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MIKE ZITO & FRIENDS/Rock n Roll-A Tribute to Chuck Berry: Anything with sly humor catches our attention quickly, so pairing tyro Ally Venable with "School Days" tells us this project is off to a good start. Award winning shredder Zito pays tribute to ‘local' hero Berry by cutting the backing tracks and pairing them with the front person at a later date and doing it all in seamless fashion. A solidly rollicking set that brings Berry back to the front by those who learned at his feet and are here to pay tribute to the music letting all else fall by the wayside. Not a lick of gift shop record anywhere on it.
(Ruf 1269)

TONY DeSARE & TEDD FIRTH/Lush Life: Pals since third grade, these two seem to fly under the radar but are mighty talents even if you aren't hip to it. A vocal/piano date heavy on chestnuts getting a new roasting, this is a killer date that uses it's deceptive simplicity against you for not taking it seriously enough. Filling the room with all the sound it needs, they could turn Carnegie Hall into a cabaret setting with every seat feeling like it's front row. A real apex of a jazz vocal set, with real pros at the wheel, this is more than all you need. Smoking.
(AJD Entertainment)

MARIA MENDES/Close to Me: Gringo ears don't hear enough fado and saudade so it always sounds fresh no matter when it was made. This crowd funded set shows how good the results are when you put all the funding on the tape. Feeling fused with other adult Latin tempos as well, the multi layered set is a solid listening experience that feels arty but is really artistic. A delightful break from the norm.
(Justin Time 8621)

STEVE STRONGMAN/Tired of Talkin': A blues rocking white boy that seems to have non chalantly shredded his way to the top of the heap with smoking licks and powerful company throughout. Easy going without being easy listening, this is fist pumping, beer drinking night out music for party people that need a leader to let them cut loose. Fine stuff sure to keep him on top.

ROBERTA PIKET/Domestic Harmony-Piket Plays Mintz: If you are among the many of old school music fans that think there's no intimacy and body to today's music, here's a set just for you, sort of. Originally recorded as a birthday present for her composer husband, pianist Piket pours her soul into this material to really make it a one of a kind gift. After finishing it, she realized it was too good to keep that locked away and invited everyone to the party. Blazing stuff at all levels, all the more impressive since it's a solo piano set, it not only invites you to the party, it invites you to dive in with wide open ears and get ready for something special. Well done.
(13th Note 12)

PETER CURTIS/Christmas with Your Jewish Boyfriend: A classical guitarist that also knows how to swing, Curtis adds his two cents to a growing sub-genre of paying tribute to Jews who wrote Christmas songs. With a solid selection of chestnuts that you know and love, it's just him and his ax giving them a new zest and flair. A wonderful holiday diversion you can really enjoy all year.
(Bella Barktalk)

MARC COPLAND/And I Love Her: John Abercrombie might be gone but his music lives on as the three cats that backed him up soldier on as a piano trio with some downtown leanings but as solid jazzbos too deep to be anything else. With as much improv as composition working through these grooves, this is a real testament to being gone but not forgotten without having to make a jive tribute to tread water. Tasty stuff for leading edge ears to feast on.
(Illusions Mirage 4004)

MARC WAGNON/Interesting Times: Hippie lyrics under pinned by 70s jazz rock from a cat that banged it out with Brand X---and it all sounds timely. With some wonderful cats we haven't heard from in a while on board as well, overall, this sounds like state of the art 2020 prog rock. It's even more wild that this was made by older cats that could teach snotty, tattooed, young malcontents a thing or two about hitting the nail on the head. Really different stuff for really different ears.
(Buckyball 29)

DIANE ROBLIN/Life Force: Pianist Roblin takes a long time between albums and it's probably to store up the energy needed to turn out these high octane, high spirited romps that find her genre splicing while never straying far from the funk that powers her jazz. A leader that knows how to whip an ensemble of session cats into a cohesive whole to deliver the simpatico on improvs, this all field hitter does a great job of delivering the goods again without repeating herself. A genuine wild ride you wish wouldn't end.

CATCH-22: The contemporary last word on military madness gets it's mid century updating as it moves from movie to limited series and not losing any of it's dark humor along the way. With a load of tested talent on board, the younger generation that only know about the original as a cliché will be drawn in with something deep to think about. Loaded with a slew of extras to keep packaged media in the game, this belongs up on the book shelf right next to the novel. Crisply done throughout, this is one of the reasons why we're in a new golden age of television.

Volume 44/Number 2
November 2, 2019
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2019 Midwest Record

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