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HAMILTON de HOLANDA-YAMANDU COSTA/Live: de Holanda keeps proving himself to be a player you want to hear more from, and each time he obliges that request by coming back with something fairly quickly that is different from the last visit. In a first time pairing, the killer mandolin player is paired live in concert with the guitar picker that has single handedly brought Brazilian guitar back to first tier prominence. With only 20 fingers and 17 strings between them, the playing is so majestic and assured that it sets the standard for contemporary adult instrumental music. Without hitting you over the head with pyrotechnics, this set is as hot as they come. And if you should be partial to Brazilian music, hang on to your hat!

AIMEE ALLEN/Winters & Mays: Another in a series of lawyers by day, jazzbos by night, Allen comes to jazz by heading for Paris to sing bossa nova after escaping from Yale. You can tell she's one of the ones that's only practicing law to subsidize her real love. Very much in the lineage of Diana Krall and her antecedents, Allen loves a good classic but loves to strut her dandy originals as well. C'mon, come help get court calls off this girl's docket. With her chops, she can go really far with just a little encouragement.

MARK WILLS/Looking for America: Back when MCA Nashville was the gold standard, Wills was part of the wrecking crew and had the awards and recognition to prove it. Now, on his own like most of the rest of us, Wills takes a no holds barred, amped up hillbilly sound that cuts right to heart of getting through to the common man that needs to let off some steam. A high octane, in the moment set that doesn't hit you with politics other than rocking up the party, he's going to go the distance even without the machine behind him. Killer stuff from a pro that knows the ropes all too well.

HIGH FIDDELITY/Tell Me!: These mature, German jazzbos are pioneering the divorcee jazz format. With Lotte Lenya and Ute Lemper on their sides, this crew that centers around the head writing violinist and the vocalist serve up pithy songs of resilience and rebellion that would have had a great launch pad on the old Oprah show. You can just hear the white whine pouring with this in the background. Impressively savvy in the way it crosses the ocean without losing any of it's bubbly.

BOOK OF KNOTS/Garden of Fainting Stars: There are people on board here that are old and aware enough to remember who Nico is, but for those who aren't, this is almost like an unintentional tribute to Nico. With a space age, spooky nihilistic vibe, it would be real funny if Jackson Browne was lurking in the background rather than say, Mike Watt. If this ain't for the pissed off college kid, I don't know what is.

TERRY OLDFIELD & SORAYA SARASWATI/Healing Sound Journey: The Oldfield's invite us back to their house for a new round of world/healing fusion music. Clocking in at exactly 60 minutes, keeping the healing arts practitioner in mind, this is one of those sets that gracefully crosses the lines between jazz, world and inner new age. Deceptively simple for lulling you into a healing cocoon that frees your mind, you can almost feel the constant dripping of the hot oil on your forehead as this plays. And now for something completely different...

AMIKAEYLA & TRLAWNY ROSE/To Eva, with Love: Now this is a really interesting concept. As much of an NPR darling as Eva Cassidy is, there are plenty of people that don't get her. The difference between her and say, Kate Wolf, another similarly situated NPR darling that a lot of people don't get, is that Wolf wrote a lot of her own material where Cassidy wrote nearly nil. While covering well known tracks by many other NPR darlings, she existed in a pretty interesting little twilight zone. So, now we have a sweet sounding duo that can make even Sting sound less yucky as they work it out with label head Wayne Wallace (who needs to be more well known outside the Bay area). A lot of people might not get the tribute aspect of this album and just enjoy the well done covers making them feel like they've moved their ears up a notch from their own "American Idol" fandom. Perhaps we now know the secret of Cassidy's appeal was her ability to make first class, yuppie cocktail music. Whatever, this set is sweet in the adult bag.

VICIOUS WORLD/Plays the Music of Rufus Wainwright: In which we find the alternative has gone alternative when a bunch of progressive jazzbos ala one of the old Miles Davis Quintets tackles the contemporary version of the great American songbook, this time in the form of Rufus Wainwright rather than say, Frank Loesser. Naming themselves after one of his more well known compositions, this is more than a shadowing effort. As idiosyncratic as if Wainwright himself was in charge of the proceedings, this is sitting down jazz all the way, as cerebral and dense as Loudon's kid himself. Like when The Jazzbo Hipsters Played Music From Most Happy Fella, this set is the one that passes the torch to the new generation of writers and interpreters. Move over Boswell, you have some new musical company.

Volume 34/Number 221
June 11, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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