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BILLY FLYNN/Lonesome Highway: Deceptively looking like the accountant down the block that's looking to lighten his work load as he's getting older, Flynn dispels all that once he rips into his ax and let's things fly. Sounding like he ate Chuck Berry records for breakfast for a long time, this background ace to the superstars steps out on his own for Delmark in a set that sounds like he found his natchurl home. Way more than a white boy with the blues, this cat is marvelously the bomb. With only one cover, appropriately a Chess hit, originality is what this set is all about, no matter how far back he reaches. Killer electric blues that knocks you on your ass so it can knock your socks off. Hot stuff throughout.

HERMAN MEHARI/Bleu: Clark Terry used to sneak young Miles into St. Louis jazz clubs so how can you expect a cat from Kansas City not to have loads of that jazz spirit running through him. A trumpet cat that has his own voice but gives you the vibe of young Miles at the wheel, that kind of set up leaves very little room for complaint and actually, very little other wiggle room for comparison. The straight up experience most jazzbos are looking for, Mehari's individuality and chops is what sets this date apart and is sure to give it legs. Hot blowing that ignites hot times. Check it out.

MANUEL VALERA/The Seasons: The guy with the golden touch that hits it out of the park seemingly every time he steps up to the plate, no matter what, serves it up hot with his trio of four years. A barnstorming, high energy jazz piano trio date, this set gallops into the future leaving no stone unturned while remaining always compelling and engaging. Not content to just play pretty, he can play pretty but take it to realms you didn't know pretty existed in. A sure handed winner of a date, this is progressive stuff any set of ears can enjoy. Well done.

CARPTREE/Emerger: This duo knows how to raise a progressive racket with a little help from their friends. Proudly aiming for disenfranchised teens that need strum and drang but don't cotton to Goth and show gaze, fans of this probably aren't likely to shoot up their high schools---in fact, these sympathetic voices might keep them from doing so. Kind of like a dark side of ELP, it's just proof the times the are a-changing'.

SAM NEWSOME/Sopranoville-New Works for Prepared and Non-Prepared Saxophone: Compelling in the same way that Mort Weiss' late period, totally solo works are, Newsome expands his palette a little more than Weiss and he's doing more risk taking and exploring of outer edges. Bordering on being Sunday afternoon arts council fare, Newsome imbues it with that something extra, as well as some civil rights jazz vibes, that keeps the sounds hipster populist rather than egghead elitist. A nice look a the outer edges from a cat with the chops to pull it off.

GREG WICKHAM/If I Left This World: Away from recording for almost a generation, this Americana cat from the heartland comes back with the kind of heartland material that falls right in the gulf between classic Dylan and classic Prine. Pretty much not missing a step and adding the wisdom that age seems to bring in Americana, Wickham moves it from the back porch to the patio with something still organic but more expansive. Tasty stuff for those that like it feeling home grown, this is a fine find for folkie ears.

OMERI/Daydream'n: What a fine example of a new sound for a nu America. Raised in inner city Buffalo, this young blood understands the meaning of take the best and leave the rest. How else can you explain a mash up of 70s soul and bluegrass working so well? An entertainer whose mission is to entertain and spread good times without being a jive ass, this is the breath of fresh air commercial radio needs to break it's sound alike hegemony. This fun pop that puts the pop back into pop music. Well done.

J BELLA/All for Nothin: The next generation of soul singers is getting in place to take their place in the spotlight. Connecting with the female audience because she's writing and singing from the heart, this nu soul singer is right for the times with her message and attitude delivering the goods to a young audience ready to make their own stars. Tasty stuff that hits all the right notes with such fine style.

E-LIFE 7/Miked Up: A sumptuous buffet of modern jazz/soul/funk, the crew behind this march out their chops in full regalia delivering a warm, inviting party record that parades chops without bragging or humble bragging about them---they just let the good times roll. Great stuff for getting the party started and keeping it going.

YANG/Failure of Words: Sharply angular instrumental music from Germany, this is in the mode of Zappa's jazz from hell more than anything else, even if it goes it's own way. Far from being noize jazz or noize rock, it is music that shakes up the corpuscles offering a lot of jarring and unexpected moves. Not amateurs playing with trust fund money, it's just out there stuff for out there tastes coming in handy in an inverted new age way for people that really need to express their anger in a positive, socially acceptable way rather than just keeping it in and exploding.

Volume 40/Number 123
March 4, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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