MELISSA STYIANOU/Silent Movie: If you like your chanteuses on the twee side of cabaret, have we got a low key gal for you. Styianou somehow makes Johnny Cash next to Joanna Newsome work. Why question it? Armed with a fine voice and expressive chops, she knows how to appeal to those that like to venture off the beaten path. Her low key manner might not be for everyone, but anyone willing to wander into this tent will be amply rewarded with a unique sound that almost sounds tailored directly to that individual listener.
ALAN ROSENTHAL/Just Sayin': Jazz piano man Rosenthal is new to me but he's played everyplace in New York a jazz piano man can play, probably in every situation as well, and running into him is like hanging out in a piano bar in Oregon and finding out you've been grooving to Dave Frishberg for the last hour. A solid craftsman that knows his way around composing as well, he might be doing his job but he's well aware that he's doing this for your enjoyment. The playing sounds like he's doing it for his enjoyment as well. Top shelf stuff that nails it every time.
CARTER CALVERT/Carter Calvert and the Roger Cohen Trio: It's kind of like you didn't know Maria Bamford was the crazy Target lady unless you were an uber fan. Where do you know Calvert's voice from? There's a lot of places you might have crossed paths with her but she's currently the voice of Amazon Kindle. And she knows the proper way to swing a Sinatra tune loading it with whatever the female equivalent of swagger is. A background MVP with an impressive resume, Calvert is now chomping at the bit to get you to stop going "yeah, she's that girl from...." and know her by name. Certainly not just another paint by numbers trip through the American song bag, Calvert takes you behind the curtain and you don't want to leave. A sizzling session that's often an unabashed celebration of sensuality that keeps the fire burring all night long. Check it out.
RO SHAM BEAUX: Contemporary jazz that's clearly not for moldy figs. A contemporary bunch of youngsters that clearly like jazz and clearly aren't afraid to acknowledge that there's music they like that exists beyond the jazz perimeter, this is a mixmaster of a date that young ears leaning toward jazz will understand and perhaps use as a gateway drug to post bop delights laying in wait for them in the vast land of the digital garage sale. Nutty stuff taken quite seriously that opens the way for the sitting down jazz of the next generation.
ERIC BIBB/Deeper in the Well: Certainly the words don't flow together right, but Bibb is hybridizing an industrial, acoustic blues sound here and supporting it with some fearless lyrics for the times we're living in that are as angry and tell-it-like-it-is as anything that came out of the 60s folk scene. And then he changes course. A well rounded performer with an impressive family tree behind him, Bibb knows how to entertain and be competitive in tough times. A first class set throughout that'll be one of the best hours you can spend when you're jonesing for some musical comfort food that feels like down home.
SURF COVE JAZZ
LESLIE LEWIS/Midnight Sun: This record isn't really for grandpa. This is for the kids that were rummaging around grandpa's basement back in the day and found all these good jazz vocal records just before the British Invasion hit. If you remember it being fun pretending you were in Vegas listening to swinging thrushes, Lewis has got some new memories for you. With the attitude of jazz divas past, she swings some well worn classics but not ones that have been beaten to death--along with a few welcome surprises in the song list. The energy and attitude she runs on the opening track is wild enough to get you applauding the record when the song finishes. Yeah, her act is that tight. Tasty stuff in the classic mode that wears it's influences proudly but owes a debt to no one. Right up the jazz vocal fan's alley.
BOB MARGOLIN with the Mike Sponza Band/Blues Around the World: What an interesting record! Margolin started out as a young man playing with the old, transplanted Delta bluesmen. He liked the career path so much he kept doing it until they all died off. Hooking up with an Italian blues man while touring the world who shared the same atavistic tastes, the two rev it up old school style on a set heavy on Margolin originals. Might this be what Mike Bloomfield would have given us if he hadn't wasted his gifts on the way told age? With 40 years in, Margolin could do this in his sleep, and might not be able to improve on it doing the same thing awake. A killer in-the-tradition blues migration era blues date that sifts out all the clich�s and gives you all of the wheat with none of the chaff. Blistering!
WEST OF MUSIC
WEST OF EDEN/Safe Crossing: A Swedish band with a Celtic soul, this crew makes the Celtic music on PBS seem like fine stuff but fine stuff for tourists. West of Eden is the real deal and Celtic fans on their own native soil have taken them to heart. Heartily organic in the way 80s bands like Golden Bough were, this is delightful music that will have you seeing leprechauns and unicorns while entertaining visions of romping through the heather. Adding a folk rock element to Celtica that fits and feels right, this set is predestined to become an adult listening fave with no effort at all. Certainly a top of the line genre set that doesn't waste a note throughout. A folkie fan must.
Volume 35/Number 141
March 10, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record
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