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JONI MITCHELL/A Woman in the East: Once upon a time, the record business believed there was some magic in recording at Budokan. So be it. This early 80s live concert from there features Mitchell making her ‘comeback' tour as she had just released a return-to-form album and was hitting the comeback trail with all her might. This veritable greatest hits set has stuff from all of the then phases of her career but she hit's the career makers hard. It would be nice if All Access would get in the habit of putting credits on their releases but it sounds like she has the A team backing her up nonetheless. A wonderful document since even the best have a hard time competing with their younger selves, this is a fine preservation of la Mitchell for the ages for all ages. Check it out.

THELONIOUS MONK/Complete Albums Collection 1957-61: Recorded during Monk's transitional period where you could easily figure he earned he sobriquet "The Loneliest Monk", most of his transition was caused by royalty disputes that came to an end after these sides were recorded and he signed to Columbia, hooking up with Miles' producer. Leaving his misgivings at the door for the most part, there's a goodly portion of Monk solo here, but with Monk as the center attraction, he often didn't need help to carry the show. It's all paramount stuff regardless full of trend setting, legend making playing throughout.

JOEY DeFRANCESCO/Trip Mode: I can't think of a better way to get out of school than having Miles Davis ask you to join his touring band when you're 17. Not only has DeFrancesco not looked back since, he's still looking forward after 30 years in. Continuing to take organ places it hasn't been before, this is yet another career defining moment in his stellar canon of high water mark date. Pure high octane jazz that doesn't make a statement other than telling you to strap yourself in and listen, this date is one smoking hot cooker throughout. Settle in for some killer stuff that won't let you settle down----and never asks you to settle.

HOUSTON PERSON/Something Personal: 80 years old and still showing up for work every day, you can't blame Person if he wants to turn in a set of ballads where he might lay back but he doesn't lay out. Honking his sax with passion and never phoning it in, in lesser hands this set of standards could be written off as cocktail jazz but the old pro has too much pride (and enough wind) to let that happen. The young ‘uns could learn a thing or two taking this disc for a spin. Mainstream jazzbos don't need to be told that this is another slice in a series of real deals. Well done throughout.

KENNY BURRELL/The Road to Love: Recidivist alert! This live set is the kind of finger popping daddio music that made you do your approximation of a cool cat when goofing around in your grandpa's basement and finding records like this when you were a kid. A living legend of jazz guitar that has influenced probably everyone, Burrell plays the consummate pro giving everyone some and letting the good times roll. Delightful hot stuff that's impossible not to enjoy.

MICKE BJORKLOF & Blue Strip/Ain't Bad Yet: Some things just sound like set ups for punch lines. Try this on for size: John Porter goes to Wales to produce Finland's top, award winning blues rock band, and on the way to the studio where Queen recorded "Bohemian Rhapsody"... Strange but true? You have to adjust your stateside ears a touch for this but these blues rockers capture the Muddy Waters just up from the Delta and working in a auto part factory vibe. This is the sound of blues rock for the nu generation that have been looking for more than beats to fill their phones with.

DAVID FRIESEN & GLEN MOORE/Bactrian: Here's a perfect example of a record that is one of those sets that probably couldn't get made but needs to be made. Here's a perfect example of a record that certainly starts out on paper as being something that's not for everyone but it's execution shows it's for anyone that wants their ears taken on a trip they won't forget. Two unmistakable bass players that have known each other 50 years face off in a pairing that's just them plunking away with some occasional piano tossed in for coloration. It's just plain crazy what they can improvise to amuse each other and keep us in thrall with something so simple that simply should not work. No arts council stuff here, this is a wondrous look inside the minds of two vets at the top of their game. Check it out.

TOM COLLIER/Across the Bridge: Give a jazzbo vibe player some grant money and crowd funding and what's he do with it? Luckily for us, this vibe player hired some ace cats to back him up making a date that brings fusion to vibes and good vibes to all. Frequent duet partner Dan Dean brings his bass (and producer's hat) on board and there's a lot of circles that are completed here. With 50 years of hammering those mallets under his belt, the former tyro knows what works and leaves out the stuff that doesn't. A solid set that brings high marks to mainstream.

MELANIE/Candles in the Rain-Leftover Wine-Gather Me: Time is such a capricious bitch. Joni Mitchell might have written "Woodstock" but Melanie was voted Woodstock's home coming queen by the attendant masses. Hard to believe now, but Melanie rivaled Joni Mitchell for reigning schemata queen of the era. While Mitchell's career took some popular detours, it didn't deter her from attaining iconic status while Melanie just kinda, just kinda, uh, just kinda kept being a schemata queen even as hippies reverted to their privileged, suburban upbringings trading in stems and seeds for stepped on coke, cutting their hair and becoming yumpies (remember that one?). Looking like a Slavic Linda Ronstadt and having a voice that was a hook by itself, Melanie served up then timely tunes that feel like welcome guilty pleasures now. With a vibe that feels more preserved in amber than dated, one can only hope that Raven will follow this threefer with discs entailing the rest of Melanie's Buddah years even if they weren't as top heavy with unmistakably iconic songs like these sets were/are. Certainly a wonderful collection to cozy up to if you've forgotten where you came from.

MOTHER'S FINEST/Mother's Finest-Another Mother Further-Mother Factor-Live: Long before people ever thought about things like multi-culti, one of the most deserving bands that shouldn't have been relegated to the shoulda/woulda/coulda file stepped up to the line and delivered some of the most killer rocking stuff that deserved way better. Almost an equal mix of Parliament and Allman Brothers, this mixed race band rocked and confounded like Paul Butterfield in reverse. With sexy Joyce Kennedy out front stuffing the spandex like a Betty Davis for the masses and uber hot hard rock producer Tom Werman spinning the dials and coaxing the best from everyone, their live dynamism translated well to wax with energy to spare. Alas. With their entire Epic catalog stuffed into this twofer, hard rockers can learn a lot from these dates that go back almost 40 years. The marketplace can only hold so much? Can there be too much of good thing? This is killer stuff that hard rockers will love with just one hearing and be left wondering...wha happened?

Volume 39/Number 14
November 14, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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