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FRANK BANG & the Cook County Kings/The Blues Don't Care: Here's a bunch of white boys from the Chicago area that gots themselves a case of traditional west side blues and play it with joyful abandon. Dandy jook joint flavored party music that's a gasser to pass the night away with, these cats might not be out to set the world on fire but they certainly make the night a little hotter with their rollicking good time energy. Well done following the form without any manqueing around.

JOSHUA BREAKSTONE/88: When you are a first class guitarist like Breakstone, you get to do things like have your cello quartet--the one without a piano in it---make a tribute set to his fave jazz piano players. Just hit play, close your eyes and sit back, he knows what he's doing. With your eyes closed and your Bose headphones in place, this set transports you to the cool jazz club in the fringy neighbor without having to worry about parking or your car being broken into, paying the babysitter or any of that other stuff that's making it easier and easier for hipsters that don't really under stand the music to take your seat at the club. There's no theme and the only continuity is these are tunes Breakstone likes by this bunch of player/composers and he plays it from the heart. Loaded with quiet fire, this set is as elegant as it gets. Well done.

ERIC SOMMER/Brooklyn Bolero: How do you call this sidekick to unique personalities ranging from Nick Lowe to John Koerner an under achiever? This multi instrumentalist bad boy could easily be a superstar in his own right but he seems to be under the spell of Holy Modal Rounders, Guy Clark and others that could have really made it but seemed to make a concerted effort not to. Mixing organic writing and playing skills with personality, he has what it takes to be a massive, under the radar treat. Singer/songwriter? Rocker? Folkie? He's got all the bases covered and has back up in place to insure no errors are made. Killer stuff you really have to be a grinch to dislike, this cat is the real deal throughout.

LUISA MAITA/Fio da Memoria: Someone once told me that a pioneer is someone laying face down in a pool of blood with an arrow in his back. With that cheery thought, we wish Maita the best of luck with the about face she pulls on her second album. Leaving her grandpa's samba in the dust, Maita seized the sound of the city once you move away from Copacabana and Ipanema and deal with the other 90% of Rio (actually in her case, Sao Paulo). There's a faint echo of Brazilian music in this electrified run through the back alleys that would make great chase music for a movie about running away from the bad guys. Sly, sexy and dark, this hypnotic set feels thematic, but that's a gringo speaking about not knowing what Maita is singing. Possibly the biggest international singing superstar you haven't heard of (but have probably heard), she nails the real treat of delivering chops that are from the heart and haven't been rolled over by a commercial steamroller. Steamy, hot stuff throughout.

CURE FOR GRAVITY: Shoe gaze finds it's way into recidivist prog rock with alt.elements in the mash up mix. Alienated teens are why Simon & Garfunkle and Smashing Pumpkins will always have a royalty flow. This crew finds their disaffection in the roots of King Crimson. Of course we'd like to send a reminder to all similar minded lads---Ian McDonald did leave to co-found Foreigner. So here's the soundtrack for all now and future birdmen who will turn into Icarus's (Icari?) in due course. Enjoy it while you wait for those snotty cheerleaders to see how deep you are when you all hit college. Meanwhile, this is the salve to help you slide through those painful teenage years.

CAMERON MIZELL/Negative Spaces: Would you rather be blinded by brilliance or baffled by bullshit? Mizell ought to cut the bullshit. With the kind of minimalist guitar techniques that made everything from Richard Thompson's "Dimming of the Day" to ECM and Windham Hill's cool school guitar playing so enveloping, Mizell tries to cut through today's miasma by proclaiming he's mastering the use of white space and making a big deal of not playing as opposed to playing. Do we have to rehash the fight my younger self got into with John Cage over 4'32"? An experimental player that ultimately likes pushing boundaries as opposed to making complacent cocktail music, Mizell takes the left leaning on a wild ride as he doesn't pick in one place for too long. Hard core guitar heads are sure to enjoy this non-metal burst of ear opening shredding.

NEW ORLEANS SUSPECTS/Kaleidoscoped: It might have started out as a busman's holiday, but this super group of Nawlins local superstars have enough fat credits under their belts to assure pension payments from AFM when the time comes. A musical gumbo from the town that made gumbo famous, the jazz/funk/rock mix here is such a stone cold heady brew that any one with a pulse is sure to enjoy what these party people bring to the party. Tasty throughout, this is four on the floor real music for people that aren't about artifice. Killer stuff.

ERIC ST-LAURENT/Planet: Why is this well traveled, award winning guitarist now at the top of my list? Well, he makes commercial music you don't have to be embarrassed to listen to because it's got depth. He knows how to synthesize the best of everything into a wholly original mash up that has his stamp all over it. He makes gloriously enjoyable music that you can sit back and enjoy without having to think----an incredible luxury for the hardest working music writer in the world! If this cuts to my chase, think of what it will do for you! Utterly killer guitar instrumental work that's sure to blow your mind as it takes you around the world and back, showing you only the highlights along the way.

GORDON GOODWIN'S LITTLE PHAT BAND/An Elusive Man: Cutting down the Big Phat Band for this date as the Little Phat Band, don't go thinking Goodwin is missing a step or slowing down. Is calling his stuff ‘big band' something that scares off major labels that should have him around as a prestige act at the least? With the incredible amount of accomplishment under his belt, it's an anathema that the majors haven't at all deigned to give him a bite of the apple. Screw them. Goodwin once again shows why he can lay claim to being the hardest working man in jazz (if he wanted to make that claim) with this mostly original set that takes mainstream jazz to high and mighty places. Killer stuff throughout for anyone that wants to hear grand playing that just makes them feel good, you can expect Goodwin to set the world on fire once again with this smoking set. This is one of those killers that you can recommend to non jazzbos and be sure most of them will get it.

SUSAN ANDERS/Loop de Loop: Once again playing hooky from her ‘day job' as one of the best harmony vocal teachers around, Anders puts on her singer/songwriter skin and shows how she can write them as well as sing them pulling from a well that shows no sign of running dry. Often deeply personal material with a surprising universal appeal, apparently Anders has the smarts to reach the listener's hearts the with the same skill she has to reach the student's cortex. Organic and back porch with a really long reach, this is loaded with tunes that come from someone that speaks the same language you do that you didn't know was out there relating. Hot stuff.

Volume 39/Number 312
September 10, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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