JERRY WICENTOWSKI/Thanks, Mac! Songs of Mac Wiseman: Hey, I liked Wiseman even before he was hanging out with John Prine but it's clear that Wicentowski liked him deeper and longer. With a heartfelt tribute that's true to the living legend's bluegrass spirit, this bluegrass vet knows how to make the right moves to keep this set from manqueing around and let it be the real deal. A sure bet for bluegrass fans, especially those who grew up on newgrass, this is the party platter those fans have been looking for. Hot stuff throughout.
ELENA ANDUJAR/Flamenco in Time: A couple of house music vets that love flamenco put their heads together and wondered what would happen if they merged house and flamenco. The result is neither a strict interpretation of either that really grabs your attention because of the wide ranging nature of all the things they mixed in from bullfight anthems to ambient space music. It certainly isn't Ottmar Liebert's flamenco, no matter what limits he tried to take it to, but it's the real thing for younger tastes well in need of expanding their palettes. Even moldy figs can get into this. Well done.
(Wake Up Music)
SAMITE/Resilience: I still think it's hilarious that when he was on Windham Hill, I said that if you don't like him you're an anti-Samite. I still feel the same way. Taking his native folk music, mixing it with contemporary instrumentation and rolling it through an African vibe that average gringo wouldn't see coning, this is a gentle rolling set that steers wide of new age but has a lot of the qualities. Making music that makes you draw from within, his sounds are loaded with magic---the kind that makes things appear rather than disappear. A one of a kind ride that should not be missed by a cat that's probably as much of a healer as he is a muso.
STRINGSHOT/Blues & Latin: A John Lee Hooker sidekick, one of the Assad chicks and a Peruvian harp player all walk into a bar and... Go ahead, put a name to this multi culti mash up that echoes everything from Sergio Mendes to god knows what and makes it all work. Nu music for nu ears? There's a bit of everything here and this trio took the best and left the rest as they pulled this set together. Killer alt.adult music that the market will need about a decade to catch up with, they make the here and now sound so much better. Hot stuff from pros that didn't want to sit around a be bored waiting for the next big thing to dock.
(Chops Not Chaps 40116)
CHRIS DARROW-MAX BUDA/Eye of the Strom: An unheralded classic of a guitar date that assumed such status by being released by Takoma when they were in one of their not here/not there periods. Two of the driving wheels of the original Kaleidoscope might have kept the psych art work in tact but they pushed their axes to supreme and divine heights---and that's the artist's proof in the pudding. A smoking set for eclectic guitar fans who don't like to limit their ears, if you were there the first time around, this is a welcome return--if you weren't, it's an ear opening mind blower of a revelation. Dig it!
(Blixa Sounds 808)
AL MUIRHEAD'S CANADIAN QUINTET/Undertones: You're either a sucker for these sounds or you aren't (and maybe you should be). With a 70 year career under his belt, this bass trumpet ace knows what he's doing--and what he's doing here is leading like a master on a set of classics except for two originals of recent vintage. Classic, straight ahead jazz sounding better than ever, this is the real deal without artifice or frippery and it's a hard hitting smack in the face of how great real pros just doing their thing sounds. This holds of one of the better groves you're going to come across. Hot stuff.
DAVID MESSIER/Timebomb: It figures this cat is from Texas. He's a garage rocker with a bedrock of unbridled Buddy Holly energy powering his rocking ways. A smart set that his hard and hits often, this is sure to please of wide swath of contemporary tastes that are up for some fist pumping, rocking out where anthems are required. A solidly rocking good time.
(Same Sky 1)
CHRISTIAN SANDS/Facing Dragons: A young lion on the prowl and on the rise, this piano man finds himself filling some mighty big shoes with ease and without having to stuff newspaper in the toe box to make them fit. Working out here with his smart and progressive edges leading the way, Sands continues to make a name for himself with his sprightly, energetic, engaging and unexpected ways. A serious cat that makes it clear he's here to play, his apprenticeship is over and there's nothing about him that doesn't make it clear he's matured into a leader on his own terms. Hot stuff throughout.
(Mack Avenue 1143)
PORTLAND JAZZ COMPOSERS ENSEMBLE/From Maxville to Vanport: Modern civil rights jazz that looks back at a time when black people weren't exactly welcome in Oregon, even if they were there. Ain't no way to get around this being music made to make you think, it's sad the underlying message is still relevant today----in a wider landscape than Oregon. Musically creative and adventurous, with interest in Nina Simone on the rise again, this set could easily make waves on Simone's wings. Hard hitting throughout.
YELLOWJACKETS/Raising Our Voice: Avowed haters of mediocrity and complacency, the Jackets give Luciana Souza a wider role in the action this time out and once again, they raise the bar with just a subtle difference their long time fans probably wouldn't even notice. Still standard bearers for smooth jazz, being in a position where they don't have to take anybody's guff gives them the freedom to do it their way---and they've been around long enough to know what they are doing. A wonderfully fresh set from vets, this is exactly the music the end of summer needs. Well done.
(Mack Avenue 1137)
Number 41/Number 304
August 31, 2018
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record
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