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AMELIA ROMANO/New Perspectives: World traveled San Franciscan brings her harp home and with it, she brings a big load of the unexpected. In love with harp since third grade, her stringed universe has led her to explore well beyond the pale. Even when attacking the tried and true, it sounds like nothing you've ever heard before. Pushing the language of harp, Dorothy Ashby has to be smiling that risk takers are keeping the spirit alive when taking the sound to new places. Quite an enchanting set that takes world music to the next level of the game. Well done.

JOHANNA SILLANPAA/From this Side: A jazz thrush not encumbered by the past even when she digs into the classic song bag as opposed to strutting her originals, this jazzy lady currently camped out in Canada after decamping her native Sweden, has toured the world playing every sized venue and enchanting smart listeners that want to witness the future of straight ahead jazz vocal. A solid set in which the award nominee surrounds herself with award winners to bring the jazz home, this set goes the distance. Well deserving of your attention, you might just be the next one to spread her word. Well done.

SHARON LEWIS & Texas Fire/Grown Ass Woman: She might call her band Texas Fire but there's a whole lot of Chicago going on here. A real belter in the finest tradition of blues belters, Lewis delivers the goods in hard hitting, high and mighty style. A rollicking set, she bridges the tradition with the future and the heady brew is intoxicating throughout. A fine slice of real bloooze! Check it out.

ELIZA NEALS/10,000 Feet Below: This white girl with the blues and Detroit roots is trying to convince us she's a real dirty girl. There's a difference between being low down and dirty and being dirty. Probably rightly assuming most people have forgotten the sound of Piedmont blues, Neals amps them up, powers them like they're being played in an after hours blues lounge on Mars and puts the frosting on the cake by making the set mostly originals that keep you from hitting the skip button. Certainly hard core in her soul, you know the very least she's headed for is a keeping the blues alive award from Blues Foundation. Hard hitting, nearly feral stuff, this more than fills your need for something hard hitting and hard driving that never loses altitude or attitude. Killer stuff throughout.

THE ORACLE/#SUF: A white boy that knows the funk since his father drummed for Quincy and his godfather is Jack deJohnette, this scion of the drums knows how to change it up once he leaves the classroom for the day. Bringing funky flute to the fore with a fervor that hasn't been heard since Herbie Mann found Memphis, this isn't funk from Mars but it is the future of funk. Tasty stuff that can get the duffest millennial tapping his toe, this bad boy finds time amid all his obligations to make a run at being the baddest. Fun stuff throughout.

TERRA GUITARRA/Of Sea & Stars: If making a connection between sea and space is what keeps this guitar duo fresh long after other guitar heroes have run out of gas and just repeat themselves, so be it. Moving past their nuevo flamenco sound, it's still basically just two guitars, but there's some sparks flying out of their finger tips that keeps the magic flowing. Proving once again they know how to keep their recorded visits most welcome, it's nice to see/hear them as the standard bearers for keeping real music alive. Hot stuff throughout.

NANCY SHOOP-WU/Rainbow Road: There was a time, when Windham Hill first found it's footing as a real record company, that it started putting out albums like this. A genre defying set that merges classical, new age and sunshine from her adopted home in Hawaii, this is a beautiful example of the kind of adult listening that was the antidote to hair bands for boomers that were still in the habit of buying records but couldn't find anything to buy. With soaring, stellar chops powering her every move, Shoop-Wu enchants and delights anyone who has had it with the noise of every day life. Warm and captivating, this is real music for real listeners. Well done.

RICH & CARSON HALLEY/The Wild: Hell raising becomes a family affair as the improv sax ace brings his drumming son into the family business for a duo set that has Jean Krakos smiling he ever started his BYG label where excursions like this were the norm. Loaded with raw nerve power and passion, improv fans are going to wonder why this took so long. Check it out.

STEREO OFF/EP III: Club/dorm hallways sounding synth pop that mixes in real instruments to give it all a sinister sound, this is a stress relieving soundtrack to go with stress relieving activities around finals. You can almost feel the colors swirling while it plays.

DAVID SINGLEY/Good Hope: A local Twin Cities guitar hero that has done the played anything with everybody thing collects a bunch of tracks recorded at various times this century to show off his smooth jazz with bite skills. A tasty, easy going set that shows how well he knows his stuff, the only reason why you might not know about him if you don't hang around the frozen north is he's probably one of these cats that has the skills to make it all work and stay home with his family. In any case, it's time to discover the kind of chops that keep the temperature in Frostbite Falls from dropping even lower. Well done in a way that reflects it's unhurried gestation.

Volume 40/Number 95
February 4, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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