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JOHNNY RAWLS/Memphis Still Got Soul: Rawls is a blues award winner so it's no surprise that this is tasty, soulful session. Sounding like a Malaco record with a Stax budget, Rawls knows his southern soul thing even if this was recorded in Texas and Montana. Simply a gasser that's from the heart throughout, this proves that not everything needs to be updated and recorded by Justin Timberlake. A winning set that'll bring a smile to any blues brother worth his shades. Check it out, it's deeper than frat boy soul and it's nice to know the well hasn't run dry.

MONTY ALEXANDER/Uplift: Certainly a good title for this set. Flexing some atavistic, old school chops, Alexander lets his fingers fly ala the original Ramsey Lewis Trio when they left jazz into classics in the dust for the moldy figs and headed off to bring jazz to the party. A swinging live set recorded at various locations over various times, it hangs together as a whole and gives Alexander the love that he's long deserved over what he's gotten. One of the great jazz piano men of all time, this is a set that does nothing but let the good times roll, with licks and chops for all. A winner throughout.

TERRY QUIETT BAND/Just My Luck: In which the former solo folkie shows that blues/rock power trios can adapt to the 21st century without relying on clichés by adding the versatility needed to deal with today's genre bending times. Coming on like a southern show band with a lot of northern flourishes, Quiett and his gang are party people that are at home at any contemporary party where real raucousness is a needed ingredient. Fun beer blast music that'll get every middle aged white running to get his air guitar out of it's case so he can jam.

ART BLAKEY & the Jazz Messengers/The Sesjun Radio Shows: The nice thing about living in the age of the end of everything is that no one can tell you what's a record and what isn't. Here we find 4 sessions on a 2 cd set from a long running Dutch jazz radio show featuring four editions of the finishing school Blakey ran for jazz. With different flavors evidenced as by who was being groomed for what at the time, these are smoking sets that find Blakey letting the crews work outside the strictures of making a record and doing anything they want except makeg mistakes. It's all good and a great trip down one of jazz's more distinguished memory lanes.

THE ROYS/Lonesome Whistle: Oh yeah! One of those organic records that feels so good it hurts. The music, the singing, the songs, it's all right on the money. Bluegrass/country for the 21st century in an American landscape where Wal-Mart has replaced the general store and The UPS Store has replaced the post office but the decadence of cable reality shows still hasn't replaced the heartland values. Simply a killer and if you can't handle it, it's your loss. This is a must for real music fans.

AZAM ALI/From Night to the Edge of Day: A change of pace for Ali as this sounds so much like upscale opium den music that it should have come with a bonus set of mosquito netting. This is the sounds of how it feels after you've blown your wad with some chippy named Jasmine, you're full of intoxicants and you're hovering somewhere between wake and sleep. With way too much middle eastern mysticism and hypnotism for a set funded by the Canadian arts council, Ali takes you into a dusky world where the sacred and profane are more kissing cousins than distant opposites. Wild stuff for the open eared and progressive world beat fan.

ERIC BIBB/Troubadour Live: The veteran folk/blues singer goes north of Stockholm to record this live date of up close and personal performances that casts a riveting spell. Kicking it off with an engrossing cover of Guy Clark's "The Cape" that breathes new life into this contemporary classic, the tone is set with a high bar from there. Simply a killer set for anyone who appreciates organic music with soul and special sauce.

ERIC HANKE/Factory Man: Whether Guy Clark or Gary P. Nunn, there's a load of Texas troubadours that don't have to write hits to write great stuff. Michigan man Hanke moved to South Padre Island and fit right into the tradition and lineage. With a producer and band mate that offers him access to first class players, everyone hunkered down and made a first class record. A20th century folk/rocker with 21st century Americana leanings, his thoughts reflect the times but his sound and fury are right in the moment. Solid, smoking singer/songwriter set by a cat that is raising the bar for everyone. Check it out.

CHARITO/Heal the World: An old school set by some old school usual suspects that show they can still play like they did 40 years ago. Harvey Mason finds an ex-patriot jazz singer in a club in Japan and wants to cut her. Michael Jackson dies and they have a concept. It's not an essential recording, but it's a dandy moving easy set as 70s jazz/funk meets some of Jackson's greatest/biggest hits from various points throughout his life. If you miss the old school jazz/funk or if you miss Michael, there's certainly something here for you.

Volume 34/Number 137
March 18, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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