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ANNE HILLS/The Things I Notice Now: Tom Paxton has some good friends. 20 years ago, Carolyn Hester did a nice heartfelt tribute to Paxton that would be the devil to find now. His erstwhile ‘bandmate', Anne Hills, steps in now to fill the Paxton tribute void. Coming at the material with a whole different flavor, she surrounds herself with a load of her own old friends that play for her in a like minded way. Kind of a Paxton back pages set, Hills shied away from the easy commercial choices and zeroed in on the fave album tracks and hidden gems making this a side entry of a ‘new' Paxton album. One of America's greatest contemporary songwriters, he may seem a touch under the radar to too many but this set proves the point once again that those in the know really know. A sweet set that's a real folkie treat.

KIM & REGGIE HARRIS/Resurrection Day: This duo has done something remarkable here. After nearly 40 years of singing about black struggles, black history and black rights (and the deprivation of them), they have come out with a civil rights album that's actually inspired by Reggie's battle with liver disease and subsequent recovery from liver transplant. Add in some songs by Phil Ochs, reach backs to songs from the 30s economic depression and other things that should come across as heavy handed and what do you get? A killer contemporary civil rights record that doesn't hit you over the head, doesn't shove you into the church basement and doesn't force you to participate in marches. Civil rights music for the Internet age? It's remarkable in that they created a musical statement with a message, and you don't find yourself rolling your eyes. "Kumbiya" is dead? The struggle for rights by everyone is an on going thing but the generally positive and uplifting messages here hit the mark and don't leave scars. A wonderful album that anyone who doesn't listen to death metal exclusively needs a taste of badly. Killer stuff throughout and a real career topper. It might be folk flavored but it goes way beyond folk music.

JOE GILMAN/Relativity: It might be a conceit I just don't get. Gilman says his music is inspired by works of art. Well...there have been impressionistic musics in the past--but I don't know. Here he says these works are inspired by M. C. Escher. I don't know. I do know it's a bopping, swinging piano led date where the leaders knows how to step aside and give everyone some, yielding a solid set that is a winner for mainstream jazzbos that like it with some pepper. It's ok with us if he says this was inspired by Escher, but we've always figured Escher would sound like a head trip, not swinging jazz. That's the upside of this being America where we can think what we want. I think this set is a winner by a dyed in the wool jazzbo that has the track record and the chops to know which end is up. Check it out, even if you don't know anything about fine art.

TODD MARCUS/Inheritance: He plays clarinet but he plays it like a sax. And he likes that underground, New York progressive edge that finds him in the company of many of the leading progressive cats. Playing it out there but not so far out there that you can't relate, this is a high octane excursion through the basement clubs of New York where the sounds abounds. Hard hitting stuff that might be sitting down jazz but is not made to be taken lightly. A dandy wild ride throughout.

FREDDIE BRYANT & KALEIDOSCOPE/Live Grooves... Epic Tales: A first call guitarist for a lot of jazz heavy hitters, Bryant shows up with a multi-influenced date that is clearly instrumental music but is so close to the edge of jazz that you almost hesitate to call it jazz. Loaded with world elements, Bryant is apparently a world beater at heart as he gives a great guided tour through the world's back alleys that exist in the mind of the armchair traveler. Tasty stuff that never crosses the line into girl friend music, this is world beat with bite that could easily entice the most ardent world beat avoider. Well done.

INTERNATIONAL STRING TRIO/Movie Night: From Russia, England and Japan they came with violin, bass and guitar in hand to make a classy sounding, swinging trip through the world of soundtracks. Just picking out tunes that lend themselves nicely to their talents, there's no real theme to this other than these three cats know how to play and play well. Certainly a sassy little set that delivers the goods, this is the musical candy bar the musical diabetic has been good all day to savor after dinner. Lick your lips, say ‘mmmmmmm', sit back and enjoy. Solid stuff throughout.

RANDY KLEIN/What's Next?: The piano man that likes doing duets splits this new entry in his duet series into a duet of duets, one with a guitar player the other with a bass player. Forget the gimmicks, Klein is a solid piano man and this format showcases a nice slice of brilliance on a budget. You have to have a taste for miniatures to get the point here as his playing is juicy enough to be more than just a solo instrument and the coloration adds nicely. Juicier than Sunday in the parlor stuff, not wet enough to enjoy careening through traffic on a Friday afternoon, this is simply a solid listening date for when life's noise has just gotten to be too much.

TARA LINDA/Torch and Sass: With an affinity for the 30s and a voice like Astrid Gilberto, Linda mixes her modes and methods with an amazingly intoxicating delivery that doesn't have you caring whether she's doing originals you don't have a clue about but sound vaguely familiar or not. On a program of all originals, once you get past the initial magic, you are left with the real deal. Tasty, deceptively easy stuff that might be filigree on the outside but is as sturdy as a spider web on the inside. Pioneering nu torch music, Linda is a must to keep an ear on for any jazzy vocal fan. Well done.

Volume 35/Number 361
October 26, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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