JEAN-FRANCOIS BONNEL/With Thanks to Benny Carter: You really have to be a jaded, snotty hipster not to appreciate Benny Cater and these Frenchies show that Carter is alive and well in their hearts even if he's no longer with us. Can you replicate a time, place and spirit without it being a cheesy tribute or homage? This bunch pulls that rabbit out of their hats. You can tell this was recorded now, but it feels like it might have been contemporaneous with Carter when he was in full bloom. Whether a trip down memory lane or a new experience, this such a dazzling date that you're glad it's in the hands of a label that knows what to do with it. Killer stuff throughout any jazzbo will love and spread the word about.
RONNY WHYTE/Shades of Whyte: This set is a textbook example of how important authenticity is. If you don't have a real taste for the oldies, you might not get how deep the authenticity runs here. The vet singing piano man hits the Sinatra song list with the zest and sound of Steve Lawrence but don't go mistaking him for a gift shop jive ass looking for a life boat. With solid jazzbos in tow and an innate understanding of which he sings, this cat is delivering heart felt goods, not just manqué-ing around. Perhaps a last vestige of the real deal, this is a set made to be enjoyed. Well done throughout.
GRETA GAINES/Tumbleweed: Gaines might be long enough in the tooth to have been the first winner of the Women's Extreme Snowboarding Championship in 1992 but she's going to appeal to all that like Lucinda Williams but think she's become a poseur or something. A bad ass alt.country rocker to the hard core bone, Gaines has been involved in a lot of things over the years but if you are still a newbie to her ouveur, this ep is going to knock you out and have you combing the ‘net for more. Killer stuff that's a hard hitting wake up call for jaded ears.
ALEX WINTZ/Life Cycle: A smart, rising jazz guitarist that knows how to pick the right pals and give them room to do their thing checks in with a sizzling, straight ahead date that was made for letting listening to it be your prime directive. Swinging and full blooded throughout, this is a zesty set where the playing is right on and the originals show a brain cooking on both lobes. Hot stuff that's hard to resist or put down.
GREGORY LEWIS ORGAN MONK/Breathe Suite: Civil rights jazz gets blasted into the future as a cat that could have been quite satisfied bringing greasy B3 to the Monk canon goes way deeper and crafts a tribute to various black youths felled by the man. Using the classic sound as a touchstone but not a hallmark, Lewis builds on that showing a direct lineage from protest music like "Strange Fruit" into now. The music is often appropriately haunting and this is anything but an easy, easy listening date. Deep stuff for deep listeners that feel the outrage of the times.
STEVE MAYONE/Sideways Rain: If you've never encountered Mayone, the first pass at this set might find you thinking he's wise beyond his years, but he's been writing and toiling in the trenches for 20 years and has had the time to refine his craft, learn form his influences and serve up this contemporary singer/songwriter folk rocking set that avoids all the Americana clichés while keeping it organic and rocking. A solid writer that knows from the Americana from which he sings and writes, this set is one of those that just smacks you between the eyes and keeps coming. Well done.
OLIVER LAKE featuring Flux Quartet/Right Up On: Whoa, hell raisers en regalia. The mad sax man and the arts councils darlings pair up for a high faluting set of progressive improv jazz and more. Playing together for over a decade and now releasing their first collaboration, this bunch that celebrated the 100th birthday Einstein in sound continually offer something different and well beyond Sunday afternoon arts council music. A wild set for those ready for a wild ride with a match made in color outside the lines heaven, improv goes to the next level of the game in the hands of these pros.
CHRIS McCARTHY/Sonder: The in demand keyboard player recreates his senior thesis and it will probably confuse his swinging fans as this shows an unrepentant arts council side to his work. Flexing his wings on what would come, this is for the Sunday afternoon left leaning jazzbos that can be counted on to show up where wine and cheese will be given out free. While not for everyone, it is certainly a portrait of a rising artist as a young man.
ROUND EYE/Monster Vision: Freak punks from Shanghai that have a thing for Joe Bob Briggs and offered Steve MacKay his last chance to record? Even if you can't figure out what they are doing, you gotta check it out. This is like the punk version of Johnny Mack Brown Live. Briggs goes through the date like the skits on an old school rap record and he stays in character throughout. This is the maddest mash up ever. Yes, we now have the answer to what would happen if Michael Hurley went punk and political and was young enough to handle it. There's a good reason by a Shanghai papers has awarded them best local band several years running. Check it out, if you dare sonic chopsocky enthusiasts.
ROSE ELLIS/Like Songs Like Moons: Given a scholarship in her native Holland to set sail and conquer New York, this swinging thrush lines up a smart jazz trio for a sizzling debut where she's out to turn a long codified form on it's head without being precious just for the sake of it. Talk about a debut that succeeds beyond all expectation!. Singing with a wide ranging set of style propelled the kind of seeker that can unearth some never recorded Billie Holiday written material, Ellis is sure to set the world on fire by rubbing two sticks together and not needing matches. You're going to be hearing a lot more from this talented new comer and this is your sterling chance to say you knew about her when. Hot stuff throughout.
Volume 40/Number 165
April 15, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record
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