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FANFARE CIOCARLIA/Onwards to Mars!: This sounds madly like a secret collaboration between Frank Zappa and Holy Modal Rounders--but it isn't. It's just the 20th anniversary of the pre-eminent gypsy brass band taking the party to the next level of the game. For all the times we've said something is something from Mars, we sure get our comeuppance here. Gypsies on Mars--sure thing, this set sounds like it probably sounds like. Here's a high octane world beat party enjoyable by gringos everywhere from outside Romany, particularly since the sounds here really go well beyond borders. One of the great, really alternative records to come along this year. Check it out.

CORNFLOWER BLUE/Invincible: Your pop was digging bands like NRPS before your grand parents caught on to all the drug references in the music. Take that vibe and mix it with contemporary earnest roots rock and you come up with an overview of what's going on here. This bunch of Canadians is a nice assemblage of instrumentalists and writers that know well how to make an after hours rocker. In the best traditional of pub rockers, they keep you engaged and drinking and the night passes just right. Delightfully well done.

JOE LYNN TURNER/Street of Dreams Boston 1985: Does it seem like there's a lot of good stuff lying in trunks everywhere that was never released and was never intended for release but is better than the stuff labored over for release these days? Here we roll tape back 30 years to near the beginning of Turner's career kicking it out in Boston on almost New Year's Eve. One of the hard rock voices of choice for the last 3 decades, he had the moves and the grooves and only needed to be dropped into the perfect settings to lift him from journeyman to mainstay. Taking it back to where it pretty much began after leaving Rainbow, this is loud and proud songs to aging children come. High octane throughout.

STEEPWATER BAND/Shake Your Faith: Heartland rockers from Chicago continue to make the most of ax swinging their way through the heartland and the American night. Straight up rockers serving straight up rock, they give you plenty here to jam along on air guitar with. And then some. Let the good times roll.

MESSAGE TO ATTILLA/various: What happens when you let the big kids play together after hours? If they know how to play nicely with others, especially for a common cause, the results can be quite right on. Here we find a bunch of the best of the best in contemporary jazz paying tribute to guitarist Attila Zoller, and since many of them had some kind of personal relationship with Zoller, they play with a passion that can only be bred in that crucible. Many think of him only as a hell raiser due to the company he kept after initially hitting these shores, but this set is a reminder that he was so much more. This is a real sweet treat for those on the jazz beat.

GABRIELA MARTINA/No White Shoes: She's a Swiss award winner so when it seems like she's coloring outside the lines, she's not being an art chick, probably just being herself. A little Brazilian, a little nu jazz, a little cabaret, a little rock---it all mashes up nicely as she crafts her own design. Not wearing it's originality on it's sleeve, this set is just right for weaving through traffic as the weekend just gets under way. After hours music that really sounds good any time at all.

PALE BLUE DOT/Telescopes: This band sits somewhere between hard rock and prog rock and delivers all the right moves appurtenant thereto. Springing from Charlottesville, an area well suited to these sounds, this crew is currently a big fish in a small pond but there could easily be a big breakout around the next corner when people that want to rock wrap their ears around it and here there is an alternative out there.

LESLIE PINTCHIK/True North: We first came across Pintchik just as the mainstream record business was falling apart and couldn't understand why she was putting out records on her own nickel when she was clearly an artist that deserved affiliation. Well, going her own way, doing things her own way was totally the right move. This time around, Pintchik takes her formidable piano chops and mainstreams them into a kind of smooth jazz that isn't wall paper being commercial with even letting you know it's commercial. Talk about the powers of seduction! Killer stuff from a gal that deserves to run the table. A stellar workout throughout.

TOM TALLITSCH/Gratitude: Loaded with music borne of several personal situations that are life changing, Tallitsch finds his voice in a new place and takes his impressive past to a new level of the game. With an up and coming murderer's row of next gen jazz hitters behind him, this thoughtfully swinging set leaps off the disc and shows you just how much variety still lives in the spaces between the eight basic notes. There is smoking jazz alive and well beyond the corporate world and this is a shining example of it. Well done.

STEVE COHN/Anspruchsvoll: He's rubbed elbows with the crème of contemporary jazz but left to his own devices, Cohn likes to go solo piano improv and see where it takes him. You can tell from the artsy angle on hand here that he's just the right cat to give master classes in Paris where the abstruse is hardly angular. This is a fast ball down the middle for the Sunday afternoon arts council music gang.

Volume 39/Number 135
March 15, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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