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CEDAR WALTON/Voices Deep Within: No stiffness in this cats fingers after over fifty years of tickling the ivories stashed firmly under his belt, Walton comes in with a high octane mainstream jazz set that takes left leaning material from years ago mixed with covers and originals and serves up a four piece piano trio date that’s on the money throughout. (The fourth piece is actually on just a few cuts, but hey…). Part of a nu piano jazz movement in which gramps and whippersnappers are playing like they are of the same age and same mind, in a blind taste test you wouldn’t know this is the work of an elder statesman---at least in terms of the energy and vigor on parade. Simply a joyful work that makes it sound like jazz has no other side. Hot.

ERIC ALEXANDER/Revival of the Fittest: With a spontaneity that comes from mastering playing in the moment, this tenor sax vet can take you from Hollywood pop to real jazz to his own originals in a trip that feels seamless. With the accent on blowing hard and hot, Alexander is the kind of cat that makes enough of a mark that you really don’t want to miss him. An original throughout, he’s a member the tradition as well. Check it out.

KELLEY SUTTENFIELD/Where is Love?: More of a sassy jazz vocalist than a cabaret act even if her set list leans toward a pomo cabaret act, Suttenfield is a youngster trying to latch on to an old tradition and put her stamp on things along the way. Not for the moldy fig ears looking for new jazz vocal, she’s here for here and now hipsters that need to go somewhere to show off their stupid sideways hat. Fun, bouncy stuff that can easily be appreciated by neo sophisticates even more than hipsters trying to keep up.

JACK BRUCE & ROBIN TROWER/Seven Moons Live: If you were Ruf Records and you were making a live, contemporary set by two classic rockers, wouldn’t you make the cd face look like an lp too? Cute. Even if they’ve been working together off and on for 30 ears, this is their first live set and it’s a must for classic rockers that still headbang while telling kids to get off their lawn. In front of Dutch crowd that’s showing the love, this is for the hard core old school shredder that wants a return to the good old days of when power trios were power trios. There’s no hiding that these are geezers but there’s no dust on them and that’s the only statement they are here to make.

STEVE SMITH/Best of-Tone Center Collection: Ah, Steve, about that Howie Mandel look…, ah forget it. Anyway, this set looks back at Smith’s vital work for Tone Center over the last 20 years to bring new fans up to date. He says he was influenced by Buddy Rich, but we heard an awful lot of Zappa running through the various era represented here. Always surrounding himself with the best of the jazz cats old and new, this leans more toward power trio rock/jazz than jazz/rock, but it’s on point when you think Weather Report just didn’t go far enough. Hard hitting throughout, Smith always keeps the information vital and this sums it up quite nicely.

DAVID MAXWELL & LOUISIANA RED/You Got to Move: Right from the start, this is hard core, west side Chicago blues, and you could tell it without reading the bio sheet or even knowing anything about it. It just sounds like west side Chicago, even if you’ve never been any closer to the real thing than the “Blues Brothers” movie. You would think a guitar/piano duo set like this would be impossible to pull off, but in reality, you do think that because you’ve heard it attempted by too many manqué. It’s simply as simple as being run over by a steamroller. These two deep blues pals have let their blues friendship marinate almost 40 years before committing this to byte. Guaranteed, this will drive you completely nuts. If you’ve ever had any even remote taste for real blues, you have to check this out. Then grab a copy before cds become obsolete so you can be sure you won’t lose it when your hard drive crashes. Killer stuff.
2 (Blue Max)

DEBBIE DAVIES/Holdin’ Court: An integral part of a small sorority of distaff blues shredders, Davies takes the spot light turn on an album of all instrumentals that tears it up with the best of the Texas tornadoes and west side Chicago blasters ever. Freely repaying the debt to the masters that inspired her in the first place with musical nods scattered throughout, Davies earns the next round of awards and acclaim easily and Handily with this high octane, no nonsense roadhouse, instrumental blues burner set. This gal is certainly the hostess with the mostest. A winner throughout and a don‘t miss/can‘t miss session that you better not miss.
1 (Little Dipper)

MAC ARNOLD & Plate Full o’ Blues/Country Man: Arnold played with Muddy Waters in the 60s but went back home to the family farm where he has been for years farming by day, tearing it up by night with his gas can guitar. Assembling the best of the local musos, Arnold preaches, parties and delvers the kind of down home stuff that too many seek but too few find. Doing that Albert King style shouting, Arnold is an entertainer first and always, but he has a love for the blues that shows and shines throughout. A winner.
1 (Plantation #1)

Volume 32/Number 358
October 24, 2009
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
©2009 Midwest Record

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