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RON BOUSTEAD/Unlikely Valentine: A swinging jazz vocalist who is only releasing his 4th album in over 30 years takes his inspiration from Mark Murphy (and some from Dave Frishberg) and finds sympathetic production ears in Bill Cunliffe and Mitchel Forman who round up some LA first call jazzbos for a rousing time that has a timeless feel that proudly exists in it's own time zone. The kind of swinging set that needs to be made, jazz vocal fans have the kind of treat here that they seem to have to wait a little too long to come along anymore. Hot stuff.

LISA BIALES/Beat of My Heart: This big voiced white girl with the blues gets new inspiration for her ninth outing by uncovering some sides cut by her mother in 1947 she never knew about. Gathering LA's white blues A team for a rousing set that has a wildly mixed set card all themed about empowered sisters doing it for themselves, this is a high octane set for powering through the dross of the times. Serving up a set of solid show room blues, this set takes flight and never stops to refuel. A winner throughout.

INTERNATIONAL BLUES CHALLENGE #32/various: When it comes to making a living, you have to really want to play the blues. An organization that exemplifies pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, the IBC has evolved organically over the life of the organization rising to being the premiere blues bourse in the world. Culling 9 acts from various blues modes, this is sure serving of stars of tomorrow that really want to make a living playing blues. A dandy ear opener of real winners, placing a bet here is one you can't lose---and it's the next best thing to being in Memphis when it's all going on. Check it out.

CHELSEA McBRIDE'S SOCIALIST NIGHT SCHOOL/Twilight Fall: In which we find a robust serving of the past meeting the future as this 24 year old sax playing big band leader points Stan Kenton and Carla Bley toward the future with a few art chick flourishes that aren't the least bit precious or cloying. A dazzling set anyone with even an interest in big band should check out, she's the proof that some people just have this stuff imprinted on their DNA. A killer session from top to bottom, which is exactly the way she intends you to hear it. Well done.

ELLOITT & THE AUDIO KINGS: Canada's award winning white boy with the blues takes it forward into the past with his new group as they imagine what it must have been like to record raw, ruff and ready at the regional labels that fed sides to Chess back in the day. They know how to play, but they slyly put feeling first as they try to stake their turf as kings of the dive bars. Just the thing for anyone who ever wondered what a ‘main' was when Muddy was singing "I'm a Main". This is how real parties get started.

BRAD MYERS & MICHAEL SHARFE/Sanguinaria: Essentially a guitar/bass duo, these two jazzbos take contemporary instrumental music to places that Windham Hill and ECM haven't explored. The apple might not have fallen far from the aforementioned trees but since these cats and their pals have an affinity for swing, daddio jazz and Latin escapades, they somehow land it all in that place where new age meets classical and jazz with a deftness Sully would admire. Tasty up market listening that throws Jim Hall into the future, this is low key set is loaded with fire that works throughout. Well done.

NICK DECESARE/Openings: Perceptionally, you know who this cat is. He's the one guy playing piano at Nordstrom's that has that something extra going on behind the eyes and he's more than happy to show it to you if you play the slightest bit of attention to the inoffensive wallpaper music he's dishing out. A smart, sensitive solo pianist, this stuff is more contemporary instrumental music that it is any easily pigeon holed genre. The kind of stuff you think is background music until it really sneaks up on you, this is the stuff tasty audio getaways are made from. Check it out.

BROOKS WILLIAMS/Brooks' Blues: This is one of those guys that makes it look and sound too easy. The vet folk/blues cat is alone in the studio with his guitar taking it all the way back to the source doing solo acoustic riffs on elemental blues numbers revisiting a few familiar numbers and avoiding clichés. A penultimate back porch record, if this doesn't take you back to the college coffeehouse of the 70s, there's nothing that will. A real aces of a set whose intimacy will flatten you like a steamroller. Well done.

THE HOLDUP/Leaves in the Pool: This skanking white boy knows how to be pissed off as he deals with the changes life throws at young adults. Sure to find favor with all dorm room doobie blazers, this is a catchy set that rebels without a clue will glom onto with very little prodding.

JANICE LACY PROJECT/Sanctuary for the Soul: Some people talk the talk and some people play the tunes. With a deep classical background, Lacy rounds up some vet rockers and blues cats to deliver her new age vision and it works throughout. Starting out by wanting to make music that provides a safe place for the soul, it looks like she hit her target with room to spare. Veering toward the deeper, adult side of the original Windham Hill vision, this piano led date very clearly is first class, soothing music for the soul. Here's some wonderful new adult listening for boomer music fans that have given up and are just flipping around on You Tube for tunes they've left behind and want to hear once more. Well done.

Volume 40/Number 60
December 30, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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