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EHUD ASHERIE/Shuffle Along: The gifted, young piano jazz lion really turns things on their head this time around. Already showing he can play anything, this time out he does a solo take on a 1921 Eubie Blake Broadway musical. It's one of those recordings that simply makes you drop your jaw and say ‘wow' when you can get it back under control. If standing on it's own with no other trappings, this is a monster of an after hours, whore house piano date when it was all smoky in the blue lights and everything was seen through a bath tub hooch haze. Killer stuff jazz piano fans, killer stuff!

JOE DRISCOLL & SEKOU KOUYATE/Monistic Theory: This second album lays their impressive debut to waste. As exciting as anything Miles Davis or John McLaughlin were doing in their time when they took it upon themselves to really shake things up, this nu world beat date will have armchair travelers bouncing in their chairs. What to do you want to enjoy first or most, the virtuosity?, the diversity, the body of the whole that has you not knowing which way to turn first? Perhaps the kick off of a new sub-genre we might call nu world pop, this killer date collects a lot of what you know and turns it into a wild, funky, new something. Killer stuff throughout.

CRISTINA BRAGA/Whisper: A lovely set like this proves once again that invention doesn't have to be a pie in the sky thing. The native Brazilian is the pre-eminent Brazilian samba harpist and it's foolish to do anything but let her shine. Accompanied by some top current Brazilian cats with backing from Brandenburger Symphoniker, all you need to make this the perfect record is a glass of room temperature port and a warm, summer sunset---and that goes even for when this set kicks up it's heels. Tasty, tasteful and classy, this is something to add to the canon of classic Brazilian records. Hot stuff throughout.

GENRE PEAK/Your Sleek Engine: Weird for the sake of weird blows. Weird by someone that has his hand on the wheel is another story. That's where records like "Tubular Bells" come from. I think main Peaker, Martin, Birke has made a "Bells" for his generation. With a cast and crew of from left of center rock, ambient music and other outliers in the mainstream, he's made a record that pop radio won't play after Beyonce but it should be leaking out of hard drives and smart phones everywhere by people that love to go their own way. Quite an enveloping sonic journey, restless ears are sure to welcome this home. Hot stuff.

JEFF GUTHERY/Black Paintings: My dad would get his exercise on Sunday mornings by playing obscure classical records and conducting the orchestra in the mirror. They weren't bad or goofy recordings, they were just on the obscure side. Guthery and his first call jazzbo pals have recreated that vibe on this original work inspired by a roomful of Goya paintings. They turn in a great classical performance that's on a par with anything CSO cats on busman's holiday would record. If you had a dad like mine, this powerful recording from a forgotten time zone will certainly bring back memories. It's out of the mainstream, but the wheels never come off and this is the sound of professional creativity running wild to clearly show you how it's done. Killer stuff.

NAXOS MUSIC WORLD LIBRARY: Naxos has proven time and again that it's knows how to bring you the best on a budget. This time around, they take it to a whole new level of the game. Since armchair travelers everywhere have to admit that an awful lot of world beat music, no matter how good it is, is niche, a solution is within earshot. In these days of streaming, shared economy, not wanting to pay for manufacturing and distribution, Naxos answers the question about what's a world beater to do? Well, how about they lift the curtain on their world beat extravaganza, a streaming library that's currently heavy on titles from Arc, Smithsonian/Folkways/Cook and Nonesuch with more being added everyday? The perfect solution to how to enjoy unlimited world beat in your 900 foot apartment without taking up space or draining your debit card, I gotta tell you there's old stuff on the site that I never heard sound so good. If only every problem had a solution this easy and this good.

GANDALF/All is One One is All: Reinvigorated by La Palma in the Canary Islands, Gandalf gets back in touch with nature, back in touch with himself and back in touch with you if you want him to come up with something new and different that keeps him reliable without becoming complacent. Playing like the soundtrack to a movie that's yet to be made, there's nary a new age noodling in ear shot on this well conceived date that gives snap to slumbering synapses. Sonically lush and fulsome, Gandalf takes it to the next level of the game with this enchanting, non-soporific new release. Check it out.

SAMSON Y HISS/Circus Screams: So, Wildman Fischer's debut album was re-re-released on cd today. What a proper day to me to discover this album of new circus music for Grand Guiginol. You like stuff that's way out in left field but isn't played for novelty value? Step right up to the show that never ends! Sounding as sinister as a house of horrors kept by some weirdo unsub on "Criminal Minds", warm up to this by playing "March of the Marionettes", watching the movie "Look for a Star" came from and then let this rip. A get a little wasted first as well. This sounds like what you'd imagine things sound like when the tent clears out and the carnies are left to their own devices. Wild!

SANDARAA: Move over boomers, the youngsters are taking over the sounds of their fave ethnic restaurants and they don't need any of your old fogey sounds. Mashing up Pakistani, Klezmer and who knows what else from around the world in their kitchen sink, this bunch sonically creates a world of their own where it's clear that one thing they really know about is how it mix it all up and make it come out right. Not your parent's world beat, this is a mighty must for the armchair travelers that believe in the shared economy. Check it out.

MARY ANN CASALE/Restless heart: One of the many hidden talents stashed around the country, this soulful white gal with the blues passed more than one hat around the audience in 1970s campus coffeehouses and is now back with her second album since blowing off the dust after a 30 year hiatus. A wonderful bit of boomer nostalgia, this isn't a time piece or a journey through the past so much as it is an old pro reclaiming her turf. With a real ‘when music was music' vibe running throughout, this singer/songwriter in bluesy trappings hits it out of the park with just the right sound and fury. Well done.

Volume 39/Number 138
March 18, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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