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KIRK MacDONALD/Symmetry: After building a rep as one of Canada's leading sax man and proving he's nobodies lackey, for his latest date as a leader, MacDonald rounds up Tom Harrell and Dennis Mackrel to fully make all claims valid. Simply a solid straight ahead jazz date for listeners that want it with meat on the bone, this date leaves no doubt that this is player at the top of his game. Well done.

BRAD WILSON/Power Blues Guitar Live: This white boy with the blues is a power shredder that knows just how to breathe new life into the genre classics, especially for white boy consumption. Knowing how to put all the right notes in all the right places, he's got the goods to checkmate you at every turn for letting the good times roll.

LOS HACHEROS/Bambulaye: A bunch of authentic, indigenous cats hanging out in Brooklyn didn't forget to bring their Latin heritage with them as this bright, right on mix of south of the border sounds seems to be a party in any language. One caliente especiale for gringos, this hot tamale is a particular heat for the feet for everyone that would like to get up and move around but can only do the white guy dance. Smoking stuff that's a natch to bring the good times in tow. Well done.

JACKIE GAGE/Siren Songs: A nice, solid smooth vocalist that's only 25 but knows how to explore the old school authentically while making it contemporary without taking it to the street. Giving modern R&B a nice update whether hitting classics or originals, this is quite the auspicious debut. With Gage doing her thing, you don't have to bring anything to the fore other than appreciative ears ready for some smoking singing. Check it out.

AVERY SHARPE/Sharpe Meets Tharpe: The bass ace knows if you're going to do a tribute to an august figure like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, you better stand up and do more than some two track, cheap folkie sounding tip of the hat. Rounding up voices and instruments from far and wide, this look at gospel crossover hits that you thought were originally over night camp songs shows what happens when a real pro sets his mind to things. With a gospel background predating his jazz involvement, Sharpe feels the spirit and passes the light along. Hot stuff you don't have to be a gospel fan to become enamored of, this is where the rock era really started. Well done.

BROOKE SINGS, BAND SWINGS/Live at Clinton Street Social Club: And for those of you who doubted the existence of jazz in Iowa, this bunch sets the night on fire with a sassy vocalist that delivers the jazz vocal classics in front of a trio that gets it. This is the sound of a rewarding night out without any pretense, showing that all you need is good times and good tunes to make a fine evening.

MIKE PACHELLI/Fade to Blue: A cat that's long labored successfully in the background issues his 16th album and wants to be sure to land some of the spotlight his way. A white boy with the blues from Nashville, his ax is cool even when it's hot and this left field variation on a theme hits your ears with just the right velocity to make you sit up and take notice. With other background Nashville pals bringing their own special sauces to the mix, by hugging the outside rail it's differences are skillfully planted to make you an adherent. Check it out.

RONNIE HEART/You(r) Mine: From local Texas break dancer to 70s-90s synth pop revivalist, Heart brings his inner passion to the work letting you relive those glory days before you became a grown up and had to deal with rotten kids and underwater mortgages. Sounding like it was released from a setting of amber, this is a trip to what it was back in the day.

GAVIN TEMPLETON/Ballast: Leading a life that's tempest tossed on several levels, Templeton takes his sax to almost experimental edges to use it as a weight to keep his life in balance through it all. You can hear the tempestuousness he's trying to work out and work through and it certainly shows and unsettling side of life. Not for the feint of heart, this is for those currently dealing with a heart of darkness and hope to come out the other side in tact. This is their soundtrack.

WAYDOWN WAILERS/Empty Promises: Not easily pegged roots artists from upstate New York, this bunch doesn't have Greenwich Village folkie mantles hanging over them as they are out breathing country air. A very cool organic date of mostly originals that hits you like the cool first generation folk rock records that haven't bought into the formula yet. With a hearty dose of country rock running through it, this is solid stuff that hit's the target just right. They come from those muddy acres where The Band wound up settling so be prepared for the influence but not the shadow. Check it out.

GREASE LIVE: Fueled by a cast that wasn't even alive when this work went through it's second iteration, the movie version, this nostalgic look at Chicago high school greasers in the 50s is one of the few American stage efforts that words like venerable were made for. Briskly paced for television, contemporary attention spans, this reboot is as true to the two ‘originals' as a contemporized remake can be. Now, clearly a treat for all generations of musical fans, let's hear it for this eternal tribute to all the Sandy's out there who can become bad girls with just a little encouragement, long may they run.

Volume 39/Number 118
February 27, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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