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AMANDA FISH/Free: The cover shot on this album makes Fish look like a proper young lady heading in the wrong direction. Then you play the music and get blown away by the super sonic charge this blues rock belter unloads showing why she's cleaning up every competition and award put in front of her. A hard hitting party on a platter, this is nothing but a throwback to when the only statement music had to make was to be fun. High energy throughout, Fish is certainly someone that knows how to rock and how important it is. Hot stuff,
(Vizztone 2)

JOSH SMITH/Burn to Grow: A self styled bad ass that's been at it for 25 years, since he was 14, might act like a bad ass but he tours with "American Idol" contestants so I guess that makes him a showman. With all the proper moves a guitar slinger that honed his chops in the studio should possess, this is the sound for today's mall rats that have no malls to go to anymore but really need to let off some steam. Well played.
(Vizztone 10)

ALEX CLOUGH/Near, Far, Beyond: Don't be scared off by the space jazz imagery on the cover, Clough is a traditionalist that divides his work here between piano trio and piano quintet. A savvy piano man that knows how to keep the listener on point, this is a load of that deceptive kind of music you think is great background stuff but finds itself taking over before you know what happened. A solid debut from a young lion that's been honing his chops and has them now ready for lift off.

HENRY CONERWAY III/With Pride for Dignity: A well traveled drummer that shows he knows how to call the shots from the back of the riser delivers a debut that has an unabashedly old school feeling with more than a passing homage to the sound and fury of the greats of the past. Feeling very much like a lost set from the 50s, giving props to Ellington, Heath, Brown and Phineas Newborn really drives home his respect for the past. A solid set for the modern hipster that wants to feel authentic and is ready to leave his poseur roots behind, this set of killer stuff is a real wake up call. Of course, real jazzbos can dig it as well. Hot stuff.

EVAN SALVACION LEVINE/Mestizo: A bass trio hits some dandy modern jazz notes with a lightly angular set that's not too left leaning and keeps it's instrumental prowess right up front. Not as world beat as you might expect, it's more of a straight ahead listening session that works well.
(Shifting Paradigm 139)

ANTHONY FUNG/Flashpoint: A young lion drummer that has a passing acquaintance with late 60s Miles shows he knows his stuff and isn't afraid to wear his influences on his sleeve. A solid set for those who would have loved to have more of these Miles explorations, this is an extension, not an homage. Cerebral jazz for non-eggheads, this set has a lot on the ball.

PHIL SCHURGER/Waters Above: A little Zen, a little cosmic, a little metaphysical, that's the sum of how this Chicago guitarist sees the jazz explorations he's unleashing here. With his second set being something of a spiritual continuance of his debut, continuity isn't needed to get into what's happening here. A solid set of sitting down jazz, it shows that if most buildings weren't non-smoking these days, this smoker would have a home everywhere.
(Ears and Eyes 18079)

RICK SPARKS/Half Moon Bay: So when was the last time you heard a new age piano record that had several Beach Boys tunes on it? The vet piano man loves the ocean and fondly recalls his days on the Carolina coast as a rejuvenating experience that he now wants to share. A delicate set that eases you into things, this is a fine soundtrack for clearing the mental palette of the dross of the day. Check it out.

JIM CLEMENTS/A Failure: An enigmatic singer/songwriter that emerges every five years or so sticks his head up here in incipient middle age and finds his inner Nick Drake, albeit a more mature one since Drake barely made a quarter century. A real down mouth set sure to resonate with hopeless romantics up in their rooms acting all Gothy over their unattainable dream girl.

TEMPLE ROCKERS/Festival of Lights: Talk about your I & I moments. A kid on tour with a reggae band decides he can find the skanking in Jewish liturgical music and sets sail on this unique course. Cue up the second track to hear a reggae singer sing about Chanukah and properly pronounce everything. Utterly over the top crazy stuff you just have to hear, if for no other reason than to piss off your parents around the holidays.
(Fresh Roots 1)

Number 41/Number 305
September 1, 2018
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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