SANDY CARROLL/Unnaturally Blonde: Once again not needing to trumpet that she's Mrs. Jim Gaines, Carroll serves up a sexy, slinky set of blues vocals that really wraps itself around you and takes a firm hold. Cutting her own path mightily as a writer as well, Carroll can hold her head high as she rides high on this outing. A worthy follow up to her last trend setting set, white girl blues has comfortably taken up residence at the exurban strip malls far enough out that you can see the stars at night. Tasty, easy going stuff throughout that never lets you down.
JOHNNY RAWLS/Remembering O.V.: O. V. Wright was recording deep soul for southern labels right around the time Al Green and Curtis Mayfield were crossing over. As a result, the hard hitting soul singer seems to be forgotten these days by both black and white listeners. Rawls nailed a Wright cut on a recent release and was pushed and motivated to go for a whole album celebrating Wright. A double barreled dose of deep soul show band shouting, Rawls brings a James Brown vibe to the proceedings and makes a set that isn't so much of a tribute record as it is a collaboration of sorts, like a Glen Campbell/Jimmy Webb face off. A blues award winner, Rawls doesn't need to prove his credentials and he gets extra points for his fine preservation work in bringing Wright back to the front. Killer stuff.
PHIL WOODS & THE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA/New Celebration: What better way to kick off the rebirth of a seminal, feisty, jazz indie than with their first new recording in ten years being the follow up to Woods' Grammy winner from 1997? Still right in the pocket with no dust on him, this set picks up right where the first one left off, even with a boatload of the same players on board. A mostly original session underlying this newly recorded date, Woods and crew are experts at knowing how to deliver. Sure to be acclaimed as real jazz for real jazzbos, the big band is alive and well and living in the Poconos, far from the slings and arrows of the commercial marketplace with it's poorly thought out demands. Killer stuff from pros that always should be given their place at the front of the line.
BILL MAYS INVENTIONS TRIO/Life's A Movie: This piano/trumpet/cello trio serves up mini-soundtracks for imaginary movies but still manages to work in tribute to Monk and Bill Evans along the way even giving "Waltz for Debby" another new life along the way. Tasty sitting down jazz referred to by this crew as chamber jazz, they make it easy to be a grooving, finger popping daddy without leaving your seat. Buoyant fun stuff throughout that never misses a beat.
THE STEELDRIVERS/Hammer Down: I discovered this band when they were playing it in store at Barnes & Noble and I wondered how I had missed them. Then I found out this bluegrass/newgrass/fusion crew has been nominated for several Grammys, bluegrass awards and is a big fave of Adele who was covering one of their songs in concert. Huh? Each member of the crew is already an established commercial hitter and draws high praise from Vince Gill, but their real magic is the ability to be commercial and down home at the same time. Just the organic tonic you've been looking for, bluegrass has changed with the times and this is sure to change your dated view of bluegrass/down home music. An utter killer for real people that want real music and sharp, solid songwriting throughout.
ALLEN TOUSSAINT/Songbook: If you've been lucky enough to catch Mr. Toussaint at one of the 200 seat clubs he's been playing at lately, you could almost look at this cd-dvd combo pack as a souvenir of the event. Playing with the fury he had 40 years ago at Warners and earlier and looking elegant in that way black men of certain age with a certain background are wont to do, this enrapturing master class in soul/funk/pop that every one knows from the last half century shows that "and then I wrote shows" should only have it this good all the time. The most amazing thing about this live set is not the wealth of songs that are on parade but the wealth of songs that he's holding back for volume 2?, volume 3?... Killer stuff from one of the all time greats who easily proves that showing up with the goods is all you need to deliver a killer, total package. Hot stuff not to be missed by anyone with real taste.
LOU PRIDE/Ain't No More Love in This House: The real pride of North Chicago's last album gets posthumous release and serves as a fine send off. Sounding like a great lost Muscle Shoals session right in line with some of the forgotten and undiscovered treasures that have been finding release lately rather than something of recent extraction from North of the Mason/Dixon line, deep soul fans have a fine memory in the making here. Dressed up with some uptown sanding rounding off the really gritty edges, singer and band are in harmony and obviously had set out to make a classic. Hot stuff soul fans, take note.
URSULA RICKS/My Street: Willie Henderson is at it again with the Severn stable, this time around working his magic for vocalist Ricks and bringing out the pop lurking in her blues and soul. A veteran of the east coast blues scene, Ricks knows her stuff and brings a new freshness to well worn, warm grooves. Tasty stuff that openness ears nicely.
Volume 37/Number 330
September 27, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record
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