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LIZA STEPANOVA/Tones & Colors: Sometimes it seems like there are more great artists than there are places to put them. This solo, classical pianist can carry the ball across the goal line all on her own. A feast for those that savor the fleet fingered, Stepanova finds her inspiration for this set in visual arts, and you know movies travel at 24 frames a second. Not just running the scales for playing fast to show she can, the set card mixes classics with modern classics in way she makes all her own. You don't even have to be a classical fan to love it.

JULES SHEAR/One More Crooked Dance: If you're looking for the guy that started out hanging with Jack Tempchin before moving on to being a new wave hit maker, he ain't there. An old man album made by an old man, this is what happens when a non pirate looks back at 40 (years of performing). An album that's kind of hard to connect with, we'll see if the hard core fans think this is a valentine or not. Maybe it's time to hang out with the Jolly Boys again.

BILLION DOLLAR BABIES/First Ever Live Show Flint 1977: You probably wouldn't know it now, but Alice Cooper actually broke up in 1975. Alice's back up crew, instrumental in that first wave of success, found themselves sort of adrift but pulled it together under their own identity and tried winging it on their own---even of a big part of their show was an Alice Cooper medley. This crew rocked hard but didn't have any of the problems Icarus did. A hard rocking, sweaty set that could have been recorded better, this is a fine document of what happens when the bonds to break apart are stronger than the bonds to stay together are in effect.

DANNY FOX TRIO/Great Nostalgist: What a misleading title. Any jazz piano trio that winds up on Hot Cup has got to be looking forward, which Fox and friends so admirably. Setting sail with their third release, and not retracing any past steps, it might a little to the egghead side but over all, it's a solid sitting down, listening date. Sometimes you just don't have to play pretty for the people to have it all come out right in the end anyway.

JOHNNY FINK & the Intrusion: If you aren't from Cincinnati, you might be convinced that Fink is the white boy blues scene in Ohio. A rugged, ragged growler that never met a false note, this is sweaty, smoking and explosive electric blues that doesn't know when to quit. Starting out at hot and heavy, this is certified party on a platter from the top shelf.

REX GRANITE BAND/Spirit Matter truth Lies: The Nebraska white boy blues scene continues to show how much life and heat are out there in the unexpected doing the unexpected. With singer Sarah Benck getting a deserved ‘featuring' credit, she leads the boys charge through this freight train of a romp of ace high blues rock. Without affect or pretension, there might not be any frills but there sure are loads of thrills and spills along the way. Well done throughout.

MICHAEL DEASE/Reaching Out: The protean trumpet player doesn't just bring the daddio on this set. He packed up the Posi-Tone All stars for a busman's holiday of stuff that's mattered to him over the years showing what he can give back to what he's gotten. Whether doing tributes or homages, Dease shows he no manqué as he lets his jazz flag fly in fine form. A winner throughout.

DAN PUGACH NONET/Plus One: One of those drummers that can capably lead from the back of the riser and give everyone some along the way shows what happens when you work hard and work to keep your art pure along the way. A real heads up of a modern jazz date, there's plenty of daddio for the 2010s as well as for the real daddio. Delightfully engaging with well played surprises along the way, this is solid bet for tired jazzbo ears looking for a new taste treat.

TYLER MORRIS BAND/Next in Line: Only 19 and on his third record, this tyro kicks it out like he's already an arena rocker and there's not a drop of smugness coming anywhere from him. A power rocker to the core, you have to wonder where these atavistic genes are coming from. Or not and just sit back and marvel. Killer stuff you don't have to be a kid to understand, you just have to wonder how he keeps on getting hotter and heavily. This set raises the bar.

MUDDY GURDY: In which we find a new kind of Americana that colors way outside the lines and follows it own muse. A trio of Frenchies want to do some modern Cajun and they want to do it in the Delta with the Mississippi All Stars. This is from the gumbo bar on Mars. It might take most ears a few years to catch up with this ground breaking set, but the wait will pay off. Strong stuff that might seem outsider now, but...

Volume 41/Number 84
January 23, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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