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MORGAN AGREN-HENRY KAISER-TREY GUNN/Invisible Rays: Not that I've heard everything he's ever done, but I never think of Henry Kaiser in the same thought as heavy duty, elephantine hard rock but he's holding his own with the other two, none of which had ever played together before a recent meeting at a conference. Playing like a power trio from Mars, this kicks out the ear wax as well as the jams. Uber progressive rock that'll opens your eyes to what the future has in store. A real wild ride from cats that know how to play it straight----or crooked as hell.

DERRICK N. ASHONG & SOULFEGE/Arfopolitan: When you've got your own show on Oprah's radio network, that's a pretty good springboard to start from. Party music tossed in the Caribbean genre blender with yummy results being poured out, this very tight party record is 180 degrees away from the kind of vacation music you might mistake this for. The kind of stuff millennials will love as much as their parents love Motown when it's party time. Hot stuff.

VAN DYKE PARKS/Arrangements V. 1: The eclectic genius that once started off a production job by saying ‘there was no job too small' serves up his own greatest hits set. Since most of his greatest hits have come from behind the scenes, there's a lot of his work with other artists here as well as his own songs and his own songs under other guises. Friends with everyone from Lowell George to Mighty Sparrow as well as Brian Wilson's co-writer, with about a million other stops along the way, if you don't know Parks, this hand picked collection is a great way to start. Now if only we could get a deluxe edition of "Discover America". He is the most mainstream musical left fielder you will ever enjoy. Dig in.

CAS HALEY/Gifts to Give: Texas singer/songwriter was in the mood for some holiday fun and served up a holiday ep that's delightfully offbeat and fills the artist's need to spread some holiday cheer. You just gotta let go and have some fun no matter how pomo you are.

JEFF LORBER FUSION/Galaxy: We're always yapping about how hard it is to compete with your younger self, but here, Lorber, and pretty much of the original gang, do just that. Coming full circle to the sound they had a big hand in influencing and shaping, they roll back the clock in an envious way that shows they can time shift with losing a step, or sounding like they are losing a step. Not just going back in time but back to the compositions that defined the time, Lorber and his posse show why we liked them in the first place. Sunny, bright lite jazz that's a great antidote to the times we're in---and maybe the good times will come roaring back in it's wake. Good times we all need to revisit.

LUNATIC SOUL/Impressions: Riding somewhere along the Goth/ambient edge, the third album in the Lunatic Soul trilogy musically sums up the black and white albums that came before it and serves up a contemporary pot head's dream head album for 2012. A spin off of Riverside, this is clearly music that never would have fit the band's format and gave Mariusz Dada a place to give voice to his other musings. It could be music to an unmade movie where you don't know what's happening next.

OZRIC TENTACLES/Paper Monkeys: Hippies playing with technology don't mind the road going on forever as they now have 25 years of English festivals under their belts. Almost as if they are England's genre bending answer to Grateful Dead, they are still making over the top mind bending music for the lightly toasted that just want to lay back and let the dots connect themselves. Nutty stuff no matter where you jump in.

JOAN STILES/Three Musicians: It's kind of a three's the charm kind of thing as Stiles releases her third album, now as a jazz trio, pared down from her larger scaled releases, with the other pieces being drum and sax. The song stack bounces around like a super ball with a dab of super glue on it so you never know what's going to be sticking to the surface as it hurls around. It works. With the sax taking the place of Ethel Merman on "Everything's Coming Up Roses" right out of the box, the pace is set and the vibe is in place. Sneaking in a few originals that fit the traditional flavored set card, Stiles is at the top of her game, adding a large dose of sly humor to jazz piano trio. Matt Wilson and Joel Frahm are playing like they have big grins going as well. Check it out for a delightful change of pace.

Volume 34/Number 362
October 29, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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