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TOM RUSH/Celebrates 50 Years of Music: Rush is a perfect example of how important being niche can be if you know how to work it right. Well known but never really going mass market, even though one of his greatest claims is recording killer songs before anybody else, Rush struts his stuff in his old stomping ground and shows that he's kept his hair, voice, looks and talent. Down home in the way you really want a folkie to be, Rush gathers some pals old and new in front of an appreciative Boston audience that took leave from thinking about their under water mortgages to join in the fun that went into the making of this cd-dvd combo package that doesn't repeat many songs when the formats change over. What can I tell you? These days, when they get the urge for going, ladies love outlaws (hey, it's just a smirk for fans of a certain age). This is a set of utterly excellent folk/pop from one of the architects of the sound that still knows how to bring the right stuff today. Check it out.

SYLVESTER/Mighty Real-Greatest Dance Hits: Culled from the early days when Sylvester wasn't taken too seriously and was called Muhammad Ali with tweezed eyebrows (go ahead, Google it), he was actually giving birth to house and EDM because he was a cat playing in the margins trying to realize his vision on a budget. He's hearing this comp and smiling down on it with a knowing grin knowing his children were the grandparents of today's little monsters. The suburban dollies of yore wouldn't dare deign calling this dance music when contemporaneous TSOP was in the air, but as this kind of sound crept into fashion shows and their kids bedrooms, they would "groove" to this when the need to be competitive with their daughters kept into the air. Visionary enough that today's mixers can keep this on the cutting edge even as the fringe moves closer to the middle. Here's a bunch of hits from before the songs even knew they were hits.

RANDY SCOTT/Out of the Blue: It feels like EDM and TV show pop are about to feel some backlash and this guitar shredder, named recent king of the blues by Guitar Center, seemed poised to capitalize on any such sonic revolt poised to ripple through the suburbs. More classic 70s AOR than purely a bluesman, this young white boy from Detroit has all the right moves in place without seeming like a poseur and has impressed enough of the top jam bands with his opening for them to be taken more seriously than a Gregg Allman doppelganger out for a lark. Kids that have only experienced amped up white boy blues via satellite radio and thumbing through their pop's old records looking for something to surreptitiously sell can claim some thrills from one of their own and let their pent up hormones rage. Killer stuff.

NANCY HARMS/Dreams in Apartments: Pissed off small town girl has bigger dreams than doing what was expected of her and blows it all off to move to New York without a parachute. She follows her jazz muse and becomes a full throated thrush that can go toe to toe with any pissed off middle aged black woman plying the jazz trade. Not bad for a white girl from rural Minnesota with aspirations. If this is the result of pent up drive, we're glad she left the land of 10,000 lakes to take a bite of the big apple. A real find for fans of real jazz singing.

SCOTT NEUMANN NEU3 TRIO/Blessed: Not your typical drummer led jazz trio, this drum/bass/sax outfit sounds more smoky, hipster club than church basement as they push their free jazz agenda that pushes the envelope but not to the point having a flashing, neon signing blinking on and off saying "ART HERE!". Tasty stuff that has a canny way of pulling you in without making you claustrophobic, Neumann and his pals could have easily been 50s hipsters blazing new trails. Solid stuff that'll perk up your ears and grab your attention.

THE DYNAMIC LES DeMERLE BAND Featuring Bonnie Eisele/Feelin' Good: A while back, we met a couple that played jazz on cruise ships and it changed our opinion, moving our head away from the usual Sammy Joey jive ass bullshit you all too often find in those situations. This cruise ship jazz crew kicks it off wit a snazzy version of "Speak Low" that not only sends you off into a good time mood, it'll also change your opinion about who will be entertaining you in captive situations. Hell, even George Wein got his head turned around by this crew. With no other message than ‘have a good time', this ear opening drummer led piano quartet is the kind of smoothies that bring a whole bunch of new listeners gleefully into the tent. Well done throughout.

BUDDY GUY/Rhythm & Blues: As much as I liked Buddy Guy's last few albums, this one makes them seem like he was marking time and catching his breath. A twofer, with one disc being rhythm and the other being blues (get it?), Guy is on fire as he sounds like Muddy Waters fronting a chitlin circuit show band at the Fillmore after kicking back some funny "vitamins" hippies hanging around back stage slipped him. With everyone from Beth Hart to Aerosmith dropping by to share the spotlight, this is a highly energized "blues" tour de force. This was genetically engineered for blasting as loud as possible with the car windows rolled down when you just can't leave work fast enough and fly to the parking lot. This is the long last realization of the hippie/blues fusion Chess was trying to nail in the late 60s. If this had been recorded/released back then, this would have been the set that gave rise to a million blues/rock clichés. Killer stuff throughout!

NU-BLU/Ten: We first heard of this crew last year and thought they were a bunch of new kids doing a bang up job on bluegrass/gospel. Surprise, this new one is their 5th album marking their 10th year together and they are more than just gospel. What they are is simply killer. An utterly great down home recording, the singing, playing and songs are completely in the pocket throughout. Anyone up for a comforting record that is much more than musical comfort food has got to check this out. Tasty from start to finish, this is the kind of country that doesn't care about trends but will break throughout anyway. Check it out.

PETE McGUINNESS/Voice Like a Horn: On his third album as a leader, trombonist McGuiness shows his ability to sing like Chet Baker meets Mel Torme meets Mark Murphy. And then the playing behind him really swings. This set of mostly oldies is kind of like high octane cocktail jazz with enough of an edge that it makes you say things like ‘it's 5 pm somewhere in the world'. The perfect thing to have around when you want to be entertained, don't want to think to hard and just need a break from those "Law and Order" repeats to really get your blood flowing. A winner throughout that's sure to get you picking up your hairbrush to sing and swing along.

Volume 37/Number 253
July 12 , 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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