3 COHENS/Family: This set kicks off with just the right groove and bounce and it doesn't matter if they're all related less than 8 bars in. This is simply solid jazz by a crew that plays and swings with abandon and chops to spare. The Cohens kick it on trumpet and sax like they are Davis and Coltrane and their pals know how to bring up the rear like they are Kelly, Cobb, Evans and Chambers. You can only compare this to "Kind of Blue" in spirit, but when it comes to measuring kicking ass, the later can go toe to toe with the former. Sets like this show indie jazz is leading the way. Killer stuff.
HANS THEESSINK/Jedermann Remixed-The Soundtrack: Veteran acoustic bluesman adds the sinister elements of folk music to the Texas guitar sound he's mastered so well. Taking "When the Man Comes Around" from the jubilee anthem Johnny Cash made it and turning it into something as eerie as John Jacob Niles doing "Lonesome Valley" with dark religious overtones, Theessink could sound like your kids worst nightmare. Wild, powerful stuff from a cat that knows his stuff, this is wild stuff that'll breathe life into the most jaded ears. A winner throughout.
FIONA BOYES/Blues for Hard Times: Mammas, lock up your sons, the Boyes is back in town. Schlepping her dobro from Oz to Austin for a bare bones date that would have been right at home in any college coffeehouse circa Bonnie Raitt working with Dave Ray, Boyes originals sound like they could have come from the scratch pad of Memphis Minnie, Sippie Wallace, Victoria Spivey and all the rest from the 20s blues women that inspired the wild women of the early 70s. Boyes goes so far as to do a pomo inversion on Sippie Wallace that is worth the price of admission here alone. A heart felt, foot stomping rouser, Boyes take on the blues has all the 90 year old cats that have recently left us smiling down in appreciation and approval. Don't let the simplicity in sound throw you, this is a mighty deep set throughout. Hot stuff.
RENE MARIE/Black Lace Freudian Slip: Marie has never been one to be at a loss for making interesting albums, but this time around she has either really found her voice or found the voice of who she would like to be. Completely breaking the jazz diva/cabaret mold to smithereens, she not only doesn't sing any required Porter/Gershwin/et al, she sings a manifesto against doing it at all. Certainly an etched in stone blue print for nu jazz diva or nu cabaret, Marie's originals are more cinematic than set piece going so far as to make you think this might be the nu Tom Waits "Nighthawks at the Diner" if you can dig in the crates that far back. Adult ears are really going to enjoy where this set takes them.
NATIVE DRUM MUSIC
MICHAEL CAIN/Solo: Cain isn't untalented or unfocused, he's just trying to push the limits of outsider music in an under the radar way. Mixing piano and electronics, this set is geared for those with cutting edge/contemporary classical ears or a real appreciation of Zappa's musical dada side. Angular when your ear expects it to be linear, the random things that pop up at you like Wack a Moles give this set a kitchen sink feel to the non-members of the tribe.
JEFF OSTER/Surrender: A bunch of old jazz/new agers aren't content to live in the past and come in with a forward thinking down tempo set that leaves their formidable pasts in the dust. Opening with a down tempo revisioning of "Looking Out for Love", complete with the grunts, this is some trippy head music that takes you down back alleys, unlit corridors and is unmistakably white urban stuff that floats on a cloud through parts of town you've never been before. If your mortgage is under water, this set will make perfect sense when you fire up a doob.
AL CONTI/Northern Seas: Like a little Goth with your new age? Conti takes his compositions and his pals to plum the depths of the Scandinavian waters where they put something in the water to inspire all those death metal bands up there. Strangely calming while playing tunes to Loki and Odin, this is for the malcontent adult that doesn't want his relaxing sessions to be too tame. Hey, would you rather have something with a beginning, a middle and an end or some drippy noodling?
DANNY WRIGHT/Soul 2 Soul: Talk about living the dream. Wright has gone from playing shopping malls to issuing his 35th album and living in Vegas. Still graceful and melodic, being in control of his own destiny clearly gives his music a confidence and grace that comes with peace of mind---a nice reward after all those years of giving other peace of mind with his music. If you don't know him by now, this piano man is more of a Jim Brickman than a John Tesh and he can say so much with so little that you almost think he makes it look to easy. Simply a lovely album that makes quiet times all that much more special. A winner.
Volume 34/Number 347
October 14, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record