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JEFF SIEGEL QUARTET/King of Xhosa: A Woodstock jazzbo meets up with a South African jazzbo that just happened to be dropping by his neighborhood and the drummer leapt out of his chair with what he heard. An ensuing collaboration had to happen. With Siegel's ears blown wide open, he may never hit those skins the same way again. The kind of world jazz that you thought it takes Paul Winter to make, this is thinking man's jazz that isn't work to listen to. A wild ride you many places you never expected to hear, this is a high water mark for creative jazz. Check it out.

ANI CORDERO/Querido Mundo: Cordero is a protest singer in the finest tradition of Phil Ochs, but being modern and Hispanic, she makes a high octane set in Spanish that the average gringo could take to be a modern party record with a Latin beat. How ever you slice it, this former member of Pistolera makes music that needs to be heard, no matter how you assimilate it. Well done.

DUCHESS/Laughing at Life: The problem with not having a ‘real' record contract is there's no a&r jagoff threatening to put you on suspension if you don't hop to it chop chop to get the next record out. This is a disadvantage because there's no one to push Duchess to get in the studio more often. Reminding us of the great vocal trios of the past and mining their catalogs because those were some great old songs, this trio's devotion to the Boswell sisters goes so far that this set has a previously unrecorded Boswell tune on board. The really cool thing is this isn't nostalgia. The singers nail it and the back up band couldn't be better. It's simply a killer date that'll take you to the next level as it rises to the next level of the game.

BEATA PATER/Fire Dance: The wordless vocalist is changing it up this time around. The songs are all originals, she's using vocal overdubs and did the production herself. The result is a more well produced version of what you would typically get from a hippie/art chick and her jazzy pals. This set resides in the out of the ordinary/accessible realm and can easily fill the bill as a summer sunset outing. Tasty stuff that takes jazz vocal to some new places, this is a set that moves creative music forward. Check it out.

SIDNEY JACOBS/First Man: One of those cats that could have made a living in music but checked successfully into the real world to shelter his family from the vagarities of the life of a working musician now issues his second record and shows that the debut wasn't just a pipe dream he could write a check and affect. Showing he really knows his Oscar Brown, Jacobs takes you back to the sixties when black soul/jazz was the stuff of store fronts and church basements where the fervor could reach sanctified proportions. Tasty stuff that might be a look back but doesn't play as a throwback, Jacobs really hit's the spot throughout. Check it out.

THE BAYLOR PROJECT/Journey: The children of ministers aren't afraid to revel in their background as they take this set to church even if it is loaded with secular moments---that are also taken to church. Nothing like the average black gospel album sold from the pulpit like in the old days, there's no expense spared swinging and swaying as the divine comes within reach. Tasty ear opening stuff that's easy to enjoy no matter what your religious stripe. Check it out.

MARK WHITFIELD/Grace: The great guitarist officially brings his kids into the family business with this well played smooth jazz and then some set that shows how genes will out. Simply tasty stuff throughout.

JOSH LAWRENCE/Color Theory: So, are you a Philistine if you don't agree with the composer's view of what he's doing with impressionistic music? Not if the person disagreeing is me. Lawrence says this set is inspired by colors. Fair enough. I find it to be music inspired by a bunch of cats from Philly that are inspired by swinging straight ahead jazz that crawls deep into the pocket and stays there. High octane stuff where all the players are treated as equal members with something equally important to play, this is the work of a trumpet layers that's charting his own course using great navigation skills. Check it out.

MARK McKINNEY/World in Between: After having several #1s in Texas, McKinney opens the lens to appeal to a wider audience without losing the fans in the bag. No Johnny Comelately, he's earned his spurs opening for Willie, Miranda, Skynyrd and others that don't need an opening act that let's you make a trip to the can and for one more beer before the real show starts. Sounding like he's got what it takes to eventually make it into the Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame, he's certainly got what it takes to keep the Texas troubadour lineage in tact. Killer modern country with solid respect for it's roots. Well done.

Volume 40/Number 74
January 14, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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