LINDA PURL/Taking a Chance on Love: A welcome media fixture since the week after Jesus lost his sandals, no one can say Purl doesn't know her way around giving a performance where you have to hit your mark right and often. With a new album of jazz/cabaret performances under her belt, she's hitting her mark once again. The song list is mostly chestnuts she refashions with some new, not radical, special sauce that keeps it fresh and tasty. A winning set that'll hit the high notes with any jazz vocal fan.
BK TRIO/Hit It: Leading a guitar trio where the organ is given equal prominence, Brian Kooken was born on the same date as Wes and something clearly rubbed off. A smoking player that never met a style he didn't like and couldn't tame, this hopping and bopping set is a guitar fancier's welcome find. Hard hitting stuff that never flags, one spin will make it clear that this is the invitation to a good time being had by all. In the pocket!
3D JAZZ TRIO/I Love to See You Smile: The swinging Sherrie Maricle dons yet another identity and sets sail on the latest under this incarnation for a mainstream groover's set with a familiar set card played by a trio of creative pros. With tunes you've loved since childhood no matter when you were a kid, this set will make you smile and more. Swingingly killer stuff throughout.
(Diva Jazz 2020)
SONS OF THE PIONEERS/Lost Masters: We're sure there are cynical types out there that think an idea that took root in 1934 is corny now---and they are dismissed. Without this cowboy vocal music back in the day, there would be no Americana now. Rex Allen Jr and Roy Rogers Jr found tapes going back over 60 years, with songs mostly written by mainstay great Bob Nolen, and brought them into the present in glorious sound. Some people might think of this as kid stuff now but you're never too old to dig this if you've got the right attitude. Yippie Yi Yay! Well done.
(Country Rewind 216)
NING YU/Of Being: It's minimalist but it's not pots and pans music. Contemporary classical pianist Yu explores sound and white space, checking out the relationship between both, on some new works that are tailor made for eggheads. Full of deep meaning for sonic seekers, this comes close to being the next generation of space rock. Wild trips to out there are here a plenty here.
(New Focus 242)
JIM BRICKMAN/25th Anniversary Greatest Hits: Why bother wrangling with Sony to lease the rights to your old tracks when you've got the wherewithal to rerecord them with maturity and depth. Putting vocals to familiar tracks, the piano whiz strolls down his back pages once again claiming the high ground as America's most romantic pianist. More than a souvenir for fans, this stroll down memory is a great reintroduction for fans old and new to enjoy how he has lived in these tunes over the years. Solid.
ALEX deGRASSI/The Bridge: A perfect example of how things can get older and better, deGrassi reassembles a bunch of the old Windham Hill team for a long over due new set that finds him taking us back to the mid 70s when breath taking indie solo guitar records flourished. It's got that vibe. A perfect record for when you want to kick back and sink into the music, it's a wonderful guitar tour de force.
SCOTT ELLISON/Skyline Drive: A long standing road warrior that honed his chops in the night after night crucible, he's made every Americana stop along the way you can make and serves it back here as a most right on party platter. Loaded with frat boy blues, this guitar slinger knows all the right moves and when to insert them to maximum effect. Fun stuff that guarantees a good time.
(Red Parlor 2001)
MIGUEL DE LEON/Malandro: Hey boomers, now that your friends finally stopped making fun of you for liking the Sergio Mendes version of "Fool on the Hill" over the one by that other group, here's your chance to dig some seriously indigenous Brazilian jazz that unabashedly admits it's debt to Mendes and let's the good times roll in a most unJobim way. A delightful ear opener, this Latin jazz excursion knows the better back alleys in Rio and takes you there to party the night away. Killer stuff that hits on all eight and won't leave you robbed and beaten far from your hotel.
ARTURO O'FARRILL/Four Questions: No, O'Farrill isn't hinting for an invitation for next Passover. How can you not dig something that sounds like what Bernstein would have written after "West Side Story" if someone wrote a check and promised a movie out of it? Latin and multi culti, this is instrumental music at the next level of the game by a cat that seems to have left all restrictions behind but doesn't roll off the rails in the process. Hard hitting listening jazz that demands your attention.
IRON CITY HOUSEROCKERS/Have a Good Time but Get Out Alive: How did this bunch that made a record with help from crews from the Boss, Mott and Meat Loaf turn out a lost American classic? How about bad timing? Recorded at a time when arena rock was just becoming the norm, disco collapsed the record biz and the silver debacle created the gaping maw recession of 1979, these bar band warriors were just a step late to follow in Heart's night after night bar band grind but knew how to craft fist pumping anthems. With a slew of never heard before tracks added to the package, anyone that wants to rock will salute this. Amazingly heady still after 40 years of sitting in limbo, waiting for the sky to fall.
(Cleveland International 5003)
GABRIELLE LOIUSE/Unending Alteration of the Human Heart: How nice to run into an adult woman that has dealt with loss and disenchantment but found her healing by looking within for as long as it takes and doesn't throw all that touchy feely AA crap in our face along the way. Louise is ahead of the pack by understanding that if you don't fund the answers within, you surely will not find them without. When not being a recluse, she's opened for all the major, critical folkies that had no need to suffer fools gladly. It's easy to compare her to young Joni Mitchell but believe me, that compliment is really an insult. Killer stuff that raises the folkie bar.
Volume 44/Number 183
May 1, 2020
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2020 Midwest Record
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