NATALIE MacMASTER/Sketches: Always an impressive player from her earliest Rounder sides, MacMaster is back with her first album in nearly a decade showing the stuff that separates her traditional fiddle playing from those that sound like they are sawing on something. She also shows that a hectic home life hasn't dimmed her light at all. Kicking up her heels on a program of mostly traditional Irish fiddle tunes, Canada's fiddle queen is so focused and on point you feel like you are listening to an off shoot of the Hot Club planting a flag outside of France. Turning out lovely music while still in her penultimate years, this is a jaw dropping performance that will make awards voters remember her name and decorate her once again. Hot.
COLIN HINTON/Simulacra: An experimental improviser that walks on both sides of the street brings his egghead A game on this debut springing out of the Brooklyn experimental scene with a crew of like minded in tow. Feeling like outer, outer space music where you aren't overwhelmed by sound but by the white space that envelops it, this certainly sounds like it should be subtitled "Music for Planetariums". Finding a sweet spot where it's way out without being way out, get out the headphones because this is music for your head.
(New Focus/Panoramic 12)
MIKROPULS: Moving from Miles modal modes into micro tonality, this set of post daddio jazz by a German crew of improvisers keeps all the important things in tact and can take you from the great beyond and back to Africa. Looking to make new sounds as well as new music, this is the kind of stuff jazzbos who've hung out in church basements know connects right to the root of the sound. In it's own offbeat way, the crew makes this as mainstream as left field can get. A fun bet for the musically adventurous.
FOSTINA DIXON/Vertical Alignment: When you look at the length of this saxy lady's resume and hold that up the pic of her on the album jacket, she's living proof that black don't crack. She's also proof she knows more about smooth jazz than many have forgotten (or never learned). A solid outing that get right to heart of things, Dixon more than proves herself. You might be one of those people that think you don't know what's good but you know what you like. That's ok. However, she's got Grover Washington's long time manager saying she's the real thing. Take it from there. Well done.
NORTHERN RANGER/Eastern Stranger: A rising cat fresh from academia and falling into a arts grant from Canada shows the government they aren't wasting their money on him. Professing to be jazz but really a high octane, quality mash up of instrumental music from various quadrants, this bunch, future heavy hitters all, deliver the goods in such fine form you'll be mad at those government fat cats for only coughing up enough dough to finance an ep. Killer stuff throughout.
MICHAEL & THE ROCKNESS MONSTERS/Seeing Life in 2020: I remember a young lady telling me she didn't think "Both Sides Now" was a ‘real' song because she learned it at overnight camp, sitting around the campfire making s'mores. This gang expands on that concept by looking back over the last century and pulling a song from each decade that has become kid songs over time and gives them a proper presentation that feel right at home for the young ‘uns. Fun stuff that's probably subversively programmed to plant the seed in the kids' heads not to be jerks. Fun stuff no matter how you slice it by a bunch that love their work.
JENNIS/The Mirror: Not exactly protest music or folk/emo, this pair of vet folkies are showing their pissed off side and they don't care who knows it because they want everyone to wake up and know it. And these guys live in a country where the President doesn't have orange hair. Not a clarion call but a wake up call appropriate to woke times, there ain't no way this duo is going to sing you to sleep. Kumbiya, indeed. Check it out---the message is really in the music.
THE NIRO/Complete Jeff Buckley & Gary Lucas Songbook: A sweet treat for the coterie of fille Buckley who still remain steadfast and loyal after all these years. Collecting all the songs written by Buckley and Gary Lucas, with guitarist Lucas on board, mostly for Buckley's pre-solo time in Gods & Monsters, this collection is rounded out by some songs that have never been previously released. Piloted by an Italian progressive rocker, 25 years in, the light hasn't been dimmed as it obviously burned quite brightly. Fans need this.
BERNIE MORA & TANGENT/No Agenda: The powerful guitarist delivers a high octane jazz romp that doesn't limit itself to drawing inside any particular lines when it can roam free and find the best of everything where it casts it's gaze. With a groove too eclectic to pigeon hole, what are you going to call it, big band smooth jazz? With a wily rascal at the wheel, this is a set of what Duke Ellington would pigeon hole as ‘ good music'. Well done.
TERESA JAMES & the Rhythm Tramps/Live!: A leading white girl with the blues culls tunes from four live shows and shows how she's mastered the magic of belting with control leading to her status at the top of a shortlist. There's a different iteration of the band cooking at each date and the song stack is a cohesive mix of originals and covers, all of which work. If you're idea of the blues is getting a late charge on the mortgage because you mailing it instead of paying on line, this is the Texas gal you'll be sending roses to. It's all about the music here and it's done right.
Volume 43/Number 342
October 8, 2019
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2019 Midwest Record
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