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AMERICANA LOVEBIRDS: It only took 40 years but we finally have the new Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan. This isn't alt.country or insurgent county, it's left of center, subversive country that would have made Chinga Chavin stomp on his cowboy hat because he couldn't be so dirty and sound so cutie pie. When you really listen to the lyrics this duo puts forth, it's takes you two or three run throughs to get it through your head you're hearing what you think you're hearing. Never sinking into parody, this is crazy stuff played straight that is the greatest antidote and vaccination to sippy cup country. Country hasn't been this subversive since the 60s when the outlaw rumblings were first brewing for fermentation 10 years later. If only this crew was around to open for the original Burrito Brothers. Great stuff.

BROTHERS GOLDMAN/Fonkology: Inside jokes abound as there are no Jewish brothers in this group of genre benders that bring acid jazz to Nawlins funk. Working hard to make white guys feel less self conscious for doing the white guy dance, the Brothers stick their love of B3 right out front, slow it down to make it last, stir in the sonics and let it simmer like a Memphis soul stew. Tasty musical gumbo from the crescent shaped bay in San Francisco.

TOM WETMORE/Desired Effect: The debut of an electric keyboard man that likes to write for sax and guitar comes across as a date that reflects the old timers he's been playing with since hitting New York but really shows a sensibility of the softer side of 70s fusion in a pleasant and delightful way. With more bite than top down/drive through the countryside easy jazz, this is almost an intermediate date that fills the gap between winding down and chilling out. A skillful player/leader/writer, Wetmore appreciates jazz as well as funk fusing elements from both in a way that really works well. Check it out.

TRON SYVERSEN/Peaceful Journey: A theatrical new ager, Syversen is as much Windham Hill as he is ECM with a solid smattering of impressionistic classical in the mix as well. Along the lines of the deeper stuff from groups like Enigma or Ademaus, this is a very satisfying session for those that more than chant but don't want fluff. Everyone on board knows how to hit their marks and a lush, lightly mysterious set is the result. Easily the kind of stuff the new age fan has been looking for and probably not finding across the last several years.

TALKING COWS/Almost Human: More from the Dutch jazz scene that produced Hans Dulfer as opposed to Candy Dulfer, this left leaning crew continues to lean in hard with this off beat set of odd time signatures and changes, none of which will have you screaming for an arts council's head. For angular hipsters, this is thinking man's jazz that falls well short of being work to listen to. Well done after hours jazz for cutting loose in a semi-dignified way.

NANCY STEARNS/Weather or Not: The singing lawyer continues her love affair with albums that have themes, this time around the theme is weather. Kicking it off with "Blue Skies" and veering around the barometer from there, the cabaret inflected performer manages to successfully bring the weather spot on the evening news to the cabaret. How nice when you have a generous canon to pull from. When she's immersed in a lyric she loves, she seems like she should give up her day job.

UWE GRONAU/Time Rider: So when is a new age record not a new age record? When it's a fusion of styles like Gronau puts together even going so far as to calling minimalist cats like Michael Hoeing who was doing pre new age soundscapes when no one knew what to call it other than ‘the next Kraftwerk?'. Very cool adult instrumental music that you can be fooled into thinking is simply jazz when it's really so much more. Cool stuff from start to finish that really grabs your ear.

BEV BARNETT & GREG NEWTON/Love Can Change the World: I don't know if this duo are reformed drunks or not but they certainly have a lot of reconstituted AA philosophy here, well hidden in some well written stuff that isn't an unleashed horde of platitudes and clichés. Just about every boomer will relate to the message within the message as 12 Steps is the new religion in America. As long as these folk rockers don't have to hit you over the head with their thoughts, so much the better. Anyone who spent time in a college campus coffee shop before Woodstock will probably enjoy this set in a knowing way. Betcha.

Volume 35/Number 70
January 9, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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