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KINGA/Guess Who I Saw Today: A delightful Polish born thrush now living in and warming up Canada, Kinga is at home with a swinging crew behind her delivering the goods on chestnuts from across the generations. A beautiful listening album, everything is in just the right place throughout to make this a killer summer drive along a shore line no matter where you are. Well done.

AUTOBAHN/Of the Tree: In a left of center kind of way, this crew draws their inspiration from the Krautrockers of the same name. Highly unlinear music that demands your attention, these young Canadians have a feel for civil rights jazz but they don't let their youth and whiteness make it something it's not. Civil rights jazz with a under current of crime jazz with a 50s vibe? Strange, but I like it. If you want to let yourself fantasize about sketches Bernstein cut from the score of "West Side Story"....

BLUE MOON MARQUEE/Gypsy Blues: Ok, so Tom Waits and Leon Redbone had a test tube baby that went on to start a duo with a gal playing bass and the good times rolled. With a distinct old timey sound that sounds steeped in barrelhouses and gin joints, this stuff is a gasser. Certainly out of the ordinary, this set that doesn't recognize any rules might be just what you need to clear out jaded ears. Brimming with raucous good vibes, boomers of a certain age will probably wonder which satellite channel is just the right one to capture the college radio vibe of (ahem) a while ago to hear this and more. Well done.

SHANE ALEXANDER/Bliss: A guy tours with Bon Iver and Styx and still keeps his roots in tact as a folkie with a new age bent when he's not rocking out with sincerity. Packed with leading lights of the new underground, this nu under the radar kind of artist seems back porch but he's got a zillion streams as well as loads of media placements. A nice, easy going set that's as welcome as a sunny, summer afternoon that's not too hot, this is the new face of indie music someone that really cares about what they do and keeps it real.

DIVA JAZZ ORCHESTRA/Special Kay: Round up a bunch of the best distaff jazzbos of our time, turn them loose on a set of big band tunes that have generally been under the radar since they were written and let the fur fly. This set pays tribute to Stanley Kay, an old timer who made a remark that was the genesis of this outfit. He didn't get to live to hear most of these lovingly, swinging arrangements of his works, but you just have to step up and enjoy them for him. Smoking stuff throughout, because this material has been generally under the radar for years, it has a freshness that jazzbos looking back don't often have the opportunity to capture. Killer stuff throughout that any big band fan will flip for.

CAROL DUBOC/Open the Curtains: Hey, Tay Tay, give it a rest. You and your mean girls are no match for the real women working it here and they forgot more about girl power than you'll ever know. A totally hot extravaganza from babes that are hot in more ways than one, this jazzbo set delivers the goods without an agenda---just good vibes. Whether rocking it old or new, and what would a set like this be without a new send up of "Fever"?, the vibe is righteous. Heavy duty stuff that shows how music is the universal language in a new light. Well done.

J. D. MALONE & the Experts/Town and Country: With 25 years of keeping on keeping on under his belt, if Malone sounds like a college coffee house folk rocker letting loose, bet on it being organic. With feel good jangly guitars leading the way, this cat has been around the block a few times but he still enjoys the sights and sounds---as well as the exercise. Making them the way they don't any more, this is a dandy, diverse set that you can tell comes right from the heart throughout. Check it out.

LORENS CHUNO/Naija Rhythm Affair. NYC: A piano man from Nigeria that is bringing West African world jazz fusion to the world will probably never have to fill in sending out Prince of Africa email scams. Almost like he's taking Taj Mahal to the next level of the game, he's both in indigenous and worldly at the same time serving an intoxicating world brew that hits you like roofies. Great, ear opening stuff that offers the armchair traveler a first class ticket to destinations unknown. Well done.

LEON FOSTER THOMAS/Metamorphosis: The rising new pan steel virtuoso is more of a jazzbo than Andy Narell. While Narell puts his chops front and center, Thomas writes and plays but does it as a member of the band. And here, he's assembled quite the smoking band with top hitters rising to the top of Latin and jazz scenes. A solidly contemporary set that sizzles and smokes, this is jazz as party music from a cat that moved from the islands to Miami and probably knows a good party when he sees one. Hot stuff throughout.

JIM SUHLER & MONKEY BEAT/Live at the Kessler: These blues rocking rootsters serve up live takes on tracks from their catalog, recorded in a good sounding room in Texas. With over two decades of honing these songs night after night, Suhler and the bunch know how to cut to the last few frames of the chase and keep you bouncing on the edge of your seat. It's might have been refined into a touch of roadhouse lite, but it smokes regardless. This is what a good time sounds like. Check it out.

Volume 39/Number 228
June 17, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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