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CARLOS & ALLISON BREWSTER FRANZETTI/Alborada: It looks like a classical album so don't be fooled when flipping those Amazon new release pages. A Grammy winning third stream pianist, Franzetti brings his equally as talented wife along and everyone tears it up on this instrumental date that just simply hits it out of the park. Genre bending jazz, world and classical into a fun mix rather than a august one, the A team is in the house! First class sitting down music that really goes the distance.

MIKE SEEGER & PEGGY SEEGER/Fly down Little Bird: If you never enjoyed songs l like "There's a Hole in the Bucket, Dear Liza", never went to a hootenanny at the Circle M ranch or don't know who Norm Peligrinni or Ray Nordstrand are, you might not get why this is such a lovely album and why Jim Musselman deserves a round of applause for making and acquiring albums that need to be made---but that's your loss. A year before being taken by fast acting cancer, these two Seeger sibs got together, rolled tape and traipsed through songs of their youth they enjoyed then and enjoy now. A purely heartfelt traditional folk record that over rides all the clichés and delivers the goods, this should be a sure category Grammy winner if Pete doesn't bring out anything this year. It doesn't get any more honest and down homey than this and it's a lovely look at a lost art. Check it out for a wonderful journey through the south and the mountains. A winner all the way.

STEVE DAWSON/Nightshade: Stepping away from all his wonderful production work for anyone rootsy in Canada, Dawson amps it up a bit this time and comes in like a turned up singer/songwriter with a roots bent and a wider appeal. Solidly fun listening date that falls just to the right of outsider music and seems open to being a good time for all. Too much of pro to let a false note slip by, Dawson and his handpicked crew sound like they are playing for the fun of it but they want you to have the good time. Solid stuff that works throughout.

DAVE GRUSIN/An Evening With: Another former jazz entrepreneur winds up under the Concord umbrella, and in line with his approaches in the past, he delivers a cd that also has dvd and interactive counter parts. Drawing on his own wins as well as live orchestral interpretations of Mancini and Bernstein, this is an orchestral tour de force by an old pro that's still in it to win it. A killer instrumental outing, with guest vocals, for mainstreamers that want it done right. Well done.

MICHAEL J. MILES/col*lage: Steve Martin kicked open the door to get people to consider the possibilities of banjo again. With that door open, Miles hits you in such a primal way that it leaves players like Pete Seeger and Bela Fleck speechless. What should the rest of us say (or not)? Perhaps the ultimate lo fi/back porch record of all time, this mind blowing genre buster mixes up jazz, classics, originals and more into the tastiest stew you might ever encounter. Killer stuff made even more so if you have a taste for something that sounds like home and goes beyond roots/Americana. You have to hear this guy.

EZRA WEISS/Shirley Horn Suite: A very tricky feat to pull off, Weiss steps up and finds the right notes. Enlisting a singer that reminds of Horn, along with her drummer of a quarter century, Weiss pulls some songs Horn fans knew well and mixes them with his own originals skillfully done in Horn's style that sound like her own. With an over riding after hours vibe, this captures Horn's smoky side so well that you really do get lost in the haze. A real treat for everyone a little bored by tributes/in the tradition of... Check it out.

TAB BENOIT/Medicine: This industrial blues outing is a real bag breaker for Benoit. Rawer sounding but loaded with a roster of players and associates who could fill a Grammy stage on their own, this is the kind of set that'll turn college kids heads as they seek out something different but raw and real. Hard hitting from the gut performances throughout, Benoit is on to something here that could really click in a big way. This is the sound and feel of new, contemporary blues on a roll.

YELENA ECKEMOFF/Grass Catching the Wind: So if George Winston was a Russian émigré living out in the woods and doing his seasons records today, this might be a touch of what they would sound like. Leading an impressionistic trio that leans more toward ECM than Windham Hill, this is introspective music for the neo-classical fan that knows how to recognize the real deal. Solidly made.

Volume 34/Number 131
March 12, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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