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BIG HARP GEORGE/Uptown Cool: Bringing back chromatic harmonica in a big way, this attention getting harp man blows, sings and writes up a blues blizzard that'll dizzy you up to the point of being snow blind. Even though this sound would keep you rapt at a club or a festival, he gleefully colors outside the lines while blowing up a storm which just makes you pay closer attention to making sure you just heard what you think you just heard. Seriously fun stuff that goes the distance.

GARY BRUMBURGH/Moonlight: In which we find enjoyment of the deconstruction of everything where a Great American Songbook record doesn't mean what it meant a generation ago and songs from the 70s can be put through a cabaret/jazz spin and come out the other end completely different. A singer bouncing back from throat cancer seemingly without missing a step rounds up a bunch of top LA jazzbos and musos to find the key to put Jimmy Webb side by side with Miles, Sting and more. A dandy performance piece loaded with jazz under pinnings, this is a marvelous, sophisticated piece of adult listening that works well throughout.

JOCELYN MICHELLE/Live at Viva Cantina: Working the cool side of B3, this organ ace takes it to a live stomping ground to let the vibes fly. With a tasty set card heavy on grooving and some hand picked jazzbo that did more than just show up for a check in the background, B3 fans will know right away this is a treat to behold. Tasty and tasteful throughout, this set brings it hard.

JEF STOTT/Asian Dub System V. 1: I can't believe it's been five years since we last heard from the Bay Area do it all guy and rather than send out those Christmas letters we all hate to get, he's packed all the time and tide he's ridden in that time into the music making his mega mash ups even deeper and more far reaching than anything he's treated us to before. Astutely crafted so that even moldy figs can enjoy this without scoffing it's young people music, this is the new trend setter in armchair traveler music. The spirit of the Nonesuch Explorer series has been contemporized and lives on in high style.

BOB GINGERY/Kitty Hawk: This bass ace fellow traveler of the Hot Cup crew kicks it out for an over due second set with his long time quartet. While an unmistakably modern jazz set at it's core, Gingery's idea of mash p is to pull from various Americana styles that'll both grab your attention and scratching your head. A tasty set for left leaning ears, it feels like composed improv and works well throughout. Creativity like this is always welcome when it's done not just for the sake of creativity. Check it out.


WILY BO WALKER/Almost Transparent Blues: A Scotsman that's a guitar slinging, growling blues rocker to the core who knows how to deliver the music from the true vine might have been born in the wrong place to play it as authentically as he does but you can bet you'll never mistake him for a kilt wearing bag pipe player. Alternately rocking, sinister and low down and dirty, one listen to this will make you feel like you were Butterfield the first time he walked in to the Checkerboard---but he didn't see white boys that could tear it up like this. Hot stuff throughout.

DANIEL LIPPEL/Through Which the Past Shines: Who are we kidding? We don't know anything about the players or composers on this set. What we do know is that this puts us in the mind of early on ECM cool school guitar sets as well as great recordings by contemporary classical guitar pros like Chris Parkening, John Williams, Julian Bream, Liona Boyd and others. It might be a case of we don't know what we're talking about but we know what we like. Covering a lot of ground from composed to experimental, it all comes together in a glorious whole that's just a gasser. Hot stuff throughout.

RUSS GREEN/City Soul: And here we have an interesting cross pollination. With all the talk about Chicago and white boys with the blues, here we have a Chicago black man with the blues who is both young enough and old enough to appreciate how Muddy and Little Walter inspired the white boys that inspired the Brits to give it back to us finding Green at the end of that chain of events. Certainly authentic and certainly a modern take on the classic vibe, this rousing set gets your blood flowing. Playing like their lives depend on it, this romping, stomping set is loaded with nothing but hot and high spots. Killer stuff throughout.

FURIOUS SEASONS/Now Residing Abroad: Amazing back porch music if the back porch is a condo terrace in an urban center. With Paul Simon threatening to retire soon, this trio could step into his shoes and charm his audience without missing a beat. Adult pop for adults, this set hits so many targets so squarely, you have to label it a total can't miss set. A winner.

TOM HAMBRIDGE/Nola Sessions: The blues super producer packs it off to Nawlins where he hooked up with the best (including Allen Toussaint's last date), reaches down to find his inner Mose Allison and rolls it all up into a package showing why he's one of the top white boys with the blues these days. A personal set that all can relate or react to, it might color outside the lines but it's a tonic that everyone looking for some real meaty music will love. Totally from the heart, this set has it all.

Number 41/Number 217
June 5, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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