DENA DeROSE/Ode to the Road: You want to hear a jazz vocal piano trio at the top of the genre's game? DeRose hooks up with Wind and Wilson again, adds a guest list of Sheila Jordan, Jeremy Pelt and Houston Person, leans heavily on the songbooks of Bob Dorough, Broadbent and Murphy and tying it all together with a definitive version of "Days of Wine & Roses" that leaves you panting for her next outing. Whew! Immaculate, perfect, soulful and swinging, this set has everything you want. Killer stuff that just plain says it all.
(High Note 7323)
LARRY WILLIS/I Fall in Love Too Easily: A fitting capper to a six decade long career that found the piano man playing everything with everyone and always adding to the proceedings, he's in some fine company here, winding it up at the studio where he cut his first session. Starting with Blue Note and ending up with a set that feels like it could have been part of the classic Blue Note canon, Willis stayed in the pocket right until the end leaving us with something to remember him by and take to heart. Well done throughout by pros that couldn't deliver any less.
(High Note 7326)
THE 81's/2 Things & 118 Others: From "Muff Diving in Wilkie South" to making malcontent 70s rock in Nashville, the road goes on forever and the party never ends. In touch with where the kid's heads are at today, these rocking vets amp it up and tear it up showing just how much things have changed in Nashvegas. It's just bubbling under and waiting for a break out.
GARY BREWER & the Kentucky Ramblers/40TH Anniversary Celebration: A modern traditionalist kind of guy that's been at it forever, Brewer is the kind of player that has the oomph to make something niche go mainstream and open the ears. With a guest list led by Sam Bush, this pro and his pals might have the biggest bluegrass record on his hands since "Dueling Banjos" This is the sound of the back porch at it's best.
(Stretch Grass )
GERALD McCLENDON/Can't Nobody Stop Me Now: Some people just know how to make the magic happen when the tape starts rolling. Writer producer Twist Turner found a Chicago cat that looks and sounds like a down home Jackie Wilson and makes it sound like something that was recorded after hours in Muscle Shoals. A big, bold sounding record that defines the divide between soul and blues, this is soul music right in line with the genre's best. Killer stuff sure to curl your toes.
(Delta Roots 1003)
THROTTLE ELEVATOR MUSIC/Emergency Exit: It's a multi culti crew and they look too young to have been there the first time around but these jazzbos love blaxploitation music and play it like they learned it at their elders knees---and then added modern improvements. Not at all retro, this set is a gasser that proves good taste is timeless and once something is in the groove and laid down right, it stays down. Hot stuff.
(Wide Hive 357)
ANGELA TURONE & CHRIS PLATT/Sounds of Brazil: Just like it's hard to compete with your younger self, it's hard to compete with the classics. It's too tempting to turn the material inside out so you can put your own stamp on it but those efforts fall short and make it sound like the new kids just don't understand the material. On the other hand, if you don't add something new, you run the risk of making a gift shop record. This pair, and their pals from the frozen north, find room to give Brazilian classics a new spin without making the apple fall far from the tree but still make it something new and engaging to hear. Letting their love for the classics and the masters lead the way, they serve up a sweetest set of Jobim etc you could hope to find. A first class treat for fans of the sound that set the standard.
STEPHEN WADE/A Storyteller's Story: Talk about doing what you love and the money will follow, Wade has made a whole career out of a banjo show he launched when he was a wiry haired hippie and totally rode it to glory. He recaps here, over 40 years later, and the charm that carried the unlikely day back in the day is still in effect. Everyone keeps fighting over who is the grandfather of Americana and this entry gives Wade his due in that sweepstakes. Out of the ordinary for sure but totally time well spent.
JACK'S WATERFALL/Faith Hope Love: A smart later day folkie that follows in the tradition of the 70s stars that redefined the genre, whether singer/songwriter or alt.country, this cat has a smart pen and knows how to deliver a song that cuts to the chase to makes it's point. A keen observer, this crew keeps it's eye on the ball and it's it out of the park. Well done
EVENT HORIZON JAZZ QUARTET/Event Horizon: How can you not enjoy a bunch of Chicago jazzbos that have great versatility but were told by Dave Liebman they would sound great at a strip joint? How Chicago! They play in the Chicago jazz tradition, have a modern sound and know their way around the music in that knowing way real artists do. With no pretense and nothing but good vibes, this crew is well on their way. Hot stuff.
ASIER POLO/Cello Concertos: In which we get to indulge in the joy of getting back to basics. When you have a great soloist, a great orchestra, war horse repertoire with a lot of room still in it to grow and an impeccable sounding recording, there is no call for frippery. This set is a winning hand. With the kind of accessibility that old timers and newbies can equally enjoy, this is a high water mark in high tone listening. Simply put, it's masterful stuff by a bunch of masters.
Volume 44/Number 221
June 6, 2020
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2020 Midwest Record
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