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STEVE COLE/Moonlight: The only good thing to come out of bad economic times is busman's holiday jazzbo sets where a bunch of first call players huddle around the fire just to keep their chops up. Cole comes in with a program of familiar covers and some that should be (smooth jazz "Undone" with him, Rodby and Ferrante letting it all hang out? Yeah!) Solidly entertaining set from real pros that don't need to be told what to do. Aces, baby!

DAVID COOK/Pathway: How many times do you think this jazz piano man has to say "Goddammit, not that David Cook"? Having played behind players at all levels of commercial and mass acceptance, Cook finds the time right to step out with his own trio and bring the spotlight to himself, rightfully so. Recorded old school style, in two afternoons, Cook knows the sounds and moves you like to hear and serves them up hot, not rewarmed. A fine new set from a pro that knows the difference between music and musical product. Check it out.

DEUTER/Mystery of Light: We've recently gotten some renaissance classical records that did a fine job of brightening the day and Deuter seems to have grabbed onto that as a zeitgeist as he tosses new age back into renaissance flavors this time around. Typically gentle and engaging, the new colors in the palette are delightful as this really was the happy days are here again music of the times. Once again, you can like his newest without being a hippie.

LITTLE WOLF/Prayer to the Mystery 2-the Gathering: Jim Wilson looks a little more like Waylon Jennings and continues with his native American music for gringos that's a path he's cutting on his own. Not afraid to genre bend and add electronics or whatever it takes to get his musical point across, this is a solid alt.adult set for thirsty ears looking for cooler water and higher ground. Certainly, there's nothing here that'll make you say "ugh". Get it?

SHAULI EINAV/Opus One: Young sax man offers a program of music that reminds him of his native Israel but isn't really impressionistic or overly ethnic. A jazzbo first and foremost, he's a muscular new voice that has vision and chops merging into a heady brew of killer playing throughout. Hooking up with some like minded players, he brings it all together nicely as a treat for young and old ears looking for a new turn on. Solid stuff throughout.

BEN WOLFE QUINTET/Live at smalls: When you can write Christian McBride a check, it's kind of obvious why Tommy LiPuma never had Wolfe on any of Diana Krall's records even though he was such an integral part of her sound, but let's give this guy some props. Before that, he was an integral part of Harry Connick's sound. Does this guy know something about making singing piano players sound good? Now the bass ace brings his fat, driving sound to an intimate club where you can hear him front and center and feel at one with the music much like he does. If you like straight ahead jazz, this is the kind of set that makes you say ‘bring it on'.

JONATHAN BYRD/Cackalack: Another one of those cats that qualifies as ‘one of the heaviest cats you probably never heard of', Byrd is running hard to be the folkie's folkie. The easiest way to describe him to the uninitiated for quick understanding is that he's like a dyed in the wool North Carolinian John Koerner. Sly, subversive and able to say more in two words than most other people can say in a novel, Byrd is clearly one of the tent poles of contemporary folk music. He sounds like he's straight from the back porch but he's taken a long, hard look at life and knows how to bring it into focus. Basically recorded in one six hour take, this album is going to set your ears on fire, even if you aren't a folkie. Hot stuff.

PHIL OCHS--THERE BUT FOR FORTUNE: This docu may or may not be coming to your town, but we'd certainly like to call your attention to it. In his time, because they both sang topical songs, Ochs was pigeon holed as the poor man's Bob Dylan. Well, Bob was Bob and Phil was Phil. This documentary brings the truth seeking, idealist to the fore. The one that was on the FBI hit list with over 400 pages stuffed into his dossier by the time he died. Plagued by demons within and without, he left us a sterling artistic legacy that transcends time and place because the people and the players don't really change, only the names do. If you just know him as a name in small print on an Eddie Vedder record, find a common ground with your elders and get together to stick it to the man with the real sound of revolution. Be sure to catch this when it comes to your town or your Netflix queue. This is the new gold standard for music documentaries.

Volume 34/Number 29
November 29, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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