BELL PRODUCTION CO
MICHAEL TRENI BIG BAND/Pop-Culture Blues: Pat Metheny's original band mate stepped away from jazz after some career disappointments, made his bucks elsewhere and came roaring back to jazz after he knew he couldn't be screwed with again. Continuing the impressive trajectory kicked off when he started his comeback, this is a big band date of originals where Treni freely acknowledges who inspired him and who inspired each track. From the Breckers to Mulligan and Oliver Nelson, it's all here in these swinging grooves. Right in the pocket for finger popping daddios that want to be groovy without doing heroin, Treni feels your lack of pain and has the right soundtrack for you. Fun stuff that never let's you down and never let's up either. Well done.
STEVE LINDEMAN/The Day After Yesterday: Lindeman had access to workshops and sessions that served to hone his chops that he took full advantage of. His program of original big band music will have you scratching your head wondering: when did Bill Holman do this?, when did Gil Evans do this?, when did Benny Carter do this?--and of course, the answer is they didn't. Respectful of tradition while charting his own path as a composer and arranger, this is the kind of set that could get people who aren't thinking about big band to start thinking about big band. All the more impressive when you realize this is being played by a bunch of college kids, Lindeman's really got it on the ball, especially since he fesses up to not actually being a big band enthusiast. Check it out.
MOONLIT MEDIA GROUP
OFFIONG BASSEY: If Bassey blows the doors open like a force of nature on a roll, it might be because this first generation American from a Nigerian family took her music to Yale and went on to create an interesting new world beat vibe fusing her native Ivory Coast sounds with the urban jazzes she heard growing up here. Not nearly the world beat sound that comes to mind when you think African music, Bassey takes African music, stirs in a while lot of other stuff and techniques, and takes the whole thing to a whole different level of the game. While being respectful of Makeba and Ladysmith, she's also strong willed enough to add a strong link to the chain. Must hearing for open world beat ears.
LAURA OSNES/If I Tell You: The Stephen Sondheim/Bernadette Peters is a hard one to beat. The Maury Yeston/Laura Osnes combination is the Sondheim/Peters match up for the new generation. With a catalog that reaches farther back than Osnes' time on the planet to draw from, Yeston not only has authorized the first solo disc devoted to his work for Osnes, he wrote a new song especially for her and this project. When arriving at flashpoints such as this one, the comparisons as to which is better just become silly. There's room for more than one at the pantheon. The utterly beguiling Osnes delivers the glories only hinted at on past recordings making this one a keeper and a classic. Not for Broadway/cabaret fans only, this is vocal music that's as good a it gets. Clearly a head and shoulders above winner.
JUDY KUHN/All This Happiness: For her first solo record in six years, the multi Tony nominee takes Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Laura Nyro and Leonard Cohen down to the cabaret where they get to mix it up with Cy Coleman, Billy Barnes and Oscar Brown (Sondheim is on board but no Kurt Weill?) on a set that has a very personal stamp stamped on it. Backed by a trio that knows how to showcase her every move, this is nu cabaret for people currently quaffing martini's that weren't born yet when Joni Mitchell had her first hit. Kuhn has the moves, the smarts and the chops to make this a first class session that doesn't have the heaviness that overhangs a manqué trying too hard to cover the same ground. A great showcase for a contemporary master of her form that makes it seem all too easy.
DAVID EGAN: This cat looks like a cross between Dave Van Ronk and R. Crumb. He sings, plays and writes like Mose Allison in his prime and it feels unintentional, like it was something in the water as opposed to a mannered copy. He's got loads of high tone songwriting credits but has chosen to pound the ivories in Shreveport roadhouses, not even bothering to kick it out in Nawlins. One of those heaviest-cats-you-never-heard-of kind of cats, this disc is a non-stop, no fat, great time. Easily as Americana as The Band, this set might color outside the lines but it isn't outsider music. Killer stuff from start to finish, it's time for this legend to take root. Check it out.
KIRSTEN THIEN/Solo Live from the Meisenfrei Blues Club: A red head blues guitarist playing all by herself and captivating the crowd? Sounds like something out of Bonnie Raitt's back pages when things were so lean in the bad economy of the late 70s that she couldn't afford to even take Freebo on the road with her. Well it isn't. This rising blues/rock superstar hit the stage in Germany with just her guitar and held the crowd in check, just last fall. Really not sounding like a folkie even though it's just her and her guitar, if you think she is impressive on her full band recordings, this solo set will blow you away as she's unafraid to expose raw nerves to deliver the goods. While solo set aren't for everyone, you don't have to be an uber fan to dig this to the fullest. Thien has marked her territory and there's no turning back on her path to superstardom. Hot stuff.
WHALING CITY SOUND
DAVE LIEBMAN-MICHAEL STEPHANS/Lineage: Don't worry, Lieb hasn't crapped out on you just because he's recording "Tequila", Joni Mitchell, the Ventures and Elvis. He might be revisiting pop and rock classics, but he's not doing it via Grey Lien Tours. Deconstructing things and keeping his progressive edge, the tunes might start out sounding like he's opting for some late career dinner music, he's not. Just hang in there a few more bars and wait for all hell to break lose. This leopard hasn't change his spots, just shaken them up a bit.
WIDE WILLIE PRODUCTIONS
CD WOODBURY BAND/Monday Night!: After wining a deserved load of awards over the last several years and paying a load of dues, Woodbury and crew are giving it a real run here at no longer being Washington State's best kept secret. Being deep in the Americana/blues-rock pocket, this is no mere bar band dreaming of stardom, this is bunch ready to break big. High octane, rollicking beer blast music, this is what every yuppie needs when he knows the corpuscles need some shaking up. Killer stuff that writes the book on how to kick ass. Well done.
Volume 37/Number 211
May 31, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record
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