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CUSTODIO CASTELO/Art of the Portuguese Fado Guitar: Well fado fans, this is the ax behind many of the voices you know and love, and if that's not enough, this cat is enough of a hitter that he's crossed over to singers like Sarah Brigthman and Placido Domingo as well. Easily in the class of international guitar greats as diverse as Paco deLucia or Angel Romero, Castelo's life and work seem seamless merged into one as he's at one with his ax. Any acoustic guitar fan will consider this one of the top finds of the year.

HOSSAM RAMZY & PHIL THORNTON/Egypt Unveiled: Adding another chapter to their tour of modernized Egyptian music, Ramzy and Thornton take the traditional, make it modern, and this is great stuff for your next patty when everyone is a little high and in an offbeat mood. Yeah, this'll get the ladies dancing on the table tops! Fun, wild stuff that feels free to color outside the lines and make those Nonesuch Explorer records seem a little dusty. A seriously first class set all they way that would never have a chance to flourish in the old record biz atmosphere, this is wild enough to be a big hit for a label that thinks way outside the box. Check it out.

DAVID LEONHARDT JAZZ GROUP/Plays Cole Porter: A nice way for this vet piano man to get new fans into the tent, Leonhardt gets to show off his chops without making any missteps as the material is part and parcel of the lexicon of pop music. Warming to Porter in fine fashion, there's a august body of work for a jazz man to leave himself open to comparisons to, but Leonhardt swings along on his merry way and that's what makes this version of these warhorses stand out. The entire crew on board has loads of years of chops under their belts and they all make it all shine. A top notch listening jazz date for those times you just need to mellow out with something comfy that gives more than it demands. Well done.

NASAR ABADEY & Supernova/Diamond in the Rough: If this cat wanted to make his mark in smooth/easy jazz with a big band feel, he could do it and become a superstar. Because he records infrequently, he chose to make this collection also a bit of a resume piece. Because he really is adept at a lot of styles, it makes for a nice busman's holiday. This is a real master if instrumental music with a good sense of history and a vision of the future. All told, it's a nice set of circumstances all rolled into one. Check it out for a smooth ride that offers great vistas.

ELEMENTS OF JAZZ: Contemporary fusion crew from Miami that seems to be going for timeless rather than fashion statement. Hell, who's around anymore to tell you that you don't fit the format? There is no format! That leaves room to play from the heart which is what propelled these cats to want to break out of the wedding circuit. Happy summer feeling jazz (which is probably year round for this crew) is what's on tap here. It sounds like it's played for fun times and we can all use more of that. Check it out.

HEINER STADLER/Tribute to Bird and Monk: In the late 70s. Labor Records had a cool label collective under it's wing that could only flourish outside the lines until it ultimately disappeared. Long unavailable, originally a double album with the crème of the big apple cats on board and letting their left leaning edges show furiously, this set is just what the open eared need right now. Still sounding fresh 35 years later, this wasn't for everyone back then and it isn't now either, but if you are a left leaning jazzbo that knows the difference between noise and not, this set will take you by surprise, whether for the first time or not. Hot stuff.

TOO SLIM & The Taildraggers/Shiver: Blues/rock power trio stuff from yet another cool cat that flies under the radar but flies pretty high doing it. High water mark outsider music, there's enough industrial kick here that young bloods and college kids won't even realize they are listening to something that has a direct lineage to Muddy Waters' industrial, post war urban blues. Hard hitting stuff to unleash raging hormones to.

LLOYD JONES/Highway Bound: A white boy with the blues has been slinging his guitar in the vineyards for 40 years. Firmly in the folk blues tradition, he's like an illegitimate son of Mississippi John Hurt inthis style and demeanor. He's been at it long enough that he's stamped his own style on the form and to call him any form of derivative is to be a jerk. Homey and down home, this is an energetic, peaceful recording that's sure to ping with the 70s college kid in everyone. Killer stuff throughout.

Volume 34/Number 166
April 16, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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