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US 32/Tumblin' Home: It's certainly not a bad thing, but if this duo doesn't remind you of the Kennedys, you aren't listening to your contemporary folk/rock too closely. With the kind of simpatico that comes from having a good marriage and working in close quarters, this stuff is right on the money whether it's surveying the Civil War from the point of view of an old letter from a long ago relative or just looking at relationships and contemporary times. Simply a solid, from the heart set that has what it takes to really connect. Well done.

SARAH WILSON/Trapeze Project: A real innovator on trumpet, Wilson delivers a slow cooked date that lets you savor the new detours she's adding to the contemporary jazz lexicon. Certainly a left leaning player/composer, Wilson doesn't seem to want to be bothered with imposed strictures while she's not really about tearing down walls, just adding new paint and spackle. She's clearly got her own voice and that's what makes this new jazz so compelling throughout.

DOUG BENSON/Hypocritical Oaf: Certainly one of the cool things about Comedy Central basically having it's own environment and ecosystem is the luxury they have in how they package their essentially homegrown talents. This combo pack has a cd and a DVD with two cable specials that basically give you Benson's arc from start to stoner comic current finish. When you really start to drill into this material, the cd has jokes about jokes that came years before on the dvd creating a surreal Andy Warhol meets Martin Mull universe. If we're not careful, the jokes could implode on themselves taking down the whole universe. Well, times have changed and Benson is very much the family friendly stoner comic. Certainly more mainstream than Chappelle ever could be, under the stoner patina, he has observations a lot more profound that looking at how the dust motes fly in slow motion. The laughs keep coming and first and foremost, that's what this is all about. You've seen him here, there and the other--you know him and with his second album, you'll probably love him.

CYNTHIA FELTON/Come Sunday-The Music of Duke Ellington: Felton arrived with a nice splash a few years back and this time around she turns up the stakes and the heat. Assaying a baker's dozen of Ellington vocal classics, bringing on a crew of first call hitters and getting a pat on the back from Ellington's grand daughter and jazz's living history, John Levy's wife (who also happens to be Jim Hall's daughter), this set has pedigrees coming out of it's ears. Do we really need another diva tackling Ellington? Only when it's done this righteously. You might think you've heard it all before but everyone in these grooves is here to make you think otherwise. Hot stuff.

BRANDI DISTERHEFT/Second Side: It's nice to see Disterheft wining a Juno right out of the box for her debut because her chops are beyond reproach but her music feels like it's about five years ahead of itself. That makes for really interesting listening in the car because it flows like boomer radio of yore and as you enjoy the music and concentrate on the road, you really forget you are listening to a single album. Whether going deeply impressionistic or taking Babel Gilberto to Ibiza, Disterheft has got you cornered left, right and center. A tasty, dizzying set, it's real easy to get tangled up in this spider's web. Check it out.

MILTON SUGGS/Things to Come: You know how it is. You're working on your masters degree. Wynton Marsalis drops by to check things out and tells you to think about focusing your efforts on becoming a vocalist. Hey, happens every day. Fast forward, Suggs has a thing for 70s soul men as evidenced by the opening vocal track owing a serious debt to "Compared to What?". This young man is not afraid to express himself to the fullest. Rounding up some serious, Chicago young lions that have the moxie to support him properly, this is a killer, next wave male jazz vocal date. Hot stuff from a young lion that's doing it all on his own and doing a damn fine job doing it.

KRISTA DETOR/Chocolate Paper Suites: This is probably what Joanna Newsome wanted to be when she started going off the left side of the page but only Detor could sound like Stevie Nicks off her meds (not that we know if she's on any) and round up some of the best under the radar NAC players, jazzbos and others of high end note. A cursory listen makes this sound like a lost artifact from the late 60s when the record companies would throw money at anything weird, but damn if this isn't much more than a Vashti Bunyan/Anne Briggs freak out. A wild ride for those ready to go through the looking glass without a safety rope to pull them back. It's #1 on the left field hit parade.

BAROQUE BAND live at Ravinia: It's a disservice to summarily say this band lives up to the hype because hype is just the wrong word to use. Advance? Coming together last year and taking the Chicago classical world by storm, this large ensemble fits right in the burgeoning cast of classical music malcontents that are reinventing the sound with a whole lot of fury and more than a touch of style. Going back to the golden age of baroque music and touching on composers besides Bach who have been generally forgotten, this game changing crew brings a contemporary sensibility to the proceedings, blowing the dust off things but not losing respect for the sources along the way. The kind of outfit that certainly earns it's emphatic standing ovations, their program at Ravinia is sure to send people out searching the net for downloads they never though about looking for before. Quite a smashing way to shake things up in the classical world by bringing new ears into the tent while not alienating old. Be sure to see them when you can as this up and coming crew is not to be missed with Ravinia getting credit for spotting them early on.

Volume 33/Number 289
August 18, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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