BEN MILBURN/Local Honey: Stripped down fuzz rock from a cat that's trying to stake out his own turf, this could be a dorm room classic for dudes whose only outlet is to howl at the moon when the one they love is off with the jock who has his pop's black card in hand.
JOEY LOCASCIO/Meets the Legend: Here's a fun record you'll probably have no idea what to do with unless you have roots in a certain time and place. With a vitae that reads like he should have been cast as ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World' for those beer commercials, Locascio found his métier as a show room/supper club entertainer where he got to ham it up Vegas style, free forming on the chestnuts to entertain himself. Backed here by Joey DeFrancesco and other comparable jazz hitters, he can play it straight as well as he can clown. Old school stuff that needs to be heard, don't go mistaking him for your grandpa getting drunk and grabbing the mic at a wedding. A dandy view of fun that used to be. (All that and he remembers Marius the giraffe that the pukes at the Denmark zoo killed and fed to lions because he was "extra". Thanks for that, Joey).
CHANGUI MAJADERO: Ah, the joys of cross pollination. As usual, this gringo has no idea what this Latin bunch is singing about, but that doesn't matter. On tap here is Changui music, a Cuban sound that pre-dates salsa, as rediscovered by a cat from East L.A. Totally indigenous and unvarnished sounding, it's easy to mistake this at first pass for restaurant or gift shop music, but do yourself a favor and stick around a few more bytes before drawing conclusions. A real charmer for the armchair traveler, you'll have a blast sinking in to this sound as it works it's Afro Cuban magic on you coming directly from a time and place that only exists in the rear view mirror. A real tasty treat that brings the caliente in just the right measure. Well done.
CONNOR RAY MUSIC
ALLY VENABLE BAND/No Glass Shoes: Muso ears are generally unimpressed with teens rolled off the assembly line of the teen product hit factory but something different has taken root here. Teen success has emboldened and inspired a new crop of tyros to go for it and they are turning in impressive results. 17 year old Venable has turned the Houston blues scene on it's head already winning everything there is to win and thoroughly kicking ass along the way. 5 years younger than Bonnie Raitt was when she first thought she was a red hot, hard bitten blues mama but whose voice kind of played it other wise, Venable is in that same spot right now---not that it's a negative. Otherwise swinging her Fender like the mighty ax it is in her hands, Venable has just forged a Raitt like lifetime bond with fans of bad ass blues gals and it's going to be a lot more fun to watch her grow up in public that scads of pop confections that will be consumed and forgotten. And she knows the difference between emoting and being a talent show screamer. Killer stuff that's even capped off with a version of "Love Me Like a Man" that's probably illegal in several states.
JEREMIAH JOHNSON BAND/Blues Heart Attack: If Johnson was satisfied just to turn in a blue collar/bar band rock date, he's be at the top of his game, but he's the restless sort. Original from St. Louis, he let himself get steeped in blues and soul as well as various stripes of popular rock and country in the air while he was growing up. An entertainer as well as a musician, Johnson is way more than a white boy with the blues, Johnson is staking out his turf as the leading light of workingman's blues mixing rock, blues, shredding and raw emotion into a heady brew that might be just a touch too dark for the average business major. A bad ass more influenced by Hank III than Hank Jr, this is a killer look at a master of the game ready to rock all night long. Hot stuff.
CREATIVE ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK/HIGHER GROUND
KENNY DAVIN FINE/Brand New Road: When you're a singing doctor with a honky tonk jones, when it comes time to make a record, you don't have to do it on the fly and you can hire cats from Desert Rose, Wings, Orleans and Mike Curb's hit factory to give you a real record sound that fully realizes the vision intended. Specializing in nutrition, he might not take you to the same honky tonks as Waylon or Ian Tyson, but he fares a whole bunch better than you or I would at karaoke night. Certainly not sippy cup music, this is made for the roadhouse that closes early enough for you not to have to pay the babysitter overtime. Fun stuff that shows him residing firmly in the pocket, you never get the feeling he's just manqueing around, hopefully giving him the fallback he'll need when the politics of contemporary medicine make him want to hang up his stethoscope. Remember when parents said you need a fall back in case that music thing doesn't work out? Things change. The only thing that's changed here (for the better) is that the Fine doc doesn't have to perform these songs on stage behind chicken wire. If the business side of the music business still made sense, this record would be a major break out. Well done throughout.
