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LYN STANLEY/Moonlight Sessions V. 2: It's indisputable at this point to argue that Stanley is at the top of her game and a jazz singer for our times, but how did she make dreck like "Makin' Whoopie" interesting? Focusing on the dark side of love that makes you want to slit your wrists, her vocal caresses stop you just short of putting on some Leonard Cohen and gargling with razor blades. Easily the 3 a.m. album for our times, Stanley makes dour even sound good. A winning set that belongs in every collection.

JIMMIE BRATCHER/This is Blues Country: Relax, Jim Gaines has his hands on the wheel. Changing things up on the familiar, country classics are retrofitted as blues and blues/rock tunes and Bratcher makes it all feel right at home. You just stumbled into a watering hole where you'll be spending some time at if working man's blues is your métier. Trust me, it works well here. Well done.

LYNN DRURY/Rise of the Fall: This singer/songwriter from Nawlins via Miss'ippi has come up with the album Lucinda Williams fans have been hoping for. Without being a copycat, Drury has her own sound but she does a great job of following in and filling some mighty big footsteps. Simply a right on set throughout.

CHRIS PARKER/Moving Forward Now: He's 20 years old, he's a drummer and he swings. Attracting a bunch of hitters from the nu world of every man for himself, all jazzbos on board here can be heard working up a sweat no matter how cool they play it. A most auspicious debut from a tyro that's set his sights on the heights, this is a must for mainstream jazzbo to check out. Well done.

BIG JAY McNEELY/Honkin' & Jivin' at the Palomino: Granted this was recorded 30 years ago and McNeely isn't as young as he used to be, he was no youngster here and that didn't stop him from blowing the roof off the sucker. Pummeling the crowd with music that's timeless and not subject to the whims of fashion, this R&B sax legend is as bad ass as it gets. Included is a DVD with some stuff that really helps tell the story in full multimedia glory. You don't have to be an oldies man to go totally nuts here.

DAN BRUCE'S :BETA COLLECTIVE/Earthshine: Debut set from a Chicago jazz guitarist finds him and his crew taking the angular, minimalist route to get where they want to. Touching on some of the space jazz elements that would later become the bedrock for fusion aces, this stuff goes to the inner rim of the outer edges as it makes it's journey. Left leaning tastes have a treat here.

DEBBIE PORYES TRIO/Loving Hank: Since there's nothing here written by Hank Jones, and a bunch of the songs here aren't associated with Jones, this is Poryes doing her tribute to his sound and vibe. Showing the love, this is a fine reminder of the cat that was so good but seemed to spend much of his career making others look good. A winning set that is a sure bet for sitting down jazz fans, this is a mighty fine piano trio work out.

FLORIAN HOEFNER/Coldwater Stories: A solo piano set of cerebral, impressionistic jazz recorded in Germany by a native. Does it get anymore ECM than that? Miss those old days when Manny was making magic out of thin air? If this set isn't a return to those times that left leaners had a sonic aerie they could let their ears hide out in, then nothing is. Right on that money throughout.

EMI MEYER/Monochrome: A Seattle native that has managed to tear it up in Asia comes home to hang out with the crème of the Seattle jazz scene to turn out a set that makes you wonder if she's an art chick that can do whatever she wants because Paul Allen gets the first special thanks in the liner notes or is she a millennial Chris Connor. Today's lounge lizards can only listen to so much Cole Porter and this is certainly a sterling alternative come cocktail hour.

WYATT EASTERLING/Divining Rod: Here's a back porch ace that comes across with so much heart that his songs do more than just speak to you. Hitting hard with deceptive simplicity, Easterling's post card from a friend you didn't know you had is such a welcome treat that any singer/songwriter fan will wonder where this release was hiding. Hot stuff that resets the bar.

Volume 40/Number 320
September 17, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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