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BOBBY SELVAGGIO/Grass Roots Movement: Young sax man is in touch with the 70s funk as he opens this with something that sounds like he dug "Sanford & Son" but wanted to blast off somewhere else once things got going. Loaded with angular white boy jazz/funk, Selvaggio and his pals stand and deliver in fine form. A tasty rave up that is on the contemporary money, this is sure to satisfy your skronk sweet tooth.

HAMMOCK HOUSE/Africa Caribe: Fania had the top Latin artists at one point and they made some seriously cool stuff. The revamped Fania crew delivered a box of tapes to a top deep house dj and told him to make sure this wasn't his grandpa's salsa. The kid delivers. What we have here is a two record set that let's you a/b the mixes against the originals. Look, Celia Cruz, Mongo, Eddie Palmieri and the rest weren't chopped liver in the first place but now the generations have one less thing to argue about as this bad ass stuff is given it's maximum due. Really killer stuff from the crates no matter how you play it.

JOHN MARTYN/Heaven and Earth: An irascible character that could piss off the Pope and peaked in 1973 with an album that was hard to beat, Martyn was lucky to have producer Jim Tulio as a loyal friend for the last few decades of his life. Despite having august pals, Martyn seemed to be doing a god job of working his way to the bottom in the true Brit fashion. Young malcontents rediscovered him like they did Bert Jansch and the rest of the crazy geniuses. This is Martyn's last recording of original material before his death with Tulio having as much a hand in the final product as Martyn. It's outsider music to the core, outsider music a million miles away form "Solid Air", but somehow in touch with "Solid Air"'s spirit. If you aren't already a fan, this will probably be hard to decode but long time members of the cult will hear it as another change along the way. It's a long way from acid folk/blues to industrial trip hop but Martyn has made the journey. He once opened for Pink Floyd. Think he's jamming with Syd Barrett right now?

JUDY WEXLER/Under a Painted Sky: Wexler continues to affirm she's a right on nu jazz vocalist as she adds her own special sauce to chestnuts and continues to seek out tunes from off beat sources that she has the instincts to make her own. Whether covering Johnny Mathis or Egberto Gismonti, Wexler is a most charming tour guide and gracious hostess. Her first call pals bring up the rear without getting in her way and a good time is really had by all. A top shelf recording throughout.

MATTA-BEN HUR/Mojave: Oh yeah, a record that tastes good and is good for you. The guitar and bass aces bring their love of all things Brazil together on this breezy, zesty set that is also for a good cause with a bunch of the proceeds going to go for medical care for jazz musicians. With a couple of pals on board that get it as well, this duo plays as naturally as if they do it all the time. A burner that simmers nicely, this is a pure jazzbo set that is on the money throughout. Experts best left to to their thing their own way, there's nothing left for you to do but put this on and enjoy. Well done.

CHARLIE RICH/A Rich Anthology 1960-78: If you're under 30, you might not even know who Rich is. If you're over 30, when was the last time you searched your hard drive and said "Hey, I haven't played any Charlie Rich lately." A graduate of the Sun Records Academy, if he was in the right place at the right time, you would be lining up right now to see "The Million Dollar Quintet" but the depression era Southern Baptist didn't trust success and even though he sounded more like Elvis than Elvis, he was happier playing piano at a corner bar than he was sucking up the adoration of the masses. Since he's all but forgotten, the Raven gang focuses on the top ten hits that stretched over a few decades hitting the top of the charts on the country and pop charts. There was much more to the man than a few countrypolitan hits in the early 70s that finally gave him his financial due after 20 years of scuffling and this over view is a stellar road map to making you want to discover more. Often underappreciated n his own time, Rich leaves a killer legacy that simply smokes. The charts took care of most of Raven's heavy lifting in compiling this set and it's truly a greatest hits sets that delivers on the claim. Hot stuff more than ripe for rediscovery. And remember, he did dis John Denver at a country music awards how. Check it out.

BRUCE BARTH TRIO/Live at Smalls: We seem to be getting hit with a spate of real jazz albums lately. Barth is no new comer and has plied his trade at the top of the game for the last several decades but here the piano man hunches over the keys at a small club, straps on his jazzbo piano hump and lets the art fly from his fingers. A first class listening date throughout, this often sails into that instrumental world influenced by jazz but isn't jazz and simply plays out masterfully. If you've ever taken a break from Stallone movies to sneak a peek at something with subtitles, you know what I mean. Great stuff.

ANDREW CALHOUN/Grapevine: Beside me and Calhoun, I'm not sure there's anyone that would care about this record, unless...well, let me break it down for you. If you are a music geek of a certain age who's parents were music geeks, your house was filled with the sound of either jazz, soundtracks or folk. If you're house was filled with folk and you lived under WFMT's broadcast penumbra, you got to stay up on Saturday nights and hear "The Midnight Special". Without the Anna Russell classical music spoofs you didn't get anyway and the scary as shit signoff of John Jacob Niles doing "Lonesome Valley", this record sounds like an early 60s "Midnight Special" broadcast. Calhoun even sounds like those guys who recorded for Tradition and hung out with Ewen MacColl. What a great mellow out alternative to more "Law and Order" repeats! Bonus: Calhoun tracks down the original version of "John Henry" proving once and for all that John Henry was black. If you're hipster or someone that knows what I'm talking about here, this set provides a killer trip down memory lane. Hope your memories are as good as mine. One of the best albums of 2011 so far.

Volume 34/Number 179
April 29, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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