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BRASSLANDS/soundtrack: The soundtrack of a pic that's cleaning up on the festival circuit takes a long hard look at the new Balkan brass movement that's wafting up from Romany hills and ethnic labels to be one of the explosive new underground and hipster sounds that's sure to find elements and artists moving into the mainstream. High octane party music by Balkan bands collected from around the world, often doing a mash up of what sounds like a flurry of sounds from around the Serbian region and close but well beyond places as well, this is a real treat for any world beaters on the prowl for hip, new kicks as well as fans of the pic. This set shows the outcry "party time" is as much a universal language as music. Fun stuff by crack players who are more often than not fueled by the love of playing rather than fame and fortune.

JOHN FUNKHOUSER/Still: Funkhouser's fourth finds the jazz piano man's Monk inspired sound continuing to evolve as he sounds like a progressive jazzbo that would rather eat regularly than prove a point. Hell, we like to see our jazzbos having enough to eat to push those keys around. Not church basement stuff, it has an accessibly that could make this a guilty pleasure for the mainstreamer looking to take a walk on the wild side. The music and playing have true passion driving it and that's enough to smooth over any perceived rough edges that might scare the faint of heart in another direction. Fun stuff that opens the ears nicely.

KENTYAH PRESENTS M1, BRIAN JACKSON & THE NEW MIDNIGHT BAND/Evolutionary Minded: Talk about a record that's earned two goddamns and five raised, clenched fists! We are major Scott-Heron fans but we know he's not coming back and that you can only reissue and remix his classics so many times before the old fans are sated and the new kids are on to something else. This masterpiece keeps his music alive and makes it so in the pocket for new kids to discover/rediscover and feel the anger as they fight the power. Borrowing a page form Puffy's interpolation playbook, Kentyah takes it a step farther and earns his co-writing credits as he refashions and rewrites classics, showing there's so much meat to cook in Scott-Heron's catalog that the only mass market recognized tune in the mix here is "Winter in America". Bringing in Headhunters, Bobby Seale, Martin Luther, Chuck D and so many more to add their various special sauces, this is a mind blowing masterwork, especially for any of Scott-Heron's fans that go back to "The Revolution Will Not be Televised" and stayed with him throughout. Killer stuff!

TSUYOSHI NIWA/At the End of the Day: Picking up music and computers at the same time when he was 10 and mastering both, Niwa, a killer sax man, has kept a foot in both worlds only going to better serve his interests as both worlds keep getting closer together. Playing with a lyrical brightness that doesn't tip his hand to being a former tyro with a severely mathematical mind, it's an understatement to say he plays real pretty on the nice stuff he writes but that's the visceral impression you get as he makes it all sound so easy. Despite his various day job guises, he's a jazzbo through and through that knows how to deliver a smoking set that really cooks. Check it out.

CHICAGO JAZZ ORCHESTRA/Burstin' Out: Jeff Lindberg and his venerable crew start flirting with middle age as they enter their 35th year with spring in their joints and bounce in their steps. Keeping the memory of the great arrangers alive while featuring some up and comers and showcasing a new jazz vocalist that knows the swing is the thing, this is a full on orchestra, kicking it out in a live concert hall with good acoustics, the only way to get them all on stage at the same time and in synch. Not at all nostalgic, they might be dipping in to the classic songbag but they are doing living, breathing versions of songs that have lives of their own anyway. Killer stuff that any jazzbo who doesn't follow the dictates of the jazz police will utterly flip for. Easily top work by a top crew that more than goes the distance.

CLARK SUMMERS'/Ba(SH): In his day job, he might be the bass playing sidekick of Kurt Elling, but after hours, he's now in his 15th year with this progressive jazz trio also featuring Dana Hall and Geof Bradfield. Playing with the simpatico that keeps you together for so long without getting sick of each other, this is a BYG trip to the church basement that knows no margins or bounds other than not playing music that sucks. It's wild ride that reminds you what free jazz is all about.

ANNE DRUMMOND/Revolving: How cool would it be to be Anne Drummond's boy friend? You could start the day waking up next to a babe and then be the first to hear her humming some genius work in progress while she's putting up the coffee. All this before you wipe the sleep dust out of your eyes. Damn. With my encyclopedic knowledge of music and production, why do I have to look like a blogger? Oh well, enough of that before the restraining orders start flying. After spending the last decade working with the kind of jazzbos that figured out how to avoid being a starving artist without selling out, Drummond continues to step out on her own, spreading her wings farther with each outing. It's unavoidable acknowledging the DNA behind this recording---jazz, new age, world, some saloon, some samba, some classical, some Herbie Mann excursions into all of the above---but it's also unavoidable acknowledging that like a sonic Dr. Frankenstein, she's reassembled these building blocks into a whole new whole that's one of a kind. With most of her side players being leaders we've enthused over in the past, they come together here under her baton bringing their A game throughout. Not aiming for hit records, Drummond aims her flute for a hit sound making this the kind of date that won't blow up out of the box but will put her kids through college and pay for her groceries when she gets old enough for Social Security and finds it's not there. Utterly killer adult jazz throughout.

SCHOONER/Neighborhood Veins: With echoes of Modern Lovers going from their ears to yours, there might not be any "Pablo Picasso" here, but this crew is from Mitch Easter country, not Willie Alexander country. Residing where power pop meets shoe gaze with a sloppy hug, this is solid, young, malcontent music that's more than skewed enough to feel like misunderstood genius. Dorm hallways need some new sounds, starting...now.

JOHN TOLE/Reign in Laughs: Howard Stern fans need no introduction to this punk rock influenced comic but to all outside the satellite realm be warned, this tattooed bad ass is so committedly pomo he looks nothing like the Harvey Kurtzman/Wally Wood nerd nightmare illustrated on the album cover, but he needed something that nutty on the cover. Angry, pissed off and hell bent for leather, Tole is a no holds barred laugh riot who has no sacred cows and is at his best when he's barbequing them on a spit, Texas style. The puritanically inclined should be warned that this album has no parental advisory sticker but could use one--even though we believe laughs should not be censored. With August coming to an end, we award Tole our laugh riot of the month designation for his fearlessness and unabashedly kicking contemporary angst squarely in the balls. There's a lot of comedians we love out there but Tole has got us laughing harder than we have in a long time. If you aren't afraid of laughing on the edge, check this out! A winner throughout.

Volume 37/Number 296
August 24 , 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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