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JOE ROGAN/Talking Monkey's in Space: I wasn't familiar with Rogan's stand up act before this record and if you aren't either, he's a great Kinison-lite delivering a ratatat spray of one liners, even in the middle of arcs, and refuses to let the laughs stop coming. Simply an uncut dose of pure hilarity that seems to have something you didn't hear the last time when you replay it. If you're among the many that needs a good, gut rocking laugh, your sides will forgive you when they stop aching after you play this. Check it out.

RALPH TOWNER-PAOLO FRESU/Chiaroscuro: ECM has been doing some interesting pairings on behalf of Paolo Fresu and this set should have been called Ralph Towner Presents Paolo Fresu since he's even more in evidence than Towner. It's a simple guitar/trumpet duo and it sounds so much bigger since Towner is quite the all encompassing player. It might look like a chamber music set, but it's a full on set that is loaded with chops that speak for themselves, loudly.

GABRIELE TRANCHINA/Song of Love's Color: A spiritual follow through to the sounds that flowed in the wake of Astrid Gilberto when people weren't thinking about concepts like world/jazz and foreign language vocals and the vibes just flowed. With Bobby Sanabria at the wheel, the Latin jazz aspect is a natch, and don't worry, he knows how to make the rest of the thing sound right as well. Bouncy, international flavored jazz/pop date that almost wants to make you put some paneling up in the rec room and drink some "Mad Men" drinks. Fun stuff.

HOT CLUB OF DETROIT/It's About That Time: This Hot Club posits that Django was always evolving and that had he lived longer, he would have adapted bebop into his gypsy catalog. Why not? This third outing from this crew stays true to the original Hot Club in spirit, but beyond that, they are all over the map, and it works throughout. A fun romp that takes an interesting theory and runs with it successfully. Upbeat and zesty, there's hints of cartoon music running through it, and if that doesn't foretell the fun that lies under the surface, you aren't paying attention. Equal parts off beat and left field, it all comes together in the fun for a swinging, good time. Check it out.

GARAJ MAHAL/Discovery: And for those of you into instant collector's items, Moog Guitar put one in the hands of Fareed Haque and let nature take it's course. Letting the creativity run rampant within the constraints of what's basically a demo record, Haque and his pals, and his new toys, almost take you back to the golden age of the demo record when they were used to show off speakers, instruments and what not. While the guitar is the real star here, it wouldn't sound so nice if it wasn't in the right hands. Other than that, a nice record for space heads as that's a large part of the direction here.

GARAJ MAHAL/More Mr. Nice Guy: After being away from Sting long enough, Fareed Haque has lost the earnest young man thing and has developed a world beat vocabulary that fuses jazz/world/elctronica into a mix that highly appropriate in this round up of songs for aging children that still like it left of center but really don't want the apple to fall too far from the tree. Angular and complex with an easy accessibility, there's an underlying feeling of 70s Miles funk to the music that gives rise to speculating about what a jam between Miles and Paul Winter would have sounded like. Fun stuff that cleanse the palette nicely.

WIL FORBIS and the Gentlemen Scoundrals/Shadey's Jukebox: Existing somewhere between Kinky Friedman and Gram Parsons, there's a slot for Forbis who understands the left of center 70s hippie country that deserved to be more than a comet. Wonderful, crazy stuff that's not only fun to listen to but reminds me why I hate fern bars. When fern bars came in, paintings of nudes with big asses, like the one on the cover, went away. Where? Same thing with music like this. Forbis does his thing, his way, and if you're the kind of person that bought the 30th anni edition of "Sold American" even though you had the original, this is something you'll get right away. Not a diamond in the rough, it's a left field hit waiting to happen.

DOMINANT 7 & JAZZ ARTS MESSENGERS/Fourteen Channels: There's a lot of kids out there with more talent than we think. Several years ago, there was a bunch of kids playing at Borders in the coffee shop. There were so many of these high school kids that the ‘stage' couldn't hold them all. They were high school kids, they were doing a big band version of the "Kind of Blue" album and they were nailing it. A lot of times, you're listening to kids and you can hear the potential and envision what will come if they stick with it, but these kids were simply wise beyond their years. No homage, no ‘tribute', no good intentions---they were just nailing it. The kids on this set, aged 16 to 24, are right in that same pocket. They sound like their jazz elders and forefathers playing in the moment. It's not derivative at all, even when it sounds like they might have cribbed Shorty Rogers or Marty Paich charts. Worried about the future of big band? Give these kids a spin and it'll put all your fears to rest. This is simply one ripping good big band date that will have you enchanted throughout. Well done.

Volume 33/Number 134
March 15, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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