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KING BROTHERS/Get Up and Shake It: A pair of real blues brothers that haven't recorded in 15 years show that time hasn't dimmed their ability to rock the house all night long. On this record, they mix songs in a one from me/one from the classics song list and it's delightfully effective. Solid entertainers that let their chops speak for them rather than rely on frippery, this is pure bred roadhouse blues--kind the kind you want to hear on those nights you don't feel like going home. Solid stuff throughout.

JACK MACK & the Heart Attack/Back to the Shack: Glenn Frey might not have been able to make the sessions for this latest from LA's version of the Asbury Jukes, but he is remembered in the special thanks for being the cat that gave them the push in the beginning. White boy soul that never feels less than real since these cats are completely steeped in the tradition. A rollicking, kick ass affair from start to finish, the hottest white cats in the contemporary blues scene are all on board and lending a hand to keep the heat on high. This is a reminder of what party records are supposed to be like, great playing, high octane and all. Well done by pros that know the ropes.

GRIT/Live at Kramus Deluxe Studio: Melodic noize rock, if you will, this bunch from France seem as inspired the Who as they are Iggy. Angry and in your face, just right for suburban rebels without a clue, this won't scare mom and dad out of their complacency---but it might give them a raging headache. What kid wouldn't like to do that hiding behind a snarky grin? Use Grit.

KENNY BURRELL and the Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra Unlimited/Unlimited 1: As majestic as Burrell has been on recent live dates, with a jazz orchestra backing him with the setting we could all become accustomed to, he certainly shines brighter than before when he isn't laying out. Exactly the kind of lush and luscious album the major labels wouldn't have a clue on how to make anymore, you get a real lesson in jazz here from Burrell and his crew that makes you wish the movie studios would at least bring back studio orchestras so these cats could have fat, full time day jobs. This is a most wonderful dose of the real deal served up as Burrell closes in on his 100th record as a leader. Can you think of a better way to kick off the season of having yourself a soulful little Christmas?

WALLACE RONEY/A Place in Time: Take some Miles alumni that reshape way out Miles by leaning the sound up and mixing lyricism with speed, put Patrice Rushen in the piano chair and let her wail in ways the commercial world wouldn't let her and tie it together with some interesting song choices from vastly different sources and you get a progressive/accessible date that let's you enjoy the purity of a bunch of cats that know their stuff getting together to wail and lift each other's game. This set has so much going on that it lets you layback or dig deep letting you enjoy it either way you choose. Hot stuff.

JIGJAM/Hello World: Here's an Irish band that's going to impact the world as hard as Clancy Brothers or U2 if they get only half a chance. With their roots in traditional music, these youngsters don't stop there. Checking in with a DIY set that so fully formed it can compete with any contemporary, well polished major label product. Uplifting, good feeling music that's most welcome in these angry, topsy turvy times, one spin of this record can change your whole outlook. Killer stuff that's played, sung and written from the heart, this bunch has what it takes to be unstoppable. Well done throughout.

MAMA'S BLACK SHEEP/Live @ the Bevy: Here's a cd-dvd combo pack that documents the work of this hard working folkie based singer/songwriter duo that's flying high in the underground. With more shows under their belts than you can imagine from an act you probably haven't heard of, they used Indiegogo to finance an extravaganza of a package to reward their faithful and further spread the word. Organic, heartfelt stuff that anyone can relate to, this is further proof the underground of outliers is alive an well. Well done.

RICHIE COLE/Plays Ballads & Love Songs: A session that happened by happenstance, most of these tracks are first takes recorded in Cole's recently adopted home of Pittsburgh. What's really of interest here is that 45 years into his career as a hard blowing bopper, this is his first album of ballads and slow songs and it's a doozy. Staunchly backing up his claim that he makes his sax sing, this is a lyrical, lovely album where the slow pace never become tiresome wearing out it's welcome. Loaded with the mark of a pro playing something he really wants to play, this is a boatload of standards with Cole wringing out stuff you never heard in them before. An absolute must hear of an album. Well done, indeed.

RAY VAUGHN/Wounded Bird: Think it's easy to be an angry, young man 40 years after the fact? It isn't. So, what happened here? This is the record we kept giving Lou Reed one chance after another to make even though he never did. Maybe if Reed hadn't dipped into ‘Metal Machine Music' he would have found this somewhere within...but alas. Meanwhile, for rebels with a cause and a clue, this former underground punk from the 70s is in touch with his anger and aggression and knows how to vent it. An album in search of a connection with the faithful, kids aren't gong to get this level of conviction out of their pops no matter how committed they were back in the day. Wildly hot stuff. Maybe Lou was just a touch too old to really grasp punk.

UNSEEN STRANGERS/Stranger Places: God love this nu new grass movement. Coming from Canada this time instead of Great Britain, this is another pack of youngsters reaching back to reclaim the roots of what later became hillbilly music. A string band that's hopefully not playing at the top of the game yet, prepare to have your mind blown in the most delightful organic way as this crew works their string magic in ways that haven't been as ear opening since guys like Sam Bush and Jay Ungar invented the newgrass genre. This bunch is making the world safe for hanging out on back porches. Killer stuff.

V & B
BRENT GALLAHER/Moving Forward: Bang. The kind of solid sax date you get when chops are well seasoned and the centerpiece surrounds himself with a staff that knows their way around the staff. The kind of jazz that keeps Cincinnati night warm and hopping, this is a tasty serving of straight ahead jazz with some edge that just wants you to step back and enjoy the proceedings. Well played throughout, this is a most killer of a listening date.

AMIRA MEDUNJANIN/Damar: In Bosnia, songs of sadness and hope exist somewhere between blues and saudade with Medunjanin giving voice to the sound of sevdah that stretches back to it's roots over 500 years ago while looking a little past today. Singing in her native tongue, this sounds like something that lands somewhere between folk music and flamenco playing with it's intricate guitar melodies that can say a lot by playing a little. One of those ethnic records where the songs communicate even if you don't know what the singer is singing about, this comes across at the very least as one of those sophisticated foreign dates that plays well with wine and low lighting or cabaret settings. A solid, out of the ordinary treat.

Volume 39/Number 347
October 15, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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