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RADIO JAROCHO/Café Café: Well gringos, it time for something different. Or is it different? This crew is committed to the traditional music of Mexico. Not jive, folklore stuff but the sound of the streets before hip hop sprouted everywhere. This sounds like what was playing when I was hijacked in Acapulco to some back alley ‘nightclub' where local musicians were backing up the dancers giving it their all to beguile with swirling skirts. The music was authentic and was a nice break from vacation music for tourists played at seaside restaurants. This is that music. Dug it then, dig it now. For a taste of real Mexico that might be fading into history (haven't been back in years), check this out while it's still played by players who have a pulse connected with the original sound. Well done.

CHICK COREA & GARY BURTON/Hot House: Some people do it for the victory lap, some people do it because they need the money and some people do it because it just doesn't make sense not to---and that's where we come in on Corea's latest collaboration to come ambling out of the past. Celebrating 40 years since a chance encore brought them together as players, Corea and Burton reteam for only their eighth duo recording in all that time with spectacular results. Fueled by musical simpatico, chops galore and a focus on serving the music first, the low key fire on display here powers a smoking hot jazz/adult date of first rate piano/vibe dueting that can't be beat. The set list wanders all over the map with the lodestar being choosing stuff by there fave composers, just dipping one toe into their own songbag, and charms completely. Leave it to old timers to know how to do so much with so little and make it all work grandly. One of the best new jazz releases of the year, hands down.

ALISON WEDDING/This Dance: A fellow traveler of all the hipper New York jazzbos, Wedding redefines contemporary jazz vocal with a cabaret/Disney Broadway edge. Grandpa, who digs Chris Connor, will resent this as a father's day gift, but it's made for hipsters, not broken hips. Pomo jazz vocal from a singer that can sing the phone book, it's a breath of fresh air for those ready, willing and able to breathe deeply.

DEBBIE DAVIES/After the Fall: The hot blues momma comes back from a broken arm with a new, mostly original album, on a new label. After 30 years, she knows all the right moves to make, but they don't sound like moves. They sound organic and like she still loves her work. With a slew of awards and award nominations to back up all claims of greatness, this blonde bombshell of fine wine just keeps improving with age. A trendsetter of a set, contemporary blues has to be glad to have Davies as a leading light as this set really shows the way. Hot stuff throughout.

OMAR AKRAM/Echoes of Love: Recent marriage hasn't convinced Omar to grow in his hair but it has got him to add his last name to the record cover, and, oh yeah, really embrace world jazz as part of his sound. Landing somewhere in a gulf that fuses flamenco with middle eastern with amorphous world jazz, Akram serves up a winning combination that makes great adult alternative listening. Light years away from his early new agy roots, this is full bodied music that'll stand on it's own legs away from the yoga mats. Irresistible stuff that never lets you down.

JAZZANOVA/Funkhaus Studio Sessions: Screw with your friends. Play this for them. Don't tell them what it is, but ask them to identify which 70s soul session this is. Sounding like competitive soul music that was trying to keep it's foothold against disco (yeah, from that era), this bunch of Germans do a wonderful job of recreating a sound of a time and place that had a lot on the ball, even as it was being forced to fly under the radar. Wonderfully fun stuff for anyone that was touched by the music of that era and was sad to see it go. Check it out.

STORY CITY/Time & Materials: Not the same sound as early Spyro Gyra but certainly the same spirit, just transplanted to nearly 40 years later. Originally coming together to learn some difficult fusion licks for fun and to eat BBQ, the germ of a band idea was planted. Sounding expert at jazz/rock, fusion and all the accoutrements that are appurtenant thereto (whew!, what a mouthful), these guys deliver a great summer record that makes it feel like summer all year long. On the money throughout without needing or adding any bells and whistles, these cats are here to play and are always welcome to do so. Killer stuff with plenty on the ball.

NICK VAYENAS: Anyone too hip for the room has often wondered why Michael Buble can be so big. They write it off to hype. Now comes another of his loyal musical backers and we can see that Buble can charm the bubbies because he's got such a great eye for talent, especially talent that can make him look so good seamlessly. Swinging a wild trombone and trumpet in an improv/after hours setting, Vayenas can swing like a junkie jazzbo as easily as he can play to thousands of bubbies at once. Certainly we're down with the up close and personal side of Vayenas and he does a great job of blowing the dust off jaded ears. This takes you back to a time when it was ok to smoke in clubs and stay out all night just to dig the groove. Well done.

Volume 35/Number 237
June 15, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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