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ANIMAL FARM/We Are One: Sometimes cool is indefinable, some times it isn't. This kiddie set is cool because it doesn't talk down to the kids giving them pop songs of their own, and a lot of it is sung through the eyes of kid's animal pals. Rising out of the Boston indie rock scene, this folk based set has just the right everything to make it a winner throughout. This is the kind of fun stuff that proves that if you do what you love, the money will follow.

BRIAN BROMBERG/Thicker Than Water: The vet bass ace makes the smooth jazz set he's be wanting to make for years and he rounds up the old gang to keep the sound and vibe authentic. A set that does exactly what it sets out to do without pretension, the only flourish here is Bromberg playing a different bass on almost every track because they all say something different to him. Other than that, this set might take you back to the day but it doesn't leave you there. Snazzy stuff throughout by the A team.

AMANDA GARDIER/Empathy: A valued member of the Indian-no place jazz scene. This saxy lady rounds up some other esteemed local cats for a set that's heavy on art and reflects the inner turmoil she was feeling when this set was being written and recorded. Those in transitions of their own will relate to the flow of this record and probably take it to heart as well. This is what happens when you turn someone loose to make art and the results work.

JAY LAWRENCE/Sonic Paragon: He might have been a Vegas drummer that got his union card at 15 but he doesn't play with any of that Sammy Joey coke headedness that you hear in the Vegas lounges. Rounding up a bunch of cats who's reps are so strong you would buy this just by seeing their names, this is water front/sunset jazz played to the nth degree. A high quality set where everyone gets a chance to shine, this is the kind of set that doesn't make ‘pleasant' a point of derision. Killer stuff that'll be welcome wherever it goes.

MEG BOWLES/Evensong-Canticles for the Earth: In which we find the way to become a top ambient musician is to appreciate dusk walks along the lake and reveling in the majesty of the universe as the calm that comes with night rolling in on the sticks washes over you. A whole different flavor than Eno gives you, this is the sound of within escaping in a grateful way. Seekers will find this to be a most centering recording.

LEH CATS/Movement to Egalitaria: I thought records like this only got made with grants from somewhere. Is it world? Is it fusion? Is it mind blowing? Yes across the board. With a guest list that the unlimited space afforded by thumb drives was created for, this set is well on it's way to being a standard bearer that future dates are going to have to measure up against. Not for those who don't want to disrupt the status quo, this is a fine slice of tomorrow today.

DALE HEAD/Swing on the Rocks: With a Mose Allison styled voice leading the way, Head has Paul Shaffer bringing his B3 for the whole set as they give unsuspecting rock tunes a big band treatment making this almost the wackiest Vegas set you ever heard that really isn't. Pomo? Quite possibly but not intentionally. If you're a boomer, this is going to hit home through the side door. Powered by right on chops throughout, this is one of those sets that so deliciously different, you might not know which way to turn first.

CECILIE/Fearless: A well conceived debut from a Norwegian that has the smarts to fill in the blanks left by Loreena McKennitt and Enya as their glory days recede into the past and some Celty new age can be called on from fresh blood. Following the well worn path without trying to fill the footsteps of the past, this original, heartfelt set can make you forget about the woman of Shallot not dropping by anymore. A timely winner throughout.

BEN ROSENBLUM COASTAL TRIO/River City: An award winning young up and comer, this jazz piano man has got loads of the classic vibe at the tip of his fingers, always raring to go. An almost impressionistic set, there's loads of laid back after hours feeling playing on display here. A smart bet for those who want something to get lost in, this set will take you to the places you really want to go.

REFUSERS/Disobey: Protest music hiding as melodic hard rock convinces today kids it's time to rise up angry and not be marching anymore on the eve of destruction. A wake up call to suburban kids in the rebel without a clue stage, you can just see protests down at the mall using this as it's soundtrack.

Number 41/Number 241
June 29, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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