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ARMONITE/The Sun is New Each Day: There were a bunch of crafty prog bands on Charisma back in the day when the label was trying to keep Genesis in line. This set reminds me of the best tracks of the best of those bands, so, I'm going to send you over to their website at www.armonite.com where the band invites you to download this album for free. There's a lot of good pedigrees putting their stamp on this set and prog fans that like it dramatic without too much drama and world wise without restriction will have a gasser here. This crew has been at it long enough not to be mistaken for a pair of lads mucking around in their mum's basements and deliver professional goods accordingly. Hot stuff that can easily turn new and nu ears toward the genre. Well done. The new paradigm continues to strike blows against the empire.

STEVE COLE/Turn it Up: They might have chased smooth jazz stations into Internet outposts but when pros are at the wheel, they can't chase the sound from our ears. Sax man Cole turns it up so it feels like the sound is still in it's mass market hey day. On the money throughout, this is the cure for anyone suffering with a severe sax deficiency that needs smoothing out post haste. Well done stuff that fans will immediately recognize as the real deal.

MICHAEL LOGEN/New Medicine: The kind of cat that's part and parcel of the new paradigm, you probably don't know Logen even if you've heard his hits written for others, his TV placements and goodness knows what else. Recorded in Nashville but not a country record no matter how many country trappings are in the mix, this singer/songwriter shows how you can hit the heights these days without lighting up the charts, sort of. A well crafted, brilliantly executed album, this set is loaded with feelings but they aren't aimed at the mush mouthed that can't express themselves on their own. With the amount of diversity this cat has under his belt (opening for John Legend/opening for John Hiatt), he doesn't offer something unfocused like something for everybody, he sends out something everyone can relate to. First rate stuff that sneaks up on you and doesn't let go once it's there. Well done.

MIKE JONES TRIO/Roaring: Jones' debut a few years back was such an unexpected treat that it's still hanging around within easy reach of my cd player. Penn & Teller's music director shows that well honed chops are simply where this piano man begins. Mostly recorded in one take over four hours with two players he never met before, the magic here rivals that of Penn & Teller's. Working out on a set of 1920's tunes that you probably never thought about hearing again, I'd bet Jones could even make the dreaded "Nature Boy" into something worth hearing one more time. But I digress. This deceptively simple set is a stone cold killer by one of the best in the business. With cover art by one of the "Simpson's" posse and liner notes by Neil Gaiman, you have to wonder who doesn't like this cat. Whether or not you can relate to Al Jolson and Irving Berlin isn't the issue here, Jones is Dave McKenna good, and then some. Killer stuff throughout.

CHEYENNE JACKSON/Renaissance: And you thought Tommy Krasker only knew how to produce bitching original cast albums. Fresh from his one man show celebrating songs of the "Mad Men" era, this is a Sinatra good set. With a 22 piece orchestra in step throughout and delivering the kind of vocal bombast on period tunes that you really have to love the vibe to do authentically, Jackson continues to show he's the do it all kind of guy that can deliver winning work to all fields whether singing, acting, stage, screen or whatever (he'll conquer holograms in due course). Crafting a seamless match up of tunes by Joni Mitchell, Sam Cooke, Newley/Bricusse and Sinatra, let's just say Jackson is the new standard bearer for male jazz/pop vocal and go home---to enjoy this record. Killer stuff throughout.

CASEY GOLDEN TRIO/Miniature: In another example of how music is the universal language, this trio from Australia is very much in touch with some of the better stateside, left leaning jazz where boundaries are broken and new thoughts thought. Angular but with a light touch, this set finds that band stretching out past past compositions into longer pieces woven into a suite. Dandy sitting down jazz, this crew knows their stuff and ought to deliver more than just 24 minutes next time around. Check it out.

CAMERON CARPENTER/All You Need is Bach: Just like Wendy Carlos told Virgil Fox to move over, Carpenter is now telling Carlos to move over---and Sony probably won't be as quick to give him his masters back one day like they did ala Carlos. No stranger to Bach's canon, this is the first time Carpenter has presented an entire Bach program. He attacks the material like such a rock star that moldy figs need not apply. Marshalling all the talent and electricity he can muster to fire breathe new life into this centuries old material, Carpenter is his own man all the way, not some Keith Emerson knock off come lately. A set that's going to take you to dizzying heights as it puts you through changes you wouldn't imagine, Carpenter is showing there's a lot of room for classical music in the new world order. Killer stuff throughout.

SARA GAZAREK & JOSH NELSON/Dream in the Blue: Long time co-horts become true collaborators as a piano/vocal duo with a little assist from crowd funding. Corralling Al Schmitt to bring his formidable talents behind the board, this ‘trio' (if you will) serve up quite the tasty low key jazz vocal set that doesn't need any extra embellishment. The songs are all familiar, although you've never heard them like this before, and it's a solid listening album that shouldn't be relegated to background music for Sunday afternoon wine & cheese sessions. Tasty stuff throughout, made more charming by it's disarming honesty in putting the players emotions up front and center, there's got to be a hip, upscale hotel somewhere that's smart enough to put this duo on retainer. Smoking, good times.

WORKAHOLICS Season 6: The knuckleheads are at it again and they're maintaining the comedy quality even as they diversify themselves into a bunch of other projects. Baked as they might be, they aren't half baked in their efforts to keep drinks spraying out your nose if you drink when there's more laughs coming right around the next corner. You know life ain't what it used to be when you can watch an entire season of a show in 3.5 hours but your sides will be sure to thank you for giving them a rest before the next season comes along. Solid laughs throughout.

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT: Tina Fey ventures out of her comfort zone with admirable results in this contemporary fish out of water story about a bored reporter deciding to shake her life up by taking a spot as an embedded war reporter in Afghanistan. With a fine, A list supporting cast giving it their all, this is almost the funniest war has been since MASH. Chalk it up as a dramedy, there's certainly more to Fey than doofus comedies and being Sarah Palin's doppelganger. A sure bet for a pic to click. Check it out.

Volume 39/Number 236
June 25, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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