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SHERRI ROBERTS featuring Bliss Rodriguez/Lovely Days: This is a vocal piano date by two long time Bay area transplants that have been working together for the last six years but are making their first head on recording together. More piano bar than cabaret, this duo plays together most naturally, bringing out the best in each other as co-conspirators rather than Roberts taking the diva route. The program is mostly classic vocal numbers but Roberts isn't afraid to occasionally veer off the beaten path or reach back a little more than the run of the mill. Fun stuff from a pair of pros that could easily keep you hanging out until closing time.

JACK DeJOHNETTE/Special Edition: The jazz master who recently turned 70 is recipient of a lot of appreciation right now. Beating Legacy to the punch with their Miles Davis collection featuring the only recordings by the Quartet featuring DeJohnette and Dave Holland, ECM wraps up the four Special Edition sets into a four record special edition. With Amazon offering a mouth watering pre-release price, think about how to best use your Christmas Amazon gift cards. With ever changing personnel and ever changing modes, DeJohnette was on to something with this "side trip" that can only be fully appreciated when playing the oeuvre end to end. Always a cat you follow where ever he goes (his new age stuff isn't that far from his space stuff anyway), this is a stellarly played, wonderful jazz collection that colors mightily outside the lines even when you think it isn't. Covering all bases from deep tradition to the future, the formerly 17 year old drummer that owes his career to proof that luck is when preparation meets opportunity, this is one of those collections that will spoil your ears for anything less. He's one of the greats and this is a killer display of just some of what he's capable of.

BRIAN GRODER & TONINO MIANO/Fluidensity: It's arts council music time as a jazzbo with a trumpet and a classical cat with a piano join forces to wreck havoc on improv contemporary classical music. Diving in head first with nothing but simpatico between them, the tape is rolling and things are unspooling in real time. Contemporary classical is an acquired taste for most and improv jazz can be dicey in the wrong hands. This might not be for everyone, but the 20 fingers flying never let things roll off the rails in their excursions into far out states of mind. Appropriate Sunday afternoon music for aging edgy tastes, if you look into this music's eyes, it might take you places you've only seen in dreams.

ERIC CLAPTON/Slowhand 35th Anniversary Deluxe Edition: Try as you might, if you are so disposed, you can't even be snotty about this one. Possibly the high point of Clapton's 70s works where he successfully mixes art and commerce, the set kicks off with three non stop hits that are still hot tracks today and remains in high gear throughout. Accompanying the original edition with some bonus tracks is the 5.1 master, the complete Hammersmith concert from a week before the recording here began and a vinyl keepsake if you pop for the super deluxe edition and have that kind of nostalgia flowing through your bones. Clapton was why loads of kids took up guitar in the first place and this set is the culmination of a lot of journeys through a lot of places, loaded with highs, lows and in betweens that show what a real pro does when it's time to call. Hot stuff that is well worth the immersion process.

FRANK ZAPPA/You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore V. 3: This entry in the series is largely pulled from Zappa's 1984 tour, but it covers 15 years worth of ground, has the first stage sharing between Frank and Dweezil, splices the guitar solo FZ was playing when a crazed fan bum rushed the stage and threw FZ into the orchestra pit disabling him for the rest of that year and more. With five tunes that were given their first airing here, once again, this rollicking set is the next best thing to being there. Dickie gets his ass beat contemporaneously with the Broadway airing in real time and the band is in top form. This is a reissue of the original 1989 release with the 1993 masters in tow. Got all that?

FRANK ZAPPA/You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore V. 4: What can you say about a set that covers the 70s and 80s with the one of the crack 80s bands at the wheel and surprise guest spots from Dave Samuels and Archie Shepp? There's no real theme to this set other than having fun doing some hell raising. The pinnacle set that newbies can easily use an a gateway drug to this late period of Zappcapades, it's high octane and accessible at the way. Highly hot stuff, flammable even.

FRANK ZAPPA/You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore V. 5: The now and then entry in the series, disc one finds FZ reaching into his back pages to document a load of stuff from the early incarnation of the Mothers, fueled mostly with 1969 performances. Disc two is the 1982 line up of the band still getting gelled together but kicking ass and taking names. The kind of set you can make with the pressure off, it's a restless artist still pushing the boundaries acknowledging he lives in the commercial world and once in a while has to try and please everyone. Can it be done? Zappa/Mothers fans are a pretty passionate bunch and opinions are sure to fly once again as this hit's the street once again. In the end, who cares? Do you think a mad genius like this is going to be coming this way again soon? Enjoy the ride.

FRANK ZAPPA/You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore V. 6: In which we find Zappa winding up the series with two discs about sex and body functions. Hard to believe it's been 30 years already since she was in the band, but this set features live performances by Ron's daughter, Lisa Popeil, in her early 80s rock star turn. Crazy stuff, wild stuff and the kind of stuff that humor Zappa fans will go ape for, hearing old faves live and turned out big time.

Volume 36/Number 49
December 19, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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