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CLAY HESS BAND/Just Another Story: A classically styled crew of bluegrass pickers and grinners that can tear off a sizzler, praise Jesus and give new life to an oldie with the best of them. Tinkering with their line up yet again, this edition of the crew plays it note perfect throughout making this much more than something you'd enjoy at an outside summer festival with picking in the air. A sure bet for the genre.
(Pinecastle 1216)

SISTER SADIE II: Bluegrass is a world of equality once the axes come out of the cases as shown here in which Dale Ann Bradley and her gal squad play it just as solidly as the boys do. A classic bluegrass ensemble in which everyone steps up to the mic in a circle and let's the good vibes fly high and hard. A real picker's delight of a set, this might not be intense enough to burn down the corn fields but it will light up your ears. Well done.
(Pinecastle 1223)

WILLIAMSON BRANCH/Free: One way to keep your kids out of trouble is to start a family band, toss them in the back of the car and set off for adventure while the kids practice their axes until their fingers bleed. Hitting the sweet spot where urbanites confuse country and bluegrass, this family band sounds like good times follow them where ever they go. Sweet stuff, right down the middle that makes all the statement it has to by being a real under the radar killer. Well done.
(Pinecastle 1217)

LORRAINE JORDAN & Carolina Road/True Grass Again: Staunchly traditional and staunchly proud of it, if you think sippy cup country stinks, you'll be impressed with the goal line stand these bluegrassers are making against encroachment. If they have red state politics, they keep it out of the music, but they want to keep the music pure. Totally right on throughout, this bunch knows their stuff and struts it so well it's irresistible. A winner throughout.
(Pinecastle 1219)

ROSCOE & ETTA: The guitar alter egos of Maia Sharp and Anna Schulze are what name duo of hitters hiding behind the false front. Well known for top flight work in music circles, here they get to push the envelopes the guy in the booth with the notes won't let them. Kind of an intestinal folk thing in which they dress singer/songwriter up in different clothes, it's radical and not at the same time. More than a busman's holiday, they are going to follow the release up with a tour of tertiaries to really take this to the people and see the sights. Solid stuff for alt.adult ears that need a real sympathetic fellow traveler to accompany them on their way.
(Crooked Crown)

BENEDIKT KOCH QUINTET/True in No Possible World: If ECM wasn't still actively being ECM and pushing new boundaries, you could point to this as being the sound of nu ECM. The debut of a sax improviser that has an affinity for misdirection, this bunch makes music for contemporary Sunday afternoon art listening. Along the lines of sonic painting, this is certainly well made music for your head.
(Double Moon 71198 Jazz Thing Next Generation V. 74)

ELODIE LAUTON QUINTETTE/Origines: Talk about kicking it old school, here we find Lauton paying tribute to a French singer that is all but forgotten today without which there would have been no Piaf, no Greco et al. Using contemporary feeling arrangements and settings, the 1930s tunes feel fresh and current. Since it's sung in French, you aren't given a minute to ponder how the original singer was pretty much the queen of pain---this stuff sounds too nice for that sobriquet. Certainly grown up cabaret/jazz vocal, you won't be able to crack the wrapper on this open unless you are sufficiently mature---self dubbing yourself an old soul doesn't count. Killer stuff.
(Double Moon 71197)

SIMON BELOW QUARTET/Wailing Wind's Story: Below fancies himself a rebel but he's a mainstreamer at heart and knows how to deliver on that promise and premise even if making things feel a little left leaning. A solid set in which he acquits his young self mightily on all fronts, this is fine modern jazz for a night out that stays with you on the commute the next morning. Very much a young lion honing his chops to be an ace of tomorrow, this piano man has it all on the ball. Well done.
(Double Moon 71196 (Jazz Thing Next Generation V. 73)

BUJAZZ0/30 Jahre Bundesjazzorchester: You gotta love these young, student big bands that play it like the old masters without sounding corny, inserting pomo elements or just not getting what they are doing. The 30th anni edition of what this bunch is up to shows the quality of this crew is unchanging even if the membership is always changing. Covering a wide variety of material and playing it like they really have been doing this their whole lives, it's as entertaining as all get out and you just know this is a bunch of stars of tomorrow showing you what they've got. A winner throughout.
(Double Moon 71352 )

Number 41/Number 280
August 7, 2018
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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