VARIOUS/Sondheim Unplugged (NYC Sessions) V. 1: Right from the start, this set has a back stage/cabaret feel to it. No wonder, the wheel driving it has a deep New York cabaret background and access to scads of Broadway vocalists. What it's lacking in Bernadette, Betty or Patti, it more than makes up for in heart and passion, as well as just as much devotion to the material as the aforementioned holy trinity. Loaded with two discs of material so strong that it can appear in any format by any vocalist (that's for real) without a single note being out of place. A stellar collection that comes at you from another direction that invites you follow along in it's sure footed trail. Solid!
(Yellow Sound 567353)
TONY MALABY'S SABINO/Cave of Winds: It had to happen and it took the pandemic to drive someone to do it. A muscular, angular skronkmeister puts together some serious New York jazzbos to kick it out on skronk with a mission of tunes inspired by playing under the freaking bridge! Recorded in a studio, this easily could have been some field recordings that would have driven John Lomax nuts. You want art with passion and mission? Here it is!
SCOTT ELLISON/there's Something About the Night: Well lay down Sally and give the Republicans the news. Using the pandemic to record in real recording style, Ellison rounded up also sidelined players from Clapton and Albert Lee's crews and shows that Michael Bloomfield wasn't the only white boy with he blues. Guitar slinging all the electric blues he can muster form around the horn, this s a real frat boy party starter. High octane throughout, this is a fine primer in how to kick ass.
(Liberation Hall 5026)
DEE BELL/Love for Sailin' Over Seas-then & Now: Originally intended to be an ep just to remind people of Bell, the powers that be decided they might as well round up key tracks from her last three albums and give them a fresh reairing. The Indiana vocal jazzbo that took to the west coast and made it her own has been the voice of serious jazzbos for years and still has what it takes to set the hairs on jazz vocal fans ears on fire. A gal that knows how to take a well worn tent pole and not beat it to death, she a real tonic for the ears and nerves. Well done.
DAWN DEROW/My Ship-Songs from 1941: Enough with fighting the current wars, they aren't leaving any lasting music in their wake. As long as we're sitting here in the shadow of Pearl Harbor Day, let's roll the clock back 80 years to when music was a force that carried us through. Recapturing the lightning in a bottle that her award winning show delivered, Derow serves up a theme of 1941s greatest hits, sinking her teeth into the material without histrionics or a lack of understanding the material. Really much more than a trip down memory lane, this is a soundtrack for real patriots and not manques. A text book example of how to take a journey through the past.
PETER VETESKA & BLUES TRAIN/So Far So Good: Whether doing new stuff or really digging the in the crates, this blues power trio kicks it out hard showing why these Jersey boys have made it into local halls of fame in a relatively short time. Even if you're only have a party of one, this is a real party starter that gets the fists pumping, the beer flowing and the good times rolling. If the majors knew this magic formula back in the day, you wouldn't be looking at the same records over and over that are in perfect condition at charity record sales to this day. Hot stuff even when they lay out.
(Blue Heart 21)
CROSS AND KEELING/October is Marigold: A set where experimental meets minimalist, ambient and prog for coffee before they go hang out with some new age and contemporary classical. Not the mishmash it you might be thinking it is, this is a skillful blend for those left leaners that don't really get contemporary classical but want to have that egghead feeling going for them every so often. Cross does his part to keep it a wild ride.
DAVE FLYNN/Irish Minimalism: Do not approach this record with pre-conceived notions. Flynn was born in 1977 and calls his work minimalism so you should already be thinking this is pots and pans music with it's hand in an arts council's pocket. Wrong! This is thoroughly composed music presented by award winning hot shots. The sound and feel is sort of like "Riverdance" meets Stravinsky with some Peter and the Wolf thrown in for good measure. A thoroughly engaging and out of the ordinary listening experience, this serves as a reminder there's more to music that repetitious beats under lyrics about arriving at the club with your new watch. Killer stuff!
(First Hand 116)
BIGLLOU JOHNSON/Bigman: If there was a black, blues singing version of "Pulp Fiction"'s Mr. Wolf, this award winning bad ass would be the embodiment. With the laser focus that pin points where traditional and modern blues meet in a big hug, this Chicago treasure should just get the Keepin the Blues Alive lifetime achievement award (I just made it up). Every note is the real deal and this record is pure dream date. Killer throughout.
BOBBY ALLISON & GERRY SPEHAR/Delta Man: Hit songwriters that have been pals through 40 years of changes, the only constant being they never put their guitars down, deliver a Ďand then I wrote" set that blows it's own horn by not blowing it's own horn. As back porch as you could want it, these country boys never lost their country boyishness and it's all as charming as it is well written and solidly performed. A totally first class diamond in the rough.
December 17, 2021
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL. 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2021 Midwest Record
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