WATERSTREET BLUES BAND/Talkin About: A four on the floor party band that knows their way around amped up blues and roots shows why they keep floating near the top of the blues competitions they enter. Learning a thing or two from rubbing elbows with the top working cats in the genre, the party spirit jumps off the disc and swirls around your ear in high octane style. One of those certified party on a platter discs.
BOB JAMES TRIO/Feel Like Making Live: Looking back at 60 years of twists and turns from the time Bob James Trio meant hell raisers on ESP to cutting ignored tracks for CTI that became hip hop bedrocks and beyond, this date takes smooth jazz and moves it to a whole nother planet. It might be easy and familiar but it's mind blowing all the same in it's refashioning and reinvention. A lovely sonic portrait of a restless creative spirit that pushed boundaries subversively, it's a classic example of something you'll put on as background music and suddenly find it taking over the room. The pros knows!
PETE MALINVERNI/Plays Leonard Bernstein On the Town: Inspired by a chance meeting with Leonard Bernstein that changed his life 40 years ago, the super piano man takes the opportunity to breathe new life into mainstay Bernstein pop tunes. In the wake of "West Side Story" under performing, with most eyes turning toward Sondheim, here's a view of what else was going on when he was rehearsing for all those Young People's Concerts underscored by a New York centric song stack from movies and shows focusing on the Big Apple. Starting with a jazz/cabaret base and taking it all to outer space, it's a great round up of songs you've heard before but never like this. Jeff Hamilton is slamming the skins to propel the propulsiveness and this whole thing is a stone cold winner.
(Planet Arts 302124)
SURRENDER HILL/Just Another Honky Tonk in a Quiet Western Town: Wow, I don't know what to say. The truth behind Red Headed Stranger" was that it was recorded quickly and cheaply to prove a point. What would have happened if Willie had all the time he needed to really create a master work? It might be something like this double album. Two rounders that took the long way around to recover their rootsy roots find that sweet spot where honky tonk, roots and country come together in a heart felt mind blower. As authentic as a full moon coming on the rise over a mesa, this is loaded with the kind of vibes that make you a fan even if you try to resist. It sounds like the ultimate meeting of Bakersfield and Austin even if neither of the prime movers are from either. This is a future classic.
ANGELA EASLEY/Rise: The southern blues mainstay takes it to church and some where else the next morning on this set. A contemporary gal that can play in the tradition but has an eye and ear on the future, this award winner isn't about to give up her award winning way any time too soon. Whether playing a casino or hustling vacuum cleaners, it's all from the heart.
JAMI TEMPLETON/Shape of My heart: Here's a jazz singer that veers close to cabaret territory. With a set list of classics and chestnuts that defies time and genre limits, she delightfully refashions these songs you've worn out the grooves on, but you've never heard them like this. Quite the enchanting set, she knows how to cut to the chase and keep you in tow all the while.
BACK PORCHESTRA/Voices in My Head: People just want to play and have fun, that's why new ager Barbara Higbie is lurking in the mix with these nu rootsers. With all the original roots cats having the nerve to die off, you might think the genre is in trouble but these cats come to the rescue. With pedigrees that even include Commander Cody, real roots of the future is in good hands. With songs from all over, including originals, these Bay area cats sound like they are bringing you a Grateful Dead of your own for modern times. Anyone that's ever dug sounds from off the clock is sure to dig this. Fun stuff.
SYLVIA/Nature Child-A Dreamer's Journey: Weeelllllll doggies. Here was have 80s country babe, Sylvia, throwing a real change up. Rather than doing a well worn gift shop record, she turns in a new age kiddie record and does it right. The secret weapon in getting it done right is she turned to Guy Clark's own Sancho Pisa, Verlon Thompson, to co write most of the songs. Damn, one of Nashville's best kept atomic weapon secrets! With some other well decorated Nashville vets tired of sitting around the house lending a hand as well, this is a classic example of a kid's record that's made for adults. A sterling set that raises the bar throughout. It's also coming out on Two's Day (2-22-22)
(Red Pony 1105)
MATT SLOCUM/With Love and Sadness: A solid drummer that writes in suites as opposed to songs, Slocum enlists some real all stars to help realize his latest cinematic journey as this moody enterprise wends it's way along. Lyric poetry without words, it's almost art you could hang on the wall and enjoy that way. Ars gratia artis indeed.
STEVE SLAGLE/Ballads-Into the Heart of It: A muscular sax player with a lyrical heart and a 50 year long resume that could choke a horse, he's seen it all and heard enough to know how to make a ballads album that's free of the commercial clichés of past efforts by others. More of a film noir/crime jazz set at times, this set is loaded with the kind of something extra your ears are always on the prowl for. A real ear opener for sax fans that felt like they've heard it all.
MICHAEL WEISS/Persistence: A swinging New York daddio with 40 years of tickling the ivories with the best in jazz steps out with his first set for Cellar and wants to make sure he makes a good impression on all. With some fine mates in tow, it might take you back to your early forays into staying out late and smoking ciggies, but a few bars in, you'll remember this is a fine trip to take. Simply a smashing, feel good set, music like this keeps the arteries running smoothly. Well done.
January 21, 2022
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL. 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2022 Midwest Record
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