BILLIE WILLIAMS/Hell to Pay: This sizzling white girl with the blues didn't get her blues informed by cotton fields, she got them informed by #metoo. Kind of like the "Shaft" 2019 reboot, blues is blues but it'll be fun to see the moldy figs react to this new dance. Talk about bringing new ears into the tent, Williams tantalizes with the basic and keeps hold with the au currant. Wild stuff for new times throughout.
GEORGE CABLES/I'm All Smiles: Posited as a love letter to all the fans whose good wishes kept him buoyant during a health crisis, Cables serves up a plain and simple jazz piano date populated by loads of familiar tunes done in new ways that totally reflects just how buoyant he feels now. Playing with vigor for the sheer joy of it with nothing to prove, ain't this a just mediation on the powers of positive thought? A solidly sweet fast ball down the middle tailor made for piano fans.
(High Note 7322)
DAVID KIKISKI/Phoenix Rising: An insatiably wild piano cat that's been lurking the background for far too get gets the chance to really shine here on a date produced by pal Eric Alexander that's as much a showcase for Alexander as it is Kikoski. You might know him from Mingus Big Band or this might be your introduction to him, but either way, when you need a tireless cat that knows how and why to swing, Kikoski proves he's your man. Hot stuff.
(High Note 7328)
BOB SHEPPARD/Fine Line: It might have been recorded in Burbank, but it was done at the behest of a foreign label that knew dividends would be paid by letting the respected sax man bring the gang and guest to the studio and letting them do what they want. A commercially creative set that never gets precious or hollow, when you let people that know what to do alone to do it, the results might take you someplace you hadn't expected but the trip is worth the ride. These jazzbos are fluidly in motion serving up sounds that almost hit you like stories. Well done throughout.
WARREN VACHE/Songs Our Fathers Taught Us: If Jimmy Roselli was still around and laid vocal tracks on these instrumentals, it would have been the swingingest album he ever made. A collection of oldies and goodies, not oldies but goodies, these pros taking a journey though the past is no exercise in nostalgia but a revisit to jazz that warmed their hearts. Ever hear the sound of playing from the heart? This is it. Killer stuff.
ALAN SIMON/Chouans: Hey buddy, I got your Les Miz right here. Simon, the French Andy Webber of the rock opera, serves up a double disc about the French Revolution. Realized in totally modern terms even as it's a throwback to the 70s golden period of the rock opera, there's no lack of pageantry here for those who expect and demand grandeur in their listening. A real high water mark for the genre.
(Babaika Productions 3)
PHENOMENA/Anthology: A veritable greatest hits condensation of the original trilogy, supervised by the writer and guested by John Wetton, this is a modern take on high bombast prog rock for suburbs in need of a sound they can lead rebellion to rather than knuckle under to. A reminder of the joys of being young, this is a wonderful trip for kids of all ages who know what it is to wield a mighty air guitar.
LUCIFER'S FRIEND/Black Moon: The second album of the reunion era from these German geezers that didn't get the message they are too old to rock this hard and darkly---so they go and do it anyway. Going all the way to H-town to find a jazzbo to lay down some trumpet---that seems like a long way to go to keep it real. Music that exists outside the realm of fashion, the cult act that time forgot shows you how much they care and how little that bothers them. Now, if the nu kids could just get nuts like this....
ANNE LEILEHUA LANZILOTTI/In Manus Tuas: This might even be too advanced for the eggheads of tomorrow. Going way past the past where us mere mortals can even dream up a label for her music, Lanzilotti finds the merger of music and technology, as well as other advanced forms of mash up, that strips music down to basic elements and reformats everything. With several recorded debuts on board here, even Sunday afternoon recital enthusiasts may find themselves recoiling in fear, not revulsion, at the lengths one has to go to understand and appreciate this fully. Tell Disney to fire this up as a soundtrack for the Land of Tomorrow ride.
(New Focus 231)
CHEYANNA JAMES/Burn It Up: This Texas white gal with the blues is too big, bold and brassy for a tiny state like Texas to hold. If you ever wanted to say you misspent your youth in honky tonks on Jacksboro Highway but really don't have the cojones to go do it, fire up this set by this fire breathing fire eater, soak it in and no one will have the huevos to call you on making it up. Smoking in the most righteous way.
Volume 43/Number 236
June 14, 2019
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2019 Midwest Record
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