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JOHN VANORE & Abstract Truth/Contagious Words: Seems like we just got something from Vanore but that's ok, the Philly trumpet man knows his stuff and always seems to be a delight to hear. The latest from his little big band is a warm, deep set that sounds like he's touring all his most favored back pages with a nostalgic eye for when music was music in a purer sense. More of his Oliver Nelson side than his Woody Herman side, Vanore delivers a solid sitting down session that was most welcome in a recent trek through dense traffic. It's time to spread the word about this guy farther than Philly. Well done.

KEN PEPLOWSKI/In Search Of...: The coldest night in January, 1997, just to get out of the cold, I wandering into a little restaurant in New York and there was a happening trio holding forth. Twas there I first heard Peplowski live and wondered why no one had snatched him off Concord. 30 years into a career that still finds him holding forth in the front row, Peplowski and his pals serve up a smoking set that keeps his creative and unique style front and center. A tasty mainstreamer throughout, this is solid sitting down jazz that gives you our daily minimum requirement of bounce to the ounce. Solid.

NEIL ROLNICK/Extended Family: If you like your contemporary, progressive instrumental music on the Stravinsky side, the latest from Rolnick is right up your alley. A genre bending mash up that takes contemporary classic to it's arts council extremist tip, it's good to let professors run wild every so often and show us they aren't dodgy and are the gateway to fucksaw demonstrations after all.

DOBIE GRAY/Drift Away-Loving Arms: The Dobie Gray/Mentor Williams combo started out strong, with "Drift Away", but didn't catch a fire like Petula Clark/Tony Hatch. That didn't mean there wasn't a bunch of good stuff left behind. A Nashville soul session with cats that were from various A teams on board, these are two killer albums, augmented with a few cuts from the ‘duo's" last album. Nostalgic but also timeless, it's all sweet stuff that has more than stood the test of time. If you haven't before, it's time to check it out.

RENEE MANNING/All Grown Up: A front line vocalist for 30 years even if you aren't sure of the name, it would be great if "American Idol" would hire her as a mentor if only to tell those simps that they don't have to sound like car alarms to let people know this is the part of the song with the emotional packed wallop. Conveying more with sass and attitude, this classic jazz/blues vocalist does a work out here on loads of classics and standards that show she could sing the phone book and we'd listen. A great adult listening treat all the way.

RORY BLOCK/Shake ‘Em On Down: Calling Block a living legend of the blues is not some boastful, hopeful hype on the part of some music critic hoping to get laid by this 62 years young blues comet. Coming from basically the same time and place as Maria Muldaur, Block's foray into the commercial music world was a fizzle and it forced her to embrace her bohemian/beatnik/hippie chick roots faster than contemporaries that had their cup of coffee in the show. Already an anomaly, Block throws herself into this record that couldn‘t really be made so much so that her own musical biography of Fred McDowell sounds like something he would/could written himself. A tribute to Fred McDowell? Oh yeah, right at the top of every producer's to do list. With a set as regal as this one, it should have been at the top of every producer's to do list. This set demands headphone listening so you can get lost in it. It's simply a killer by a player at the top of her game. Hot stuff throughout.

ADAM CRUZ/Milestone: Danny Perez's drummer turns 40 and decides it's time for his long over due debut. Composing and leading, he steps out of the various shadows he's been in when Perez isn't working and let's flow with jazz that's progressive and often comes from unexpected places given his various associations. Not arts council progressive, this is the kind of sitting down jazz that'll keep you hanging around the club for all sets that night. Tasty stuff that swings, moves and grooves righteously but doesn't confine itself to those margins. A nice tonic for open ears.

AL BASILE/The Goods: With Duke Robillard and some new pals close by, Basile's Memphis meets New York white boy blues vibe is in top form. A solidly enjoyable date that's loaded with heart and soul, if this doesn't give you a room full of blues, check your pulse. On the money throughout.

Volume 34/Number 130
March 11, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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