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JUMPIN JACK BENNY/I'll Be Alright: Most of the cats on here have Hispanic names so how can I call this first class white boy blues? I don't know what to call it without offending someone so let's just say this kicks ass. A first class roadhouse, rollicking blues show band, this crew ain't afraid to turn up the heat and sweat. A real sizzler, this is fun stuff that contemporary blues fans who don't like to go into bad neighborhoods need to give a listen to. Not traditional, not radical, just a real party that just don't quit.

JAMES ARMSTRONG/Blues at the Border: A natcherl born blues man who's been away from making records since before 9/11 screwed things up royally for the working, touring musician, especially the blues man, Armstrong comes back with a set reflecting the tenor of the times. Not a traditional set, not a genre buster, Armstrong fires a fast ball right down the middle of where contemporary, electric blues resides. Hard hitting stuff that makes his time away from records seem much too long, he certainly knows how to signify a welcome return. Hot stuff.

CHRIS WEST/Surprise Trilogy 3: And we find the progressive jazzbo wrapping up his saxsational trilogy with two more versions of "Surprise", the song that has haunted him for years. Wrapped around diversions as wide as a tribute to Buddy Rich and other tangents, this is a fine representation of joyful noise jazz that careens like a Nalwins funeral march through the streets. Crazy, wonderful stuff that has a killer vibe that just won't quit. Cheek it out.

SEAN COSTELLO/At His Best-Live: Costello came along at a time when the future of the blues was in the hands of teen age white guys that knew how to shred in the footsteps of Stevie Ray Vaughn even if they weren't old enough to have first hand memories of him. Costello was a real slinger and it's cool of his label to keep his memory going with a sweet set of unreleased live takes of mostly songs that were never on studio recordings. Blistering stuff from a cat who checked out way too soon, there's a killer party going on here and Costello wouldn't want you not to dig it to the max. This guy really had it and you owe it to your bluesy self to find out more. Well done.

DANNY FOX TRIO/The One Constant: Who does this genre pushing piano jazzbo with a degree in psychology from Harvard think he is? Denny Zeitlin? A left leaning piano trio that doesn't get so off the wall that you have to be in the church basement next door to get it, it's music for the musically adventurous that doesn't cross the line into malcontent. Mixing a lot of modes along the way, this accessible hell raiser adds the leavening to anything he stirs up. A solid set for those who don't like it too easy but don't like it too challenging. A winner throughout.

SIMONE DINERSTEIN/Something Almost Being Said: Dinnerstein is a rock star. A real throwback to when rock stars had real attitude and knew how to push the envelope instead of being just a bunch of rebels without a clue. Taking Bach repertoire to places she and it have never been before, this soloist becomes the music and is sure to shoot right to #1 on the charts yet again with this full blooded, spirited reading of Bach, and expanding her vision to Schubert as well. This is classical piano being played at the top of the game. The coolest thing going on here is that this set is a deep exploration of these works that's not ponderous or work to listen to. Hot stuff.

OTIS TAYLOR/Otis Taylor's Contraband: He'll let you figure out just what he means by the title's double meaning on your own, but you'll be too busy exploring his tephramancy of the past and future in this blues gumbo that defies an easy genre labeling. Not nearly going gentle into that good night, this is one of those cool records that exists in it's own time zone and rewards the listener looking for something completely different but easy enough to digest. Kicking it out high octane style throughout, this is the latest of Taylor's off the beaten track excursion that dares you not to follow along. A winner.

WADADA LEO SMITH'S MBIRA/Dark Lady of the sonnets: The old school hell raiser comes in with a haiku of a free jazz date that goes multi culti with only three players. Taking all the way back to the church basements from which AACM initially sprung, Smith and his co-horts reshape things as they see fit and come up with something that could easily rest next to your old BYG/Actual albums. Free jazz types know who they are and will want to use this to celebrate Smith's upcoming 70th birthday.

HANGOVER PART II: The "Hangover" gang goes to Bangkok for some pre-wedding stuff. That's all you have to say. It's like saying "Cheech and Chong Run for President". It's funny and you know all you have to know. Low humor continues to hit new heights. Available in combo pack with blue ray, dvd and ultraviolet digital copy so the fun never ends.

Volume 35/Number 27
November 27, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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