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ROBERT HURST/Bob-A Palindrome: Once upon a time, most of the top jazzbos were junkies and it was believed you had to suffer for your art. Now, a whole lot of the big jazzbos are university professors and if they are doing any suffering, it's having to face the jazz police and tell them they have a day job and life is pretty peachy. Hurst, a bass player that has been behind a lot of the top pop jazz contemporary sounds, climbs down off his university perch to call in a slew of his all star pals and turn out a smooth, solid date of moving, grooving jazz that's right in the pocket. Originally recorded in 2001 but side tracked by things like working in the Tonight Show band, touring, and the normal ebb and flow of life, this session with Branford Marsalis, Jeff Watts, Marcus Belgrave, Bennie Maupin and a few others like that kind of got pushed aside. While a lot of this could be edging civil rights jazz, it's civil rights jazz for the Obama era with the music bursting with pride and inclusion. With unmistakable commercial chops at the core, this set is guided by sure hands that know how to deliver properly without making it feel slick or hollow. Well done.

TREVOR MOORE/Drunk Texts to Myself: People that know Moore from The Tonight Show or sketch comedy might have trouble dealing with this if they aren't hard core fans. Taking comedy to the next level, Moore abandons stand up and sketch for musical mash up comedy. He's not your father's Allen Sherman musical comedy cat. Don't take this to mean Moore isn't funny as he rips on Tom Hanks, Justin Bieber, the American Revolution and everything else he feels like dissing. Not one to shy away from anything, if you are willing to abandon your preconceived notions of what to expect from a comedy record, your open eared open mindedness will be repaid many times over. When it's not creative just for the sake of creativity it gets points right there. Listen closely and you'll hear this goes way beyond that. Check it out for something completely different that works as well.

ELIANE ELIAS/I Thought About You: As much as I look forward to each new Elias album, I wasn't sure what to expect here. The opening piano riffs were comforting and they soon eased all fears this vocal tribute to Chet Baker was ill conceived and would roll off the rails. The Brazilian accented vocals give this an insouciance that keeps this from being a museum piece or a desperate career move. With a smart crew underpinning it all with some easy rolling cocktail jazz, these pros make it look way easier than it is and a good time is had by all. The familiarity on paper of the material and Elias' easy charm at the mic make what could have easily turned into a gift shop record into something way much more. Taken separately, it's easy to think the elements here wouldn't work, but when put together this elegantly, the sum of the parts become grandly greater than the whole. A real left field winner that's sure to raise eyebrows as Elias breaks new ground in a most unexpected way.

AMANDA BRECKER/Blossom: You know how kids have to rebel. Amandapanda finally comes into the family business but rather than follow in mom's Brazilian footsteps or dad's fusion footsteps or either of their jazz footsteps, the apple falls from the tree and roils up against one of Norah Jones' original major domos who rounds up a few generations of James Taylor sidemen and comes in for her stateside debut with a set of Taylor/Carole King early 70s covers. A pleasing album but a quizzical album for those that know the flow of her bloodlines.

EMMYLOU HARRIS & RODNEY CROWELL/Old Yellow Moon: Two old pals and an ex-husband gather around the kitchen table 40 years later as equals with nothing to prove and sound better than they have in years--years that were covered with plenty of high spots. With other old pals invited into the mix a well, it becomes so damn clear why those 70s Harris albums were so special and enduring. It wasn't just the times, it was them and what they were bringing to the table. For any artist thinking of competing with their younger selves, this set raises the bar for everyone. If you were hoping to have a secret glee that this might sound arthritic and creaky, turn around and go home now. This is about as primal as you can get with all the miles that have been traveled since the good old days. Listen and learn. This is killer stuff.

TOM JANS/Loving Arms Best of 1971-82: Jans wan voice kept him a little under the radar as an artist in the 70s but what he did with a pen wasn't wan at all. Mostly remembered for the title track here, one of the 70s soft rock classics recorded by almost everybody, Raven does a fine job of showing off one of the few cats to be immortalized by Tom Waits. Pulling in sides from all his recorded output, including an obscure Japan only release, this is a fine look at one who was an integral part of the singer/songwriter years that deserves to be more than a footnote.

RITA COOLIDGE/Satisfied-Heartbreak Radio-Never Let You Go: With three records on a twofer cd rounding out Coolidge's A&M years, this is obviously the next best thing to a box set if you smoosh all three Raven collections together. With "I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love" and "Fool that I Am" worth the price of admission on it's own, there are other hits that found traction through the disco/record biz collapse of 1979 and beyond. Now to be looked back as a text book example of period LA pop, these warm, wonderful sides reflect a skill and art that seems to be falling by the wayside faster and faster every day. Hell, if there's anybody that could interpret Bob Seger and Boy George on the same disc, who else could pull it off but the former Mrs. Kristofferson? Some of the stuff that pop dreams are made of.

HEMEL: As jaded as we all have become, who would have thought some solid soft core Euro porn told through a woman's perspective of using aimless sex to quell the quest for intimacy would produce the old schwing factor in spades? With all the hallmark Euro porn storytelling/story moving elements in place brought forward with today's production values, Artspolitation delivers another under the radar pic that real film buffs would go out of their way for to sate the need for guilty pleasures the multiplex just doesn't get. With literally something for everyone, progressive cineaste division, this pic hits on all eight. No wonder it's been cleaning up at all the festivals you'd like to be at.

JAY & SILENT BOB GET IRISH: I'm beginning to think Kevin Smith is the new Jerry Garcia. Recorded in the same sprint through Great Britain that produced ‘Jay & Silent Bob Get Old", this move down the road from London to Dublin produces the swearing of the green and finds them doing the same show, basically, but never doing the same show twice ala the Dead. The difference between Smith and, say, Elvis Costello is that Smith was never an angry, young man and never came on like he had something to prove. He may have had an us against them chip on his shoulder, but there's always going to be uses and thems. While Costello got long in the tooth trying to continue to prove he was this years model, Smith kept on in his back of the classroom ways, not getting bitter, but continuing to point out the emperor had on no clothes as he grew disillusioned with his heroes and institutions. And continuing to leave a ton of funny, seemingly off the cuff shit in his wake, even as he turned himself into tabloid fodder. And so Smodsters, Smith and Mewes are at it again. A seemingly cleaned up Mewes is even more funny as he's coming at you without the stoner haze coming between you and him. Smith continues to be the everyman of the pomo generation. The laughs flow fast and furious. I think this is the fifth evening with type DVD and Smith can feel free to keep his promise to retire from directing movies. This might be one of the best times you can have with your clothes on while on the couch. Ssssh, they even throw in a bonus show from Vegas.

Volume 37/Number 129
March 10, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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