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D'MAR & GILL/Real Good Friend: One of those delightful, primal sets where two pals gather round the fire for some choogling blues and somehow the two make so much of a ruckus that you don't forget there's only two of them out there but you don't realize it either. Guitar, drums and a whole lot of heart, once these guys get your attention, they don't give it back. This is the kind of set back porches were made for and a high water mark for the blues part of the Americana ledger. Killer stuff.

BRICK FIELDS/Gospel Blue: A pair of Christians that love blues come together and find the key to making their music match their faith and reconcile everything in between in ways pros that trod this row in the past couldn't. Delightfully soulful stuff post salvation Maria Muldaur should have discovered in her travels, sacred and secular come together righteously and properly in a collection that gives good vibes and doesn't hit you over the head with preaching. Offbeat adult listening that's on the money throughout.

MOODY BLUEGRASS/Two...Much Love: Even if they did grow up in the country, you know cats like the Newgrass Revival, Vince Gill, Peter Rowan, Ricky Skaggs and the other all star pros on board here all grew up on the Moody Blues as they listened to FM while they traveled across the American nights. They gather here to turn the Brit prog rock inside out once again with another heartfelt tribute that takes the music somewhere else and ought to get a Grammy this time around instead of just a nomination. Even all the original members of the Blues reunite here for the first time in 30 years. Quite a kicking set that has a crew of players that raise each other's game throughout, this isn't just something that was tossed against the wall to see if it sticks. This set is simply going to blow you away.

MARK T. SMALL/Blacks Whites and the Blues: Before Pro-Tools, some guys would just sing into their hairbrush in front of the mirror forever. Some graduated to playing any gig that came along. Small differs from these cats because you can hear that we was learning as he was earning---taking any gig and developing a resume that might look like a long list of flying under the radar, but you have to look at the length and depth of that list to see Small is a working musician that knows the pas de deux well. He's the kind of cat you may not have heard of yet, but you will, probably in an unexpected way. This set finds him doing a passionate solo blues set highlighting his human jukebox side that finds him playing all the different kinds of blues he's enjoyed and soaked up. A recession proof band in a box kind of a guy, he's been at it 40 years and if this record was the only sum total of it all, it's a highly impressive legacy. Anyone who ever spent any time in a pre-disco era college coffeehouse will get this set immediately. It's right in that pocket and joyously takes you back there.

MIKE COTTONE/Just Remember: What is it in the water in Rochester, NY that makes it produce so many top notch horn players? This cat has learned his lessons well and shows that he understands jazz and how to play it right while adding just the right amount of special sauce to make it come out his own. A winning listening session that invites you to slip on the head phones and tune out the rest of the world because all it has for you is noise anyway. Solid stuff from a solid cat that doesn't think mainstream is a dirty word.

MINDY CANTER/Fluteus Maximus: From black jazz in church basements to duets with Yo Yo Ma, this flutatious lady has done it all. This set finds her going face to face with spontaneity as the whole thing was recorded in one take over four hours, old school style as the church basement black jazz opening track attests. Heartfelt funky stuff that takes you from "Over the Rainbow" to "16 Tons" while tipping the cap to Herbie Mann and more. You know a lot of the songs on here and probably haven't had such a good time with this kind of stuff since before disco crept into everything. Clearly one funky good time.

FOURTHOUGHT: A jazzbo quartet of hot cats that somehow make their way through New York and manage to be working musicians, playing all the top spots and just blasting away until someone finally knows their names, which is bound to happen in time. A smoking post bop crew, they've got the sound and vibe that can turn the biggest lard ass into a believable finger poppin' daddy. Playing with edge and vigor, the skronking sax, the hard charging piano and the rest will deliver all the hipster punch you can handle. Hot stuff that doesn't quit.

TRENT ROMENS/Aware: Well, the secret is out. You can be under 20, from Minnesota and a real blues burner even if your dad doesn't own a chain of radio stations. With a contemporary, industrial edge, whitey can still sing the blues when he feels them. Yeah, it's white boy blues but the Allmans and the Claptons had to come from somewhere and find inspiration somewhere. The kid is off to a good start.

Volume 34/Number 304
September 2, 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 the great review MWR! MWR is right on








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