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URI CRANE & THE LUTOSLAWSKI QUARTET//Space Kiss: In case you ever wondered what would happen if someone brought out the jazz in Mussorgsky or Hindemith, this set gives you your answer. Mixing crime jazz with classical elements, this left leaning jazz/classical mash up is right up the malcontent's alley. Wild stuff that just keeps getting wilder.

MICHAEL PACKER/I Am the Blues-My Story V. 3: You haven't heard such plaintiff, accepting and resigned music since Mississippi John Hurt was on his victory lap/late period vindication run. Released a heart beat after he passed, the acoustic blues man sounds totally back porch and relaxed about everything as he goes through his songs & stories. One of life's certified hard luck cases, he leaves a legacy that will find him remembered well.

KAREN LOVELY/Fish Outta Water: This Lovely is one you really have to watch out for in this age of the distaff superhero taking over everything. A winner or nominee in everything you can be up for since she first hit the scene, this set finds her being the girl friend you want but probably can't handle. Delivering with certified primal sultriness that knocks you off your pins, Lovely redefines what it is to be a white girl with the blues. Hot stuff throughout.

YELENA ECKEMOFF QUINTET/In the Shadow of a Cloud: Having left the classical world behind for a turn in the new age world, Eckemoff sheds her skin once again and comes in with a classic, ECM worthy date that finds her mixing angular jazz with left leaning impressionism aided by a crew of experienced New Yorkers that know how to deliver this sound and vision. This is the sound of her memories of days gone by, spread over two discs with some improv aces that know how to sound like she feels. Certainly something different and out of the ordinary.

ERROL RACKIPOV GROUP/Distant Dreams: The vibe player comes in with a date that has a vague Brazilian patina to it that you can't put your finger on. That's because it's jazz inspired by Bulgarian folk music. Bristling with the kind of energy you enjoy when you make a zesty, new discovery, this set is sure to be always welcome in your ear the more you play it. The kind of jazz that gave you your light bulb moment when you really made the turn to jazz in college, this is a fast ball right down the middle that you can't ignore. Well done throughout.

CARLOS VEGA/Bird's Up: Left leaning Latin jazz first stewed in Chicago and later brewed in Miami, Vega brings it back home to tear it up with Chicago locals that love riding the groove express. Tasty, high octane stuff that finds the sax man and his pals giving it their all and giving more than you'd expect. A winner throughout.

SCENES/Destinations: A long standing guitar trio of Portland/Seattle cross pollination, their sound and vibe only deepens with each outing. A solidly burnished set that stands toe to toe with any modern genre highlight, this is sitting down jazz that gets you standing up and cheering. Smart, angular stuff that'll more than bring out the high tone, up market listener in you.

GORDON MEIER BLUES EXPERIENCE/Magic Kingdom: It feels like Chicago but you hear how-how-how. What gives? Meier was a super fan of Freddie King and Magic Slim ( he thought Slim was obscure and obviously showing Meier wasn't from Chicago in thinking that). A real juke joint jumper of a set that fuses modern lyricism with traditional electric blues stomping, this is the electric blues for future frat boys come that really want to let the fur fly. A cat that knows his stuff inside out, Slim's got to be smiling down on these endeavors. The is powered by the sound of fury of way too many late nights in Chicago blues bars. Killer stuff.

JIM ALLCHIN/Decisions: A former Microsoft exec that took his stock options and his Ph.D. out of the building so he could get back to what he really wanted to do, be a blues shredder, shows that he's got way to much fire in his fingers for a white, science geek. There's an intensity here that doesn't feel like this music was born in juke joints, but it's also an intensity at can't be denied. Wonderfully hard hitting stuff that doesn't quit, Allchin certainly doesn't have to go back to his day job---ever. Well done.

MICHELE D'AMOUR & the Love Dealers/Lost Nights at the Leopard Lounge: A white girl from Seattle that somehow has become possessed b y Koko Taylor, D'amour keeps it tight and hard hitting whether she lays back or kicks ass. A solid crew that knows their way around modern electric and rocked up blues, this is a first class party on a platter that knows no bounds when it comes to how hard and far it can push. A stone good time throughout.

Volume 40/Number 220
June 9, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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