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DIMMSUMMER/Subcontinental Bass: It's electro, it's Asian, it's progressive. Beyond that, you're on your own. Wildly compelling kitchen sink kind of a record that's a meth/acid trip in digital. Perhaps habit forming? With members of the Ethnotechno.com ranch delivering the goods, this isn't even your older brother's world beat. It's crazy and takes you places some old Laura Branigan video only hinted at as she was losing her self control. Whether a college kid or a middle aged divorcée trying to be youthful, this is going to bring a lot of people under it's spell as it simply mixmasters everything under the sun. Certainly not nutty just for the sake of nutty, this is the work of pros that love what they do.

CHRIS WEST/Trilogy: Here's a young, Nashville based jazz sax man that's well on his way toward being an MVP of the future as he's already played with everyone and has no problem with spreading his wings geographically or to reach out to some killer players to lend a hand. Putting a modern spin on old man jazz, he's got the hipster look down pat but he's clearly no poseur. Wonderfully swinging set, this is a cat you want to keep an ear on because he's already here and raring to go.

JEAN-MICHEL PILC/Essential: Pilc changes recording horses and Motema widens their lens for this solo piano date by one of the leading exponents of solo piano. Whether being introspective, adding his own special sauce to chestnuts or letting the fur fly, Pilc may seem like an acquired taste as first, since he tends to be sparse and impressionistic, but once first impressions are brushed aside, the depth, mystery and mastery take hold. First class sitting down music, he often goes into that place where jazz and classical intersect and he holds that corner mightily.

ROSEANNA VITRO/The Music of Randy Newman: Why Randy? Why now? Why not? The first jazz set devoted to the works of Newman finds his vocals in good hands as Vitro sounds a whole lot more inviting that Newman ever did, especially on the deep cuts from the deep catalog. Avoiding covering the clichés as well as avoiding the really rough edges, Vitro gives the dusties a whole new life and Newman should feel real good about it. Once again Vitro proves she could sing the phone book to great effect and once again, we're glad she's chosen more compelling material than that to make her musical point. Well done.

JOCHEN RUECKERT/Somewhere Meeting Nobody: This set is a shining example of how Pirouet is pulling together their own Windham Hill or ECM sound and style. This set is led by a drummer that knows how to give everyone else some. A mostly original set, it doesn't need to point a compass at any influences to get it's point across and offers up some basically solid mainstream playing with a lightly progressive edge. A sweet listening date that playfully challenges the listener, it works throughout and will be fun to revisit.

SULTANS OF STRING/Yalla Yalla!: Strunz and Farah meets a Cuban rhythm and horn section? First Canada impresses us with the depth of their cabaret scene now they blow us away with the depth of their world beat scene. Simply a killer set worthy of all the award recognition it's been grabbing for the recording and the band, this is world beat gone party with a good time had by all. Everything you could want from a world beat record not put out on the Nonesuch Explorer Series, this is a smoking, heavy duty good time. A real culture clash that harbors no border wars, contemporary world beat and contemporary instrumental fans can only go wrong if they ignore this set. Killer stuff throughout.

BRUCE ROPER/Accidental English: The guy in Sons of the Never Wrong steps out for a long over due solo album and it sounds like a post card from another time zone. Obviously a folkie singer/songwriter set, Roper looks at middle age through a different prism than most others creating a set that just whacks you in the head with one of the greatest sucker punches ever. Abstrusely on the money with laser like precision, Roper is going to have you really thinking about things long after the record is over. Not really unexpected considering his 20 year body of work, it's still unexpected in a lot of ways. Possibly the tonic for anyone middle aged that needs more than chicken soup for their soul.

Volume 34/Number 182
May 2, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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