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TRIO ESPERANCA/De Bach a Jobim: Forget about the voices of Bulgaria and the singing monks. This is basically the stateside debut of a Brazilian acapella group that's been around for over 50 years and is considered a national treasure in Brazil. This record makes the case with little wonder. Putting their magic touch to updated Bach variations as well as all the expected tourist highlights (Jobim, etc), this is such a mind blowing, ear opening world beat date that someone with the worst case of ADD will be able to sit still in amazement as this utterly lovely, sitting down, adult, listening date works it's spell. So many have tried but few have succeed like this. A mind blowing winner throughout well deserving of our rarely given out 5 jaw dropping mfs. Oh yeah!

BILLY COBHAM/COLIN TOWNS/HR BIG BAND/Meeting of the Spirits: You can take any cantankerous piece of meat and marinate and simmer it long enough to become a delicacy. So it was in the past when making the works of Monk and Mingus palatable for big band. It took the work of crews a generation or two down the line that could do it for love on their Monday's off, but it was done. And so the crock pot is passed to Mahavishnu. With Bilham Cobly running the engine room and McLaughlin himself smiling upon the project from the sidelines, Maha has met it's big band match. Without sounding at all like a high school marching band, you know they have been touched by the birds of fire and felt the inner mounting flame more than once to get high octane results like this. 40 years on, this is what Ma and Pa Havishnu were cooking up in that rice bowl all those years ago. Now you know what psychedelic big band sounds like. Jump in.

ODEAN POPE/Odeans List: Here's a stunning set that's sure to take you by surprise. Chances are you don't really know Pope under his own name but the all star line up of leaders backing him up know this long time sax man is the real deal. Taking the best of what you like about 50s jazz, mixing in civil rights jazz vibes and keeping it running right up to this minute, this is an explosively creative set where the skronk runs wild and mellow isn't really in the lexicon. With 200 mph licks running rampant, this is great wild man/mad man jazz that just keeps coming, non-stop. This is where blowing is what it's all about. Hot and wild throughout.

JAMES BLOOD ULMER/IN and Out: Funny to see Ulmer looking all old and gray but he's been around long enough to come to the look naturally. He doesn't play that way though. With a high octane power trio making more noise then three players should, Ulmer comes in with a career tour de force taking it all in on the roads he's traveled from hard bop to quasi Hendrixian guitar slinging. It's gonna feel like blues, like funk, like shredding---you name it, Ulmer has been there and done it all. And there isn't a weary lick in the bunch.

JULIE SLICK: If you don't know this lovely lady, you should. No, we're not taking about some demure, granola eating folksinger that really a nasty potty mouth on the side. We're talking about a killer bass shredding power rocker that devastates the indie rock clichés of the 90s about the chick being the bass player in the band. She's played with every progressive rocker and jazzbo that wears the badge of timeless hip---not media flashes in the pans. Explosively creative stuff with A list guests that don't need to be along for the ride, this will blow your ears wide open.

TOULOUSE ENGELHARDT/Perpendicular Worlds: Ah, what a nice throwback to the days when you thought Suni McGrath was a star, John Fahey was a superstar and Takoma was a real label. A guitar player's guitar player, the acoustic master is back in top form taking you on the kind of musical journey that will find him elbowing your current faves from their spot on your play lists. This will simply make acoustic music fans come to life. A winner throughout.

JIM ALTAMORE/License to Swing: Hey Giaco, there, this grandpa ain't no freaking Sinatra manqué. He grew up loving Basie, Sinatra, Cole and the rest just as the neighborhood kids were turning on to the Beatles. Know what? If you're in your mid 50s and had a house full of Sinatra/Basie as the Beatles were just coming in, this is the record you've been looking for. Even Sinatra was wise to the ways of the record biz and adjusted accordingly as much as possible ("Gentle on My Mind? Great song, but Frank, really?) Altamore is probably doing this for love even more than money and it's in the grooves. He swings, the jazzbos bringing up the rear are on fire and this is the record you wish you could have made when you were doing Vegas schtick in your parent's paneled rec room when your Beatles loving pals weren't around. Stone cold killer Vegas hipster stuff that will just blow you away. We love this stuff in case you weren't sure.

JOHN ESCREET/Don't Fight the Inevitable: Once again we find the Brooklyn based Brit digested those progressive Carla Bley records well as he know how to do some real liberation music for a small orchestra. A highly polished progressive jazz date that finds the piano man generously letting everyone have some. A dandy ear opener of sitting down jazz.

Volume 33/Number 204
May 24, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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