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AL STRONG/Love Strong V. 1: When a cat is thanking Mitch Easter and Ron Carter in the same breath, I want to know more about what's going on here. A trumpet cat that's firmly in the tradition as augmented by restless cats like Louis Armstrong and Count Basie, this is a fearlessly straight ahead session that takes some wild chances while making some smart choices along the way. A real jazzbo through and through, this is spot for modern jazzbos to convene for a real hot date. Killer stuff throughout.

JOHN McEUEN/Made in Brooklyn: When it comes to string music, you just don't argue with McEuen. Don't be scared off by the Brooklyn tag, he hasn't gone hipster on us at this stage of the game. A wonderfully organic album with the crème of the crop on board, McEuen looks forward and backward making an album that needed to be made. A music for all organic music fans, the only thing modern here is the recording techniques and they are like the sixth man on the court. Exactly what you'd expect from the man behind the quintessential American roots album, this is a mind blower throughout. Don't make us wait another 45 years for another.

ANDREA BALESTRA/Lucid Dreams: Tasty little jazz guitar ep that seems to soak up all of Balestra's influences and serve them back up in a guitar mash up. You can pick the echoes of everyone from Wes to Scoey out of the mix, and that doesn't mean it's a bad thing. You can even craft a parlor game like "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" out of this. Certainly a palette clearing, tasty dessert for jazz guitar fans.

LQ BUCKET/Wood Post & Wire: Coming on like an organic modern folk record of murder ballads on steroids, this is an audio equivalent of looking down a well. Maybe Nico was his grand mother? Talk about long, strange trips, knowing what to make of this one is out of my wheel house.

NIKOLETT PANKOVITS/Magia: One of those multi culti mash ups that turn out right because the principles seem to all convene in New York where it's so competitive sometimes there's nothing to do but jam and come up with something new, Hungarian by birth Pankovits is sure to turn some heads by the curious that want to know if she sounds as hot as she looks. Those passersby win on both count. Culling native tunes, mixing them with show and pop tunes as well as some jazz, this set feels tailor made for blowing the roof off cabarets but it can probably do much more. Aided and abetted by sure handed pros, Pankovits' impressive debut whets the whistle for much more. Hot stuff throughout.

CHESHIRES: If you're feeling some Guyville/Silverlake nostalgia here that might be because this is a reconstituted version of Remy Zero with most of the same cats making the same Guyville inspired dark day sunshine power pop. Almost a magical mystery tour of first gen alt.rock, these cats show the tricks they kept in tier trick bag were pretty darned tricky after all. Genresters and scenesters now get to reminisce about when music was music just like old timers do.

LITTLE JOHNNY RIVERO/Music in Me: One of Latin Percussion's proudest endorsees and goodwill ambassadors make you think you are hearing the ghost of Tito Puente come back to life on this set. A smart Nyorican date that doesn't recognize any borders once it takes you south of the border, this is a first class party on a platter that could have you thinking the Nacionale is open and ready for tourists. There's so much good stuff going on here from everyone on board, including the gringos, that you can momentarily forget just who is the leader here. Well done.

SHU ODAMURA/Cloud Illusions: Even though this is a guitar trio, it's a delightful throw back to the indie solo acoustic guitar efforts of the pre-disco 70s when the man couldn't keep good music down---even if he could kill the distribution of it. Easy going and well played throughout, this falls in the gulf between new age, jazz and contemporary instrumental music, sure to perk up the ears of fans of all those genres. Tasty stuff by a rising guitar pro that has much more than cloud illusions ahead of him.

Volume 39/Number 306
September 3, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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