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MOP MOP/Isle of Magic: Here's a wonderful slice of hippie ethic for you. This bunch sounds like they come from the wilds of some voodoo or South pacific island but is a crew that's anything but. Take the old time exotica, give it new sonics and pomo smarts, sprinkle some Don Tiki attitude and let bake--while you get baked. This is delightfully crazy faux world beat that plays out as a movie in your mind. The perfect antidote to your girl friend and her serious bellydance records, this is the jungle, or the Amazon or something like that---and it's wild baby. Some of the most fun to come along on a non-comedy record in quite a while. Don't miss it!

NEW AMERICAN FARMERS/Brand New Day: A nice mash up of Socal country rock and new grass with a lite Byrds patina (probably courtesy of guest Gene Parsons) that falls right in the classic pocket. An audio ride in the country, this is a sound and vibe that we wouldn't mind seeing return with the revoguing of folk music these days.

ANTONIO SANCHEZ/New Life: The drummer that everyone from the jazz underground to the jazz overground loves to give some takes a time out to show what he can do on his own as a player and a writer. With a biting left of center edge, Sanchez and his downtown pals show their progressive chops are up to speed as they take it outside the mainstream and hit it out of the park. A solid creative effort that gives sitting down jazz a good name.

JAWANZA KOBIE/Feels Better Than it Sounds: Somebody better give this cat a lesson in how to create album titles. I mean in this Twittercentric world... Anyway, his take on contemporary, smooth jazz is a nice one. He might not be trying to set the world on fire but he knows his way around happy hour jazz and this is the stuff those snazzy young professionals in beer commercials will be drinking with their ears as they shrug off the day and plan hook ups over hors d'ouevers. Nice stuff that perfectly accomplished what it sets out to do

JOE CLARK BIG BAND featuring Jeff Hamilton/Lush: Not only did I think they didn't know about jazz in Lockport, IL., I didn't think anyone that came from there could swing while being a university teacher in the big bad city. Chicago being what it is, it sucks that this killer cat has to have a day job to support this fine playing (believe me as a local, it's no slam on Clark). And don't go thinking Jeff Hamilton is slumming and patronizing schlepping his drums out to the provinces for a pay check. His playing says anything but. Totally a killer big band date that would have Marty Paich and the rest of his ilk giving their stamp of approval, this is what the big band muso has been hungry for. A winner throughout.

THE BATTLE OF SANTIAGO/Followed by Thousands: What do you do with groovy and cool instrumental music that isn't world beat, new age, NAC or anything else but actually a little of everything? How about enjoy it? With an underlying vibe that feels clipped from an old Clutch Cargo cartoon, this unique set is not for the moldy figs of the world beat side of things but anyone that knows what it is to use Starbucks as their office will simply go nuts having this pump through their headphones while beating up that laptop. A real gasser for the open eared with a sense of humor.

GRAY YOUNG/Bonfire: Pomo prog rock. Not stinting on the wall of sound, if you can imagine Mannheim Steamroller with a heavy metal ethos, you'll know exactly what to expect here. Wild stuff for young ears testing the limits beyond teen pop servitude.

LUKE CELENZA/Back & Forth: Only 21 with a slew a chops tucked under his belt, Celenza serves up a set of originals showing that he has Monk in his blood and isn't in a hurry to go commercial while he still has the freedom to stretch his wings and see where he soars. Quite a heady debut from a cat that sounds like he's going to go the distance.

Volume 37/Number 96
February 5, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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