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JACKIE JOHNSON/Memphis Jewel: She might not look like Millie Jackson did 35 years ago but Johnson is bringing the pissed off black woman soulfully back to the front. Old school soul that has no dust on it, Johnson is a vocalist that is wowing them at home and taking that wow on the road. Sassy, snazzy and snappy throughout, this could have roiled right of the Stax assembly line without missing a beat. You want some southern soul old school? This is a real example of really hot stuff. Well done.

DAVID WOOD/Country: A talent manager for over 30 years that finally decides he wants to make records too could pretty easily fit in with the Highwaymen if they decide they want to reconstitute with some ringers. There's nothing here that fits any format in any way, but if you miss some classic 70s Jones/Rich etc---the kind of country from wild men that weren't outlaw, this is fun journey through the past. Marching to the beat of his own country drummer, there's spirituality, there's white trash poverty, there's cutting loose, there's all the stuff that made those records so cool. The kind of kick in the pants country needs.

KEVIN KASTNING & MARK WINGFIELD/I Walked Into the Silver Darkness: So, if Windham Hill didn't have that A&M distribution deal to deal with where they had to meet actual sales figures, you can bet something that sounded like this guitar duo would have turned up on their release list and further infuriated Will Ackerman as yet another bunch of scribes would have further called the Hill the American ECM. Like Ralph Towner when he makes one of his ‘one for me' records, this set of guitar explorations is a set of sonic paintings, not of the impressionistic variety. A solid bet for non-electric rock guitar heads that like to explore, this is where art meets music in a very good way. Check it out.

JOHN ESCREET/The Age We Live In: With a cross generational downtown thing going on in Escreet's third outing as a leader, the transplanted Brit is soundly exploring contemporary jazz's back pages to give voice to the future. Massively creative set that seems to find it's spiritual footing in 70s Weather Report, it's a dense, first class sitting down jazz date that gives the listener plenty of room for his own explorations. Pushing the progressive tip, this is not stuff for people who take their jazz litely.

BRENT CANTER/Urgency of Now: He's a 25 year old guitarist that writes his own originals and shows a love for Wes. There's nothing here to fault him on. An engaging jazzbo, Canter must have already put in his 10,000 hours because this debut shows a fully formed sense of vision and direction. Subversively swinging, Canter delivers. A solid set contemporary jazzbos need to put on their list. Well done.

NICK HEMPTON/The Business: This Aussie sax man that cut his teeth in ska bands shows more than a nod to El Gato as he leads his swinging crew through a set that delightfully careens around the board with a mass of sly mix ins that keep your ears on their toes. Fun stuff for when you need jazz that is on the money without taking itself too seriously. Count on this to turn into one of your real faves.
JIMMY AMADIE TRIO/Something Special: Look, you've all got Google so you can look up the hard luck times this piano jazzbo has had leading up to his first public performance in 40 years in support of his new record, but let's say, from the scope of his playing, he's proof of the healing powers of music. When we first came across him a few years ago when he was restarting his career, he just seemed like a likeable old guy giving it a go in his golden years. Little did we know (like we said, you've got Google, look it up). This set finds his laying down some swinging Philly jazz grooves leading a trio that gets it. Unabashedly old school, if you want to hear a shining example of how it was done, this is your next stop. Simply killer playing that hides behind some scuffy shoed aw schuxing. Check it out.

BABY IT'S YOU/original cast recording: In which we find one of our own, Colin Escott, proves he's no one trick pony. After escaping music criticism with his play "Million Dollar Quartet", he comes back with another music based show (alright, so we don't go that far a field when we escape) that focuses on how a Jewish housewife was one of the prime movers in East Coast black music from roughly the same time period as "Quartet". Another bouncy road show that can play forever, the cast is on the money recreating the period music, even if Hollywood style, giving it the kind of buoyancy and energy you need to keep a show in propulsion mode. Maybe not for period purists but hipsters and tourists will get down. Fun stuff done right that's a nice rose colored glasses wearing journey through a collective past.

Volume 34/Number 234
June 24, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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Thanks for listening and writing! Dig the blog... Cheers, Nick Hempton








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