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HOLLAND PHILLIPS/Circles of 8: The keyboard whiz makes a personal sounding set that is geared for relaxation and driving through the country in your mind when you can't get away for real. Powered by themes that you can touch emotionally, Phillips keeps the ideas flowing as easily as the melodies---kind of like the Mississippi without the pollution. Tasty stuff for those looking to look a little within for a while.

MUSIC SOUP/Cut to the Chase: High fliers on the local Greek jazz scene, this trio is celebrating their 10th anniversary with a smoking B3 led set that is an appropriate discovery for a label led by a B3 player in the flesh. With everyone on board knowing their apples, we get a sense that jazz is the international language once again as everyone on board knows what to do and adds some other side of the world flavor to the B3 festivities. This organ is purely organic with a zesty taste drawn from Mediterranean soil. Check it out.

NATALIE CRESSMAN & MIKE BONO/Etchings in Amber: Jazz vocal/guitar duo music for younger tastes comfortable with art based mash ups, the bone gal puts down her trombone to handle vocals in an artsy way. A little indie, a little Oriental, a little of a lot of things, this is what college gals that aren't raising hell will be playing in the background of left leaning dorm rooms this fall.

JON LUNDBOM & Big Five Chord/Make the Changes: Essentially, the Hot Cup crew in another configuration, this is the final ep in a set of four released under Lundbom's name this year. Pretending to be normal jazz, it's as left field as any OPDTK set even if the soloists get to kick it out a little more. Off kilter but on the money throughout right from the start as "Salt Peanuts" becomes, appropriately, "McGuffin", jazz' sense of adventure is alive and well here. Check it out.

K-SYRAN/Smoke in My Veins: If this dance pop set sounds top of the charts ready it might be because the singer is from Norway, which seems to be the home of the hits, and the producers have worked with Kylie Minogue among others---and they know the terrain a bit. Capped with a song that was the theme for this year's International Women's Day, this is a collection of late evening dance groovers that work well when the alcohol is just starting to kick in into young veins. Tasty dance floor confections, sped up and slowed down giving good groove for all mindsets.

PAUL TAYLOR/Countdown: Next time anyone makes a ‘yuk' face when you tell them you still like smooth jazz, have this one close by so you can pull it out and show the sound is alive and well owing no apologies to anyone. Taylor's 10th album in a 30 year career is sure fingered throughout as the sax man has no discernable intention to slow down---except when the groove calls for it. A totally tasty set that make s you feel good just by listening to it, here's some proof that music can be medicine. And this stuff tastes good too. Well done.

REBEKAH EDEN/Rowing in Eden: Eden might have been involved with lots of high minded stuff along the way, but when you can mix Yeats with Led Zep, you can't hide the fact that you are a hippie. Mash up music for adults, this takes you on a classical magic carpet ride through fantasy, new age and a wide range of instrumental music. Certainly as much of a tonic for stressed out moms as wine is, this set is geared to opening your ears and mind letting you find the trap door that'll take you to Narnia. Quite a wild multi-dimensional set, if this doesn't open jaded adult ears, the only thing that will is Drano. Check it out.

SOUTH PARK Complete Nineteenth Season: If we didn't live in such a screwy world, the South Parkers would not be able to keep this series relevant long after Chef stopped scolding the children and Kenny died for the millionth time. Executing a season wide arc which finds everyone sooner or later pissing on political correctness, as hard as they might try to land in the potty, they might be potty mouthed but the humor is flying high. Everyone gets into the act at one point or the other, but in the end, the little ones shall lead us. Clearly a powerful return to form in nu clothes, the laugh riot juggernaut continues to roll on in fine form. They make your sides hurt in just over 3.5 hours of milk flying out of your nose fun. A winner throughout, again.

JUNGLE BOOK: I'll admit it. When we first encountered Jon Favreau as a loser schlub in "Swinger" fresh from a bit part as a loser schlub in "Seinfeld", who would have imagined he would be come the money director/producer of these times equally at home with big pictures, small pictures and now CGI pictures. The animated classic version of "Jungle Book" might be an unknockable from another place and time but you can't fairly compare these two same titles pics as each is a classic in it's own right. Not just genreationally either. Tackling the untackleable and coming out a winner in the end, Favreau has stamped his insignia on the times as a film maker in step with the best of the auteur of the ages. But what about the actual movie? Breathtaking! This is so good it could almost send people off to Half Price Books to find Kipling classics (I did say almost). There's no shudda/wudda about this pic being a contender, it's a must for kids of all ages. Killer stuff throughout!

CELL: Remember when Stephen King wrote one of those million page door stops that turned out to foretell AIDS? He's at it again, with a wicked sense of humor. How about a variation on zombies because a zap going through cell phones turns cell phone users in to mad, rabid killers? Add some John Cusack as the earnest young man trying to save his family and some Sam Jackson as the train engineer enlisted to help him and you have two of the best mayhem fighters around teaming up in their various suites. The apocalypse beings and the fun ensues. Don't let anyone sit behind you and yell "BOO!". Well done.

THE NIGHT MANAGER: What's that song? "Money Changes Everything"? You know how fakey, up market movies are released around Christmas as movies for grown ups and adults are supposed to get all jiggy for a picture that doesn't have only explosions? Before the marketplace adapted, this would have been the kind of meaty picture for adults around Christmas. A five hour or so adaptation of a John LeCarre novel that was made for cable consumption, this is where those movies have migrated. And detailed story telling is encouraged. Presented in original, uncensored form, this twisted tale of a former military man living a below the radar life called back into action to nab the bad guy is loaded with adult twists and turns keeping you riveted throughout. Emmy nominated and made in England with House and bunch of other Limeys, it doesn't even feel like it's been stultified for PBS consumption either. A smart, serious dose of drama the way you really like it, this is an evening or two well spent presented by pros from top to bottom. Well done and a furtherance of the nu golden age of television.

Volume 39/Number 302
August 30, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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