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CHRIS ZURICH/Black Ink: When prog rock meets soul after a post hardcore melt down, you get blue eyed soul for people that think Robin Thicke is too commercial. A stripped down, very white blue eyed soul, Zurich is the alt.alternative.

KOBO TOWN/Jumbie in the Jukebox: We're suckers for good calypso and Kobo Town brings it into the 21st Century the same way Sparrow brought it into the 80s. Doing some genre splicing like a calypso version of Americana, sounds from around the Caribbean beyond the Port of Spain fuse here into a funky, explosive back alley sound that tells you there's a party going on, even if the boogeyman is lurking in the juke box. Maintaining the political diatribes that early calypso had merged with the party rhythms, the bad boy behind this has come up with a real winner that world beat fans will get out of the box and spread the world. A wonderful set that delivers the goods throughout.

GARAFUNA COLLECTIVE/Ayo: It's rare that a cultural, folkloric date doesn‘t have an arts council feel to it, but this crew, that was on the verge of hitting it hard when their leader suddenly died after their debut release, carries on their late leader's vision in fine style. The product of a fiercely independent micro culture from Central America, this indigenous music is not vacation gift shop music. It's real deal stuff that is so loaded with heart it just reaches out and touches you. A smoking date with a lot of depth, you don't have to know what they are singing about to be drawn in. Killer next gen world beat that resoundingly opens the ears in fine form.

DANNY MICHEL & THE GARAFUNA COLLECTIVE/Black Birds are Dancing Over Me: What a wonderfully wild record! It's easy to call this a spiritual descendant of Paul Simon's "Graceland", but hold on. This match up between a Canuck indie rocker, a hot Belizean producer and a crack band of indigenous Central American players rounds up into a Van Dyke Parks Caribbean excursion played straight, but with a smirk and a wink. Simply a gasser of a world beat session, with accent on world after checking out the various participants, this is that killer out of the ordinary session that you can't help playing over and over and hitting your friends over the head with. An absolute must for left leaning tastes that love outsider music played straight.

LAS KELLIES/Total Exposure: Mix up some 80s post punk with some reggae and some progressive, left leaning dance moves and you get the wild second album form this Argentinean guitar/drum duo. with the board kind of no wave chick vocals that are oddly alluring, this sinister sounding set is a crazy trip through a sonic under ground that hipper parties thrive on. I ever thought there would be no wave nostalgia but the genealogy from Nico through The Slits is working here, hard. Wild stuff the left leaning will love.

NICKY SCHRIRE/Space and Time: With Matt Pierson, Gil Goldstein and Gerald Clayton at her side, Schrire goes for the tortured artist effect by taking it back to the days of the thrush that ate torches for breakfast. Slowing it down to bring out a cabaret version of intimacy, this is a jazz vocal album for a rainy day of there ever was one.

KATHY KOSINS/The Space Between: Did you know "Song for My Father" had words? Apparently Kosins took the time to find that out because there's no co-write credit with Horace Silver for it. Even when digging in the crates, Kosins keeps it interesting as always, showing herself to be a jazz vocalist that continues to play at the top of her game. More than willing to take risks and go out on limbs to good effect, it's a solid talent that can take the ordinary out of the ordinary, push the envelope but not let the wheels fall off. Kind of positioning herself as a contemporary Abbey Lincoln lite, she's got the soul and backing crew to make it all work and fill your ears so nicely. Check it out.

JESSICA JONES-CONNIE CROTHERS/Live at the Freight: Oh ye of little faith, don't go writing this piano improv goddess off as an art chick without really giving her a listen. Kicking it out on a wild improv date joined by Jones on sax and recorded at Berkeley's hippie bastion, Freight and Salvage, this might not be for all jazzbos, but it isn't just for the church basement gang. It's almost music as a movie. While it isn't easy to listen to, if you pay attention, you will be rewarded. Even when familiar song titles are posted in the credits, you won't always have a nod of recognition. It's wild stuff for opening the ears and mind.

JOHN AXELROD/Brahms Beloved: An innovative conductor that earned his spurs working for Leonard Bernstein finds a way to bring classical music to TMZ. Brahms had a mad passion for his mentor's wife when he wasn't writing lullabies, and two of his mightiest symphonies are shown here to be love letters to his muse. A glorious double cd, classical fans will find this a throwback to when record companies had ambitious classical departments because they HAD to. This even feels like Telarc's most ambitious classical work in quite some time, and the label was launched with a large classical catalog in the making. For classical recidivists of all ages, this grand work is a fine example/reminder of how classical music should sound and be presented. There's a companion set to this in the works so you can't blithely call it an ultimate work but if Axelrod wanted to, this set is so grand he could coast the rest of his career from here if he wanted to. Lend an ear and be glad you did.

Volume 37/Number 291
August 19 , 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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