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SHANE OWENS/Where I'm Coming From: One of Nashville's great hard luck stories that you never even heard of comes in with the album he's deserved for a long time. After signing to one label disaster after another, Owens has found a home on an indie that's attracting big league talent to make it all sound like it should. A return to the modern version of traditional country, this is straight up solid writing and singing that comes from the heart and connects effectively. With Randy Travis testifying in his behalf, this cat is a direct lineage to the great George's of country music delivering the sound to the heartland that too many think doesn't exist anymore. Killer stuff by a patient cat that's more than waited for his shot. Check it out.

ANDREW DOWNING/Otterville: You might have to be from north of the border to fully understand this, but cellist Downing has been a tent pole fixture of Canadian jazz for several decades and has rubbed elbows with the crème of the crop, several of which are present on this double disc. Kind of a Canadian take on Americana jazz, this is a sweeping, bucolic set that nearly hinges on new age but doesn't. Low key and totally engaging, this shows how much fun if can be to color outside the lines when the crayons are in the hands of real pros. Certainly the kind of record you want to set time aside so you can settle back into it, the tricks Downing plays need to be savored and enjoyed. Well done throughout.

BEATS ANTIQUE/Shadowbox: Celebrating 10 years of doing it for themselves with their tenth album, this bunch takes indigenous world beat to new heights, doing it mostly from their Bay Area studio. An utterly wild, middle eastern set that shows this crew stands still for nothing and loves pushing the boundaries to new limits of stretchiness. Trust me, it's middle eastern world beat like you've never heard it before and it could transform the non believers with ease. Check it out.

THE SOUL OF JOHN BLACK/Early in the Moanin': One of the great genre blenders of our time checks in with his sixth album that has so many things going on that the hype sheet that came with it doesn't mention all the things I'm hearing here. And it all works like you wouldn't believe. Practically too much of a musician for these times, the man behind it all is giving us the urban music of tomorrow when one world will be something in the rear view mirror. With old school and nu skool colliding in a delightful, sloppy hug, this is modern music to blow your mind. Check it out for the jolt your jaded ears need in the worst way. Well done.

CORY GOODRICH/Wildwood Flower: When you're a big fish in a small pond, you have to wear a lot of hats and this award wining autoharpist wear them all well. Coming in with a tribute to the Carter Family, produced by Malcolm Ruhl, Goodrich not only cooks up a classic, killer folk album, she makes the kind of record you wish Jac Holzman had made with the classic artists you wanted to like but couldn't warm up to. An ostensible niche set that really reaches handily over so many borders, anyone with a taste for back porch/organic sounds can't help but to fall in love with this set and spread the word. This set is so endearing it's one of those ones that those to cool for school will find themselves liking in spite of themselves. Organic sounds as they were meant to be played and heard. Killer stuff throughout.

LURRIE BELL/Can't Shake This Feeling: Other than making the most out of crystal clear modern recording techniques, this is music cut from the true vine. A rollicking, classic west side Chicago blues session, you couldn't hear stuff this hot and clear if you were sitting in the front row at some juke joint where this sound was fermented. A punch in the mouth to anyone that says this sound is dated, it's not. It's classic and delivered with no dust on it. A sterling set by one of the last of the classic players still standing, you don't love this just because he's a vet, you love it because it's a text book of the real blues without a cliché in the bunch. Killer stuff throughout that can bring new fans into the post war, electric blues tent.

KEEFE JACKSON-JASON ADOSIEWICZ/Rows & Rows: What? You think New York has the market cornered on left leaning, experimental improv jazz? The sax and vibe men square off in another duet that ranks right up there with whatever progressive New York labels has to offer. Certainly not an item that's for everyone, improv malcontents will be sure to get and dig this joyful racket.

MICHAEL TRACY/Hora Certa: This hard blowing, swinging sax man is one of those cats that should be wider known but has other interests than being at the top of the charts. But when he hit's the record button, he loves being a gringo in Brazil where he soaks up everything about the place like a dry sponge and has a great time. Recorded in a few days with some pals on the fly during his last trip there, this is a sweet set of cross cultural jazz without being overly world in any sense other than it's worldly. It sounds like a great time was had by all. Purely a solid listening date that it nice to have in easy reach. Check it out.

GINASTERA One Hundred/various: From the looks of the cover, it looks like Yolanda Kondonassis pulled together a classical music super group, but it's not quite to be---this time. Admit it tourist, from the title, you thought this was going to be something like Bjorkestra. Wrong, friend-o. This set celebrates the ground zero cat that composed for harp on his 100th birthday. For those not deep enough into the realm of the classical harp, check this out and explain to me how he could write classical music that sounded like crime jazz. No, this is not dry stuff for eggheads. With great talent on board that appreciates being part of this celebration, whether classical fan or not, this music is modern enough to reach anyone with open ears. This is a fine set of some of the greatest classical talents of our time getting a chance to shine doing their thing. Killer stuff.

DELFEAYO MARSALIS & the Uptown Jazz Orchestra/Make America Great Again!: When your name is Marsalis and you record for your own label, the amount of freedom and liberty you can take is extraordinary. Recorded well before the home stretch of the down and dirty political Charlie Flicker we're currently watching, obviously Marsalis felt it coming in his gut. With a rollicking big band that plays with an attitude that would make Duke Ellington proud, this is a wily protest record showing how much of what goes on today is lip service----and that's stuff you can hear in purely instrumental passages. To make good on the title, it has to be a bottom up effort and this is one of the cornerstones of that movement. This is destined to be a jazz classic.

CAFÉ SOCIETY: Woody Allen is right smack dab in the middle of his métier with this comedy of mores and manners set in the 1930s. This tale of a Bronx nebbish who gets a taste of the good life in Hollywood and wants more of the same might feel familiar to those who fell in love with Allen's work again with "Midnight in Paris", but it's the same but different. Assembling an amazing array of talent working for well below their usual pay grade for the chance to be in something where they can really act, everything is on point for this return to form. A complete charmer from start to finish, everything is so on point you'll feel like "Annie Hall" was just a few pics before this one. Put this on your don't miss list.

Volume 39/Number 343
October 11, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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