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KMANG KMANG/Drifting: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. Fusing the acoustic guitar solo sentiments from 1970s micro indie labels with 80s L. Subramanian jazz excursions and then rounds third, heading for home with "World Without Walls' period Acoustic Alchemy, this Chicago "experimental" music collective have come in with the musical gumbo of the day that blows you away at every level. With chops and vibes that a lot of others can't even come close to, Kmang Kmang plays wise beyond their years and opens the depths by keeping simplicity at their core. A real ear opener of a world beat date that takes off from the runway but never touches down again. Hot stuff.

KENNY GARRETT/Seeds From the Underground: Disregard the title as this is more smooth jazz than church basement. With way too many years as a high profile pro under his belt to blow a false note as this stage of the game, the alto sax ace comes in with an all original date of friendly music that's just a gasser to put on and let play. With the chops flowing from the various hats he wears on this date flowing at full force, contemporary jazzbos have a winner on their hands here. Buoyant, swinging and on the money throughout, this is one hard date to resist.

LYNNE ARRIALE/Solo: Arriale is a dynamite jazz piano player that always seems like she should have a higher profile. With her first solo recording, she grabs that spotlight, front and center, and shows she really knows what to do with it. On a set top heavy with her own original compositions, she strikes hard right out of the box, gets in the zone and makes it all hers. A wining session that leaves her no place to hide, this is one of those sets where are you amazed with what only ten fingers can build. Hot stuff.

MUD MORGANFIELD/Son of the Seventh Son: It ain't easy being Muddy Waters' eldest kid and wanting to go into the family business but Morganfield succeeds at being his own man and letting his genes show. Capturing the 1954 vibe with his band quite nicely, Morganfield doesn't wail so much about being a ‘main', brings a load of originals to the fore and simply has a nice modern take on traditional blues going on. Morganfield is no cover or tribute act, just a fine example of the family name being hard again. Well done

DAVID ALVAREZ/Clandestino: Right from the opening chords, it's easy to mistake this session for vacation music, and maybe there is an under current of such running through it. However, this is some contemporary, indigenous Cuban music by a young vocalist that knows how to evoke the good old days of local romantic balladry. With a crew of first call Cuban players lined up behind him, this is as far from Ricky Ricardo music as you can get and still be on the same island, tasting the same type of time frame. A killer set of out of the ordinary music for gringo ears that easily sweeps you up in it's proceedings. Any one with open and searching world beat ears will just go nuts for this. Check it out.

VOLKER STRIFLER/Let the Music Rise: It's accurate to say this cat starts out in the blues, but he can make Sleepy John Estes come out as industrial Nawlins so just what exactly do you call him? A hippie more concerned with good music than labels is probably the most accurate. A fast ball right down the middle for 2012 frat boys that want to keep it real but have a different definition of ‘real' than their grand parents did when they were grooving to Otis Day & the Knights. When all is said and done, Strifler understands how to put a party on a platter whether you're a legacy or were in the frat years ago. Check it out.

SABRINA LASTMAN/The Candombe Jazz Sessions: A trip around the world that starts in South America, Lastman is a world traveled tour guide that has learned how to separate the wheat from the chaff and give us the stuff that tastes good, especially when we can't even tell if she's scatting or singing in languages we don't speak. A throw back to the pure music dates of the 60s where the playing and the vibes came before the stretch for the hit single, Lastman and her gang know how to deliver the goods. Tasty throughout, this session is an oasis that's no mirage. Off the beaten track and well worth the trip.

OSCAR CASTRO-NEVES/Live at Blue Note Tokyo: So what can you say about Castro-Neves that hasn't already been said over the course of an illustrious career that has spanned decades? Culled from a week stay in Tokyo with a first class Brazilian crew in tow, Castro-Neves takes a well deserved victory lap here as he recounts being one of the architects of the Brazilian sound as we know it. Tasty, swinging and loaded with ‘wish you were there' vibes, this is a great dose of real music for thirsty ears. All you have to do is sit back and let the master do his thing for you and everything will be alright.

Volume 35/Number 124
February 22, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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