With all the Christmas music out there, he goes and writes a song, and has the balls to call it "The Christmas Song", and thinks it's going to catch on?" Skip ahead a few generations to Emmy winner and Macy's Parade director showing up with a bunch of new Christmas songs under his arm... and, well you get it. History will repeat, especially with Callaway introducing the songs. There's fun songs, there's straight songs, there's serous songs and there's a killer crew of jazzbos bringing up the rear. A totally new album from top to bottom, William Schermerhorn had to have written this with a hot toddy in one hand. If you've ever watched the parade, you know he has the Christmas spirit in his head---probably year round. Killer stuff that's going to become part of the ages.
PITTSBURGH JAZZ ORCHESTRA/Joyful Jazz: There used to be albums with names like "Have Yourself a Swinging Little Christmas" and that could have been the title for this set based on an annual holiday tradition in the Pittsburgh area. Letting the rest of us in on the fun they've been keeping to themselves for years, whether the sneaked in originals or the standards, this will spike the punch at any holiday gathering and do a great job of spreading the cheer. Well done.
CHRISTIAN HOWES/American Spirit: A vet jazz/classical/world violinist Howes was deeply affected on his last world tour where he saw the world being torn apart in all directions and wanted to take a stand about America. Fusing everything from Lenny Bernstein to Joni Mitchell with Fats Waller in between, he leads his jazzbo crew through a set of music that you shouldn't label as anything other than contemporary, instrumental music. With so much coursing through it and all of it done on a grand canvas, it's not fair to Howes and company to pin them down since they do so much and do it all right. A great set for open ears to really enjoy. Check it out.
SALVADOR SANTANA/Fantasy Reality: You're too young to remember but there was once a time when rap was about more than beats and new Rolexes. Like a poor, righteous teacher that knows how to work his own keyboard without having to fall back on samples, Salvador is all about keeping it real AND being uplifting. Music doesn't always have to have a message but the 60s worked out well for a lot of players and that tradition is on the march here. Well done and sorely needed as well. Check it out.
DEL SOL STRING QUARTET/Scrapyard Exotica: For those of you that aren't content to listen to your father's string quartet music, this scrappy bunch has commissioned a bunch of new works from leading lights in today's contemporary classic field. One of them even works as a DJ bringing his turntable sensibilities to his composing. Art council music all the way down to the signature on the checks, this set gets extra credit for not being pots and pans music. Following in the lineage started by Kronos, these cats can play and that makes a real difference when you are charting new courses for nu ears. It might be Sunday afternoon sitting down music now but in a century or so.....who knows what reviewers will be saying then. Check it out. Included in the package is a blu ray version for those of you who haven't destroyed your ear drums yet and want the opportunity to really get inside the sound.
CHRIS LATERZO/West Coast Sound: While he has nothing in common with Michael Martin Murphy or Chuck Pyle except quality, Laterzo is a cosmic cowboy nonetheless, even if it's of a different stripe. A roots rocker that wears his cowboy hat naturally and with conviction, the jangly guitars with an industrial edge and the longing for the open road that's now covered with rest stops and Walmart parking lots power it all at it's core. Nu Americana is taking root.
Volume 38/Number 337
October 2, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record
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