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BOO RAY/ Sea of Lights: Looking kind of like a young Guy Clark and decked out in an Exit/In t-shirt, Ray catches your attention--but what does he do with it? He's outlaw country but tempered with punk rock/pomo energy and sort of comes across kind of like Guy Clark would have if he cared as much about his performances as he did his writing. Punk rock outlaw? As long as it's done right, who cares what the moldy figs say. This cat knows how to rock and keep it country. Well done throughout.

GARY WILSON/Friday Night With: Ever wonder what "We're Only in it for the Money" would sound like if helmed by Wild Man Fischer? Rediscovered by Jimmy Fallon, this is proof that network TV isn't about to be brushed aside as quickly as naysayer are prone to say. First class out sound for the out crowd.

MARCONI UNION/Ghost Stations: Ambient music aces brush aside the past to come out with an ambient fusion that takes ambient to precincts it hasn't fully explored yet. Certainly not music for airports or trips through hell, this is the place to go for the minimalist that wants to put his ears in good hands.

LAUREN ADAMS/Somewhere Else: Those of us that don't have ready access to LA are frequently amazed by Americana albums that come from otherwise ‘unheard' of performers that get just enough studio placements to keep it together nicely and chase the real stuff off the clock. Adams is a folk rocker right at the epicenter of that Americana movement and shows why she has the skills to be there. The kind of folk rock set that labels like Rounder used to excel at, it's way too organic to feel like it came from LA because heart and emotion are tattooed all over it. Another solid performer that needs to be discovered by the rest of the country. Well done throughout.

MICHAEL GAMBLE & His Rhythm Serenaders: At the swing music festival in North Carolina where all the hep cats know the men are separated from the manqué, this set found it's origins. While the swing revival might have passed from the pages of People Magazine etc, it's still alive and well in the hearts and feet of it's fans, and this crew knows how to fan the flames of those fans. With it's old timey recording sound and note perfect performances from the heavy contingent of pros on board, this is a reet sweet treat that can't be beat. This bunch knows how to hit the bulls eye with enough panache that People Magazine might announce a new wave of the revival on the strength of this set. Hot stuff, daddio!

ANTHONY BRANKER & IMAGINE/Beauty Within: Imagine teaching music at Princeton for 27 years and still sounding like downtown is his natchurl jazz home. Leading one of his three crews here, this crew hits on the post bop progressive side of jazz and is must hearing for anyone still grooving to their BYG sessions. Left of fusion while still being in that pocket, Branker knows how to open the ears and get you to follow where ever he might lead.

BOSSACUCANOVA/Best of: These bossa nova hooligans look back at several decades of messing with the bossa beat doing their remixes on hot spots of the canon. Turning bossa on it's head, even as it brings back originals like Wanda Sa to the mix, this is what you get when you turn let the remixers do their wild thing. With a few new dance oriented tracks in the set list, this is pure deck bossa for the next roof top party in your affinity filled rental building. If you haven't heard them yet, this set of tasty hors d'ouevers is going to give you a real taste for more. Fun stuff that just doesn't quit.

TRANSATLANTIC ENSEMBLE/Havana Moon: If you can't put your finger on what's going on here the reason is because this sounds like some of your grandpa's old Masterworks records that trended toward the exotic side. Fusing classical and Latin jazz in a most classical way, this piano/clarinet duo with some of their pals added for color find that sweet spot where jazz and classical collide in a most sprightly fashion without losing any seriousness along the way. Tackling contemporary as well as older stuff, this sounds like a recital with none of the high minded pretense. A lovely session that needed to be made, you have to be wrongheaded not to enjoy the fruits of these labors. Well done throughout.

KIMBERLEY HAYNES/Awaken Me: There's a certain polish to this set that separates it from the schmata queen world/jazz sets of the early 70s when seekers roamed the planet spreading their insights like spiritual Johnny Appleseeds. Haynes has put her time and money where her mouth is to craft a healing music set just right for the car stereo of today's stressed helicopter mom ferrying the kids from here to there badly in need of some me time. It takes one to know one? This sounds like a right on audio getaway that's must hearing while waiting for soccer practice to end. Check it out.

MEET THE BLACKS: A solid comedy for ‘Blackish' times, this send up of the ‘Beverly Hillbillies' finds a black family ditching the Chicago ghetto hustle for Beverly Hills, but they move there on Purge Day when all crime is legal. A contemporary fish out of water story with comedic turns that all seem like they've come from today's headlines rather than the imagination of writers, this is how the laughs roll in today's urban environment. Check it out.

THE BRONZE: Here it comes, Bernadette Wallowitz as you always wanted to see her and might also be afraid to see her. You've been hearing about this pic for some time as it was the opener of the 2015 Sundance film festival, but it fizzled at the box office because it's too, too, too dark for the multiplex---even for the jewel box room where ‘off beat' pictures play. But that doesn't mean it's not optimized for home video enjoyment. One of the best dark comedies of all time, Melissa Rauch, appearing as both incubus and succubus, is the ultimate Debbie Downer playing an Olympic hopefully who's life is ruined by a cruel twist of fate, and her leg. This would be the perfect movie to watch before committing suicide if it wasn't so funny. Going even wronger than you would expect it to almost every step of the way, and having a great sex scene, this pic is set to join the ranks of the underground classics that never die. Strap yourself in and enjoy this wild ride that takes you through a fun house version of emotional hell and be glad you can watch it rather than be it.

MILES AHEAD: Music bio pics are generally underwhelming because as much as we love the music, the musician really doesn't have that much of a compelling story to tell personally. When you look at all the bio pics that have been made and weight of the wealth of talent on parade here, you have to wonder how Hollywood was so short sighted that auteur Don Cheadle had to resort to crowd funding to get this out in time to co-incide with what would have been Miles Davis' 90th birthday. Tossing aside the biopic formalities, Cheadle goes for making a compelling story about a defined period in Davis' life and shows what happened when he decided to stay relevant in that wake of the music biz getting turned upside down. This is probably a part Cheadle always wanted to play because he plays it for all it's worth without chewing the scenery. Hell, this makes up for every music bio pic you were ever disappointed by. Hot stuff from a Hollywood pro deserving of wider props.

Volume 39/Number 274
August 2, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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