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BRAIN CARPENTER'S GHOST TRAIN ORCHESTRA/Hothouse Stomp-the Music of 1920's Chicago & Harlem: Before the Harlem Renaissance, there was the northern migration and towns from Kansas City to New York had regional dance bands that had their own vibes that would later feed Dixieland to the Big Apple and light the fuse for the explosion to follow. This set takes it all back to jump in Chicago and New York, focusing on two bands in particular. Whether you call this hokum or whatever, Carpenter and his gang love this stuff enough to give it the proper respect to play it right and ragged. A nice bet for some sitting down or off the clock listening, this is a real gasser and will probably remind you of a bunch of your fave cartoons. Off beat but sure to bowl you over.

SHIMON BEN-SHIR GROUP/Encounters: First class sitting down jazz that doesn't always take you where you expect it to, Ben-Shir and his long standing crew know what to do and how to get you there. Not exactly jazz to kick back to, you can easily switch between background and foreground music here and find it fits the mood either way. Nicely woven textures and themes move gracefully and altogether offer a great sonic getaway from the grind. A solid bet when you want something done right that's out of the ordinary.

BURNS & POE: In the gulf that was between crossover and new traditionalism in the 70s, there was a period of some fun, free wheeling country just to the right of outlaw. Individually, Burns and Poe were around and influenced by that and they've done a great job on this double cd of showing how much they loved that period and why the good times should be rolling again. Kicking it off in high spirits, the duo hit their marks and hit the ground running. Classic, non-mush mouthed country in it's purest state, this is what the heartland sounded like before Wal-Mart over ran it. Check it out, this is the real deal.

JULIAN LAGE/Gladwell: Are the majors returning to artist development? Are they returning to records that need to be made? Tyro guitarist Lage has made an instrumental creation that's certainly for the open eared and left leaning, but over all, it's a cinematic instrumental date that sounds great and is beyond categorization. A sonic painter? An aural movie maker? Totally left leaning but not far out, this is some new vector of new classical music that thirsty, creative ears will have to enjoy and define for themselves. Killer stuff.

CLUB D'ELF/Electric Moroccoland-So Below: Made by gringos, influenced by North Africa before it exploded, this is what happens when smarty pantses get the chance to run wild in strange lands and soak it all up. Two discs worth of stuff that's as informed by Zappa as it is indigenous trance, it's a wild ride for the young world beater that wants to be impressed with something cool and well outside the lines. Fun stuff that is well made but doesn't take itself seriously.

LOU VOLPE/Hear & Now: An old school cat that's backed up everyone forever finally gets his chance to step out and the former student of Sal Salvador shows that none of the lessons were wasted. Simply a snazzy jazz guitar quartet date where the chops could overwhelm you but are never over played and the moving easy jazz never gets sappy. Now that this cat is finally let out of the bag, it's time for jazzbos to enjoy this best kept secret weapon front and center. Hot stuff.

MELINDA HUGHES/Smoke & Noise: If this sounds like some lost Kurt Weill record, this is a new performance of actual music from Berlin cabarets of 80 years ago. If you're a period tourist but would love to find something beyond the Weill/Lemper pale, Hughes picks up the ball and really runs with it. She and her musical hooligan pals in the Kiss and Tell Cabaret aren't afraid to modernize, rewrite or even write whole new stuff that's firmly in step with the old manuscripts. An intimate/nearly claustrophobic performance with cynicism and bite, this is tailor made for the opened ears looking for some really wild, new kick. Hughes could sing the phone book, she's that good and the material is just as cool a find. Performance art at it's populist best.

PATTY ASCHER/Bossa Jazz n' Samba: A Brazilian singer with yeah yeah overtones and Austin Powers shadings loves the time and vibes and captures it just so on her set of mostly originals that sound like something you know from some other place and some other time. Working with some of Brazil's best of the best, this is a set that sounds like an endless summer filled with endless rolling waves. A real delight, and not just for revivalists, this is a solid stunner throughout.

Volume 34/Number 138
March 19, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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