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AARON LEWIS/The Road: The guy from Staind shows off his tats, but he does it under a ball cap and behind a country attitude and sound claiming a return to his roots. Sounding like Hank Jr on an introspective kick, he's on Hank Jrs new label home, has earned his country cred hanging out with George Jones and Charlie Daniels and now steps up to deliver the goods in a crossover move that would make Jerry Lee Lewis proud is it's in the footsteps of his rock to country move (without the surrounding scandal). Commercial country with heart, the kid from Massachusetts knows how to make it right from the heartland. Well done.

BOB ARTHURS & STEVE LAMATTINA/Jazz for Svetlana: See what happens when you aren't paying attention? I gave Jackie Gleason credit for being hipper than he was. I always thought the theme music for "American Scene" was a whore house version of "Nuages" and it was a Gleason original called "Melancholy Serenade". Blimey! So, here we have a guitar/trumpet duo recording of a some originals and some standards. Why? Because the producer made it as a birthday present for his wife and told the players to do what ever they wanted with the copies. Screw you, Kickstarter? This duo has been playing together for a long time so they know each other's moves. For what's basically a non record, it's a nice way to spend some time that makes you feel like you're in a hip restaurant that doesn't give a whit about the fiscal cliff lurking out there, even if it's bandstand is getting a little more claustrophobic. A nice offbeat set of fun jazz that feels like it's off the clock and that there's a (small) party going on.

LAURA OSNES/Dream a Little Dream: Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone can bowl you over with intensity. Translating that to something intimate is something that many have tried but few have succeeded at. Osnes has this wonderful plucky charm that finds her grabbing a Tony nomination for a show that flopped and is sure to make her a multi platform, hyphenate star on the Broadway/cabaret/vocalist axis. Comfortably at home with the classics, this Minnesota export (kind of like Linda, huh Frank?) is not only the classic's new best friend but Broadway and cabaret's new best friend as well. What separates her record from a lot of others is that others come across as souvenirs of a good time, this is a record you can play over and over. This is a stone cold winner that goes the distance and is a first class party on a platter. And we got to know her via a reality talent show? Check it out, cabaret fan or not.

RJ KNAPP & HONEY ROBIN/Don't Blame the Dynamite if You Can't Light the Fuse: Don't tell this old white guy in Seattle he don't have the blues. He'll round up a bunch of his biker buddies and show you who has the blues. A power blues show band relying heavily on originals, this bunch is a gasser that really know how to being the electric, amped up bluz (their word). No fair, Knapp probably bugged my phone and knew in advance I'd be partial to a record with a song called "Son of a Mother Fucking Bitch". This bunch will get your blood flowing and keep you up all night. Once again we find the future of the blues is in good hands. Hot stuff.

FRANCHESCA ROBI/Remembering the Platters-Songs of My Father: When you're dealing with a Natalie Cole, a Monica Mancini, a Tommy LiPuma and a big budget, tipping the cap to your pop can look real easy. When you're doing it all on your own with a lot of heart and soul, the results can be equally as pleasing. Returning to the Capitol studios where the Platters cut their first and subsequent hits, the Robi daughter brings a fine voice and a good attitude, along with a 35 piece band to tip the cap to her pop, who was the Platters. With the same kind of sincerity Hank Jr brings to a project of his pop's songs, this one might be in a different church and a different pew but the vibe is the same. This is a mighty tasty look back at a time and a place by someone that was not only there but has it all in her blood. Not just for oldies fans at all.

TREVOR McSHANE/Evolution of Cool: Busman's holiday alert. They used to say that all rock critics wanted to be rock stars. McShane was a rock critic during those days 40 years back. And he was a dj, many of which were also accused of wanting to be rock stars. In his secret identity as Neville Johnson, a crusader rabbit artist's rights Beverly Hills lawyer, he probably still wants to be a rock star. So, he does a rolodex round up and puts out a record that fulfills those desires. McShane/Johnson has studied his easy going folk/rock clients well over the years. Ever wonder what Hoyt Axton would sound like doing "Beyond the Sea"? He put up, so shut up and let him have his fun. None of his clients are going to accuse him of conflict of interest by trying to have a musical career and it's better than a lot of the other stuff we trip across.

HAL GALPER TRIO/Airegin Revisited: A veteran of the neo classic Blue Note era via his long affiliation with Sam Rivers, Galper rounds up some free jazz pals to round out his trio that takes us back to the good old days. Following up what might have been his career record, Galper and his pals keep it well away from the church basement with a set that has such a solid clarity of purpose that your ears won't let you hit the pause button. Focusing on a piano trio, post bop mandate that puts it all front and center, this is a sparkling set that offers a new gold standard for sitting down jazz that'll make the hairs in your ears stand on end. A winner throughout.

ERIN HASAN/8: A classically trained soprano that wanted to grow up and be a Disney heroine but wound up making her mark on Australia's version of Broadway steps out with her debut set of familiar standards. Sounding like she should be doing duets with Robert Goulet (before he passed, of course), Hasan has the voice and style that are equally suited for stage or Disney--or Disney on stage. This is the debut of a rising star for urbane tastes.

Volume 36/Number 18
November 18, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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