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ANTI-NOWHERE LEAGUE/League Style: Nah, these long term UK punks haven't mellowed with age, the sound is laid back-ish because they finally got the chance to make a set of Trojan reggae classics--in their own style. A crazy record that has to stand as one of those non-essential ones the real fans will get and under stand. Sometimes, you really have to make a valentine for the fans---especially these days.

DICK HYMAN/Solo at the Sacramento Jazz Festivals 1983-88: Talk about a record that was never intended to be a record, this set is pulled from 5 years worth of performances where a Walkman was stashed inside the piano to catch the performances. With Hyman's timeless Tatumisms flying freely, if you weren't there to enjoy this 35 years ago, such a mistake is now rectified. Solo jazz piano fans know the outlines of what to expect and if you approach it as such, the minimalism of solo piano won't phase you at all. A lovely set punctuated by rough edges and flourishes that probably wouldn't surface in a planned studio recording, how can you not be floored by a master that knows his stuff? Well done throughout.

JASON RICCI & THE BAD KIND/Approved by Snakes: Not the kind of blues or blues rock normally associated with the label, this set is a trip through hell with what the original Tom Waits might be like if he was starting out today. A mash up of sounds that seems to come out the other side as nu beatnik. When you start things off with a tome about how your true love is dope whore and only get wilder from there, this is the cross pollination of Lou Reed and Tom Waits that ends up in places you'd never imagine. It ain't easy listening, it's what you want to have on hand on when you want to take a real, real, real walk on the wild side Check it out!

GARY MOTLEY/No Reservation Required: Don't let the title of this new one by this Alabama Jazz Hall of Famer fool you into thinking he's making cocktail jazz. Expanding the language of jazz piano trio but not making it left leaning, this is a modern set from a cat that's been around long enough to have seen it all and rest on his laurels if he felt like it. Nu stuff for nu times, there's a lot going on here that opens the ears nicely. Check it out.

DONNA E. SCOTT/Carnival: Brazil by way of Texas? Sure, when you're in the right hands. A jazz vocalist with a load of recognition under her belt hooks up with cats from Joe Sample's band and the Texas vibe is transformed. Mixing oldies with originals, the vibe is right on and the special sauce makes the old new and tasty. A jazz fast ball right down the middle, mainstreamers are going to have a gasser on their hands here. Well done.

BRIAN TARQUIN & Company/Orlando in Heaven: After taking the trouble to open his own instrumental label, the Emmy award winner was so moved by the nightclub massacre in Orlando that he created as set with vocals that's giving a portion to charity to come out in time for the one year anniversary of the massacre. Keeping his fusion chops at the fore and surrounding himself with the crème of the fusion crop, this set of exclusive material comes at you from the left side and blind sides you all the while. One of those times you do good by doing good.

KONRAD/Artbreak: An indie cat that's not so indie that it hurts, his third set is probably packed with more of the kind of stuff that will get licensed to high profile, left field projects and keep the lights on in his shop as his music is more tailored to streaming than selling. A left fielder that's not afraid to follow his muse into who knows where, the chops are there, they just grill differently in these nu times. Younger tastes should check it out.

GAUDI/Magnetic: How odd that this seems like one of the label's less hell raising releases in that Gaudi basically sampled the existing catalog weaving it into new compositions. Not of the found music variety but actually feeling like composed, cohesive work, this is a way out thing that shows what you can pull off when you want to. The genius of Bernie Krause finds it's way into the nu generation (even if this cat has been a hell raiser on his own for 35 years).

BRIAN THORNTON-SPENCER MYER/Brahms Sonatas for Cello & Piano: Ah, the symmetry of it all. A pair of old musical pals kicking it out on a pair of Brahms' sonatas. The repertoire might be a touch more warhorse than we have come to expect form the label, but the performance is not. As is often the label's impressive strong suit, they only need a few players, or less, to make enough sound to raise the roof and keep you rapt. Very much in the high tone recital mode here, these two take you on a Sunday afternoon flight of fancy that'll almost have you forgetting Brahms' lullabies. Deft and expert, this is the sound of pros at work playing like it ‘s not work at all. Highly well done.

NIKITA MNDOYANTS/Davidsbundlertanze: Almost 40 years ago Telarc knew what was going on in classical music in Cleveland and brought the area to glory. Steinway seems to have picked up the gauntlet doing much the same. From Cleveland by way of Russia, this piano man sounds like he has the softest touch ever--but don't be fooled by that ruse. When he needs to pound the ivories to massive effect, he's right on that point as well. Rolling out the red carpet for some Beethoven, Schumann and Prokofiev, classical piano fans will wonder what took so long for this cat's label debut. Classical piano work that raises the bar.

Volume 40/Number 221
June 10, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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