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BLUE SHADOWS/On the Floor of Heaven: Billy Cowsill tried but never got the chance to shake off the bubble gum image that was indelibly stamped on him. He tried valiantly back in 1993 coming up with a great roots set that sounds better than a lot of stuff today. He hooked up with the company that gave us k.d. lang, but they couldn't do him any good as this was never released here. He died before this reissue happened. What he have here is a righteous version of The Byrds for the 90s with an updated sound and sensibility but the roots firmly planted. This reissue is a deluxe edition that includes a second disc that showed what the were all about beyond the studio. Anyone who came in contact with this set in real time flipped for it and any fan of insurgent country will flip for this now. A welcome return of a lost/hidden classic.

ARUAN ORTIZ QUARTET/Alameda: Once more, Cuba's musical loss is certainly our gain. A high octane jazz pianist that comes with a classical background and a world beat passion knows how to round it all up modern style with a distinctive edge throughout. Often times feeling like crime jazz, Ortiz is an open eared musical sponge that knows how to soak up everything without spitting it all back out in a single shade of grey. Fun progressive leaning stuff that really cooks.

SUNDAR/What A Dream I Had...: Canada's Sundar is a do it all kind of guy as evidenced by him being a singing saxman/multi-instrumentalist. Here we find him digging the classic song bag with modern additions from Lightfoot and Paul Simon in the mix. Pleasing upscale jazz that has cocktail time tattooed all over it.

JAMIE BEGIAN BIG BAND/Big Fat Grin: This youngish guitar man has been a sidekick of Manny Albam, Bob Brookmeyer and Sal Salvador so you really don't have to question his big band credentials. Sounding like the classic big bands when they were at their most golden left leaning, this crew doesn't play it straight but they do fire fast balls right down the middle. With a lot of moves that sound like they could have been a tribute to 70s Carla Bley, progressive ears have a welcome find here.

TOBIAS PREISIG/Flowing Mood: For a guy that knows how to work an arts council and hangs around with a bunch of ECM cats, he doesn't seem to know what sitting down jazz is. It's certainly listening jazz, but you have hear pathos, Michel Legrand, gypsy influences, cabaret and more. Perhaps art jazz is taking on a new look and we didn't get the memo. This violin cas is a killer. He's doing a nice job of pushing the envelope under the radar style and sitting down jazz fans will love him even if he can swing enough to be part of a Quincy Jones tribute. Hot stuff that shows some smart horizons ahead.

MARK CHESTNUTT/Outlaw: From Chestnutt's first spin through Nashville you wouldn't have associated him with outlaw music. The marketing people might have thought they were just pitching a concept, but this is music Chestnutt grew up on and he brings all the moves he was practicing as a kid to the works of Clark, Kristofferson, Silverstein, Jennings, Williams and the politically incorrect, not guilty Billy Joe Shaver. The originals are readily available still, but this is fun. The marketing people came up with the right answer for the wrong reason making this set as potentially commercially unnecessary as Roseanne Cash's "List" album, but it's fun. Sometimes you just don't need more than that, even if you can get Hank, Jr.'s "New South" for $1.88, new, at Amazon.

JOSEF KOUMBAS/Waiting...: Veteran English jazzbo comes to Cuba and falls in love with the musical culture and the players. He comes back 20 years later to record a richly rewarding after hours date where everyone is free to follow the muse whether vocally or instrumentally. Free feeling records like this don't often get the chance to be made as someone writing a check is often trying to follow a dictate rather than let things happen organically, and that's why you have to hear this stuff live to often hear it at all. A tasty double disc that gives you different takes on the same tunes that keep the good times rolling.

ADAM SHENK/Suitcases: Kids used to practice in front of the mirror, not just stare at "American Idol". This is a new kind of blue eyed soul/singer-songwriter thing from a youngster that comes to this honestly since he was making up his own songs before he was old enough to know what he was doing. If you're facv didn't win on "Idol" in the last few years, this youngster might really resonate with you.

Volume 33/Number 212
June 1, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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