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EARL MacDONALD/Re: Visions: Here's a piano man that knows what it is to have a big band sound loaded with swing and grooving moving. Kicking it off in high gear right from the start, the chops fly and you can't help but feel good. Simply fun jazz that is timed right for ushering in warm weather as it sounds like riding through the country with the top down on long stretches of Route 66. It's all here in fine form and it's a lot more fun to listen to than talk about so, if you'll excuse me while I slip my headphones back on... Yeah, the good times are rolling.

FABRIZIO SOTTI/Inner Dance: Two guys and a handy use of bytes makes them sound like an organ trio that wasn't as a guitar, an organ and a bunch of technology recreate what a Wes Montgomery/Jimmy Smith face off might have sounded like. Pure 60s Verve all the way, without any syrupy commercial considerations that were applied when both the artists started getting too big to remain genre. A sassy romp strictly made for burning the blue lights in the basement and letting the smoke rise. A wonderful ride throughout.

JIMMY WARREN BAND/No More Promises: A white boy from Kankakee that came to blues guitar later than most and then took time off to be a family man has strapped on his ax once again and is letting fly with tales of contemporary blues that are pretty much timely any time. The roadhouse vibe is so heavy it feels like this cd brings its own smoke to fill the room with. Contemporary blues with gusto, this set will impress guitar slinger fans looking for that new kick. Well done.

RITA COOLIDGE/The Lady's Not for Sale-Fall Into Spring-It's Only Love: With the exception of two that got away and a few that haven't come out yet, Raven has anointed itself as the home base for Coolidge's A&M years. After serving a twofer with her two best for the label, they've come back with a twofer that houses three albums from right before her breakout when she as making first class adult pop even though the label didn't know what to do with her. These albums are a delightful mixed bag that find her recording some Guy Clark before anyone else, putting her own stamp on songs that were making the rounds of the LA studios, doing a theme running through the recordings, getting to know Kristofferson and his gang better and making the LA studio hippies sound better than they were. There's lots of wonderful stuff here that was made as A&M was trying to justify it's major league financial investment in one of the top background singers of the era that they were betting on to move to the front of the stage. These were the stops she made while building that Memphis/LA bridge that finally took her to the top. When she's doing over the top LA tripe like "Donut Man', you can hit the skip button, but the rest of the time, sit back and enjoy some glorious period LA pop that really hit the spot. A first class compilation all the way.

BILL WITHERS/+ Justments Expanded Edition: He know, he know, he know, he know that you can lean on him, and for his third outing, he turned up the Southern soul for a down home flavored hit that took it to church and then took it out back once arriving. Rounded out with some rare bonus tracks, this is a dandy revisit to Withers early days with all the good vibes left in tact. For some idiot reason, this has never been on cd before and there's a lot of fans of this classic that are simply going to lose their minds and spread the word. This is real soul, and not just 70s style. Hot stuff that's never gone out of style.

JEFF BECK/Emotion and Commotion: There are several neat things about being an older than dirt guy that can play like no one else. You can stare down who ever has a problem with your rooster haircut. You get to do your own spacy version of "Over the Rainbow" and you get to have the ever lovely Joss Stone as a guest vocalist. You can bet this is an album no one but the hard core will no what to do with as it often goes places you've only heard in dreams. Not for nothing, but the hard core made 2009 Beck's best year ever and he's got a bunch of stuff on tap for this year that will set things on fire even hotter. Beck sails through uncharted waters, even at this stage of the game and this is the kind of set that separates the shredders from the manqué. Take it on it's own terms or be left in the fog. Oh yeah, and then there's Joss Stone adding her two cents to "I Put on Spell on You". Beck really brings out the voodoo in that girl! It's worth the price of admission even if you don't get the rest of the set.

GERRY GIBBS and the Electric Thrasher Orchestra/Play the Music of Miles Davis 1967-75: In which we find an ad hoc big band kicking out the jams on Miles hippie/elephant funk era, two disc style, like many of Miles albums of that era: With 26 tracks pulled from 16 albums where Davis redefined jazz and was one of the birth parents of fusion with a host of the genres greats serving as his sidekicks and apprentices, this is more like being there than it is like listening to a homage/tribute/whatever. These player love this stuff and play with the kind of gusto that comes with knowing you get to inhabit the sound, not just make it. If you miss Miles and miss something new from him, this set easily serves as the next best thing. Killer stuff throughout.

SHERLOCK HOLMES: You've got to give Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey a lot of credit for teaming up and creating a pomo Sherlock Holmes that keeps the spirit of Blighty Ol' in tact while giving it a very much in the moment undercurrent. Taking Holmes through a London you didn't think about in it's back in the day, the coming attractions only hinted at how nutty this pic would be. However, once the game is afoot, some things simply never change. Traditionalists have to hate it, but most original Holmes fans are probably dead and who's really read him in years. Clearly a pic that was all about having nutty fun. The action and detail look great on the home screen. If you missed this in theaters, now's the time to have a wonderful, offbeat evening at home, with your own popcorn. Check it out.

Volume 33/Number 147
March 28, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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