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EMMET COHEN/In the Element: You just want to hate this guy. His stubble looks like peach fuzz that isn't ready to shave yet. 21 years old and playing since he was 3, often in prestigious situations with august characters around him, this kid's piano trio date kicks out the jams in such a manner that you are reminded why you were first so excited by jazz piano trios. Hard to believe someone so young has had such chops since he was someone so young. Killer stuff that any contemporary jazzbo will flip for---especially when this guy makes the hoariest classics sound new all over again. Do yourself a favor and don't miss out on this. It's the first recorded stop on what will be an illustrious career.

FALL 2011 45RPM RELEASES/various: Look, you're going to have to do your own homework to ferret out the various titles and artists here but this compilation of 15 new tracks from the label kicks ass. Leading off with music that's really from Timbuktu, this is ethnic music certainly, but way too high octane to have ever found it's way to a Nonesuch Explorer or Folkways record. The b sides are as hot as the a sides and you're a dope if you miss this armchair trip around the world and back. Killer stuff that shows the way to a multi-culti tomorrow in grand style.

HARPETH RISING/Dead Man's Hand: This bunch has their nerve not sending me their debut album. Four classically trained musicians started rocking when they met up in college and somehow found their way to old timey music, but damn if there's no dust on this. If Pentangle were hillbillies that rocked, you might get some idea of what's going on here. A stone cold killer for people who can't get enough of traditional music, but with a wily edge that takes it places you never imagined, the only thing this crew demands of you is that you put the headphones on and enjoy. This sets the bar high for adult music that is proud of residing outside the mainstream. Hot.

DAVID IAN/Vintage Christmas: Except for "Linus and Lucy", Vince Guaraldi seems to be not so much forgotten as more like not remembered. Ian, whether intentionally or not, has such a feel for the Guaraldi feel that this cat could be doing soundtracks for future "Peanuts" Christmas specials. This is a nice straight up set whose value isn't in breaking new ground but in making something familiar and friendly into something fresh and welcoming without being redundant. This is the kind of stuff you wanted to think Andy Williams was playing at his own Christmas parties back in the day. Simply wonderful stuff that never fails to work throughout.

ANDREA BALESTRA/Fine Arts Avenue: Hey kids, need a new shredderoonie to lend and ear to? Balestra loves to bend those notes, send the fusillades flying and let the hard core guitar good times roll. If you're wondering where the guitar heroes of tomorrow are going to come from, here's a gander at the future.

COSY SHERIDAN/The Horse King: Seems fitting that a premiere folkie should land on the premiere folk label. Picking up the socio-political folkie side of things, Sheridan assails blows against the empire like she's a latter day Wobblie. Without being strident, she manages to send out a bunch more messages than the typical singer/songwriter has for quite some time. Delightfully offbeat, this is the email you look forward to getting from a friend of yours that's always on the go. All folkies know she's the real deal and this latest chapter is on the money throughout.

JUDY COLLINS/Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: It seems like we've been down the autobio trail with Collins before, but you can say the same thing about Jane Fonda, and... This 11 hour, unabridged look back at a life well lived, complete with new versions of period music, is an up and down, warts and all look at the times that shaped the times. Long time folk fans will enjoy the beans being spilled here as all the truths come out.

PATRICK McDONNELL/Our Little Kat King: If it seems like these "Mutts" treasuries don't come out often enough, it's because they seem to cover about 2 years at a crack. As is the custom, this has the daily and Sunday strips, complete with the Sunday splash panel that the newspapers often omit for space reasons (the fools). Earl and Mooch's Zen like look at the world continues to power the proceedings long after such simplicity and innocence should have run their course. One of the most popular strips out there, with good reason, you might as well settle in with a roaring fire, your fave drink and this oversize book since crummy weather seems to be washing over a lot of us earlier and harder this year. This is a great dose of heart warming laughter that almost seems out of place in what's left of the today's world. Check it out.

Volume 34/Number 351
October 18, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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