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DEANNA REUBEN/The Very Thought of You: A classically trained singer that found her feet under her in jazz, Reuben knows how to work a classic and deliver a solid performances. Straight ahead jazz takes on American chestnuts, this set has more bite than the typical set of this ilk that is just trying to fit the format. With a smoking crew of Philly jazzbos behind her, everyone is working like a unit and the results are always top shelf. A dandy find for straight up jazz vocal fans that love a singer that knows how to work in service to the song.

DICK LUPINO/Eclectic Nostalgia: You know you've got a case of ubershipsteritis when you cop an attitude about the cats that make a living playing lounges, hotels and the like but kvell like anything over the atonal mooks at your hipster dive bar. Lupino has been working the hotels for over 20 years, and he has a lot of that loungy Sammy Joey lounge hipster schtick in his kit bag but the cat can play and he's entertaining. He mixes Sinatra, Sergio Mendes, Bobby Darin and Van Morrison into a mix that works, so the only thing you have to do is pour some cocktails, enjoy it and be glad you don't have to pay a cover or drop your stuff at the dry cleaners the next day. It's schtick and it's fun.

JOHN PRIMERANO/Somewhere South of Heaven: I've always been amazed at the wealth of jazz talent percolating around the Poconos and other non-Philly parts of Pennsylvania. Almost like a Jimmy Rosselli kind of cat that does the standards and classics off to the side and under the radar, Primerano sounds experienced but younger than his pic and resume indicate. Really groovy MOR, it's nice tasty stuff for lounge lizards and supper club eaters that don't use coupons or wait for specials.

CRAIG LARSON TRIO/Legacy: A perfect example of one of those tasty, little jazz piano trio dates that you might miss if you blink. It doesn't try to be anything that it isn't other than a well played work out on some familiar tunes where all that's needed to bring them to life is some crack playing where the chops are so cool, they don't have to call attention to themselves. The kind of set that would give any hipster the hives if he really had to listen to it, this is for the rest of the population that just wants to hear something pretty with some bite and smarts. Well done.

THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN-A Novel Symphony for Actors and Orchestra: Holy moley, way too cool! I didn't realize until now that Windham Hill was trying to make a new "Peter and the Wolf" with their Rabbit Ears line. Leave it to this bunch. PS has delivered the new "Peter and the Wolf". A commissioned work with a high tone pedigree throughout, you would expect this to be too dry, too pedant and simply too precious and self conscious to go the distance but damn if this isn't just they way you would have done it if you had the chance. Based on a story by the "Charlotte's Web" scribe about how messed up a swan's life was because he couldn't honk, it follows his travails until he gets to go position. A must entertainment for kids of all ages, this is a perfect example about how discs and files aren't the issue---making something you want to spend time and money on is. A first class recorded entertainment from top to bottom and quite cinematic in scope as well. A winner.

STRIKE UP THE BAND 1930/2011 Studio Cast Recording: Gershwin, Gershwin, Ryskind and Kaufman slapped the Great Depression squarely in the face with a Broadway musical that boasted one of the greatest scores in the history of musical theater---and it's never been released in recorded form until Tommy Krasker and John Mauceri rounded up a bunch of singers and musicians and led the way in the studio to bring it to life. Certainly a timely effort, isn't it? Recorded and presented in what has become the PS Classics trademark fashion, you would almost think this was a restored original recording or something from Columbia's 1950s studio cast series. With a presentation as grand as the work itself, this is a stone cold must for all Broadway and classic American music fans. A stone killer throughout. Now just hand over the Grammy these kids more than deserve!

PAUL BROADNAX/Here's to Joe: Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but when it does... Broadnax has been a fan of Joe Williams for 60 years and on this 1995 recording there was certainly a mutual admiration society in effect as Broadnax let his admiration shine and Williams commented that he felt like he was passing the torch. Williams was classy and Broadnax has keyed in on that with devotion. Totally adult jazz/pop listening that goes the distance, this is one of those records you need to play when you want to feel like a grown up. A solid work throughout.

TAREQ ABBOUSHI & SHUSMO/Mumtastic: I remember being in some nutty little joint in Sousse that must have been playing an antecedent version of this nu Arabic funk. Oh yeah, it's the music of the souks and opium dens, but it's the modern souks, where the inventory is bar coded and kept on computer and modern opium dens where you don't want to nod out because you'll miss the belly dancers. World beat for the nu world, the past and future gleefully collide and there's no arts council dust anywhere on this lively trip to the other side of the pond. And like water aerobics, when you get up to shake it to this, it won't hurt your joints. Well done.

Volume 34/Number 223
June 13, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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