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LINDA BAKER/Walking on Air: A lot of reasons lurk why this feels like such a sophisticated date. Baker is one of those New York ladies that just oozes sex appeal and smarts. And if you think you know her voice from somewhere, it's because she was the voice of Moet champagne. With Michael Abene doing the charts on classics that are off the beaten diva path, it's New York sophistication all the way. This is the kind of set that can drag you kicking and screaming into feeling like a grown up but will kick your ass in the end. And you won't be feeling like some bullshit, jive ass stockbroker grown up that seems to have escaped from a "Law & Order" episode. Hot stuff throughout, and not just for jazz vocal fans.

KEN GREVES/The Face of My Love: The funny thing about a songbook collection like this is that if you do it for a major label, you have to water it down to make everyone happy and it then becomes wildly hit or miss beyond your control. If you do it as an indie, it can only suck because you suck. Greves loves his work and hopefully it's more than a hobby. A solidly delightful walk down memory lane in which the classic American songs get strung together into a theme that pretty much covers the life cycle of a relationship. On the money throughout, Greves goes way beyond being a jive ass crooner and wears the mantle of vocalist quite well. Classic "Americana" fans will love it.

FAT CAT BIG BAND/Face: If you're a New York jazzbo in your soul, then the soloists on board here would have more meaning to you than a mere roll call, but trust me, they are leaders all. Coming together for the last part of a jazz trilogy, the show might be over but the energy lingers on. It sure as hell ain't grandpa's big band, much more in the spirit of Carla Bley and Maria Schneider, but if you have contemporary ears jonesing for a huge sound that really fills your head as well as the room, this is a ground zero for you to start prospecting at. Oh, yeah.

CEDRIC WATSON/L'Esprit Creole: In which we find zydeco not being left in the dust as one of it's recent practitioners steps to the line with a set more in keeping with his live show energy. With one foot in tradition and one foot in the future, Watson and his posse know about adding just the right amount of spice to the Creole mix to strike just the right balance of hot and flavorful. And in the spirit of gumbo, did we mention this fiddling accordionist is a black cowboy from Texas? This is a cat that really knows how to stir it up, genre bender style.

DEE JACOB, SUZAN BERGLAND, JEFF COX (read by Linda Weber)/Velocity: Here's a business book that should be way over your head but it will certainly be the jumping off point for all the business buzz words for the coming year. If you can get your mind off Village People singing "In the Navy" in mall parking lots, this tome tells how the military strives for constant improvement when failure is not an option and all that pip, pip, cheerio. The authors think this is the way to get us out of the current economic depression. If it works, I guess it means they're right. It moves and grooves for business heads. The rest of us will keep our heads buried in free, Internet porn until someone comes out with a new lazy man's guide to riches comes along, with the book on audio downloadable to Kindle, read by the Big Lebowski.

JERRY DOYLE/Have You Seen My Country Lately: The funny thing about the new right is they've got quite a bit of left in them which is odd since they have taken over talk radio by being entertaining and the left puts us to sleep since they have no sense of humor. In the immortal words of Steve Goodman, ‘who ever wins, we're all gonna lose" and never have truer words been spoken. So, if you like your right with a George Carlin underpinning, this cat that's breathing down Michael Savage's neck will give you what for.

MEHMET OZ, DAVID ROIZEN/You On a Diet (Revised Edition): And now thanks to Oprah and the assistance of her new medical guru, men can feel as bad about their bodies as women do with this revised edition focusing on waist management. With the simple advice that you just have to give up everything because it turns to fat, be sure to play this in your headphones at the gym and rethink hitting Starbucks for scones with the money hungry aerobics instructor after you get dressed. You'll just wind up fat and broke. Pay attention.

JUDE DEVERAUX (read by Garba Zachman)/Days of Gold: Remember when there was all that craze for Harlequin Romances and then it all died out because each book was the same old shit written by writers that thought keeping this train running was easier than it looked? That's why writers like Deveraux can command loyal audiences and keep creating new series, like this one here. The sweet and salty heroines, the lush settings, the hallmarks of romance and schmaltz. After all those Stallone actions pics we went to, why would we put down the gals for slipping on the headphones and having a good time. You bet it's a chick lit alert, but it isn't a red alert. If you're a fan, you know the drill.

Volume 33/Number 47
December 17, 2009
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
© 2009 Midwest Record

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