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MICHAEL DAVIS/Hip Bone Big Band: Ah, Google, the lazy writer's friend. Davis spent 20 years on call for both Sinatra and the Stones. On top of that, his résumé is something you should just look up rather than make me retype it. Basically the pistol that powers the engine of modern big band music, Davis and his bone bring it forward, pay it forward and keep looking forward in a style that's had more resurrections than Lazarus. With the future in good hands here, a nu generation can delve into the joyful sound the previous generations knew as an unmistakable sonic adventure. Killer stuff by a crew of pros on a busman's holiday, this stuff will blow your ears wide open and have them searching for more. Well done.

REBECKA LARSDOTTER/Whirlwind: Not fair to label her as an art chick since she's a Swede trying to bring her Scandinavian folk music sensibilities to down town jazzbos looking for a respite from their ‘day jobs' to let their art sides show. Kind of to the left of what the sad eyed thrushes of the 50s served up, there's always room for moody stuff in the tent as moodiness is always in vogue.

BOB HOLZ/A Vision Forward: How in hell did this happen? A first call jazz drummer to everyone puts together a band with Larry Coryell, Mike Stern, Randy Brecker and Steve Weingart and there's nary a ripple about it until the album release? With everyone here having long thrown off their major label shackles, they can play the music they want---and they do. This is fusion played as it was meant to be played before consultants tuned it to wall paper for cubicles at corporations where the head count has long been decimated. Fusaholics, you know who you are and this is what you've been waiting for. Smoking hot stuff throughout.

NEW TOWN/Harlan Road: This record shows us what bluegrass has in common with indie rock. This upstart crew has shared stages with headliners that would have been within their rights to deny them their opening spot for fear of being blown off the stage by them. Instead, we find the community pulling together to make everyone stronger. Modern bluegrass as opposed to new grass, this bunch brings one of the strongest breaths of fresh air we've heard in bluegrass in quite some time and they do it without really turning anything on it's head. With solid work from every quadrant---singing, writing, picking etc, this bunch has nothing you won't like and will leave you wondering why it's taken since 2009 for you to heard of them. Tasty, solid stuff that gives you another view of "Justified"'s Harlan. Hot stuff throughout.

AFROBOP ALLIANCE BIG BAND/Revelation: This crew has existed in various configurations for 16 years and this is their third big band outing. Boy, they've got a lot of brass (and we mean that in a good way). A tasty, tantalizing set that's a sure party from the first byte, this bunch knows their stuff and serves it hot. Almost sounding like more fun than a bunch of jazzbos should have, this is more of the hot air that should be blowing through DC than the hot air that already does. This is how you let the good times roll. Well done.

FRED HERSCH TRIO/Sunday Night at the Vanguard: Don't go disrespecting the elegance of simplicity. For his fourth live set at the Vanguard, Hersch shows how he's one of the fittest to follow in Bill Evans footsteps by letting the fingers fly at the Vanguard. With two long time co-horts in tow, Hersch sets off on a program that sounds like a romp through chestnuts but turns mostly original from there out, with the originals holding their own with the classics. A non stop award winner with good reason, he proves once again that explosions aren't needed to set off pyrotechnics. A real jazzbo dream date throughout.

BEHN GILLECE/Dare to Be: The vibe ace might have dedicated this set to Gary Burton, but he tips the cap to Bobby Hutcherson as well. And he probably has Milt Jackson in the back of his mind. A different sounding set that what he's turned in on past dates, Gillece is in command of his ax as well as his position as a leader. Quite an engaging date that's a real tonic for jaded (Tjaded?) ears, this is a swell serving of mighty fine sitting down jazz sure to get you shaking in your seat. Well done throughout.

MONEY CHICHA/Hecho en Mexico: Nothing like a wonderfully nutty record to get the party started. Austin Grammy winners reconfigure to play out a different sound under a different name and show they can hit to all fields. With it's heart in Tex Mex psych sounds and it's feet in various South American sounds, this is a wild sound loaded with mashed up sounds that you can't quite put your finger on---until you just give up and enjoy it. With everything from surf guitar to spaghetti western soundtracks hiding out somewhere in the festivities, if this doesn't get into your head and turn it inside out, nothing will. The madder the better? Make this your first stop. A well done, wild ride.

WE BANJO 3/String Theory: Hillbilly music was something brought over from the auld sod so it should come as no surprise this crew for first rate Irish musicians should be so skilled at Appalachian string music. Pioneers of Celtgrass, this will blow you head right open in ways that it hasn't been since the debuts of Hot Rize, New Grass Revival and the rest of the trend setters of the early 70s. Killer stuff throughout by crew of Irish award winners who know their stuff so well they could teach it in their sleep. The year is only half over but this could quite possibly be the organic/back porch record of the year. Killer stuff throughout.

AFROMAN/Happy to be Alive: The greatest one hit wonder of this century comes off the bench for the first time since 2009 and does a fine job of completing with his younger self as well as the changing times. A street cat that's gotten older as well as wiser, he keeps his head in the alt.rap game not playing by any rules but his own and blazing (heh heh, you said blazing) his own trail every step of the way. Reprising key cuts as well, this wild man is back in fine style.

Volume 39/Number 256
July 15, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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