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ALLAN VACHE/It Might As Well Be Swing: Another one of those lovely, timeless sets from Arbors, this one finds the clarinetist working out on a set of swingers where the newest tune is from 1960 and the label's usual suspects are no where in evidence. With nothing hoary about any of these chestnuts, this is how sophisticated listening is supposed to sound no matter when the tunes are pulled from. Classy listening for classy ears, this is smart side of what listening like a grown up sounds like.

JAY LEONHART & TOMOKO OHNO/Don't You Wish: The bass ace you've been enjoying for way too long on almost every important rock and jazz/rock album steps out in a bass/piano duo format that shows you a whole new side to him that's closer to Dave Frishberg than Tom Waits. This is a side of him that percolating under the surface for years and that's why it sounds so fully formed right out of the box. Sounding like a set of personal songs recorded just for you, this heartfelt, hearty set delivers the gods for the real muso ears that need the real deal. Hot stuff.

ALLY VENABLE BAND/Puppet Show: On Bonnie Raitt's early albums, she thought she sounded like such a low down, mean momma, yet her young, Quaker roots showed through. A quirk like that is the only thing that throws you off the scent that Venable hasn't been running down highway 61 with hellhounds on her tail. The voice of the tyro comes through but the youthful innocence wears well against the high octane blues/rock sonic assault that would get you wondering just how much of a dirty girl she really is if her daddy's name wasn't in the liner notes as her manager. A white girl tyro with the blues that more than proves her debut wasn't a fluke tripped up with frippery, Venable is the new face and sound (and fury) of time's up girl power. A dizzying set from a dazzling, rising star, this is killer blues rock for the next wave. Well done throughout.

BEAUX CHEVEUX/Ro Sham Bo: Two distaff members of heavy metal cover bands ditch the strum and drang for electro drama that shows off another side of them in a world that doesn't often let their individual creativity shine through. Well made malcontent music that comes off as more than a busman's holiday, the pop of tomorrow has to sneak up on you from somewhere.

JOHANNES WALLMANN/Love Wins: Wallmann sounds like he was inspired by Gil Scott Heron but this reality based recording was inspired by his move to Wisconsin to head the UW jazz program but being denied the right to have his same sex marriage recognized by the state which led him to the ACLU's door who took this to the Supreme Court. Whew. All that and there's a bunch of good blowing in the bytes. Topsy turvy music for times that seem to be offering nothing but strong headwinds, this is clearly jazz you can make a statement with.

MARK DUNN/Melodic Voyage: A solo piano man that knows how to do it right turns his sonic lens on his world travels and delivers a voyage you can take anytime without reservations. Peaceful and beautiful, he knows nothing of gift shop noodling and shows how you can do so much with so little----except well versed chops. A great date for when a real break from everything is in order.

NITISH KULKARNI/Listen: Indian based world beat served from a different scooper than John McLaughlin does, this takes a wide range of instruments, provinces and attitudes into it's mixmaster to bring them all out in a fine meld. Miles away from being opium den music, this is almost sinister soundtrack music a lot of the time. Tasty? Throughout. A fine example of an audio getaway that gets you out the door without leaving your chair.

FRAN VIELMA/Tendencias: A Venezuelan percussionist that knows how to serve up smoking originals and find lots of the best Latin jazz cats in New York ties it all together with a date that would make Ricky Ricardo proud, even if he was from Cuba. A tasty work that just doesn't quit, this is just one of those dates you slap into your fave device and enjoy as it lets you let the world go by. Killer stuff throughout.

ROBERT DIACK/Lost Villages: A contemporary jazz tribute to the towns that were plowed under to make the St. Laurence Seaway, this impressionistic take on the uproot uproar and furor/confusion is solid sitting down listening. Eggheads with rock tendencies will find this a smoking Sunday afternoon companion as the twists and turns flows like, well, the St. Laurence, thru the countryside. Check it out.

SOUTHERN HALO/Just Like in the Movies: Back in my old a&r days, there was this endless supply of singing sisters that thought all they had to do was anything to get a deal. Most never made it out of the slush pile. These sibs aren't to be confused with the slush pile rejects. Turning in real work as opposed to headlining at the airport Holiday Inn, they are way too polished for their young years and have moves that are almost too commercial for their early status. If you miss what country radio sounded like when it was adapting to rock, this wondrous throwback is right on the money. And you don't even have to be a throwback fan to dig it. Check it out.

EDWARD SIMON/Sorrows & Triumphs: Being a Guggenheim winner is just as good as being a MacArthur winner and it means you can hire great sidemen and pursue your vision with no one telling you what to do. When you are crack jazzbo piano man like Simon, you know how to use the freedom wisely. A date that can easily remind you of early 20h century classical music, the freedom flows freely, enjoyed by all, as a one of a kind date is left in the wake. Well played and written throughout, this is a mighty date that easily qualifies as thinking man's jazz that doesn't give you a headache.

Volume 41/Number 150
March 30, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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