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BRIGA/Contes Turbo Folk Stories: Oddly compelling Balkan mash up music from Canada that does a fine job of taking you place you've only seen in dreams. Nothing here is anything you expect and often it's not even what it seems. Part ethnic, part back alley, this is a wild ride where the only thing you can expect is the unexpected. And don't expect it just to be folk music, the fishnets and stilettos on the cover ought to tip you to that. By all means, check it out if you're ready for something completely different.

MIKE WOFFORD/It's Personal: In which we find a life long piano jazzbo sharing the spotlight with no one and kicking it out on a late career gem. Whether dazzling with his work on the ivories and sneaking puns into the titles that grab your attention, Wofford is on point throughout with the kind of date that anyone who has been a fan of the dexterous piano men that have come before will love. Killer stuff played without pretension but with loads of passion and fireworks. A must for solo piano fans.

CHIP STEPHENS TRIO/Relevancy: Here we have a hard bop piano man swinging his way through Carla Bley, Bill Evans and Mario Lanza somehow making it all his own. Recovering from a coma he fell into from a car accident, the recuperation period certainly hasn't slowed won his hand/head co-ordination. Leading his trio like they implanted a GPS in his brain, Stephens gets the blood flowing mightily with this non-stop swinger. Tasty throughout.

KARA GRAINGER/Shiver & Sigh: With Finnigan and Hutchinson in the background, Grainger will have to suffer through the inevitable Bonnie Raitt comparisons since she is a sultry, slide guitar player into blues and roots, but Grainger isn't the nu Bonnie, she's got her own thing going on and she's really got it going on well. A dazzling collision of roots and pop, this set has it going on at so many levels that it's too hard to resist. Coupling all that with the thrill of a new discovery that knows which end is up and you have an explosive winner that just sneaks up on you and won't leave you alone. Killer stuff throughout.

CHRISTIAN McBRIDE TRIO/Out Here: Even if it's the newest of McBride's simultaneously running groupings, this trio is no mere busman's holiday for the bass ace. Leading a swinging trio that plays wisely beyond their years as if they ate Bethlehem small group dates for breakfast, this crew has all the moves that smartly bring the past and future together in fine style. With a classic feel, this date has the ear marks of becoming a classic in it's own right as well. A winner.

LES LUCKY/Frets & Hammers: This guy is like a folk/roots Todd Rundgren. He writes and plays everything and bounces around styles within styles serving up the kind of date that takes you by surprise. A thoroughly pro cat that generally has labored in the background, he picked the right time for his solo turn and does a nice job of hitting it out of the park for adult listeners that still think the good old days might come back. Tasty stuff that succeeds by cutting to the chase and keeping the buffet fresh and tasty. Well done.

IAN TYSON/All the Good ‘Uns V. 2: Covering his last five albums, which have taken 14 years to get here, this fatly tracked set can only serve to whet the whistle for digging deeper into these albums if you missed them the first time around. One of the last of the great folkies that's never given up the ghost, the old cowboy's take on cowboy culture has a keen contemporary eye leaving no dust on him as he approaches 80. If he wasn't Canadian, we could claim his as a national treasure. This is real stuff from the true vine.

CLOTILDE RULLAUD/In Extremis: In which we finally find not all French art chicks have to be into depressing stuff that sounds like music to cut yourself by. Very spirited and willing to take chances, like opening with a mash up between "Waltz for Debby" and an unreleased Gainsbough track, Rullaud often seems possessed as gringos can't tell if she's singing in French or singing in tongues, but this is a nice dose of progressive jazz based stuff that escaped from the church basement and took on a life of it's own. Fueled by several levels of musical freedom, this wide ranging, ear opening date is a real treat for anyone looking for some vocal work that stretches well beyond the ordinary. Check it out.

Volume 37/Number 226
June 15, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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