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MARCUS RANDOLPH & My Peeples Peeple/Transplant: This drummer isn't kidding in the title, he wouldn't be here if his wife didn't donate a kidney. Using that as the jumping off point for nu funk, this founding member of the Robert Randolph bunch gets to get to the front of the riser and struts his own stuff. You can catch the lineage from James Brown to here with the only thing missing is Randolph hollering "I'm mad" to underscore how authentic this funk is. Wild stuff for those who want something high octane to lead the sonic charge.

KINGS & ASSOCIATES/Tales of a Rich Girl: These Aussie white boys with the blues, and some out of the box awards, up their game here by bringing in Jim Scott to give this set a big, full, ‘what are you looking at' sound, like arriving is already a done deal. Hallmarked by tons of classic AOR blues/rock, this is music for people that want to rock. A full on hit sound in search of a chart to top, the children of anyone who ever dug the classic rock sound with find their atavistic rock genes as soon as bytes come to light. Killer stuff that knows all the right moves and how to make them.

JULIE BENKO/Introducing: The jump from Broadway to jazz/cabaret is a small one. Even if the result is ‘just' a confection, in the right hands you can count on it to be tasty which is often good enough. Benko can mix originals and pure mawk into a mix that let's them stand along side the pop classics from grandpa's time and work well throughout. Whatever oldies bag she's digging in, Benko has the chops and knows how to use them. With a bunch of east coast underground, straight ahead jazzbo that don't get their names thrown around much when not in the background providing the proper setting, jazz vocal fans are sure to have a new set to delighting here. Well done.

LARA & THE BLUZ DAWGS/Out Here in the Blue: Coming from diverse geography and musical points, Lara proves once again she's the kind of white gal with the blues that we'd pay the babysitter overtime to so we can enjoy the playing and being away from the little monsters. With the gang showing an appreciation for showroom blues, the whole crew ups their game yet again for their third outing as they build an impressive catalog and prove they are a crew here to stay. Hot stuff that uses the blues to chase the blues away in high style.

CHUCK OWEN & the Jazz Surge/Whispers on the Wind: So when will this big band ace win the Grammy already? Powering his big band in fine form, with a lot of cool elements in the mix that will have you reading the liner notes and going ‘so that's who's on here', this impressionistic set about the heartland is nothing like the impressionistic sets for same that come before it. A grand, sweeping set that never loses it's jazz as it plunges into roots/Americana, this becomes one of those sets that tells you music is the universal language. Killer stuff big band ears will champion, Owen is at the top of his game and the NFL could use quarterbacks this good. Hot stuff.

CHRIS DANIELS/Blues With Horns V. 1: We've been digging Daniels for a long time and find that he's at his best when he's delving into his love for the past, no matter what the flavor. Casting himself here as a white boy with the show band blues, this is the sound of the chitlin circuit and it's as authentic as his tribute to the three Louies. This guy could be Paul Shaffer's co-leader of the college of musical knowledge. Hot stuff throughout. Be careful with the record jacket so you don't wreck it's intricate design getting the record out.

PAA KOW/Cookpot: Take a drummer that loves his work and moves from Ghana to Denver to be closer to the funk, add ingredients from all over the world to the mix and let it simmer. That's what's going on here. From Fela to JB, the world of funk is on display here, all with Kow adding his own special sauce along the way. A funky salmagundi anyone? This is great stuff throughout.

WILL YOU?: An improv album based around the works of Rumi came together over the computer when rockers, jazzbo and indigenous players kicked it out and made it work. With boyfriends everywhere probably face palming themselves saying ‘not another Rumi record", the opening strums of this set hit you as a real palette cleanser. With a vocalist that would rather enchant gringos them puzzle them (you don't know it's another Rumi record), the rest of the diverse pros follow suit and make it sound like an up market, opium den record. Let the armchair travelers flip up the foot rest and have a great time, this is world beat that's a dandy audio travelogue. And, the ECMish cover gives you a friendly entry to this den of delights.

WADADA LEO SMITH/Najwa: Nothing gets the blood flowing like a cross generational bunch of jazz hell raisers getting together to kick it out on a bunch of suites dedicated to jazz hell raisers of the past. There isn't a church basement big enough to hold all the sounds flying around here and fans of creative, free jazz will enjoy all the space around them as this will clear the room of all the non acolytes in way less time that you could imagine. What you can imagine if you will is what would happen when you add volatile creative jazz and rock cats to a mix that can only be combustible. Wild and woolly throughout, this is what the real left leaners have been waiting for.

WADADA LEO SMITH/Solo-Reflections and Meditations on Monk: It's like it's the 50s all over again when creative black jazzbo had to flee to Europe to make a living. Here we find Smith issuing the kind of set only the Euros would write a check to support no matter when it was recorded. Paying solo tribute to the piano man with his trumpet, Smith shows his love and connection to Monk as only a true believer can. C‘mon, solo trumpet tribute to Monk? You expect Sony to underwrite this? The funny thing is, you lock these two minds of a mind in the studio together and you don't get hell raising. You get what Sonny Rollins must have sounded like under the bridge in his more pensive moments. A very rare reflection on Monk, this is the kind of revelatory set that might give Tabitha Soren the long desired answer of who the loneliest monk that Bill Clinton listens to and why. Clearly not for everyone, it's more than the right set for the right ears.

Volume 40/Number 343
October 10, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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