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THE 25 BEST JAZZ TUNES OF 1961/various: This twofer is so well a&r-ed and so smartly tracked the only complaint about it is the compliers limited themselves to 25 songs on 2 discs. While there are some obvious choices that had to be included to keep the title true, the rest are cuts off the beaten to death track that are so welcome and ear opening, they might have been newly recorded as only the most hard core jazzbo would be familiar with some of these 50 plus year ago walks down memory lane. Killer, unimpeachable stuff that wasn't cramped for time and is on the money throughout.

JARRETT-PEACOCK-DeJOHNETTE/Somewhere: These guys, fugetaboudit! The stalwart jazz trio tackles Great American songbag standards, and of course, does them like you've never heard them. With a theme running through it all about space and open spaces, these artistic non-pareils merrily take you to places you've only heard in dreams that could only be played by three cats with so much simpatico that it's scary. Art music to the max, this is what you want to play when you want to treat yourself to sitting down and getting immersed in something sure to take you some place else, in good hands. As always, a winner.

TABOR-BELLAMY-WARREN/Quercus: Run this by me again. One of the Silly Sisters lands on the pre-eminent cool school jazz label for a set of folk songs with her long time piano co-hort and a sax man. Come back here, this works. It works even better if you're a long time June Tabor fan and are thrilled to see her on a label with some distribution muscle. Don't run off confusing this with art chick stuff. This is an ambitious vocal record that meets it's goals and gives the label points for venturing out of it's normal comfort zone. Like a stripped down Pentangle with no strings, this set is a glorious return to contemporary English folk right before it went electric. Wild stuff.

MIKE FELTEN/aka Johnny Lunchbucket: Yow! Unreconstructed freak folk from a cat as well steeped in freak blues as he is in freak folk. A unique personality as out there as Mike Hurley or Jeff Fredericks, Felten almost takes you back to the clubs that fed off the energy of Gate of Horn grooming the opening acts of tomorrow. Wild stuff folkies who color outside the lines will love.

MAGIC SAM & SHAKEY JAKE/Live at Sylvio's: Listeners that pay attention to the names in small print on the back of album jackets will recognize James Austin, Bill Dahl and Mary Katherine Aldin as reason enough to check out this west side Chicago blues date by a cat that died 40 years ago even if they don't know what this is going in. Magic Sam was one of the pre-eminent Chicago guitar slingers and here we have him working out with his uncle on a typically hot night when the crowd demanded to be pleased. Certainly a non-record, this is a breathing document of hot times gone by that could still burn down a frat house today. Wild stuff that makes you glad recording equipment was in tow no matter how primitive. A must for post war blues fans that want it as urban and unreconstructed as possible.

ALAN FEINBERG/Basically Bull: The back story of John Bull almost sounds like some bullshit Peter Schickele made up and I'm not going to do your job of chasing down the truth on Google or Wikipedia. I just listen to this stuff. Bull was a self proclaimed trouble maker that invented instruments and wrote hard to play pieces. Feinberg is the first to play Bull's works on modern instruments. Not as off the wall as the press materials might have you believe, this is a welcome addition to the classical canon as it goes someplace different without replying on contemporary classical posturing. At it's worst, it's a tad precious and whimsical but in Feinberg's hands, this is a side trip worth taking. Open eared should be early adapters.

THIS FRONTIEER NEEDS HEROES/Hooky: Down mouth alt.folk duo beefs up their sound for their third go round making a set that sounds like summer turned inside out--or maybe the way you feel the night before you have to go back to school. Strange stuff for strange kids that may or may not grow up to set off a real blast one day.

BAREFOOT DIVAS/Walk a Mile in My Shoes: Think Celtic ladies transplanted to Australia/New Zealand bringing their indigenous sounds to the fore. Singing in English so gringos can't play the dumb card, this crew tells their stories mixing jazz and local sounds (think Maori etc) and it's as new and exciting as new African sounds were a generation back in the wake of Paul Simon exploring the continent. Exploding into the New Zealand arts world last year and showing that even if soul comes from down south, down under south shouldn't be counted out of the equation. Hot stuff that connects with open eared listeners at a lot of levels. Check it out.

Volume 37/Number 228
June 17, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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