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OANA CATALINA CHITU/Divine: What? You have to be Ellington or Hoagy Carmichael to have your 100th birthday celebrated? Here we find a real change up as a contemporary Romanian vocal star is looking over her shoulder to cast an adoring gaze at Maria Tanase, the godmother of Romania cabaret, on her 100th birthday. Bringing the sound into the present for present day ears, for the uninitiated, Tanase seems like a Romanian Lotte Lenya. Ethnic cabaret mixed with gypsy jazz makes this a heady brew that's easy to enjoy even if you don't know what Chitu is singing about. A wild and woolly set that falls way outside the lines compared to American pop and jazz, it's a grand tour for anytime you're ready to let go and become quite the boulavarding armchair traveler taking your world beat excursions to the next level of the game. Because it's something out of our ordinary certainly doesn't hurt it's appeal a bit. Check it out.

MICHAEL & THE LONESOME PLAYBOYS/Bottle Cap Sky: Pomo honky tonk with some classic southern rock leavening rising up from the LA roots underground, this set is just what the country flavored malcontent is looking for. Not shrugging off it's hipster, urban edges, this stuff can go through a mix mastering phase just as easily as any other sound out there that's been busy genre splicing for the new generation. Blues and country all have to acknowledge that the times they are a changing'.

JOSEPHINE FOSTER/Little Life: A dozen year old home recording that was put out by the label for Record Store Day 2013, this is a pomo kids album inspired by the kids album's of her youth when the landscape was populated by the Seegers, Ella Jenkins, Odetta and other pillars of pre-Americana. There's only a hundred of these promos pressed up. That's the cue for the real fans to commence the feeding frenzy.

GEORGIA'S HORSE/Weather Codes: Early Leonard Cohen made you want to gargle with razor blades. This makes that look like child's play. Teresa Maldonado sounds like Nico playing with Mississippi John Hurt as produced by Ry Cooder when he's on one of his authentic, lonesome Texas sound kicks. The check out register at Target is spitting out coupons for five blade razors this week if you are so inspired.

RJ & THE ASSIGNMENT/Stroke of Midnight: Here's one that's interesting. A south side Chicago cat currently making a living as a behind the scenes MVP in Vegas takes his second record back to his roots. Adept at playing across a range of popular styles, RJ goes back to his roots where you can hear echoes of AACM bouncing off Oscar Brown bouncing off all the great piano trios that sprang from the same ground bouncing off Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler. And then there's some fusion thrown in for good measure for outsiders that don't/can't appreciate the south side of Chicago where there's more than Leroy Brown going on. This is a wonderful present day throw back to the golden age of soul jazz.

ROGER DAVIDSON/Journey to Rio: We always look forward to a new Davidson release because you can palpably hear that honing his chops and expanding his vision is a never ending task that he doesn't look at a chore. When you own your own record company, you get the say so to put out a double album of your Brazilian fascinations as recorded in Rio with a bunch of top contemporary Brazilian cats making a joyful noise. Reminiscent in vibe to the pockets in Sergio Mendes' A&M albums where they would let him have a one-for-me track where he kept it real, except expanded to a double album, this is the kind of glorious set Scott Adams could devote a whole show to. Spirited stuff that keeps it's edge and never becomes tourist/gift shop music, it's real and inviting at the same time. Gringos, start your engines, Davidson has already done the work for you. Well done.

DEBORAH SHULMAN & The Ted Howe Trio/Get Your Kicks: True story that has nothing to do with Shulman. Quite a while back, I had a client that wanted me to help him contract a tribute album to Bobby Troup. I went back and forth as the go between, often calling Troup at home with the phone being answered by his wife. It wasn't until several calls into this volley that I realized I was talking to Julie London. How cool was that? Maybe you had to be there. A family friend of the Troups by marriage, Shulman brings a built in affinity to the music pulling off a killer 180 degree turn from last year's Kurt Weill album showing she can deliver the hits to all fields and is no one trick pony. Expertly capturing the late night hipster vibe of martini fueled days gone by, Shulman and Howe are here to get inside the music and deliver it properly, which they do a great job of. A dandy revitalization of one of the pop master craftsmen, this is top shelf throughout. Well done.

HUSH POINT: Some mainstream jazz vets go downtown to show they can still be finger popping daddies with the young lions. Strange stuff that is very creative without being creative for the sake of creativity but is still very left leaning stuff for the sitting down jazz crowd.

Volume 37/Number 205
May 25, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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