ALLAN SHERMAN/Live at the Hollywood Bowl: Recorded in 1963 at the height of his popularity, this is when you would jump around the living room belting out "My Zelda" and the alta kockers would kvell. Presenting the whole concert from start to finish, this should take you back to the time before you cosigned your kid's student loan they've stopped paying while you're wondering where your 401k went. A blissful time from before you weren't too hip for the room, it's utterly amazing a comedy concert could be presented to an over flow crowd in such grand fashion. There's no way this won't get a boomer to crack a smile---in recognition. What a wonderful time machine.
(Liberation Hall 5030)
ALLAN SHERMAN/Live at the Sands: Recorded in Vegas in ‘65, Kennedy was shot, you were watching "Where the Action Is" when you were on summer vacation and encroaching hippiedom was in the air kind of making you see Sherman as your nutty uncle. Trying to make a Vegas lounge into his living room, he'd had a taste of the good life and it was hard to turn back. Just the same, it's a nice compliment to the Rhino Handmade box of all his Warner stuff---if you can find it.
(Liberation Hall 5029)
CURTIS FULLER/Eight Classic Albums: Even if a bunch of the records didn't appear on Blue Note, bone man Fuller was knocking them out with the Blue Note mainstays delivering some mighty fine daddio jazz along the way. Both a band leader and a key member of the Jazz Messengers, Fuller's round tones were always a grace note on any proceeding he was part of. With 8 sets with him as a leader on board here, this is a solid dose of timeless period jazz that keeps it's fresh edge today. You can't go wrong here.
RORY BLOCK/Prove It on Me: Bonnie Raitt and Maria Muldaur could only rescue so many women of the blues from obscurity, but using her platform as the reigning queen of the blues, Block is swooping in to pick up the slack. With her shimmering slide guitar, she takes the oldest, obscurest stuff she can find and breathes such life into it, you'd think this is coming from a Bluebird Café guitar pull helmed by today's young country gals looking to do something inspiring but non commercial off the clock. This ain't no document, this is a hot, in the moment set that just plain kicks ass with it's glorious simplicity putting the gals of the blues front and center with the spotlight burning bright.
(Stony Plain 1409)
PATSY THOMPSON/Fabulous Day: Please tell me Thompson wasn't counting on a showcase at SXSW to be a springboard to a breakout, she's survived enough royal bitch slaps and doesn't need another---particularly with a smoking album like this under her belt. This Austin gal, by way of Canada, is a master of personal, colloquial lyrics that gives her a feeling of familiarity you want to assess deeper. Modern honky tonk with a personal edge, she might have to take the long way around, but don't be surprised when she gets there. Hot stuff.
LIZ MANDEVILLE/Playing With Fire: Chicago's reigning white gal with the blues comes back from a long recovery from every muso's nightmare and brings a wide ranging world view with her crafting her most pop oriented record yet. She's still seeped in the blues but she's loaded with a sense of appreciation that's not some hippy dippy pop culture stuff but something etched on her soul that she's giving flight to. Recorded slowly and piecemeal during her recovery period, this is the kind of thing that makes you say she's a new woman. Killer stuff that opens your ears. We even get some hokumized John Hartford in the deal.
SOPHIE FATU/Love Is...: I really don't know what to make of this nu version of Lena Zavoroni. A seven year old Sinatra freak recording with Jeff Hamilton and other hitters, she sounds like a spunky kid and isn't grating like those kids on the 1-800-Kars4kids commercials, but my skill sets just don't equip me with how to deal with this. It's credible as opposed to sounding like something financed by a snow plow parent but...?
DAY DREAM/Originals: This trio of pros and mainstays gets back together for their third album, a deceptively elegant set that almost gives you a tour de force tour of classic jazz from fairly recent history from the 50s on forward. A totally cool listening date, they don't overplay a single lick and give sitting down a good name even if people are calling it the new smoking. It's just great players doing great stuff.
(Corner Store Jazz 125)
JACEK KOCHAN & Musiconspiracy/Occupational Hazard: The protean drummer takes you on a trip from art jazz and back dropping all his skills along the way and showing you just how hard it is to hit a moving target. Never getting too hip for the room or too cute for his own good, these are chops that like to push the envelop while knowing where they are going. Adventurous listeners should check this out.
5 YEARS OF MODERN FUNK/various: Miss 80s funk and groove so much that you subscribe to Sirius just to get channel 50? Apparently so do Austin Boogie Crew as they have a label celebrating it's fifth anniversary making sounds what you're just waiting for the channel 50 announcer to pop in an say ‘old school'. This bunch knows their stuff and this fatly tracked anthology is way more than an exercise in nostalgia. This defines the modern take on the groove. Killer stuff.
CUNAO/Rayuela: Starting from a point of Latin ethnic folk, this multi culti crew forgot about things like boundaries and cut off points. A strange duck of a record that takes you on a trip to places you don't expect, often taking paths you wouldn't have considered. In the end, it's very much of a head date that gleefully plays with yours as it plays on. A first class diversion you'll come back to no matter how much of a gringo you are.
(Ides of March)
Volume 44/Number 128
March 7, 2020
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2020 Midwest Record
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