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ROBERT PATERSON'S THE BOOK OF GODDESSES/various: Contemporary classical can be friendlier than what Philip Glass often has to offer. This set, that's as much world beat as it is contemporary classic, was inspired by a book and illustrations about the goddess of various cultures. Bringing several different ensembles on board to help realize his sonic vision for the source material, Paterson and his hand picked crew take Paul Winter to the next level of the game with an excursion that tickles the mind as well as the ear. A set like this could have only been realized in America today with arts council help but this sure isn't typical arts council music. A first class trip around the world that'll not only enthrall the armchair traveler, it'll probably have him putting travel stickers on his head phones as well. A wonderful piece of music that's art as well. And by the way, this work has already won Paterson a composer of the year award.

PAT BATTSTONE-RICHARD POOLE/Mystic Nights: A piano/vibes face off that showcases minimalist jazz with arts council overtones. Loaded with an experimental edge that makes this sitting down jazz for hipsters.

BILL BARNER/Ten Tunes: How can you not want to check out a white guy born in the Mississippi Delta that sounds like he was inspired to play clarinet by watching "Sanford & Son" when he was growing up? The worst thing you can say about this set is that it sounds like white guy funk produced on a tight budget. Yep, it's armchair funk, kind of like what Mike Hurley would be doing if he wasn't an acid folkie (at least, I'll bet that's what he would be doing/sounding like). Anyone who's ever done the white guy dance will get it immediately.

THE WEE TRIO/Ashes to Ashes: Wanna feel old? David Bowie is now the stuff of nostalgia. Of course, you won't feel old if you think he's just that goofy guy that dresses like a chick. Forward thinking jazz takes on a varied swath of Bowie material that lends itself to progressive jazz reinvention without corruption, this is something that will actually be welcomed by long time Bowie fans as a mighty good hors d'ouvers.

TOM PAPA/Live in New York City: A grown up family comic that doesn't talk dirty but comes on with a lot more bite than the typical clean comic. With a gusto that has him holding large rooms in the palm of his hand, this is a killer, story arc telling stand up that doesn't loop catch phrases into the works but creates an atmosphere that propels the bits forward like a singular set piece. A contemporary kind of guy who finds humor in the foibles of real life, this stuff is a killer, laugh riot. He's paid his dues and if you don't know Papa yet, it's certainly time to get on the trolley. Check it out.

NOVALIMA/Karimba: In which we find world beat sequing off onto a new vector as the music comes from Peru, but it's a Peru version of world beat. Past Latin Grammy nominees, they aren't making world beat for your father. This is Afro-Diaspora music, tinged with club beats and other contemporary touches for contemporary party people that aren't in to top 40. An active, upbeat large band set that engages you easily, you might feel like a foreign born cab driver the first few times you play this, but once the newness wears off... Released through Thievery Corporation's label, if you know them, you know to expect the unexpected---and like it. Well done.

ISABELLE FAUST/Berg & Beethoven Sonatas: With Orchestra Mozart by her side, one of the leading light of violin today tackles a program of deep works that require just the right touch to find the drama in the works. Finding the right sweet spots to call her shots, Faust claims her spot at the top with the ability to swoop, soar and make her instrument sing like an angel. This is a recording that you really feel from start to finish and just don't want to miss a note along the way. Well done.

ERNEST TROOST/Live at McCabe's: If Troost seems a little long in the tooth to be a new folkie award winner, he kind of put the folkie thing aside to be an Emmy award winning TV composer during those wily child raising years. Uncorking that stored energy, he impresses a live audience at the place that inspired him to be a folkie in the first place with songs from his first two sets as well as new stuff that positions him right at the forefront of the nu folk movement. Very classic in his moves and attitude, he's not a slave to the ghost of Guthrie but he is an apple that doesn't fall far from the tree. Singer/songwriter fans have a great new find on their hands here. Hot stuff.

Volume 35/Number 52
December 22, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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