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KEITH HARKIN/On Mercy Street: Infused with the urgency of getting the track down in one take, Harkin sounds like Loudon Wainwright but doesn't write anything like him unless you want to stretch that to encompass some universal themes. A folk/popster on busman's holiday from his day gig in Celtic Thunder, Harkin does a great job of furthering a sound and fury that was loved by many in it's day but has fallen too dormant for too long. Smart stuff for smart listeners? Harkin knows how to make sure he touches all the bases and delivers a high octane outing that must have been custom made for car listening on long trips because the driving sound never wears out it's welcome. Well done throughout.

JEAN LUC OBOMAN FILLON/Echoes of Freedom: Envelope pushing, experimental improv jazz with oboe at the core, this is a left field set by accomplished pros that are willing to do things the hard way to appeal to fans of all the great hell raisers of the past that didn't want to play it nice and easy, they wanted to play it nice and rough. And this bunch does just that.

JAKE CHISHOLM/No More Sorrow: A master blaster of a guitar shredder, Chisholm ate more 70s road warrior, blues rock records for breakfast and between meal treats than he wants to count. A white boy with the blues and some solid Chicago connections, this is the kind of music you party away the night with. Hard hitting and high octane, you can't hear this and not want to yell ‘boogie'. Solid stuff that goes the distance throughout.

COFFIN DAGGERS/Aggravatin' Rhythms: This record might not go on to scale the heights of the charts but you can bet it's going to be one of this generation's revered cult classics. So what is surf punk? It sound something strangely like what you'd hear if the Munsters had a family band. Loaded with instrumental prowess that keeps this from lapsing into a hipsters in joke, they know the touchstones, they've got the moves and they serve it up hot for everyone that thinks what passes for popular music these days is a bunch of dreck. Open your ears to this and let the good times roll on a bad ass beach with tattooed strippers for all. Well done.

SOCRATES GARCIA LATIN JAZZ ORCHESTRA/Back Home: A Dominican cat now teaching in Colorado rounds up a slew of great soloists to join forces under the penumbra of his big band for a trip back to the mother land to lay down an easy going but high energy mash up of Afro-Caribe jazz/dance music that'll get you whether you like to get up and shake it or sit and listen. Snazzy is what comes to mind here. With never a dull moment to harsh your vibe, this is going to take you to the groovy Latin jazz club in your mind where gringos are always welcome. Check it out.

HENRY ROBINETT/I Have Known Mountains: A killer set of jazz guitar work that fools you into thinking it's a dandy set of smooth jazz before you realize that it's so much more. With the chops on this set running so deep and so long, there's no room for error--even if they were just to phone it in (which they don't!). Tasty stuff that works throughout and get you into a summer frame of mind with ease. Check it out.

MIGHTY MYSTIC/Art of Balance: Reggae for the nu generation, this is smoking set that's more concerned with rocking the boat than keeping things irie. A sure bet for when you want to party the night away, island stylee, this is authentic stuff from an authentic cat that might have been to real if he was around back in the day, but he's got his finger on the pulse now for what's happening now. Probably not you father's kind of ‘yes, mon', you really don't have ears if this set doesn't make you feel the heat. Yep, it's hot stuff throughout.

JAKE HERTZOG/Well Lit Shadow: Hertzog has been a snarling, young lion for a while now. While tide and tide may have militated that he doesn't find Claptonian fame and fortune, he is part of a new school of guitarists that first found their voices in some side track of jazz but have gone on to take their axes some place entirely different making deeply original, thought provoking and solid music all the way. This set finds Hertzog improvising material based on science where particles collide and what happens there from. Wild. Clearly a set of nu acoustic instrumental music that can't be defined yet but it is a cut above and you'll know it when you hear it. Aces sitting down music throughout.

JOHN HART/Exit to Brooklyn: A trio of long time pals that caught up with each other fairly quickly after landing in Brooklyn around the same time from various parts of the country come together here in fine form in a set that could be painted as a tribute to Wes Montgomery's vibe. While there's nothing here to angry up the blood, there's plenty to get your heart beating a little quicker---in a good way. A lovely, right on, straight ahead jazz guitar trio date, this is a fine addition to any collection fueled by a love for the heart of the tradition. Well done.

FERNANDO HUERGO/Hashtag: I guess we're going to have to redefine what a folkloric sound is. Huergo, an Argentinean jazzbo, grew up 600 miles away from tango and says the music here is inspired by a mash up of the rural sounds familiar to him and jazz that he heard from far off. This set of originals has too much zip to fit my definition of rural. Whatever, I'm up for having my musical horizons expanded even at this stage of the game. With players from around the globe helping realize his sound and vision, the typical gringo will have a hard time feeling this isn't a straight ahead jazz date with some progressive stripes running through it. Tasty? You bet. For a bass player, the Monk influence is unmistakable and it finds it's place comfortably in this world/jazz mash up. The universality of this date makes you realize the world is getting smaller, and not just because of the title. Well done.

Volume 39/Number 115
February 24, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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