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CHICHA LIBRE/Canibalismo: As pomo kids continue to fight boredom by rediscovering the groovy sounds of the 60s and filtering it through their own prism, this crew comes back for more on their second disc of spaghetti western/samba/crime jazz/kitchen sink fusion that is a crazy whirlwind that works so well. With B3 sounds (probably electronic) in full force and who knows what else, this international crew of pomo vets of long standing are out to amuse themselves. They invite you along for the ride. And what a ride it is! Tex Mex meets Jimmy Smith in Bahia and a good time is had by all. Check it out.

BENINGHOVE'S HANGMEN: Their music is getting played on Comedy Central as well as other places, and it's all locations where the linear isn't all that welcome. A dose of crime jazz in a world fueled by "Futurama", this is ‘jazz' that's not for the faint of heart. To call it free jazz is to under estimate it. This is ‘jazz' for college kids hoping to get blow jobs from art chicks.

ESPERANZA SPALDING/Radio Music Society: Yes, this is quite the great record, but let's take a minute to give Telarc props for giving Spalding room to develop as an artist even if she did arrive pretty much fully formed and props for them pushing hard to have her have a featured shot on the Grammys that laid to rest all doubts in the minds of those who hadn't yet heard her that she's the real deal. A nice, fat, well produced with no expense spared set, this is the set Norah Jones wishes she could have done as her initial follow up. Proving herself to be wise beyond her years, she draws from everything from church basement/civil rights jazz through now that made sense to synthesize a killer, wide reaching, all encompassing date that just kills. There's so much going on, you know you like it as you hear it, but it's going to take several listening to take it all in. This might well be the killer set of 2012. Hot stuff throughout. And let's not forget about the sweet DVD that comes with the special edition.

KATE CAMPBELL/1000 Pound Machine: Long the queen of the back 40, Campbell extends and assures her reign with this deceptively simple folk and more set that has the kind of guests and cohorts that you can't attract for love or money unless you really have something on the ball. Certainly her least radio ready set ever, but her deepest and most touching, this is music you sit and listen to when you want a cinematic experience for your head. As distinctly southern as anything Williams or Faulkner ever did, Campbell plainly and cleanly hits it out of the park with songs that must have been simmering for quite some time. A must hear if you are a fan of any aspect of the golden age of songwriting. Top shelf throughout.

BILL HARRIS QUINTET/Inside Out: A working musician mostly toiling in the hinterlands for longer than you've been alive, sax man Harris grew up eating small group jazz for the smaller jazz labels for breakfast. He's turned the cheap budgets behind those records into something intimate, swinging and full-blooded. This set finds him working out with his pals in Portland, Oregon, the stomping ground that finds him being the major domo grande fish in a small pond and delivering the goods like a cat that has sweated blood in New York for years. He's probably had a better lifestyle along the way which is also reflected in his music. A solid mainstream groover for hip cats that like it nice and easy and always inviting. Well done.

JIM CAPALDI/Short Cut Draw Blood-The Contender...Plus: An MVP often to be considered an underachiever on these shores, Raven continues it's celebration of the late Traffic rocker with two more of his 70s solo albums. Each of the albums was a touch too long to cram onto a single disc so they generously licensed enough stuff to fill out two discs to the max giving you the two featured albums, a slew of non lp singles, some of another album and still other lost stuff. The Island box set of last year, which went right to the source, covered the waterfront nicely for those who wanted to dig a little deeper without getting too committed, but Raven is extending the lineage for the uber fan who has been short changed over the years. Long on 70s rock/jazz with AM radio hopes, Capaldi knew the ropes and uses that savvy to rope in sidemen who never let you down. Tasty mid 70s stuff that would have made much more of an impact stateside if Island didn't have such spotty distribution in those days when they went it alone. If you didn't like bombast in the 70s, you certainly will like this now. Check it out.

VANESSA PEREZ/Chopin-The Complete Preludes: Grown up alert! This Venezuelan classical pianist is following in the footsteps of the killer classical players that have been coming out of the area in recent years and she shows she can hold her own with any of them. Treating the Chopin preludes seriously but presenting them in a living, breathing fashion, she finds the power in the quiet and delivers a stunning session that will leave you breathless as it's purely breath taking. A solidly winning collection throughout and the rising of a new classical piano star.

AARON NOVIK/Secrets of Secrets: So what brings hell raisers like Novik, Fred Frith, Ben Goldberg and others together in this day and age? Delving into 13th century Kabbalah, of course. Handled in a more scholarly and serious manner than Madonna could ever muster, it often sounds like the soundtrack of a ghost story movie that still hasn't been produced. This seems like a good place to remind you not to make a deal with a dybbyk when you are at the crossroads.

Volume 35/Number 143
March 12, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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