TORBEN WALDROFF/ Holiday on Fire: The left leaning guitarist finds that Artistshare is the right place for progressive music in these unprogressive times and returns to the label with a new bunch of pals and a new outlook. Surrounding himself with some of New York's leading light improvisers and letting them have room to have their heads, they play like an ensemble that has been using telepathy on each other for quite while. A find fine for the open eared looking for new kicks, Waldorff and pals don't disappoint with this set of originals. Right on the money throughout.
MARK WINKLER/The Company I Keep: The nice thing about Winkler's records is that the reviews write themselves. He's so reliable, you can pretty much cut and paste old write ups, tweak them a bit and make a new post. The difference this time around? He's coming out of a personal tragedy and his close pals, all of whom you've heard of if you ever listened to a smooth jazz album, gather around to help him through. With more of an up close and personal sound in this very personal, actually upbeat album (considering the circumstances), Winkler closes the deal on being the new Dave Frishberg and comes through with a classic---quite a cherry on top of an already illustrious career. One of those sets that just plain owns the top rung, this is a mighty smooth jazz set that goes way beyond. Hot stuff throughout.
LEO BUD WELCH/Live at the Iridium: Every generation needs it's own Mississippi John Hurt and this cat that's been playing forever but never recorded until was 81 fits the bill for right now. Certainly not an oddity or a hoax, this sassy senior delivers old school blues/gospel without varnish or affectation, ala the rediscovered Hurt in his time. There's no dust on him, even if he's as old school as it gets, and this cd-dvd package is a wonderful find for anyone that wants a tasty taste of what was delivered by a cat that knows how to do it. Killer stuff.
LAS CAFETERAS MUSIC
LAS CAFETERAS/Tastes Like LA: Don't call them just another band from LA. This slyly subversive bunch, that has paired up with loads of diverse talents, is about unity. Their method is to get the party started. The kind of upbeat, party platter that gringos love even when they don't know what is being talked about, either they'll enjoy the grooves or dig deeper and find the call to action in the lyrics. Solid stuff that's impossible to resist, this disc is simply happening on a lot of levels. A winner throughout.
JOANIE LEEDS & the Nightlights/Brooklyn Baby: Even if you can tell this album is for kids 4 to 9 when you listen closely to the lyrics, the sound and fury make it sound like something way advanced for the kids, meaning they're going to love it. A solid set for kids that know what's going on in the world around them, even if they don't understand any of it, they are going to get a real kick out of hearing from someone that really gets them. A kids album of a very different stripe, Leeds feels like the cool aunt kids like having around when the rest of the grown up aren't. Very much a wild ride.
RUSS TOLMAN/Compass & Map: Alt before alt was cool, Tolman comes back from a musical diaspora of over a decade with a career retrospective to ease him back into the nu world with new material. This set covers his solo years after leaving True West and finds him in the kind of company that makes you wonder how he stayed in the underground so long. Having more in common here with folk rock than the more hell raising aspects of the company he kept, this is loaded with the kind of songwriting that can cross generations easily if you don't tip the youngsters off to what's really going on. A smart set from a smart chap, this definitely shows his has been a career well spent.
POLLY GIBBONS/Is It Me?: Johnny Mandel gave the high sign to this sassy, swinging thrush who is very much the modern kind of gal that knows how to appreciate what was without trying to force herself into the mold for greater affect. Impressing a range of hit makers from Van Morrison to Joss Stone, Gibbons is one of those singers that makes it seem too easy and inspires a wave of poseurs to waste our time and ear space thinking all they have to do is step up to the mic and wail. Meanwhile, she's the reigning voice of the UK and it's clear that each note she sings takes her closer to world domination. Hot stuff.
CHRIS GREENE QUARTET/Boundary Issues: This sax man and his long standing Chicago crew like to turn things on their heads as evidenced by the title of this set being about pushing boundaries rather than not knowing how to mind them. Jazzbos well steeped in the tradition, they are one of those crews that fuse traditional and modern vibes into a smart stew that melds and seasons well. In the pocket without being complacent about it, this is sitting down jazz played from the top rung. Well done.
ALLEGRA LEVY/Cities Between Us: Maturing in the three years that have passed since her impressive debut, now you can't help but be struck by what a full voiced, swinging thrush Levy has become. Exercising her pen as well as her voice, she may or may not be your dad's jazz vocalist but she's certainly one for you. Every inch the real jazzbo, Levy hits it out of the park showing sophomore jinx is for losers. Hot stuff from all hands on board make this a smart, winning set that's sure to make noise----in a good way. Well done.
NU BLU/Vagabonds: A modern, traditional bluegrass group, Nu Blu mightily takes it to the next level of the game. Even when imparting the message, they do it with songs that don't hit you over the head with religious fervor but do get the point across. Blazingly hot and playing like they set the standard, this crew really hits it out of the park here. An easy bet to be bluegrass for ears that think they aren't attuned to bluegrass, the playing time on this set passes way too quickly. A winner throughout.
Volume 40/Number 161
April 11, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record
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