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BLUESMASTERS: A lot of Chicago, a bunch of other stuff and a whole lot of fun is what's cooked up here by Mickey Thomas, Aynsley Dunbar and a whole bunch of their pals as they take this break in the record business to let their freak flags fly and let their blues sides show. Fun stuff that sounds like a there's a party going on as hits are reprised and back pages turned with abandon. It rollicks, since there's nobody sending in notes from the production booth, and a good time is had by all. Check it out.

ANDRE MATOS/Quare: A definite bag breaker, this worldly Portuguese guitarist likes jazz, all kind of jazz, and he isn't afraid to wear his influences on his sleeve whether they come from nature or forces of nature, like Miles Davis. Not afraid to venture where ever he thinks the sound will take him, Matos opens the ears sprightly and brightly with a sonic assault that can kick ass or caress. Tasty work throughout make this a sure bet of a young lion to keep an ear out for. Well done.

DOWNCHILD/I Need a Hat: You just gotta give props to a guy that has only had one job in the last 40 years, a position he invented no less, and has been given his due for being at the top of his field for that time. Downchild sounds like they getting ready to rev it up for the next 40 years with this set. A high octane bunch of bad boys that have special help this time out from admiring guests who have raised their own bars, this is what party music sounds like, certainly if you are a frat boy of a certain age. Bone shaking, bone chilling and bone breaking, this edition of the crew that has been together for the last 15 years is on the one throughout. Super charged blues at it's house rocking best.

HELEN REDDY/Ear Candy-We'll Sing in the Sunshine: Before there was Celine Dion and the rest of the knucklehead divas, there was Helen Reddy tearing up the MOR charts and being the darling of middle America as proven by having 9 hit albums in 5 years. Now, you're lucky if they turn them out once every two years. And for all that, it seems that she's the Rodney Dangerfield of 70s music--a smattering of greatest hits collections, no deep catalog to speak of. Of course, in Australia, it's a whole different story. Down there, they love her as much as they love Watney's and here we find Raven putting the finishing touches to Reddy's would be, defacto box set of her Capitol years with this twofer that finds them winding up all her original Capitol studio albums as well as her chart busting hit years. Nothing says "I hate you, I don't care how many records you sold, we're not giving you a superstar contract" as much as putting your last two albums for the label in the hands of Kim Fowley and Charles Koppelman, and that's what happened here. A nice way to round out your collection, these sides certainly weren't as strong as the 8 albums that came before, but they wrapped up an era nicely as you can hear Reddy facing off in a power struggle with Fowley and getting her way in the end, even if for a pyrrhic victory. And so ended the run of divorcee pop in the face of the disco onslaught of the late 70s. BTW, If you like Reddy, these never before on cd sides are well worth getting to tie it all up nicely.

SAM NEWSOME/Blue Soliloquy: Some educators like to break the bag and swing, and some educator sound like educators. When you are working your groove the right way, it can be a good thing all the way around. Newsome, who has certified jazz chops, is an educators these days, and he plays like an educator, but he seems like the kind of teacher whose class you'd fight to get into. Making this solo sax date more of a journey than a lesson, you know all you need to find out about certain sax aspects, but you come away master class richer for it.

JOHN PIZZARELLI/Rockin' in Rhythm: In time for Duke Ellington's 111th birthday, the younger Pizzarelli comes forth with his tribute to the master as filtered through his pop's love of the Duke bringing a touch of a sincere retro thing to the proceedings. Surrounded by the Pizzarelli players, a assemblage of friends and family that rotate around each other's recordings, the gang is all here and all on board for a heartfelt look back at the genius that was. Even though it feels like we're still sorting through the onslaught of Ellingtonia that hit us over a decade back, this one craftily moves to the top of the pile and makes it's presence known. Your ears are in good hands here, as always.

MARK EGAN/Truth be Told: Egan's last original outing was a double cd of a jazz power trio that bowled you over and made you say ‘huh?' as you played it again to hear if you just heard what you thought you heard. He's back and at it again with a different bunch of all star pals, once again making you say ‘huh?" and checking to hear if you just heard what you thought you heard. Balls to the ball, sumbitchin, contemporary jazz that rewrites the book on flash and panache. Hot stuff.

JON GOLD/Brazil Confidential: Until the flutes kick in, this doesn't really seem like a Brazil oriented record. Even then, it seems more like keyboard ace Gold is going for a supreme position in impressionistic, progressive chamber jazz. Rounding first and heading into the rest of the record, it comes together as a breezy, delightful adult set of Brazil flavored jazz/funk lite that just feels like closing up the home office Friday afternoon and putting the smart phone on vibrate as you get the weekend kicked off properly. This is a cat that knows how to get it done and surround himself with jazzbos that play like they do it for the fun of it above all else. Clearly an adult instrumental winner that'll keep you coming back for more.

Volume 33/Number 110
February 19, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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