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GRAHAM MacRAE/Dundrearies: Folk music for the pomo generation that will certainly draw a line in the sand between moldy figs and newbies. No matter where you slice it, the feelings that go with the end of a relationship that you are invested in are universal and that's what's on display here. Obviously the dividing line is tempered with whether you have to deal with an underwater mortgage or deal with rising rents in your hipster neighborhood. The perfect soundtrack for the weeks after you've ended your first serious post-college relationship.

EDDIE DANIELS & ROGER KELLAWAY/Duke at the Roadhouse Live in Santa Fe: Daniels and Kellaway add a cello rather than a drum and a whole new look at Ellington is heard. With Kellaway channeling his inner Tatum a lot of the time and taking it to the whorehouse and Cotton Club, Daniels channels the cat that did the interstitial, montage music for Godfather I where a lot of these Ellington tunes were used. The cello player, when given his chance to step out, really shake s things up as well. This isn't a tribute set so much as three cats moving out of the comfort zones we've imposed on them over the last decade and having a grand time adding their own special sauce to overly familiar classics. If you know these cats, you know they never let you down and this is no exception. Jazzbos, start our engines.

LORRAINE KLAASEN/Tribute to Miriam Makeba: I was recently watching the Hootenanny dvd set and when Miriam Makeba took her turn on stage, it occurred to me that no one probably remembered her anymore---and she was doing Afropop 28 years before Paul Simon stumbled across it 25 years ago. And shortly thereafter, this set arrived. Klaasen runs a little ahead of the curve in understanding Makeba's music as Makeba was a close family friend and Klaasen looked at her the way Whitney Houston looked at Aretha Franklin. While the sound has been brought forward for contemporary ears, the tongue pops, kalimba and other essential touches needed to keep the feeling authentic are on board. For anyone wondering what was a ground breaking sound 50 years ago, this Juno nominated set offers a great airing of a sound and a time and place. It's not nostalgia if you don't remember so whether grandpa or newbie, this set of Afropop will be a charming gasser. Solid stuff throughout.

KYLE PEDERSON/Renewal: So, you want to dust off the 9 foot grand piano, round up some top players in the Minneapolis jazz scene and refashion some hymns at least 150 years old that need some freshening. Sounds reasonable. Finding a spot out on the prairie where Oskey and O'Domnnihal meet Copland and strip away the Calvinism that seems to follow religion in the colder climes, Pederson finds the sweet spot to come in with a new agish piano set that's spiritual in more ways than one. Out of the ordinary and well worth the effort to meet it on it's own terms.

CHUCK OWEN & THE JAZZ SURGE/River Runs: Here's a throwback date that doesn't involve hard bop. Owen tips the cap to the golden era of impressionistic jazz where jazz and simply beautiful music collided. Not sounding at all like it was fueled by arts council money, Owen and his jazzbos and symphonic refugees tackle one of the lynch pins of impressionistic music---the river. And they do a bang up job of capturing it in sound. Another jazz educator with no dust on him, this is one of the finest proponents of audio mental health this side of new age or healing music. Egghead jazz that anyone can enjoy.

WILL CALHOUN/Life in This World: The Living Colour drummer was into jazz before he saw the world with that band and he grew up in a home that put the spotlight on black pride. Now that he can do whatever he wants, he goes back to his roots where post bop was running into civil rights jazz and rounds up a crew of everyone you want to hear that probably had similar experiences, even if their ages vary. Ear opening by way of being seasoned with a load of influences that meld just right, Calhoun and his musical cronies find a musical spot that lands somewhere between ‘go slow' and ‘get whitey' where everyone was invited into the tent and people didn't eye each other suspiciously. Killer stuff that burns with a quiet fire you can't help but feel.

ZEDASHE/Intangible Pearls: Electric Cowbell moves well beyond their elastic comfort zone with a world beat date that shines the light on vocal music from Georgia (as in Russia). Taking the chant craze of 20 years ago to another place and time, this music might have flowed from Russia but it sounds like a Moslem call to prayer a lot of the time. No corners were cut in the making of this set and the world beater well up to finding some new gold just has to set their sights in this direction.

MARK NEWTON & STEVE THOMAS/Reborn: These well seasoned pros have a wonderful contemporary bluegrass set on their hands for their recording debut as a duo but "Old McDonald Sold the Farm" deserves to be a staple on Internet and satellite radio and give these guys their spot in any appropriate hall of fame. An amazing 2:30 look at the changing face and character of rural America, somebody not making ‘fringe' music on an indie label could ride this to the top of the charts. The rest of the set isn't chicken feed either. This could kickstart a whole new bluegrass era.

SAMANTHA CARLSON/Day in Day Out: A solid voiced new thrush with a voice that could be well suited to Broadway steps up and tackles the classic song book. While there's no new ground broken here, this is simply one of those sets that serves you well if you just chose to sit back and enjoy it. An engaging vocalist that knows how to hit all the right notes and deliver the words so you never wonder what she's singing. Jazz vocal fans are well advised to keep an ear out for this youngster as she continues to perfect a sound that's well on it's way already. Well done.

STEPHEN SAVAGE/Future Memory: Are we about to enter a new era of space music? Savage moves away from his comfort zones, fires up the synthesizer and draws upon his deep and varied chops to craft an easy rolling set that would make George Russell proud. There's so much going on here you can almost hear what you want to hear and you certainly take away what you bring to the proceedings. With a youthful attitude that belies his physical age, this slightly left of center outing doesn't require headphones and blunts, just a desire to sink into and enjoy something wonderfully out of the ordinary. Check it out.

Volume 37/Number 150
March 31, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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