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ALAN LEATHERMAN/Her: The cadre of male jazz vocalists has grown by another member. Leatherman is more than one note threat as this award winner covers the concept album groove with a vocal set that pays tribute to the ‘her' in his life. Sounding heartfelt throughout, this sounds like the upside of letting reality programming seep into our lives too much. Solid stuff that knows how to set a mood, Leatherman will not be anyone's second fiddle. Well done.

CHEVERE/various: Once upon a time there was a band called Chevere that played Latin fusion over here. This isn't their reunion record. Once upon a time, Columbia Records set up their mics in Cuba to let those cats play with our cats and show music was the universal language (while hustling to make a buck at the same time). This isn't a celebration of that. This is the third collection of this label's where Yanquis and Cubans face off to fuse their traditions and attitudes into a wildly, left leaning, classically feeling date that does show, ahem, that music is the universal language. With loads of different cats on board letting the fur fly, this set shows it's a cultural stereotype that Latin music has to be caliente to be hot stuff. A solid set for those high tone nature ones that are looking for something out of the ordinary. Made by gringos but hecho en Havana.

CORY WEEDS/Let's Groove-The Music of Earth Wind & Fire: Been burned by too many sucker list tribute albums? The crew here gets back together to change it up. After some killer Blue Note tributes, they turn their focus to the commercial soul/funk of EWF and find the funk that wheelhouse cats like Chuck Stepney stashed there in the first place. Dripping all the B3 grease you'd want on a funky set, there's isn't a false step anywhere on this set----and you don't even have to be an EWF fan to swing along with the fun stuff. A swingingly good time that works.

STEVE HOBBS/Tribute to Bobby: Now celebrating 43 years on the same label, the vet vibes player rounds up an all star crew (for their third recording together) to pay tribute to his mentor, Bobby Hutcherson. With a bunch of hard riving originals leading the way, this is more than a tip of the hat set as it's more about paying tribute to inspiration. Smoking stuff that has all the right vibes, this is a nice solid, mainstream groovers delight. Hot stuff throughout.

MARC DEVINE TRIO/Inspiration: A dirty little Chicago jazz secret was that before the Great Recession, you could go into almost any upscale hotel and hear great piano trio jazz in the lobby. If it sounded like the real thing, it's because it was the real thing, played by cats that were generally too old or too disenchanted with slugging it out on the road. You could hear great stuff for the price of a drink. Devine is right in that pocket. He plays the classics, slipping one of his own in now and then. Simply just smashing stuff that's a tonic for recidivist ears that want to hear it old school, played perfectly. A first call, top shelf winner of a piano jazz trio date.

FLOW: Once upon a time, the yuppies and young adults whose drug money and allowances built the record biz into what it was suddenly found themselves disenfranchised by hair bands and head bangers that didn't it do it for them. Will Ackerman was there with new age music to ignite a new sonic revolution. It's been a long time since he gave us new age super groups like Montreax, but he's back in the saddle with a super group he's part of this time around. With the kind of enchanting alt.adult music that you once again don't know if it's ECM, jazz, classical or what, this bunch continues the tradition of cutting edge, killer acoustic music. Then there's the guest list, cats with credits from everything from "South Park" to King Crimson. Any adult that wants a respite for the noise of the day has got to own a copy of this killer set. A winner throughout for adults and those that hope to be.

NICHOLAS VINES/Loose, Wet Perforated: Commissioned by an experimental Boston opera company, you can read what you want into the allegory's libretto but it pretty much seems to be a modern take on a life cycle through heaven and hell brought into the future and beyond as the main illustration you seem to take away is that those that don't know history are doomed to repeat it and wind up in the same place. Although born in 1976, Vines has a strong knowledge of the experimental works that were in vogue a little before his time and does his thing without homage or using tracing paper. More a kitchen sink production than a pots and pans exercise, if you like modern music that hits it out of the park, this left leaning nu classical set is really going to float your boat.

SCOTT PENDER/Music for Woodwinds: It's on Pender! If you look really closely, you can see the cover pic is an extreme close up of the valves on a wind instrument. If you don't look close, it looks like a kitchen full of hanging pots and pans. So, you did this to see if I really listen to this many records and if I'd listen to yours since it was sent over by a label that fiercely and proudly left leaning? Yeah, well this collection of recordings made over the last 30 years is a little out of character for the label. It doesn't sound anything like it, but this recording is as lovely and composed as Eugene Ormandy's 1958 recording of "Peter & the Wolf". So there kid whose first music teacher was his parent's record player. Clearly a nu classical set you don't have to be an egghead to love, this is right down the lane for any lover of top quality, instrumental music. Well done throughout.

AJ CRAWDADDY/Slow Cookin': This might be a bunch of white haired, white boys with the blues but I don't think any of them were old enough to carry Mike Bloomfield's guitar case when he was learning the basics of getting it right in all night show lounges and juke joints. A modern set that knows how to keep tradition front and center, this bunch is here for the party and will get it started on their own if you don't snap to it. This platter gives you a wild trip to a bad neighborhood without leaving comfort of your own headphones. Killer stuff that hits it out of the park and then some.

DEANNA WITKOWSKI/Makes the Heart to Sing-Jazz Hymns: The award winning pianist reverses the cry heard on many records, "take it to church" by bring church to you on this set. Kicking it off with a Welch hymn that sounds an awful lot like Charlie Brown Christmas music (with the Guaraldi sass) and covering a wide waterfront of jazzbo and others from there, Ned Flanders might get woozy finding this sacrilegious, but nobody else will need smelling saults to enjoy this set that does take church to you but doesn't instrumentally preach along the way. The kind of first class, out of the ordinary set we need to have come along every so often, you can dig the elegant piano trio work first and dig the message and spirit second. Well done throughout.

Volume 40/Number 341
October 8, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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