DRY JOHNSON/Long Live Them Blues V. 1: It's kind of neat the way we can watch a whole new generation of the blues shape up right before our very eyes. Mike Zito's rhythm section steps out on their own, with Zito's hand in evidence, and they rub elbows with stalwarts from the Ray label as well. These are white boys with the blues that are spiritual sons of the frat boys that thought it was fun to be black---except for the slavery and black tax parts. You can tell these cats are in it for the love of the form and keeping it contemporary and alive while keeping it right in the spirit and pocket. Wildly fun stuff that really gets the juices flowing, this is the real deal.
(Connor Ray 1805)
BOBBY BROOM/Soul Fingers: Further proof that indie is no longer a euphemism for second rate, the guitar man is produced here by Steve Jordan, his trio is so right on the money they can even make change and the deep vibe is so tough that it's rules the day. Finding an incredible amount of jazz/soul in 70s pop covers, Broom finds something deep down as this is his most muscular set yet. If you casually look it over on an Amazon listing, you'd think he's making a gift shop record----and you couldn't be more wrong. More in the mode of classic jazz artists covering Broadway tunes to grab some wide appeal, you won't hear these songs the same way ever again once you get a load of this. Hot stuff throughout.
ETHAAN ARDELLI/Island of Form: An in demand Canadian session drummer that apparently never met an influence he didn't like, he steps out on his own after a decade of running things from the back of the riser and shows what a daddio he is when left to his own devices. Feeling left leaning 50s vibes, he lets his crew execute his vision knowing they all know which end is up. Not experimental or outré, this is just a fine example of sitting down jazz that'll give you an egghead vibe but not overly so. Solid stuff that really works.
ABIGAIL ROCKWELL/Autumn Noir: The magic of Michel Legrand is that anyone can sing him, but Rockwell SINGS him with such a cut above distinction and vision that she grabs you right out of the box. A mature vocal date with a load of originals that finds her having the nads to write lyrics to a Piazzolla classic, this is one gal you have to admire. Wonderfully out of the ordinary due solely to her interpretive skills and style, this is the high water mark for all vocalists to come to follow. Killer stuff throughout.
DALE HEAD/Swing Straight Up: The only negative in this cat's world is that what he does best is appreciated best live. Of course, since so many tell me the money is on the road these days, is that such a knock? A solidly swinging ding dong daddio, Head will inspire a generation of cats in training to sing into their hairbrushes in the mirror. Of course, he's an advocate of music in the schools so you can bet he's hitting a target he wants to hit. With Rory Snyder's Night Jazz Band bringing up the rear and driving the point home, this set is pure fun and good vibes that'll make it be one of the last sounds you'll hear some day. Well done.
SAM RAVENNA/Fragile: A modern, blue eyed soul man, Ravenna brings the vibes and lays them down righteously. Being a singer/songwriter his core, this is all about the human condition and all that touchy feely stuff that powers soul music no matter who is doing it as long as they aren't doing it angry. He knows his stuff and brings it to you in fine form.
DALE BANDY/Blue: A white boy with the blues waits 40 years to make his debut record and the cover pic looks like he's blowing chucks. Why? The soul and guitar licks make up for it easily and the fur flies---just like his long beard in the mysterious cover shot. Meat and potatoes blues, it really hits the sweet spot on that late Friday afternoon when you're stuck in traffic wishing you were somewhere else. Check it out.
ROCO/Visions Take Flight: If you are of a certain age, this twofer will remind you of those Sunday mornings your pop would fire up the hi-fi and conduct the orchestra on those Living Stereo and Masterworks recordings. A flexible, large ensemble that plays to the manor born, even when performing recent commissioned pieces, it's modern classical music without artifice when it boils things down to the chops that really matter. Delightfully played, this is a set for moldy figs and newbies to enjoy together without quibble. Well done.
ZACK BROWNING/Soul Doctrine: World wise contemporary classical music with a rock attitude, Browning is the kitchen sink kind of composer that can mix Oriental modes with crime jazz in the same measure and make your head spin without giving you vertigo. Wild and wooly but still sitting down music, this almost fee s like a grand 50s soundtrack by Bernstein if he was really given the chance to go off the hook for a French new wave art film. A massive ear opener, strap yourself in for a sonic good time that you almost won't believe is happening---all at once.
STANLEY GRILL/Rustling Flights of Wings: Nancy Lundy doesn't have the look, but she has the voice that would make Bugs Bunny say ‘dat's a nice, fat opera singa'. A classic classical set that's a vocal recital with voice, piano and violin, these are a raft of modern art songs that feel like they are older than that. A lovingly produced set that discerning ears often wait for to appear, genteel and urbane tastes can be seen nodding approvingly as this plays. Solid work.
EDNA MICHELL/Compassion Project: A unique and timely package, the first disc on board is a reissue of a 2001 set originally on Angel inspired by Michell and her mentor, Yehudi Menuhin, that was a reaction to the world at the time well in need of compassion. The second disc is an new set recorded for this pairing that follows the same theme in the same manner. With Menuhin as a calling card, some of the top talents in the classical world contributed a track ala similar feelinged rock sets. A lovely set for violincentric fans as the talents involved did this also as a tribute to Menuhin and Michell, you don't have to be fed up with intolerance to love it. An omnibus with a central theme, this is top shelf work throughout.
Number 41/Number 346
October 12, 2018
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record
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