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BENNETT PASTER/Relentless Pursuit of the Beautiful: A jazz piano man and his downtown pals show jazz is alive and well in Brooklyn as they flex their contemporary jazz wings in a program that offers diversity without being jarring as they move through the grooves. Well honed, nice stuff that is right on the money sitting down jazz that you don't have to relegate to the background.

BONEY JAMES/The Beat: Label hopping again since the last time we heard from him, James enlists the usual suspects to lend a hand but he also reaches outside to box to toughen up his sound for tough times. Widening the lens to add Latin and R&B to the mix, as well as other touches to grab more radio play, James mixes commercial smarts with street smarts yielding the kind of set that long time fans won't feel abandoned by as they take the journey with him. His winning ways continue and are in good hands for appreciative ears.

TOM SCHUMAN/Designated Planets: You know the sound but you can't place the name... That's because you never read the liner notes on Spyro Gyra albums, he's been in the band since he was 17. Subsequently launching a parallel solo career, Schuman knows the moves, doesn't wander far off the reservation so much as stretch his wings on things that don't fit into the proper group format and otherwise serves up a nice dose of fusion fun. Solid stuff that can't miss with fusion fans.

TIM BUCKLEY/Sefronia: Here's a confusing, late period entry in the canon that's one for the real fans. They really were thinking they could take Buckley's hard core fan base and use it to springboard him into being a full on pop star. Backing him up with funky players aiming for AM radio, the producers hinted at the glories past trying to set the stage for glories to come but it was a little too late and you were never going to turn Buckley into a funky James Taylor. He was game to try but wound up with one of those something for everyone releases that just didn't know which direction it was reaching in. Certainly not one for the masses but the hard core will be pleased and have something to discuss.

BEN SIDRAN/Don't Cry for No Hipster: I haven't heard all 35 of Sidran's albums, but this is the first one where he sounds comfortable in his own musical skin. Turning his inner Mose Allison loose in Brooklyn, the underlying concept here is old school hipster meeting new school hipster and letting the fur fly as world's collide. It works. It's delightful. It colors so gleefully outside the lines that the vibe and the energy are irresistible. If this is what he's been working toward all these years, no one can tell him it wasn't a life well spent. This would be a penultimate set for anyone. Killer stuff.

DAVID WEISS & Point of Departure/Venture Inward: We just finished listening to the latest entry in the Miles Davis authorized bootleg series and this young trumpet man captures that 1969 Miles spirit quite nicely. Lingering in the vaults for five years since it's recording, it's music that exists outside of time lines so it doesn't sound dated, especially since it's capturing a sound and fury from another time and place. When you're standing the shadows of Miles, it takes a lot of chops not to come across as a copy cat and Weiss is doing a fine job of chopping away. A must for the bitches brewing in everyone.

SEAN NOWELL/The Kung-Fu Masters: Breath taking electric jazz/funk with the sax man giving as much time to the B3 as he does to his own axe. Kicking it with a funked up treatment that turns Hendrix on his head, the good vibes continue to flow in non-stop fashion as the party rolls on and gate crashers try to work their way in. A super sonic stew that really gets the blood flowing, Nowell finds himself on surer footing with each new release. A tasty, smoking winner throughout.

WILLIAM BUSH/Greenback Dollar: Sure, anybody can sit down and write a tome about The Kingston Trio but if you want to have one of those Randy Taraborrelli minute by minute/good, bad and ugly bios, if your name isn't Bob Shane, Allan Shaw or Ben Blake, then your name better be Bill Bush, member of the Kingston Trio Legacy Project. He's been writing about the band for 40 years and his files and extensive interviews done over decades make for one of the most comprehensive music bios with first hand sources this side of the massive Steve Goodman bio. Taking you deeply behind the scenes of a band that was one of the greatest money and influence making corporations of all time, it's interesting they were the biggest band ever until their upstart label mates, Beatles, came along and supplanted them. Think about this, Paul McCartney get a respectful guest spot on The Simpsons but Kingston Trio gets treated as a punch line on the same show. Talk about the effects of crossing the Kennedy assassination generational divide! With the resurgence of folk music today, young whippersnappers owe it to themselves to spend a little time behind the scenes with the Trio to find out why they have more than Etta Baker and Hedy West record to listen to today, that the music business was always about business and other truths about people that never change no matter what. This well researched, well written tome is more than a dusty trip down musty hallways as the Trio's music is still vital today even if their catalog isn't getting the love other 50 year old masters get from record companies. Well done throughout.

Volume 37/Number 97
February 6, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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