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CORKY SIEGEL'S CHAMBER BLUES/Different Voices: Over 50 years in, with the aid of crowd funding, we find Siegel finally making the album he had in him all along or else the album he always wanted to make. With nobody from Vanguard, RCA or Dharma telling him what to do, he calls in an incredible array of guests, breaks down the fourth wall to reach you directly and makes and album so cinematic that it's better than most of the movies coming out these days. This is smoking out of the ordinary stuff from an old pro that sounds like he's really come into his own here (if that even makes sense). Sounding a million miles away from a bunch of white boys with the blues fighting a turf war with the Butterfield bunch, this is state of the art white boy blues---with lots of soul stirred in. Totally killer stuff throughout.

ELSA NILSSON/Salt Wind: Have I got a gal I'd like to fix you up with. Flute playing Nilsson has got a hippie vibe running through her veins that manifests itself in her music in a very nice way. Hitting that folk/jazz instrumental sound that that was prevalent 40 years, but updated by her for now, this is brimming with the cross cultural way she's lived growing up leading her to make her mark in New York now. A real spiritual throw back to the indie instrumental-ish records of the 70s that were around before disco hit, yes, it's those same sides that are spoken about in hushed tones today by those in the know that inform this set. With an under current of healing music running through it that you don't realize is not only good but good for you, this sprightly, winning set goes the distance with gas to spare. This is a well done treat that's going to do a lot for tired ears looking for an oasis.

JOHNNY MASTRO & MAMA'S BOYS/Never Trust the Living: Taking mash up to the next level of the game, this bunch that started in LA, moved to Nawlins and has this affection with Chicago days gone by while presenting it as the future, they show the young bloods are taking over and making inroads into leading the way. Blues power quartet rocking it up at a party lounge on Mars? Just might be. If you're ready for tomorrow, this is the bunch of party people that'll be raging behind the green door. Check it out.

MYLES WRIGHT/Manhattan EP: If you were one of those wise cats that checked out and dug Wright's LA session, you're ahead of the curve and are sure to enjoy his bookended set, this one focusing on a big bold, New York sound that sounds like 52nd Street used to feel. With an accompanying blu ray disc covering the material as well, Wright melds his various interests and jobs into a dazzling whole. Big band fans are going to dig that the future of the sound is in good hands and anyone else with ears will dig how good it all sounds. Once again, too bad it's only an ep as we could go for more. Check it out.

NORRBOTTEN BIG BAND/Jojje Wadenius 70: You think the gang at Double Moon gets to have all the fun to themselves in honoring august jazz figures getting on in time? The Swedes have taken a leaf from the Germans and are rolling out the red carpet for Wadenius in honor of his 70th birthday--the second in such a series. The guitarist gets a sprawling big band treatment in which everyone gets to get a taste on this double discer that gives you a lot without trying to cram a lot of tracks in . Recorded in northern Norway with a load of Eurosense running through it, this is progressive without being off putting by rolling off the rails in pursuit of creativity for the sake of creativity. Left leaning jazzbo are sure to have a field day here. Check it out.

SAM FRIEND/Twin: How much more personal can an album be than when you make it as a tribute to your dead twin sister? A Nawlins denizen by way of New York, Friend is a cultural sponge to modes and methods covering the waterfront from singer/songwriter to swampy sounds and doing it all quite well. A protean talent that invites you into his world, he's not afraid to put it out there and let the chips fall where they may. Solidly interesting stuff throughout.

BILL O'CONNELL/Monk's Cha Cha: Ditching his Latin big band for a spell, this set is as much Monk as it is O'Connell originals and this time around, it's just O'Connell and his piano. A lyrical player that can fire away like a bebopper, this is a dandy, solo piano date that stands on it's own two feet without any embellishment needed. Hot stuff throughout.

AMERICAN CONTEMPORARY MUSIC ENSEMBLE/Thrive on Routine: This cd blu ray package shows it's time to give the eggheads some love. With a second disc utterly spiffed up with DTS, blu ray, pure audio and more, these contemporary classicists show incredible dexterity, passion and cohesiveness bringing their sound much more presence and style than the usual Sunday afternoon fare. Simply playing music they love, it's love you can feel and these pieces certainly contain lots of scene setting material (wink, wink). Easily, this is the kind of playing that puts the class in classical. Well done throughout.

ROCCO JOHN/Peace and Love: This is the intersection where improv meets personal passion. A friend of John's was in the process of hooking him up to take his music to a wider platform. As the hook up was in process, the friend died and this resulting set is three extended tracks paying tribute to a fallen comrade. Playing in full 60's church basement regalia, the bunch on board here are clearly pouring their feelings out. Hard core improv fans are well advised to check it out.

BILL EVANS TIME REMEMBERED: A complex cat that could go from writing "Waltz for Debby" to hitting the spike, Evans was one of the most pre-eminent piano players of his time with a reach that not only influenced others but led players like Liz Story to him to take lessons even furthering his influences. This documentary, loaded with important interviews and views of the times, does a great job of painting a picture of an enigmatic figure. Well conceived and not at all pedant, we live in an age where we can revel in labor of love/passion projects like this as narrowcasting is encouraged. An eye opening walk down memory lane with one of those cats that should not be forgotten by time, you don't have to be a hard core jazzbo to be taken in by this pic and wonder where the last hour and a half went. Well done throughout.

Volume 40/Number 116
February 25, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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