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JOHN STEWART/Summer's Child: After years of playing arenas with Kingston Trio, this 1975 radio concert found Stewart tearing it up at a Denver club for 238 people. He was promoting his new album doing a tour that would be cut short due to dental problems. A high octane set that's a valentine to his hard core fans, it's one of those great you had to be there moments that it seems like he didn't give his fans across the country enough of. Killer stuff that defines folk rock of that era loaded with a cornucopia of pre-Americana greatest hits.

JIM NORTON/Contextually Inadequate: The sound version of a recent cable comedy special, Norton is the antidote to middle class values, skewering all the stuff you wouldn't expect the guy next door to even be talking about. Seemingly, he's riffing with spontaneous combustion but this stuff is well thought out to keep the laughs coming. He starts out with roasting Bill Cosby and he gets more out there from there. It could make some uncomfortable, but he's saying things that need to be put out there---and the laughs keep coming. Well done.

LOU DONALDSON/Complete Albums Collection 1953-1959: Showing quickly that he could not be contained by Art Blakey, this bebopping daddio took his sax to the front of the bandstand and never looked back as the 8 timeless sets in this collection easily demonstrate. Constrained only by the limitation of recording techniques of the time, Donaldson brings all the vigor needed to power these tracks into the future and beyond. Hard hitting, high octane stuff that handily makes it's presence known, this is daddio jazz and more that delivers on all promises. Check out this groovy trip down memory lane.

FONTENAY CHAMBER PLAYERS/En Prevision and Other Works by Sima Wolf: Before the music business lost any pretense of having a soul, it would put of things that were fun to discover, even if they didn't conform to your usual tastes. This release is a throwback to that vibe. Two crack contemporary classic outfits come together to focus on the work of an instrumental composer that has such fresh, new, cogent ideas that your ears will be blown open. In a way, this is like stripped down prog rock but it's symphonic, not loaded with symphonic pretensions. Forward thinking and melodic, this is the kind of record you are looking for when you want to feel like a grown up and cabaret oriented material isn't cutting it for you. Killer stuff throughout.

MJ12: Nothing generic about the next wave brand x goings on here as Percy Jones and his new pals take a tip from the bunch of scientists that were branded under this name to check out UFOs as they take fusion to farther reaches of space than Miles Davis dared in his time. Stone cold pros that don't so much as push the envelope as rend it asunder, this is one of those sets that sets the new standard in prog jazz. Hot stuff.

PETE KRONOWITT/A Lone Voice: Long before Bruce Springsteen discovered Pete Seeger, it seemed like he might be the new voice of the populist. Didn't happen, but Kronowitt seems to have picked up the ball and run with it. A protest, folk/rock singer in the classic 60s mode, his songs are a wake up call to an apathetic world that doesn't realize how the sand is shifting under it's feet. Without a strident lick in any of the lyrics, this diverse collection is one of the few that can send a message without hitting you over the head with it---and keeps rocking throughout. Certainly out of the ordinary for these times, it's loaded with truths that need to be heard. Check it out.

STEVIE NICKS/Breaking the Chain: Sounding like a pod cast or a phone call you're eavesdropping on, Nicks gets up close and personal dropping inside details of what happened across her career that you'd really have to be an uber fan to know about before. This is the Welsh Witch coming across as your pal, not hiding anger when sores are picked, recalling things with some dust on them and just letting it all hang out. Uber fans are sure to enjoy this intimate interview recorded around the time of the release of "Bella Donna" with one of the era's great icons.

RODDIE ROMERO & the Hub City All Stars/Gulfstream: Local heroes that appreciate all the sounds that rock out of the Nawlins area finds the sweet spot to fuse them all into a gumbo like you never heard in one place at once. Steamy, swampy and with just the right amount of hot peppers in the mix, this is a mash up must for your next summer party where heat is required. Fun stuff that just doesn't quit.

THE BREATH/Carry Your Kin: Two rising UK hitters that initially met on MySpace woodshed for years before finding a groove their complimentary but diverse skills would get the attention of Peter Gabriel. A Celtic, fog on the moors sound that's clearly not your father's Celtica is the result. Primed for today's ears rather than that of moldy figs, this duo is sure to power your doob to new heights as they marry their past and future sounds and attitudes into a quasi ambient groove with bite that probably will take you to places you've only seen in dreams.

DAVID BRAID & Époque String Quartet: Loaded with the kind of punk rock energy and foresight Nigel Kennedy tried to bring to the classical world, Braid, a multi Juno winner goes beyond the pro forma and attacks his material like a disciple of Carla Bley in her early 70s rebellious prime. The kind of cat that thinks cinematically and brings that to his music, this is an adventure for contemporary classical fans that are proud of their wide ranging tastes. Fun stuff throughout with a sure handed pro at the wheel, this set will give you plenty of tasty stuff to chew on. Well done.

Volume 39/Number 241
June 30, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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