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MATTHEW MARTH QUARTET/Lucky Number: A sax, an international crew, a love of samba and the desire to make a new statement out of some classic forms---it all adds up nicely. With a sweet tone and a wonderfully flowing vibe, this bunch of jazzbos has their finger on the pulse of doing it right. With easy going original tunes that hit the bulls eye, this is a solid session custom made for kicking back and enjoying. Modern without being nu or precious, look to these new cats to really deliver.
(Echo Tunes)

HARRISON SQUARED/Trout in Swimwear: Recent college grads hook up with a pair of oldish timers and kick out some modern daddio jazz that has the sound and fury of the old days but goes it's own way nicely. Merrily blowing up a nice storm, the two Harrys and their pals are jazzbos to the core and know how to deliver the goods in fine style.

THORBJORN RISAGER/Come On In: White boys with the blues from Denmark, they bring their own vision to the old form in modern views. Blues rockers that are following their own direction, this nu sound certainly shakes things up and gives domestic ears a different perspective on what's happening with our own art form in other hands today. With groove and swing at the core---that's the real international language as this crew often proves they know how to hit the heights.
(Ruf 1271)

CARNES & SHEW/Porthole: Two white boys with the blues from the Chicago area that never heard of the northern migration are a duo that sound much bigger. With harp leading the way in this harp/guitar duo, this is way deeper than the wannabe stuff you used to hear in many college coffeehouses. Reveling in singing about the dark side of life, you couldn't go slumming with two better tour guides. These cats sound like they would actually starve for their art if they had to.

VAL STARR & the Blues Rocket/Lighter Side of the Blues: Taking her cues from Central Avenue jump blues, this California white girl with the blues frames blues as a mind set and sets off to let the good times roll. With a big band of all stars behind her that don't need to be given direction, this quasi busman's holiday is a primo party record for people that think their party days are behind them. You might give out before the cows come home but she isn't going to let you give up. Solid stuff throughout.
(Sandwich Factory)

GUY BELANGER/Eldorado: Some cats just exist so far above and beyond that there's really nothing you can add. This four decade long and running Canadian harp player has won everything and played with everyone but he steadfastly refuses to make a ‘look ma, no hands' record. An instrumental tour de force from a pro that refuses to stop rocking, if you like cats that can play a harp inside out, this is the cat for you. Well done.

ANGEL FORREST/Hell Bent with Grace: A through blues gal that started her career over 30 years ago with a tribute to Janis is now in her 50s and owns it. Singing about life as she knows it today, there's several tracks that should come across as too filled with estrogen but the band crunches on and she's forthright proving you can't keep a full blooded gal down. A heavy hitter that knows how to hit it out of the park, it's no wonder that she and the Canadian blues awards have been best friends for quite a while. Well done.

JIMMY JOHNSON/Every Day of Your Life: Delmark welcomes another old timer back into the fold as innovative, 90 year old guitarist Johnson gets an airing and shows he can still play like there's no dust on him. Crossing the lines of Chicago blues/R&B/soul, him and the band are burning incandescently with west side fervor that you just know is growing from the true vine. Hot stuff throughout that the young ‘uns could learn a lot from.
(Delmark 861)

NEVER WEATHER/Blissonce: Is the group's name a bitch slap at Weather Report? Modern jazzbos kicking it out in real time with a debut that speaks loud, they play for all they are worth and never take the easy way out. Bristling with energy, you can feel the players pushing each other to new heights, much like they did in Weather Report. Full of high octane sound and fury, this is how modern jazzbos capture nu ears.
(Ridgeway 13)

MARIE MARTENS & the Messarounds/Traveled: Don't go calling this Swedish white gal with the blues another Bonnie Raitt just because she digs blues and plays slide. If you called her another anything, it would be another Hendrix--but that wouldn't be fair either as she's forging her own path. More concerned with raising blood pressures one at a time than hitting the top of the charts, this nuclear powered steam roller assault hits hard and often in the best possible way. Way cool hot stuff and this is just her debut.

Volume 44/Number 63
January 2, 2020
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2020 Midwest Record

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