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BEN ADKINS/Salmagundi: One of those drummers that knows how to give the rest of the band some, this debut by this jazzbo sets a nice groove right down he middle giving mainstream a certain freshness. A tasty little workout, this is a fine listening record for when you need some background music that isn't afraid to step it up and go foreground on you. Tasty.

JOCELYN MICHELLE/Time to Play: She poses on the cover of her debut album in a slinky dress with fishnets and her back arched AND she plays killer B3? How can you yell rip off? Bringing a welcome feminine touch to the keys, she caresses "Pink Panther" rather than stomps on it and you might not be able to listen to it the same way again. Writing a hefty share of the set card herself, the times they are a changing if you're looking for some greasy, hard charging funk---and that's ok. Produced by Tony Monaco, that's all you need to know to tread fearless without worry this is some bored housewife looking for some attention. And it all stacks up as real jazz as well bringing death to the glass ceiling. Solid stuff that really cooks.

COREY KENDRICK TRIO/Rootless: A kid with a masters in music that didn't let it go to his head, this piano man leads a swinging jazz piano trio through more than mere paces. Drawing from the classic masters like Peterson, Lewis, Evans, Jamal and others from the golden age of swinging, post war clubs, this date has all you need without having to draw in extras. Right on the money throughout, this is a straight ahead, real deal set that all piano trio fans are going to dig. Totally hot stuff.

VICTOR GOULD/Clockwork: A young piano man that's been playing with left leaning jazzbos for a while now makes his debut with an appropriate left leaning band set that picks up the feel of post civil rights jazz without going all free jazz on us. Keeping his hand on the wheel, Gould steers straight and true making this a sonic adventure that stays on the road never rolling toward the ditch. An old school date with no dust on it, Gould is firmly in the tradition without being pinned under it. Well done progressive stuff where everyone on board gets a real chance to wail. Hot stuff.

CYRUS CHESTNUT/Natural Essence: Clear the way, killer piano trio coming through. With Lenny White and Buster Williams on board, the big guy feels free to play piano in a big way. Practically like he's become inhabited by Oscar Peterson here, Chestnut shows he hasn't just been practicing for the past 30 years. A wonderful date of straight ahead, swinging jazz, this trio goes the distance throughout running like it's American Pharoah. Hot stuff.

ROYAL SOUTHERN BROTHERHOOD/Royal Gospel: It doesn't matter if it's rock, blues or soul or what era from within those genre it came from, if it's from the past at all. This super group doesn't care about anything but the here and now and they know how to kick it out. Hot octane stuff on the music as well as the lyrics, there's something here for everyone and a pleaser for all. Rock without artifice, this bunch has the miles under their belts and the know on hard for how to keep it right and tight throughout. Well done.

ALISON LEWIS/Seven: This pal of Merv Griffin's niece knows her stuff and shows her chops to be all that's really needed to power this intimate cabaret based set. Spare without being bare bones, Lewis takes the typical repertoire, shakes it up and shakes it loose by really only giving two nods to the classic song book. To really make it in cabaret, you really have to be committed to the dictum that you should do what you love and let the money follow. No matter where the chips fall, we win because it's clear Lewis loves what she does. Well done.

OS CLAVELITOS/Arriving: And here's a reminder of that in the age of the millennial mash up, you can be a samba band without being from Brazil and having Japanese members. Samba is samba, and when it's done right, it doesn't matter where it comes form or where it's based. This crew shows the proper heart and feeling on their debut as they use it to user in samba's second half century. Tasty, summer party music that swings and sways with just the right motion. Fun stuff throughout.

SOUND UNDERGROUND/Quiet Spaces: What would you rather have? A bunch of hipsters yakking about the warmth of vinyl or a smart trio playing live in the same room at the same time? This trio does it old school and they make it work, just like the old timers did when they were Flintstones without having a choice about it. The only razzle dazzle here is the chops and how well they are displayed in this deceptively simple trio date that must be powered by the local Florida sunshine. Old school and well worth the time travel. Check it out.

GWEN HUGHES/Native Land: Not detoured by playing every crummy gig in the world you can play, the vocalist keeps her sunny disposition in chipper form and delivers a set of love songs, many written by her, in a neo old timey style and is quite charming. Winning because she doesn't try to put a smiley face on sad times, Hughes come smiling in the end. A delightful off beat treat, this is a fine vocal album that defies genre limitations and just puts her front and center to shine in her own way. Check it out.

Volume 39/Number 215
June 3, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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