MILES DAVIS/Chicago Jazz Festival 1990: Is that Don Cheadle on the front cover? Miles was right in the middle of one of his many comebacks, this time being more ‘commercial' than he had been in years, more engaged that he had been in quite a while and a sure pest to moldy figs that were mad when he went fusion and were now made that he wasn't. Loaded with the prime cuts from this era on board, this is certainly one of the penultimate live Davis dates as he would be gone within a year. Killer stuff that makes you wish you were there, it might not have the polish of studio recordings or the Montreux recording of the same era, but it delivers the passion in truckloads that you can't accommodate all at once. This is the artist at one of his peak forms.
HARMONIE ENSEMBLE NEW YORK/Gershwin: Did you really think, with Gershwin being dead a million years give or take, that there could still be pieces by him that were previously unrecorded? Orchestra leader, Steven Richman, is a cat you don't mess with when it comes to Gershwin as he's been the leading light in tony presentations of the master for the last three decades. Calling in Lincoln Mayorga as his piano ringer to complete the sound, this is smoking hot, grown up music consisting of four pieces that should be considered as contemporary classical music at this point as well as focal points of American music from when music was music. If you don't think stuff like PBS' "An American Fourth" is corny, you're already half way to being in love with this session. A solid listening date loaded with pure enjoyment for those whose taste has matured beyond beats, Gershwin will live on for a few more generations when in hands like this. Killer stuff throughout.
MILES DAVIS/Tokyo 1973: A radio concert that doesn't sound like it was recorded from a radio playing across the street, Davis is indeed on the corner with a fusion crew that includes Liebman, Foster, Cosey, Mtume and Henderson all pulling their weight. Compiling two sets from that night in Japan, space exploration Davis fans have it going on here where he was showing that 40 was certainly the new 20 even then. Live performances that show the studio recordings weren't all Teo Macero and his razor blade, this is a shining example of the sound that was often imitated but never duplicated. Killer stuff.
JOANNA CONNOR/Six String Stories: Back when the earth was cooling and saying it didn't sound pejorative or condescending, Connor could hold her own with any of Chicago's blues shredding bad boys. Has the last quarter century, most of which she was busy raising her daughter right, been kind to Connor? If by that you mean can she still pack a wallop the answer is a big, bad YOWSAH! The epitome of a white girl with the blues, Connor's never really been away, but it's good to have her back. This time around, it sounds like she's showing the boys how to get it done. She might be doing it old school but these basics never really go out of style. A totally killer set tailor made to blow the roof off the sucker and your mind at the same time. This is the new gold standard in shrederoonie!
BOB BALDWIN/Brazilian-American Soundtrack: It seems like you can't do an album like this anymore without some degree of crowd funding but it looks like the ever ambitious Baldwin put this together, painstakingly, on his own over several years. A double album of Brazilian/American fusion that takes it to the streets, this is a little bit of a look at the future of jazz. Mixing originals with tracks by the masters and having some of the best of Brazil on board, this set isn't going to rest on the shelf next to your pop's Stan Getz records too easily but it does reflect today's sonic realities. The taste won't be right for moldy figs but party people will get the message straight away. With it's generous length, this is a set best enjoyed when you can clear the decks and kick back with some adult beverages near by. Smoking hot throughout---even in it's laid back moments.
STEFFEN KUEHN/Leap of Faith: A German cat that first hit our shores to hone his chops in the Texas Lab Band, he now has a Latin Grammy under his belt and it's given him the confidence to totally take control of things---with mighty fine results. A breezy jazz date that is fueled by high octane smooth jazz, Kuehn feels that this is most personal date yet but it feels like it reaches out to anyone that wants to kick back and have a good time. A fine listening date throughout, there ain't a false note in the bunch with him marking his territory as a trumpeter that's here to stay. Well done.
AL BASILE/Mid Century Modern: The fun of having your own label is you can record as much and as often as you want, something Basile hasn't been shy about in recent years. Relaxing in his Eames chair and thinking about his roots led him to getting Duke Robillard and some well pedigreed cats over to the house and doing a quasi revisit to the old Roomful of Blues days. A set of all originals with an old school feel running through it, this feels like the best of Basile's recent vintage output. A fun romp throughout, this is a fine example of the good vibes that flow when you give yourself a chance to slow down and catch up with yourself. A totally sold set throughout that firmly shows this old dog still knows how to bury a bone.
Volume 39/Number 264
July 23, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record
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