CHAKUNA MACHI ASA/Auroral Magic: A next gen new ager that's making herself known in the field comes out of the box strong with simple stuff that has a dose of complexity in it's wake but also (hey, I'm a guy) feels like it has elements of being a new age version of being born again. With ‘transformation' being a popular buzz word in girl friend circles these days, you almost get the sense that this lass is what Billie Eilish would be if she were authentic (another popular buzz word these days). More a throw back to schmata queens like Mirabai than Enya, today's seeker has a good bet here for her new soundtrack.
(4 Directions 69957)
STEVE MARRINER/Hope Dies Last: The former Monkey Junker continues his reinvention here as a solo hard rocking blues rocker with a roots bent. Full of the bombast it takes to get your attention today, any current or former frat boy will recognize the fist pumping action going on here as they spill their beers sloppily in allegiance. This is how you light up the night.
(Stony Plain 1433)
DAVE KALZ/Relish: A guitar slinging old pal of Mike Zito that has spent a good part of his professional life in the Allman Brothers orbit or in the jam band orbit, he's here to rock it out. You can always spot the lifers and this cat has put in his time on his ax. Guitar fans have a new rocker to look up to here.
LINDA SUSSMAN/These Walls: A smart soft rocker with a good ear for the various folk and blues elements, she puts her sharp pen to good use crafting a set of originals that have messages for the times but never get strident. You could even call her empathetic in the range of emotions and views. A very nice way for folkies to get this decade started.
(Sing Out Proud 202021)
OFER PELZ/Trinte: A little avant garde, a little experimental, this cat that likes to mess with your perceptions of what a piano is or isn't celebrates 8 years of collaborating with Meitar Ensemble in which they construct and deconstruct the sounds and where they go. The not so high minded could turn this album into a drinking game as they take turns calling out just what echoes of what they hear as this goes upon it's merry way. Eggheads can just sit back and enjoy the experimentation. Wild stuff that colors outside the lines.
(New Focus 303)
BEVERLEY BEIRNE/Dream Dancer: Jason Miles ushers in the new era of jazz diva doing the great American song book with this British thrush that isn't afraid to dive into the back pages that tend to be off the beaten path. Channeling his inner Bobby Troup, Miles sets the stage for Beirne to take center stage and it sounds like a grand time is being had by all. An utter delight for jazz vocal fans, it takes a guy that could keep up with Miles to go these extra miles just proving what a champ this producing Miles is. Smoldering, hot stuff throughout.
(33 Jazz 4)
HELSINKI-COTONOU ENSEMBLE: An Afrobeat funk band with roots in Finland and an affinity for voodoo sounds comes back with album five and it's so smooth you won't be able to resist it. Sounding like some progressive Brazilian sounds, you can bet they want a taste of the tropics like this in Finland more than just a few months a year. Smooth jazz that isn't, funk that doesn't roil, this date is a real gasser---and you don't even have to know what language they are singing in to get the full impact of how deliciously groovy this all is.
(No Problem 4)
SCOTT REEVES QUINTET/Alchemist: A bone man retires from teaching thinking he'd have time to do all the things his day job kept him from doing (ha!, Google his resume) but slammed right into the pandemic lockdown that made him rechannel his energies into cleaning out his closets. Coming across a tape of a live date by a band of his that was never ‘recorded', he didn't know why he never did anything with the tapes but got bit by the bug that told him he should. From 2005 but still sounding forward thinking even now, this is some dandy sitting down/thinking man's jazz. A nice day trip to the seventh galaxy, left leaning jazzbos know how to enjoy this drill. Solid.
JOE JACKSON & TODD RUNDGREN with Ethel/State Theater New Jersey 2005: The stuff of hushed whispers in it's time, Jackson and Rundgren paired up for sets that found them alone and together and in the company of a string quartet doing revamped versions of their greatest hits. Left fielders of the day were in love. This archival release is spread across two discs and comes with a DVD of the whole thing. Not for yuppies that like to overpay for victory lap tours, this is for the real muso that wants to experience new possibilities even if they have to go down old avenues to do it safely. A real valentine to fans of both headliners.
(Purple Pyramid 2268)
CHRIS SAUNDERS/Dancing With the Widow St. James: A geezer that's an old soul on top of that, Saunders is a bay area mainstay that has the laid back side of bay's vibe down as righteously as possible. A white boy with a trumpet full of soul/jazz with blues hues, his is the kind of music summer evenings were made for. As tasty as it gets, there's nothing here that doesn't work. Let's call it a winner throughout.
AL HAMMERMAN/Just a Dance: This cat is working non stop in the background so even if he doesn't have a particular style, you probably know his music better than you think you do. However--when he gets out of the background, he struts his stuff with all originals and comes on as an unselfconscious swinging Sinatraite. There's no manqueing around here, he just takes the vibe to the next level of the game. Fun stuff for anyone that misses swing that really comes from the heart.
Volume 45/Number 231
June 19, 2021
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL. 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2021 Midwest Record
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