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THE ROSENTHALS/Fly Away: No matter who you are or how cool you are, your kids will find a way to rebel. Bluegrass legend Phil turned around, turned around and saw his son a young man walking out the door, to join progressive jazzbos Either/Orchestra: At least the kid kind of stayed in the family business. Here we find the family unit coming back under one roof for the sweetest family band music this side of the Ungars. Dad takes the lead here, but he holds the sound together the way a patriarch holds the family together as bluegrass meets hokum and jazz. The sound is a delightful organic brew wafting out from the hippest back porch around. A shining example of the kind of amalgam music that has Jethro Burns smiling down on it, this is the kind of set you want in your collection for those times you wan to listen to music that sounds like an old friend. Well done.

DENISE KING & OLIVIER HUTMAN/Give Me the High Sign: It's supposed to be a jazz album but it sounds more like a quiet storm take on deep soul that just blows the roof off the sucker. King has mastered neo soul better than a lot of the chest thumpers proclaiming it as their own territory. A dandy ear opener that cooks mightily throughout, this second outing by this duo shows the debut was no fluke and greater things look to be on the trajectory horizon. This is how quiet storm is supposed to make noise!

MARSHALL LAWRENCE/House Calls: The Canuck Ph.D./fingerpicker widens the lens here as he shoots higher with various guests including the Holmes Brothers. Mixing smart chops with found music edginess, this white boy that shouldn't have blues at all has a certain white boy blues experience that has his stamp and only his stamp all over it. Rough hewn through the disc, Lawrence knows how to reach those who like their music coloring outside the lines. Yeah, you can call it blues, but it's white boy/out behind the barn blues.

SLOBBER PUP/Black Aces: We've been known to take out pot shots at free jazz as fringe music in various guises, but this time around, we hold our fire. Why? First off, the players don't sound stoned out of their minds thinking everything sounds so profound. Second, this is a well traveled crew of alt. jazz and alt. rock hitters. Third, they probably enjoy "Metal Machine Music" as much as we do. Fourth, this is only conjecture, but I'll bet this is what the record Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix and Tony Williams were about to record until Miles held out for $50,000 before entering the studio would have sounded like. If you want to take a chance on what elephant funk like that would have sounded like, step to the line and take your chances. It's wild stuff that's flying in all directions, but it knows where it's going.

RIAN GREENE/Drown the Miller: Laconic and low key, that doesn't stop this record from leaping right out at you from the git go. Basically an updated folk rock sound, Greene knows how to wield a mighty pen and could give master classes to those currently saying they are influenced by all the modern, great Texas troubadours. Having put in his time with Lucinda Williams, the Flatlanders, Asleep at the Wheel and others from that band width, Greene plainly learned while he earned (such as it must have been) and has perfected the chops to keep him from going back there even if he doesn't forget where he came from and has been. Tasty stuff for contemporary songwriting fans that are looking for the real deal.

JEFFERY BIEGEL/A Grand Romance: When Steinway started their own record label, it seemed like something that was a good intentioned way to raise awareness of their pianos with a new generation. Biegel was the lamb sent to ostensible slaughter to kick off this venture but he pulled his weight and erased all doubt over whether this was a serious recording venture or not. Now he's back with his third for the label, still showing just how tasty solo piano is under the right fingers, kicking it out salon style. With repertoire cover many years and styles, the professor leaves his pedagogy in the classroom to make this a fresh, full blooded, lively set that brings the commercial side of classical music to a gloriously realized front row. Very much a top shelf recording, it's fun, flavorful and a good reason for kids to want to play something as unportable as piano. Killer stuff you don't have to be a classical fan to love. Check it out.

DJANGO FESTIVAL ALLSTARS/Live at Birdland 2012: We can admit we're shallow enough to pay attention if you say "Django" and hold it against you later if it turns out you were wasting our time. The Schmitt family are the current standard bearers of the Reinhardt legacy, but they take it to the next level, they write new stuff that you would swear is Reinhardt stuff you don't remember hearing. We've never heard of this crew and the only one on this recording we know is Anat Cohen, so we paid attention when you said "Django", You didn't waste our time. This stuff is great. Paying tribute in the best way possible, by expanding the source material and using it as building blocks, the Schmitts have the magic touch when it comes to parlaying this gypsy's jazz. Hot stuff that's so perfect it hurts. A beautiful record any Django fan won't want to miss.

RUFF KUTT BLUES BAND/That's When the Blues Begins: Unless you really got da blooz, unless you're really into rockabilly, you might not realize what's going on here. Essentially four Texas blues legends throw in together for a set that's burning such high grade fuel so smoothly that this white accented, chitlin circuit show band sound feels as on the natch as it can be. These originals sound as familiar as an old missive from Dan Penn taking you down to the dark end of the street. Killer stuff that any yuppie worth his 70s frat house handshake will have to testify about. Well done.

Volume 37/Number 190
May 10, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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