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DIUNNA GREENLEAF/Trying to Hold On: If Bruce Iglauer was turned on by Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee instead of Hound Dog Taylor, the sound of the blues over the last 40 years might have gone something like what's on display here. A fine vocalist that's almost the anti-Koko Taylor, Greenleaf can rollick with the best of them but she is the queen of the blue lights in the basement sound. An interesting H-town/Chi-town fusion, this is a peach of a blues vocal date a little more suited for the frat house than the road house as Greenleaf sounds like she likes to be asleep by midnight or earlier. A sure bet for contemporary blues fans that like something with one foot in tradition and one hand right in the pocket. Well done.

BOTTOMS UP BLUES GANG/Handle It: Third set from this long time St. Louis blues fixture show they have ripened into a premiere aggregation that knows how to mix up a neo kind of blues vaudeville relying heavily on their home base traditions but not afraid to draw from either end of the Mississippi. This bunch feels like they are out for a good time and want you to join in. Simply first class, boundless contemporary blues throughout.

CHICK COREA-STEFANO BOLLANI/Orvieto: This almost feels like a symbolic recording. Four handed piano improv on Miles and Jobim, as well as others, but these four hands represent a lot. Corea has been along for most of the 40 year ride on ECM and Bollani is a relative new comer. Corea is in his 70s, Bollani is getting a few years under his belt but still youngish by traditional jazz standards. They are totally in synch in their playing but it does feel like a torch is being passed to a new generation. The jazz and the music crashes through into art. It's not stuffy, but it holds your attention like a classical recital. Certainly first class listening/sitting down music, this is a special instance of special playing by a pair that's deeply in the know.

MICHAEL PEDICIN/Ballads...searching for peace: Here's a sax cat that has played with everyone from the Philly International house band to David Bowie to Maynard Ferguson who's finally getting the chance to do a ballads album in the manner of Coltrane's ballads album. Certainly his inspirer is smiling. A tasty set from a player who's been a pro for over 40 years, this isn't a dusty session, but it's certainly jazz the way they used to make it. For the jazzbo that's looking for a date that he can just sink in to, this set is one of those deceptively simple ones that only the first call cats know how to make. A stylish winner throughout.

JULIA CLEVELAND 5UINTET/Tumble Stumble: One of the cool things about this date is that just when you think you have this crew pinned down, the sneak out a worm hole and come at you from an entirely different angle before you know what hit you. A smoking jazzbo crew led by a woman drummer who shows that network tv isn't the only hospitable place for edgy gals these days, this the kind of outing that will spread warmth throughout their native Canadialand this winter because they know how to keep it hot. Great stuff that won't let you down---or leave you high and dry. Check it out.

GEORGE JONES/George Jones (We Can Make It)-I Wanta Sing: So hard to believe that at this late date there's still so much classic period Jones that hasn't made it to cd yet, and that's why there's Raven to the rescue. Pairing two of his classic period Epic albums with some bonus tracks, this is a hot package that is fired by seminal hits and important album tracks recorded at a time when album tracks were throwaways. Certainly the kind of material that legends are made from, this is easily some essential country listening that retains it's freshness the better part of 40 years later. Straight up country that should come with a six pack and a hand gun in every jewel box.

SPENCER DAVIS GROUP/Somebody Help Me (Best of 1964-68): Zowie, it was almost 50 years ago that he was known as Little Stevie Winwood. It was a different world back then--it was ok to do r&b covers although they were already recorded by someone else and the manic energy flew as these players were all trying to escape the humdrum. More white r&b than blue eyed soul, Winwood barely showed glimpses of what was to come, but he was on the money and Davis would have been like a rock Art Blakey if John Mayall hadn't beaten him to it. The spitfire of youth meets modern mastering techniques and a good time is had by all, once again.

ESP JAZZ QUARTET/Reach: Delightfully solid set from a killer crew that has been drinking the water that makes up state New York such a fertile area for several generations of contemporary jazz. Post beboppers that know how to pick the best of everything that has come along since and incorporate it into their sound, this is a high octane, happening date that goes a long way in defining contemporary jazz now. An indie set that can stand toe to toe with anything that has the stamp of the machine on it,. jazzbo ears are about to perk up to something wonderful yet again. Hot stuff.

TO BE TWENTY: As I keep saying, what a difference 35 years makes. Originally banned by Italian censors, this pic details two 20 year old, cute dunderheads that want to leave the countryside and live in a commute so they can screw all day. So far, so good. Then comes the gangsters that force them into prostitution, violence, unseemly endings--all that stuff. Sorry if it seems like a news report you see too often these days about Oriental women and massage parlors, but some things just never change. At least in a movie, nobody goes to jail---unless the censors are highly provincial. Those Italian grind house guys knew how to do it and stuff like this can easily influence the next generation of Taratinos. Wild stuff. The two disc package has the original commercial release as well as the (shudder) director's cut.

Volume 34/Number 330
September 28, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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