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MINA CHO/Originality: I mean really, what is the deal with all these hot Asian chicks with killer jazz chops covering the landscape like a tarp? Cho is the latest to step up, and rather than give us her interpretation of the Blue Note/Verve sound, she checks in with post civil rights/pre-jazz/rock Impulse jazz, and she knows the territory well. Bringing the vibe forward in fine fashion, Cho is a first class piano cooker that more than capably brings it all home. A super find for progressive jazz tastes that don't mind some of the rougher edges of the original sanded down to make it more palatable but no less challenging.

CHRIS BEARD/Who I am and What I Do: How funny is this? I was digging around in the crates a few days ago and came across Beard's 2005 release and wondered why we haven't heard from him lately. The next day's mail... Beard must have been hard at work the last five years not worrying about the ups and downs of the record biz because he comes out of the box here with a kick ass blues show band that turns it up early and often. Not deep but certainly wide, this is a fun traditional/electric blues set that lights the fuse to get the party started but Beard uses one of those trick fuses that keeps relighting and the party doesn't stop. This'll take care of your jones to get to the nearest roadhouse and let the good times roll. Hot stuff!

JACOB MELCHIOR/It's About Time: Ah yes, the ever popular drummer that knows how to give some back. A smart piano trio that's led by a gracious drummer some with a sound and fury that power the proceedings along nicely. Delightful straight ahead jazz that you can mellow out to but really don't have to. While the players on board might not be household names yet, they certainly should be. Well worth it.

D. B. REILLY/Love Potions and Snake Oil: Hey kids, remember the time Wildman Fischer and Buckwheat Zydeco approached Jim Dickinson about producing them as a roots duo and he agreed but dropped dead before he got around to it? No? Well, I made that up, but that's pretty much what you can expect on this left of center Americana date loaded with some of the fiercest stalker love songs ever. And the music is an invitation to light one up and mellow along with the ride. Nutty stuff that also gets high marks for the innovative packaging that you owe it to yourself to check out if you still remember when album jackets were part of the package. If you ever wondered by MCA Nashville's early alt.country bunch (circa 80s) never got farther, you will get this from the get go.

CASSANDRA CLARE (read by Jennifer Ehle)/Clockwork Angel-Book One-Infernal Devices: Hey America, you think your daughters are just into vampires? Well, Stephanie Meyer thinks this continuing tale about life in the downworld, where you can transform yourself into another person in Victorian England, is the bomb. And so do your daughters! A 13 cd unabrigment, this sure is a long way from Judy Blume but no less significant in the development of the debutantes of tomorrow. Magic, intrigue, maybe screwing over your brother after trying to save him...it's all here. Leave some food by the microwave because this'll keep you little angel busier than texting for at least the next 15.5 hours.

MARTIN CRUZ SMITH (read by Ron McLarty)/Three Stations: Since we aren't going to be hearing anything new from Steve Carella or Spenser, it's time to turn our attention back to Arkady Renko who's been banging away at the mean streets of Moscow for the last 30 years since first turning up in Gorky Park. A new web of post Commie intrigue is a foot as it just provides a cover for a down market murder among the Moscow rich and famous. Renko soldiers on despite being suspended for telling the Commissar the truth, again, and is the only one that can crack this case, even as his skills are put to the test. Smith is moving swiftly into the drivers seat as king of the police procedural and this unabridged telling of the tale is a real sizzler. Police procedural fans, cue up.

LAUREN WEISBERGER (read by Merritt Wever)/Last Night at Chateau Mormont: Some writers are just so far ahead of the pack at what they do that their work transcends the genre they labor in. Weisberger is at the top of her chick lit game, but she delivers so much more that a genre really can't hold her. Putting a contemporary spin to the long suffering wife getting the short end from the ungrateful husband, this is for every contemporary woman who supported a loser musician only to get a text message the marriage is over once he finally gets the rocket to the top. From the woman who brought you "The Devil Wears Prada", she's hitting the high note again. Check it out.

THE DIPLOMAT: Cool, seems like just yesterday I wanted to see this in the theater and missed it. Coming home in blu ray-dvd combo pack, this is a solid actioner in which you can't tell who the good guys and the bad guys are as the race is on to blow up the world after flooding it with drugs. The action overrides the plot and if you have a big screen TV, this gives you one more reason never to have to leave the house. Certainly the kind of international flavored thrill ride that spy pic fans will have a gas with.

Volume 33/Number 283
August 12, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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