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DOROTHY DORING & PHIL MATTSON/Compositions by Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn: Doring, one of the prime movers in the Minneapolis cabaret scene, brings her skills to the fore in this vocal/piano duet highlighting songs by Ellington & Strayhorn. Avoiding obvious choices as well as tent poles that wouldn't fit the format, contemporary ears will probably find this to be a tour down some of Ellington's side streets, but that's what the march of time does. Right in the pocket for the cabaret fan that's pretty sure there's something out there other than Porter and Sondheim (not that there's anything wrong with that).

ANDY POXON/Tomorrow: Looking more like someone that would have been discovered by Carrot Top than Duke Robillard, this 18 year old blues/roots guitar slinger seems like the perfect example of someone that put in his 10,000 hours to master something as even without Robillard at the wheel, he might not have such a polished product under his arm but he'd probably be just as impressive. Even having a sense of humor about his youth and looks, he gets in his licks at the chick who dumped him and how she'll be sorry when he's riding high. A heady brew of youthful exuberance and maturity that's wise beyond his years, this is sure to bring new kids into the blues tent. He might be one of their own but he knows where he's going. Check it out.

CHRIS GRECO QUARTET/Trane of Thought: One of those cats that's been woodsheding long enough is now taking it to the streets in fine style. Paying tribute to Coltrane, but not doing a tribute album, this is a set of this sax player's originals that's as influenced by star gazing as it is by Coltrane. Tending toward the commercial side of free jazz, you can see hipsters letting this surge through their Ipods proudly as too much dissonance would interfere with their caffeine buzz anyway. Tasty stuff for left leaning ears open to some new directions.

KASTNING SZABO MAJOR/Becoming: Everything about this set screams ECM at you. If the Windham Hill overtone is in the grooves, Kastning has put in his time with Alex deGrassi and Mike Manring. If you're too young to have experienced the legend making era of ECM, you can start your own legend years with Greydisc with this set. Kevin Kastning earns his spurs once again as the reigning modern guitarist in the country. A low key, left leaning progressive jazz date by a trio that is very much on the same page, this is the killer example of art music that doesn't carry the baggage and the stigma. Killer stuff that delivers much more along these lines than you could imagine without sitting down and giving this your full attention.

MIKE ARROYO JAZZ ORGAN TRIO/Full Circle: The veteran jazz guitarist that likes to bring the church to jazz changes things up this time out with an organ trio that not only is a jumping crew, the other two members of the band have worked with Jimmy Heath among a host of other jazzbo luminaries. A sure way to being people into the church is not to hit them over the head with it and some of these tunes don't sound anything like the originals, especially dry versions of the originals. In case you were wondering if you could swing for Christ, this set goes a long, solid way to answer in the affirmative.

CHARNETT MOFFETT/The Bridge: If it wasn't Moffett and it wasn't on Motema, when I tell you this is a solo bass record, this is the part where you'd roll your eyes and go ‘really?'. Funny thing is, with no place to hide, you really get to hear what a hypnotizing player Moffett is. It might not be for everyone but it works in it's own unique way. This is certainly the recital you never pictured yourself sitting through.

JULIANN KUCHOCKI/Blue Girl Green: Kuchocki has come a mighty long way in a mighty short time. Her opening shot just a few years ago was impressive but her latest just leaves it light years in the dust. Reaching down and finding her inner wild woman, think Maria Muldaur more than Janis Joplin, and letting it pour out into her jazz and blues, the result is an assured, solid performance where the gas is turned up high serving up a real gasser of a set that others try to make but few succeed at. A dazzling star turn performance that's too big for her native Canada to contain. Killer stuff throughout.

LISA HILTON/Getaway: Delivering her 15th album as a leader, Hilton doesn't want you to think you've got her figured out. Paring the sound down to a piano trio, full of hitters of course, Hilton and company capture the sound of late 50s piano trios that were finding commercial acceptance just as civil rights jazz was starting to rear it's head and the musicians wanted to appear relevant without alienating existing fans. Smoking, cooking stuff that takes you back to a place that you've never really been since she mixes in generous portions of her own special sauce, even Keith Jarrett could find a few moves here to borrow if he starts to think he's repeating himself. Snazzy stuff that doesn't fit on any easy pegs but is one winning, wild ride.

RONNIE EARL & THE BROADCASTERS/Just for Today: Top of the line white boy blues guitar presented live at several venues across his backyard, Earl and the guys barnstorm their way through a rousing set of right on, blistering fret work that just keeps smoking as the various nights roll on. Shuffling, jumping, raising the roof, it's all here and it sounds like a party you won't want to miss. At it long enough to be able to do it in his sleep, Earl and the gang are way too pro for that and it shows throughout. Hot stuff that delivers the goods.

DUKE ROBILLARD BAND/Independently Blue: The tunes are all new ones by the Duke and his pals but he captures the old time sound every way but sonically. The master of white boy blues guitar is out for a good time here with one of his more after hours sounding sets in a while. Always a treat, Robillard is on top of his game, once again, and you better come knocking if you see the house is rocking. Hot stuff.

PETULA CLARK/Lost in You: She's 80, she's worked with major writing and producing talents in the past and here, after all this time, she makes a contemporary pop record with a bunch of new kids successfully capturing the lightening in a bottle that Nancy Sinatra tried to grab with Morrissey. Fans of her work with Tony Hatch or Chips Moman won't be able to set those sides aside, but this set isn't aimed at them unless they are hard core fans of Clark as opposed to Clark's sound. The old gal still has it gong on and pop music fans have something here they just can't pass up. Check it out.

Volume 37/Number 142
March 23, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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