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ANTONIO ADOLFO/Encontros: Talk about your serendipity!. The piano great Adolfo was hankering to make a big band record when he went to a show where the gang on board here was playing and it was love at first listen. The two entities play off each other in fine fashion and this strutting, sassy set delivers world fusion in top shelf order that any gringo can appreciate. Often harkening back to what originally turned you on back in the day before the consultants got involved, this is all smoke, sizzle AND steak. Killer stuff throughout

VINYL HAMPDIN/Red: A wildly funky crew that uses some tent poles as ringers to get you on board to dig the original works of band el jefe Steve Wiest who knows how to hold his own against august peerages. Loud, proud and bad ass throughout, if you grew up on any of the great horn bands of the 70s, is this going to be a sweet spot filler for you. Simply a great party on a platter.

SHE'S SELLING WHAT SHE USED TO GIVE AWAY/various: Hey millenials, here we have your great grand parents proving you didn't invent sex because they thought of it first. Step into the portal with us and go back nearly 100 years to when whore house music predated honky tonk and western swing. Sure it's pretty corny at times, but you can forgive that since it inspired so much Gil Elvgren inspired art work. From the land of pistol packing mamas, these are the white girls that carried on about cracker versions of jellyrolls and such. A sizzling slab of risqué hillbilly stuff from when people were still God fearing, this and the underwear sections of Sears catalogs were how a generation was initiated to sex before WWII. G'wan, take a gander, it won't kill you none. And the playing is righteous too as all stars of the day were on board (ahem, Riley Puckett). Check it out.

MICHAEL ARNOWITT & IMPROVISIONS JAZZ/Sweet Spontaneous: Taking two discs to contain his outpourings, this is the kind of jazz that'll take you back to JCOA/BYG sides rather than off to some smoky club where you nod politely before the hipsters nod off. Intellectual, mathematical jazz for the leading edge set, he's the roadmap on how to be artistic without being artsy. Pay careful attention if this is the path you want to follow. Cleverly done throughout.

CLIPPER ERICKSON/Tableau Tempest & Tango: A classical piano man takes three distinct looks at three distinct composers from different eras and gives it his heart felt all as he takes you on a tour de force of material that he brings a distinct presence to. Whether subtle as a whisper or ragingly over the top, the textures taken in on this double disc set give you all the high minded Sunday afternoon listening you could want to take in at one sitting. A stylist that values substance over style, he is a modernist in the classical mode. A well wrought recording.

INGRID STOLZEL/Gorgeous Nothings: An art chick with serious credentials, Stolzel takes you on a real tour of art as she does things like set Emily Dickenson to music, full of flights of fancy as well as recital oriented listening, and delivers like a grande dame well beyond her years. All selections are of recent vintage and the players in the various movements are well chosen. It's almost like she's trying to be the boho of the egghead set with the NPR recognitions to prove it.

GRUPO ENCUENTROS/40 Years of Contemporary Music: Feeling very much like the old time Masterworks and Living Stereo recordings, this crew does a fine job of tackling the works of contemporary composers, including that of their conductor, showing how much life is really life in the old format. Leaning toward the artsy side, but not so much that it gets precious, this is fine, high tone listening for classical fans and those that would like to become them but are intimidated. Solid stuff from a pro who makes it well known there's more to Argentinean music that Piazzolla (not that he's chopped liver). Well done.

JOHN ROBERTSON/Symphony No. 1: Yes, Virginia, you can be an inventive, creative contemporary classical composer without being derivative. Existing in that place where you can't tell contemporary classical from instrumental soundtrack music, the sweeping grandeur of the visions of the New Zealander are as sweeping as the vista that must have inspired them. Tasty, tasteful stuff that has the openness to bring new genre listeners into the tent, this set is a gasser for any fan of instrumental music.

OTMAR MACHA/Hymnus: The other side of chant records, this set finds the Jitro Czech Girls Choir giving full bodied voice to the religious works here. Very much in step with the religious music that inspired a lot of the great classical music works, this set has performances that go back to when they first started conquering the world in Texas of all places. While the girls may have changed over the years, the quality hasn't and fans of religious/liturgical music will feel like they really are taking this in at some other time and place. Well done.

DUO SURENO/Waking the Sparrows: A different kind of contemporary classical outing, this voice and guitar duo has been together for 20 years and this set is like a sum total of the hot spots. Making a lot more sound that you would expect from a duo working with simple and basic tools, they take you to places you've only heard in dreams as you'd never mistake them for some coffeehouse folkies out on a lark. Heady stuff for the art/classical set that like surprises in the mix at their recitals.

Number 41/Number 245
July 3, 2018
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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