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ADRIAN CUNNINGHAM/Jazz Speak: When the protean, good professor Cunningham deigns to offer a lesson, even those in the back of the classroom should sit up and pay attention. Playing it straight here with Clayton and Hamilton right in step, Cunningham shows his pure jazzbo side here on a set that will blow your mind. A real mainstream groover that lefties and moldy figs can join in their praise for, this is a disc you want to have handy at all times. Whether original or cover, the material is all Cunningham's, all the way. Killer stuff that's made of the stuff that brings new listeners into the tent.

STEVE SMITH & VITAL INFORMATION NYC EDITION/Heart of the City: Back when the earth was cooling, Esquire Magazine used to run an annual feature called "The Unknockables". The title pretty much tells the story, it was a feature about those were above the fray for various reasons. Smith and this version of his ‘and company' would have easily earned a spot in that feature. Hard core, real jazzbos that know the drill as well as how to make it work on the fly, they dig their teeth hard and heavy into a fusion set that makes you remember why you liked fusion before the consultants killed it. Smoking music to rejuvenate fatigued brain cells, these pros wouldn't let you down ever just out of a sense of pride. Killer stuff you don't even have to be a genre fan to dig mightily.

8 ASSASSINS-The Beautiful the Bad and the Ugly/soundtrack: This cleffer for a middle east set action pic shows further proof that millenials are rediscovering the roller coaster ride of underground prog rock even if some Judy Collins is thrown into the song stack. Jumping from group to group in a way those with short attention spans will appreciate, most of this certainly sounds like the sonic trip through hell that the pic probably delivers on. A super sampler that shows where and how the sound came about, there's a lot of under served pissed off young people out there and this could easily be the "Saturday Night Fever" for today's suburbs. Wild throughout.

THE RIFT-Dark Side of the Moon/soundtrack: Taking space rock back to space, this set, inspired by the Pink Floyd inspired subtitle, is a glimpse of the reliable side of prog rock aimed that those whose tastes run left of center without sailing off the page. Solidly stacked, this cleffer features some of the top names of the past and all involved know their prog rituals of passage. A solid bet for space heads everywhere.

TOBIAS MEINHART/Silent Dreamer: Germany's sax darling of the moment, he seems too young to have personally experienced 70s pre-fusion jazz but he doesn't imbue his work with a sense of misty nostalgia either. You can easily pick out Carla Bley and Stanley Clarke influences but he leaves out the stuff that made those early 70s records have their precious moments to create a sound and vibe that just keeps driving. A real feast for the ears, Meinhart is a cat that doesn't want to have a day job and we hope he never has to have one as well. Solid playing for those that really need to feed their heads and still think music matters.

ESSO AFROJAM FUNKBEAT/Juntos: First we get white boys with the blues, now we get white and Spanish kids with afro funk. Some people might think the world is moving too fast. A Chicago crew with a real understanding of world beat, and how to make it engaging rather than dry, they stir up the dusty streets of where ever they want to be and deliver the goods in a fine contemporary style and any age can relate to and enjoy. You don't have to be a Fela fan or into the sound of today's streets to get this, it's a party everyone is invited to. Tempered by a lot of trial and error in Chicago competitive club scene, the trial by fire has been survived by real survivors. Hot stuff throughout.

QUADRO NUEVO with CAIRO STEPS/Flying Carpet: You know how you like foreign restaurants that keep it authentic but know how to indulge American tastes as well? This German world beat crew knows how to walk that line. This time around, they change it up a bit by adding some middle eastern cats to the mix all it's all kept authentic without being foreign to western ears. And tasty throughout as well. As committed to their art as, say, Paul Winter is to his, this is the kind of stuff that'll have armchair travelers laughing at those who have to wait in long airport lines and encounter all the other hassles of modern travel. A winning set that's a respite form every day noise, this set is going to become well acquainted with your repeat button. Well done.

UNDER ONE SUN: It took 45 years for these old school pals to finally kick it out on an album together but time has come. A world jazz date with more accent on jazz, the musos joining the leaders on their journey are from all over the world and show the kind of chops that don't undermine the leaders and the all star moves they've amassed over the years. You can take this all the way back to hearing Leonard Bernstein jazz echoes informing the music, this is the kind of widely encompassing date where a single note never gets wasted. No chops are displayed here gratuitously as this is a busman's holiday for those who still care about their ‘jobs' and doing same right. Hot stuff.

TOKYO ROSENTHAL/This Minstrel Life: One of those little things that show that life isn't fair is that you can be doing great stuff on the back roads of America without ever having a shot at getting near the top of the charts. That doesn't stop those that know this is greatest job in the world regardless. "Toke" keeps showing how you can get more on the ball with each subsequent release giving Americana a new bar raiser here. Too much from the heart to ever feel contrived, this is much more than music that goes in one ear and out the other. Neo folkies have a new textbook to aspire to here.

ELLAMENO BEAT/Surface: Anyone can enjoy this skanking, surfing sound, but if you are college kid that likes riding the edge, this is sure to be coming out of you phone in the near future so make sure the telco hasn't messed with your unlimited plan. An engaging set for those who like to push the edges of their fave genres, this'll make perfect sense to you whether blazed or not. Well done and a diversion par excellance.

Volume 40/Number 298
August 26, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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