DAN PHILLIPS BKK TRIO/Bangkok Edge: An old friend of this broadside used to love playing Bangkok and would spend months at a time unleashing his groove in the Thailand nights. This highly original guitar man must have found the same thing in the water as our old pal as he's now teaching over there and playing with pretty much of an international cast in his band. This dude plays like he's Wes in the 21st century. This is a totally tasty date that strays to the left edge of straight ahead and delights throughout. Relying mostly on covers that he imbues with loads of originality, there's no lack of taste, chops and invention powering this session. Check it out.
KEVIN EUBANKS/The Messenger: At this stage of a 30 year career that's gone by in the blink of an eye, Eubanks is in a position to make a one for me record, but he makes one that everyone can enjoy. Rather than pursuing a straight up jazz agenda, he genre blends and mixes it up, never really straying far from jazz and funk but injecting his own personality first and foremost. Surrounded by long time, comfy pals and relatives, Eubanks goes well beyond the smooth jazz/biz jazz pale serving up a smoking guitar driven set that just doesn't know when to quit. It's the kind of set that makes all hours into after hours. He's out to validate Duke Ellington's postulate that the only kinds of music are good and bad. Eubanks left the bad out here. Well done.
MADELINE EASTMAN-RANDY PORTER/A Quiet Thing: If you didn't know this was Eastman's seventh album, you might just be saying 'did someone say we needed another vocal/piano duet album by a sassy redhead covering the oldies?' And you might just be a douche for saying that. With a glowing bunch of collaborators on her past releases, she might be new to you but she isn't new to knowing which end is up. As time moves on, the 60s and 70s are just as much of a prime source of oldies as the war years, and there's nary a Beatles cover in ear shot. Easy to pigeon hole as a cabaret set, this is more of a spotlight vocal set, heavy on ballads that delivers the goods, even when the songs weren't originally ballads. Vocal fans in search of a slice of nirvana (with a small N) won't be disappointed if they look for it here. The right stuff throughout.
THORCRAFT COBRA/Count It In: Nu power pop with a helping hand from Sparks hit's the target. Featuring a big, bold, sound that cuts through the sonic clutter and marks it's turf, even when the duo dials it back, they command your attention. A buzz band that could easily have more to look back on in ten years than memories, they feel like they are making the rules by defying them. Fun stuff that really gets the blood flowing and will not be denied.
ONWARD CHARIOTS/This is My Confession: And so the backlash sets in. In this age of streaming singles and talent shows, this well traveled crew pools their talents and comes up with a concept album that follows in the footsteps of 70s concept bands like Styx and Supertramp but leaves the cheese at the front door (for the rats to nibble?) Sure, you could see them opening for Kansas instead of Starcastle. It's like that. With better hooks. Nu nostalgia for those who don't think the 90s are far enough back and well played to boot. And the concept is about a doomed love affair without any shoe gaze in the mix.
HIROMI/Move: Other than calling her a wildly, uninhibited player, pinning Hiromi down is no easy task. Recording a second album in a row with the same players, this is the closest she's come to having a band--even though she remains front and center, the vibes that comes from the interplay and trust push her to the new levels her believers always knew she was capable of. A high octane, piano fronted set, pushing herself just makes her hit more and more and more of the right chords. A wonderfully dizzy joyride that isn't shy about genre blending several energetic jazz forms into a stew where the tastes mix well but retain their original character, contemporary jazz is on a mighty roll here. A winner throughout and quite likely the best entry in her canon yet.
MUDDY WATERS/You Shook Me-The Chess Masters V. 3 1958-63: Hard to believe Waters cut only 50 songs in 5 years, but that is as much as five albums. Even if they were cutting like crazy and he was a big thing in this time frame, it does seem like a thin output. But it isn't a lacking output. Recording techniques were improving and when paired with today's mastering techniques, it makes for a present, live sound that blows the dust off other recordings from the same period. With some previously unreleased tracks scattered into the mix, Waters has his mojo working serving up the riffs that set the standards others turned into clichés. Presented unfiltered and by the pound, some of the stuff might be a touch misguided but there's never a misfire making for a highly impressive output. With these sides under his belt, he could make a claim like "I am the blues" and you wouldn't be able to shoot him down. Killer stuff that's great to have brought into the present.
TIM WARFIELD/Jazzy Christmas: With a bunch of different arts council funding underpinning it all, Warfield didn't let that stop him from delivering a funky Christmas with a guest list that has A list written all over it. A really groovy after hours jazzbo Christmas, this tough tenor has been around the block enough times to know how to get it done and get it done right. The song list has no surprises, except for "The Dreidel Song", but what pops out of the grooves is entirely another matter. A groovier Christmas than this is going to be hard to find. By all means, add this to your holiday music list.
Volume 36/Number 45
December 15, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record
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