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YOKO MIWA TRIO/Keep Talkin': Once again playing like an escapee from the clutches of the jazz police, Boston piano ace Miwa swings up a mighty storm leading her trio through a classic jazz piano date, not afraid of having rough edges where you can hear them along the way. A full blooded, full bodied release, jazzbos looking to keep it real have the real thing on their hands here. Hot stuff throughout.
(Ocean Blue Tear 11)

MERLE MONROE/Back to the Country: A bluegrass band in search of a gimmick that doesn't really need one. Inspired by Merle Haggard and Bill Monroe, this bunch of seasoned pros with awards to show for it has recently banded together in this aggregation that's as much country as it is bluegrass, all of it done in a tasty style that belies it's commercial chops. A delightful entertainment, you can put yourself in this bunch's hands as easily as they put themselves in the savior's hands (PS: they don't hit you over the head with their personal beliefs). Well done.
(Pinecastle 1231)

RAY CARDWELL/Stand on My Own: A kissing cousin of the kind of record you'd expect from Sugar Hill after they were bought out but still trying to keep it real, this is one seriously hard driving back porch record with a guest list of A listers that's curl your hair--all playing like they are on fire. Whether picking them up or laying them down, this is rocked up bluegrass that's a perfect fit for the genre for modern times. Hot stuff throughout.
(Bonfire 5012)

REAL VOCAL STRING QUARTET/Culture Kin: World beat from an unexpected place as the San Francisco crew hooks up with complimentary players from the town's sister cities. With the core band reconstituted and the remaining leader, a vet of string quartets, the only one with hands on the wheel--passion was what got this recording done and passion is what you hear and feel. A far cry from touristy world beat, this is often as indigenous as it gets---and always authentic. A real treat for the real armchair traveler.
(Flower Note)

AL LERMAN/Northern Bayou: Recorded in two days with just enough time between takes for this Canadian lad to wipe the gumbo off his chin, he proves that it's a smaller world than it used to be and no matter where you are or are from, home is where your heart is. Delightfully authentic, this honorary swamper could easily fool the locals in the southern music capitols about whether he was ever in a knife fight with Leadbelly or not. Tasty as anything you could find on the corner of Michelin's and Beale Street.

HOLLY HYATT/Wild Heart: She's certainly not old enough to have mingled with 60s denizens of Yonge Street, but this soulful lass from up north has split from her duo and shows just how much a frozen white girl can muster when she wants to heat up the night. Solid, original blue eyed soul, with a little effort you could picture her as Bonnie's little sister---Bonnie Bramlett that is. Solid throughout.

YOLANDA KONDONASSIS/American Rapture: When a rocker wades in classical waters, the rocker has to overcome prejudices like how come the artist doesn't write their own material and the ever popular : "1812 Overture" again!?! So it's always with anticipation when you come across a set of world premiere/commissioned works that let the artist stretch and the wader to proudly say "I told ya so". Two of the three works here by the classical harp vet are world premiere recordings and hey, I told ya so. There's a Living Stereo vibe running throughout it, but that's not a negative---the General was committed to quality and excellence. Player and writer(s) are well matched here and the open eared, forward thinking classical fan will love it no matter what the classical police have to say about it. A winner throughout.
(Azica 71327)

DALE FIELDER QUINTET/At the Threshold: The sax man crafts a vibe here that takes his charges into a program that harkens back to when daddio jazzbos first decided to invade your grandparent's rec room. Whether original or well worn show tune, the sound is fresh and on the money---and fun to hear. There's an accent on spirituality here that the daddios might not have had up their sleeve back in the day, but this is now and it works here well. And this vet cat hasn't lost his lip either. A fine work.
(Rajjahz 1001)

DOUBLEVEE/Songs for Birds and Bats: Hey boomers, deal with it--the 60s are over and 80s nostalgia is here and there's a dose of pomo in the mix to show that slavish respect isn't the intent. Sounding like AM radio just before the advent of MTV and the dumbing down of everything with more velocity than putting bar codes on everything, the latest from this duo is going to resonate in the suburbs where kids can't believe how lame everything is. You can only hope mom and her boyfriend will go away and get coked out this weekend so you can turn it up to 11 and rock the oppression away.

PAULA HARRIS/Speakeasy: You have to give this a listen to understand why everyone that hears Harris falls in love with her. Spinning out originals that take us back to the era when broads ruled the earth, she's way more than a jazzy lady---this is brown eyed soul delivered with blue eyes. Three of her five heart chambers must be labeled ‘soul', ‘jazz' and ‘blues' to be beating this true. Utterly killer stuff that will assuredly knock you off your pins, this deal just doesn't get any realer. Hot stuff throughout.

Volume 43/Number 198
May 7, 2019
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2019 Midwest Record

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