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SPANISH HARLEM ORCHESTRA/Anniversary: Holding their ringer quotient down to a visit from Randy Brecker this time out, the Grammy winning crew have the sound and fury to convince the average gringo they are picking up where Tito Puente left off. Bold, brassy and bright, this is top shelf fun stuff that gets the party started but doesn't let it end. A first class party on a platter, this is a smashing way to ring in their 15th year of keeping things hot. A muy caliente garden of delights.

CATHERINE BENT/Ideal: Take a straight laced cello player, have her hop off the bus in Rio landing right in the middle of a choro school and let the heat takeover. A wily mash up of way too many things that comes together all in a flashpoint in Brazil, this is one of those dates that exists in a time zone all of it's own and just keeps blowing you away with every note. A high octane romp that reminds you of what music was before it was product, these players beat the band---in a good way. The Hot Club meets everything all over the world and puts it on display here. A winner throughout.

SHUGGIE OTIS/Inter-fusion: No longer a tyro, Otis still plays with the kind of youthful vigor that can tag him as the heir to Hendrix even today. Mixing it up with players from Vanilla Fudge and Roy Harper, everyone lets their freak flag fly in this instrumental head trip of a set that gets the synapses crackling. The kind of long over due psych date that too may have been looking for far too long, I won't call him the grand old man of fusion axing but I will call him a monster that still has it all on the ball. Smoking throughout.

MICHAEL KAESHAMMER/Something New: It can still be done. This cat came out of nowhere with an album that was too good to be true. Became a staple on PBS. Became a staple at awards ceremonies as a winner or nominee. Now he's making a swinging rocking album where he brings the best cats in Nawlins and Canada together for a date where they came around to earn their keep rather than surround himself with jive asses that show up to play and get a check. A set Louie Prima would be proud of, this cat knows how to deliver and shows others how it's really done. A smoking, stone cold winner throughout.

KRISTO RODZEVSKI/Rabbit and Fallen Sycamore: This set exists somewhere left of vocal Zappa where the malcontents take up residence. Bill Laswell keeps the music properly weird as befits the lyrics but those lyrics are going to decide where you stand on this set. Pissed of college kids--have at it, this is your kind of party.

JOHN CLIFTON/Nightlife: Goodness, the things Charlie Musselwhite did to "Catfish Blues" when nobody was looking. Clifton and his blues busters are the kind of gang that make it look and sound so easy that you spend time singing into your hairbrush thinking you've got the groove. Ha ha. You've got to work hard to make it look this easy and hard is where this bunch starts. White boys with the blues that know how to light up a show lounge with their intensity, they don't know how to quit---so they don't. With the electricity turned up to 11, you can count on them to electrify you. Hot stuff throughout.

MIKE ZITO/First Class Life: The Texas white boy with the blues rock shredding moves slings his guitar in fine fashion with this smoking little date that captures all you'd want in a modern blues rock date. Hitting on all eight, Zito is enjoying life on the light side and spreading the good vibes through blues letting everyone in on the secret. Hard and hot as ever, this is the balm yupsters need for those back yard parties to come this summer. Well done.

SOLON McDADE/Murals: A cat that's accrued loads of respect but still feels a tad too under the radar serves up a modern jazz date that feels like it's too good to be true and shouldn't be this indie. You can tell he's a cat steeped in jazz as opposed to a tourist that thinks it's not that hard to pull off, sitting down jazz has a new champion here with this set that'll keep you bouncing in your seat. Solid stuff well deserving of a wider audience so more can share the goodness. Well done.

GONZALEZ GIBBS ESSIET/Passion Reverence Transcendence: It sounds kind of like it might be an update of the old McLaughlin guitar trios, but it isn't. A piano trio gets busy on the works of McCoy Tyner giving them a well deserved dusting off and revamping that's high octane all the way showing the man and his dexterity off better than his tribute to Burt Bacharach did. All that's missing is the man himself but you can feel him in evidence. Hard hitting stuff that opens the ears mightily to some stuff that needs to be heard more often.

WILLIE JACKSON/Chosen by the Blues: Don't know how old Jackson is but he sounds like the old black guys that brought their amps to the college coffeehouses of the late 60s and woke up your grandpa to the blues after removing it from the cotton fields from down home. A cat from Georgia that has a real feel for Chicago/Detroit original migration blues, this is one of those sets that lives on the natch and will captivate you before you've gone through it once. Killer stuff throughout.

Volume 41/Number 175
April 24, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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