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GREGORY LEWIS/Organ Monk Blue: The contemporary Monk maestro starts digging really deep into the canon here. Lewis on B3, Monk on the set list and Marc Ribot on guitar. A hell raisers delight that doesn't roil off the rails, not even once. Mixing precision and soul, this set handily hits all the right notes along the way. Well done.

ILYA PORTNOV/Strong Brew: A Russian born blues harmonica players that can load everything from the Hot Club to the whorehouse into one song seamlessly makes his over due instrumental album debut with a set that is so on the money that it is money. An international cat in every sense of the word, he sweeps out every corner he knows and leaves it all on the tape for a strong brew indeed. Smoking stuff anyone with eclectic ears will love.

LISA B/I Get a Kick-Cole Porter Reimagined: In which we find the cat lady ditching the felines to serve up a polished, accomplished cabaret take on Cole Porter classics with her own interstitial material added to make it a whole show. Showing the importance of going for what you know, these are songs she's loved her whole life and the affection is poured into every note. Jazz vocal fans can throw up their hands and rejoice.

PHIL PARISOT/Creekside: The kind of drummer that plays with so much oomph that he's one of those few cats that could make a solo drum record, he shows he knows how to give everyone some---as long as they keep it funky. He says this set was inspired by nature and we'd like to know where he found this smoking party in nature. No holds barred swinging stuff that comes out swinging and doesn't stop. Well done.

DAVID FRIESEN/Structures: Unlike other cats that have been playing forever and like to push the envelop, Friesen doesn't do things just to do them and seems to only unleash his releases when they are ready. Here we find him at the center of a double disc set of duets, each disc having a different duet partner of high quality. Intimate stuff that could be a recital but has too much blood flowing through it to come off that way, let's call it a master class with a jazzbo that can do no wrong. Intimate certainly doesn't have to mean small as well shown here. Top notch all the way.

JOHN STOWELL-ULF BANDGREN QUARTET/Night Visitor: Suppose in the classic ECM years, Eicher wanted to make a lightly commercial date with Ralph Towner facing off against John Abercrombie. That's kind of what this duo guitar led date feels like. Progressive without hitting the church basement, proficient without rubbing your face in it, this easy going date might be the soundtrack to a ‘what kind of man reads Playboy' ad if he was still alive today and his kids weren't making un-Playboy like choices. Can't hold none of that against the music though. Jazz guitar fans in the Wes mode will love it.

EVA CORTES/Crossing Borders: A crowd funded Latin jazz vocalist funded by a crowd that knows their apples, if this feels like a Brazilian record that you just can't put your finger on, it's because she's from Honduras and the crew is playing with pan Caribbean chops. It might not be Brazilian, but it has all the sound and feel of the Brazilian jazz vocal set you've been jonesing for lately. Killer stuff throughout from an international star that really needs to plant a flag here.

STEVE SLAGLE/Dedication: Don't try to divine the meaning of the title because the dedications are as eclectic as his playing. A smoking sax man that long ago proved his mettle, Slagle honks away with glee and abandon as he leads his all star pals through a romp of things that inspired him along the way. Pro work from a real pro, this is the set that should come out when some real music is needed. Hot stuff.

HEATHER NEWMAN/Burn Me Alive: A sleeve wearing white girl with the blues currently stomping around her Kansas City stomping grounds, she might not growl like Koko but she can purr like a cat----a feral cat that's pissed off at you for whatever reason. A hard working, hard charger, this might be the contemporary blues/rocking sound of the suburbs, but you have to change with the times. This gal means business and I'd hate to be the politician or Hollywood mogul that tries to cross her. Hot and heavy duty stuff throughout.

LITTLE G. WEEVIL/Something Poppin': He says it's not blues rock but 21st Century R&B. Granted this international cat is entitled to his own vision and he does a lot here to verify that, I'm still enough of a moldy fig to call it hard rocking blues rock with a kitchen sink worth of other soul/R & B elements added to the mix. It's tasty no matter what you want to call it. Music that's right at home once your blood has already been angried up and just needs a fellow traveler, this is hard hitting stuff for hard hitting times. Well done.

Volume 41/Number 17
November 17, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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