SUSIE BLUE & the Lonesome Fellas/Blue Train: Chicago's unabashed gal rolls out the carpet for cutting a rug one more time and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she never intended to be a novelty act. Scooping up all manner of roots flavors, everything might be delivered with a wink but it's not the kind of wink that let's you know you're in on a joke. Always sexy and sassy, this is the sound of rent parties that get started late at night and carry on until early in the morning. Turn on those blue lights in the basement and let one of the tightest sounds around wrap itself around you.
CHRIS TORKEWITZ/NY Ensembles: An adventurous multi instrumentalist finally get to see his legendary 2013 concert for jazz orchestras get released. While it's certainly a muscular, angular work that smacks of white people's free jazz, a really noteworthy thing going on here is a strong vibe of sounds that sound like something Bernstein left on is note pad as out takes for "West Side Story". You just can't rush innovation. A highly rewarding listening date for the open eared.
DIVA JAZZ ORCHESTRA/Swings Broadway: Trust me on this one. Sherrie Maricle + Roxy Coss + a whole bunch of women that know what swing is about + a program of hoary Broadway tracks that are mostly at least 60 years old does not equal a gift shop record. It's a kick ass restyling of songs you thought you'd never want to hear again that's so fresh, new and swinging that you come close to jumping up from your seat and shouting "one more time". Just because your grand parents probably enjoyed these Marty Paich type arrangements on these songs before your parents were born gives you no standing to say "Ok, Medicare" and be too smugly hip for the room. Totally killer stuff.
(Diva Jazz 2022)
ANDY ROTHSTEIN BAND/Truth Against the World: This former student of Kevin Eubanks and Steve Khan has been applying his shredderooney tactics in the background but comes blazing out of the box here with dazzling guitar work that makes it clear the line between fusion and fuzak isn't as fine a divide as you think. A real swinging bad ass with a real jazzbo sensibility, the swinging here by everyone on board is really, well, swinging. A real taste treat whose delivery puts Grubhub to shame.
(Venicious Knid 102)
ERMELINDA CUELLAR/What a Difference a Day Made: In the 50s, gringos making Latin flavored romance albums came off as corny. Here we flip the script as a trained opera singer from Houston serves up a 50s inspired, Latin flavored romance album and all she does it prove what cred can do. A real stand out from an area where there's no shortage of Latin singers to compete with, corazon and passion are what it's all about. The old gringo gives it five calientes.
SEAN NELSON'S NEW LONDON BIG BAND/Social Hour: What is this big band? A collection of latch key kids that didn't have any after school snacks to come home to other than Basie records? A smartly swinging young crew that probably thinks "Breakfast Club" is an old people's movie, their beat can't be beat and they know and show that swing is the thing----on a set of mostly originals! Righteously right on.
MATT HALL/I Hope to My Never: And another neat thing about the record business falling apart... This set has the sound and feel of any number of gray market reissues on labels like American Jazz Classics that are recycling essential 50s blowing dates at bargain prices by the pound. A sound and feel from pre-Beatles and pre-message music when all a solid stack of tunes had to do was make you feel good---that's the tradition this date follows in. You don't even need a snifter of Courvoisier by your side to get into it. And if the biz hadn't fallen apart, records like this would probably continue not to get made, at all. Well done.
HOROJO TRIO/Set the Record: Knocking down a bunch of genre awards and recognition even before their debut record came out, this trio might be new but the component players have all earned their stripes. A hot, hard rocking roots crew that's here for the party, they have the chops to turn it up and turn it loose. And at their core, they are a first class bunch of white boys with the blues. This is the record a rocker wants to hear when they finally turn off today's TV.
(Stony Plain 1446)
KENNETH BRIAN BAND/Keys to the Kingdom: Let's not hold living in Malibu for the last five years and touring with Rufus Wainwright against him, Brian is a classic, in the pocket, southern rocker with all the needed bona fides to prove it, and other than adding some modern touches, this is right in the pocket southern rock that when properly blasted, will prove to anyone at Sturgis that you aren't a pussy. Summer festival rock fun for those without pierced noses.
KRISTINA KOLLER/Get Out of Town: Koller steps up to the formidable task of assaying the Cole Porter catalog without being a dime a dozen jazz diva, dime a dozen tortured artist cabaret singer or look at me art chick. It's not as easy to do as it sounds but she does it well. Aided by her long standing trio, Koller finds stuff that hasn't been mined from these tunes before giving them a whole new flavor and setting without having to get weird. It's the kind of performance that will make you re-examine the classics as well.
March 18, 2022
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL. 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2022 Midwest Record
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