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JAKE FRYER-BUD SHANK QUINTET/In Good Company: Talk about dieing with your boots on, Shank made this set the day before he died. Except for the young lion at the helm, Shank was surrounded by old jazz pals and they tore it up on Fryer's originals after getting in the spirit by warming up on "Caravan" and "Speak Low", giving them new readings that kick ass. A killer sax cutting date that is a great note to go out on, everyone is in top form and the jazzbo air is filled with a smoking vibe. If your lap top has headphone settings you can play around with, slip in this disc, just press the ok button and let the machine figure out the rest. If you have a newer machine, it'll sound like you are there in the studio and really blow your mind. Hot.

GRASCALS & Friends/Country Classics With a Bluegrass Spin: Yeah, Cracker Barrel, the restaurant with a record label that turned down the great "American Farmer" record just before the people that turned it down got caught stealing from the chain have finally gotten it right by highlighting the great, contemporary bluegrass crew doing rave ups on country classics. Just when you think this is a nice but not essential record, you read the small print and see your ears aren't playing tricks on you, someone popped for the great country acts, many of which are associated with the songs they are featured on, featured on this set. Everything combines to make this an unexpected humdinger. And the great minds of the Nashville musical brain trust missed this killer set because...? Go get some fried food and pick this up on your way out---it's worth the grease in your arteries.

PETE ANDERSON/Even Things Up (Deluxe Edition): One thing is sure about today's record business, you can be a completely unassailable heavy weight cat but that won't stop you from being treated like shit by the very people whose pockets you lined. Grammy winning producer Anderson revamps the original edition of this album that barely escaped the pressing plant in the first place. Eschewing his country triumphs, he returns to his Detroit blues roots and shakes the joint down to it's foundation. Enlisting Bekka Bramlett on the new tracks, this is smoking stuff that you don't have to be an over age frat boy to love. Sweaty, smoking, stomping party music to the core, this is killer stuff that dyed in the wool musos will champion. This is the goddamned, sumbitching white boy blues rock date you want to own. Mind blowing, killer stuff that doesn't know how to quit! Check it out--especially all you guitar slinger fans looking for something hot an heavy.

MATTHEW RYBICKI/Driven: Ow--wee! The 37 year old bass ace wanted to make sure he paid all his proper jazzbo dues before coming out with what had to be an auspicious debut. He done did it. After working with Wynton Marsalis and other august jazz personages, he learned his lesson, paid his dues and did all the stuff you have to do to make Gidwell happy. A dead solid perfect Blue Note/Verve burner in spirit, whether hipster or moldy fig, these jazz chops just make you drop your teeth. Rybicki gets all the high marks he set for himself and has some gold stars left over to spare. If this doesn't ping every atavistic jazz gene in your fiber, you just ain't a jazzbo. Killer stuff throughout.

BOB SZAJNER TRIAD IV/On the Bench in the Zone: This could get a little confusing. Not too long ago, the elusive Szajner releases a 30 year old live date for the first time. Now, in a package that feels similar but isn't, he releases his first new recording in 30 years. This cat is something else. A classic piano jazz trio date that sounds like it could stand up in a cutting contest with the original Ramsey Lewis Trio, this is a set right in the pocket for anyone that misses that classic sound. Recorded now with today flourishes for contemporary ears, this is simply the date you want in arm's reach when you need bumping, happy music to chase the blues away. It's hard to put away once you get under it's spell. Well done.

LUCY BILLINGS/No Other Road: Not all lawyers that want to have singing careers are douche bags that should leave the flying trapeze to professionals. Billings hooks up with John Jennings and comes in with a date that shows the only reason she's practicing law is that the real world is a bitch, especially when it rears it's ugly head. A right on rocking singer/songwriter, without that law day job she couldn't have hired Jennings, Stuart Duncan, Lloyd Maines, John Carroll and the rest and made such a killer set that makes you wish she'd chuck it all and hit the road. A boomer with heart and a populist bent, Billings is the package. If we gave out stars, we'd give her five out of five. A winner.

AURELIO/Laru Boya: Now this is some damn serious world beat, practically cinematic in it's scope. Aurelio is singing about his heritage in his native tongue so gringos won't know exactly what he's singing about, but his story is one of the heavy duty pan cultural mishaps of the western hemisphere underscoring a tale of man's inhumanity to man. Musically, it's another story. Mixing the mélange of Afro Carib sounds that inform his heritage, this is way the hell deeper than vacation music and clearly comes from the heart. Oddly though, it leans itself to enjoyment for listeners that don't like to wallow in misery. A killer of an ear opening world beat date, this takes you into Central/Latin American back streets you never knew existed. A wild ride from start to finish.

MARCI SHIMOFF/Love for No Reason: Forget motivation, now we're into transformation. A writer with flying time in the "Chicken Soup" series as well as one of the teachers in "The Secret", Shimoff borrows from AA as well as Christianity and Zen to fashion her own formula for attracting love into your life by being less bullheaded and having more of a gratitude attitude (AA) and by setting the example others want to follow (non-prothelyzing born again Christianity) while you learn to let it go (Zen). So let's all change what we can, except what we can't and put a little love in our hearts as we reject the material for the spiritual and let these six cds show us the way. Also included is an ecd for the total experience giving you the work book pages you would get in print.

Volume 34/Number 58
December 28, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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