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JOHN McCUTCHEON/22 Days: While there is some light hearted stuff in the mix here, basically we find McCutcheon being a classic folk bard singing out against contemporary injustice and atrocity. He does it without hitting you over the head with meaning and guilt finding his messages hitting their targets with stealth and deftness. Reliably in the folkie pocket, this is the guise protest music has taken in the shadows of the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. You don't always need Western Union to send a message.

TIANNA HALL & CHRIS CORTEZ/Noel: Here's a delightful jazzy take on the traditional Christmas riff. Hall & Cortez face off nicely as she brings ace vocals and he brings the guitar and band loaded with verve and swerve. While there might not be any new ground broken here, there's a lot of dazzling, pretty ground broken making this a smooth jazz Christmas with some bite in the bytes. Fun stuff that can add some pizzazz to any holiday gathering.

MANHATTAN BRASS/Manhattan Holiday: So, what's the difference between this and a Canadian Brass Christmas? How about the arrangements here are by Carla Bley and Jack Walrath! If you ever wondered what Christmas was like in the Swallow household, here's catching up on the 50 years you missed out on since she started plying her jazz trade. The Lew Soloff led crew had the flawless chops to back up any promises made and make sure they are delivered. This is a wonderfully after hours New York holiday experience. Well done.

JOHN HIATT/Here to Stay-Best of 2000-12: Always a respected writer, Hiatt's recording career wasn't always the stuff to write home about, even when sales expectations were lower. Focusing on Hiatt's recordings from the time he left major labels and bad habits behind, he comes across here as a Tom T. Hall kind of folkie who is the kind of emphatic performer that might not be for all tastes but is the only one who can fly these planes he built. A killer, no fat collection from a cat that has earned his stripes with each trip to the plate, this is wonderful, left of center/folk/rock/country/adult that doesn't need to fit the format. This could easily lead to a whole new appreciation of Hiatt a mere 40 years into his career. Check it out.

DWIGHT YOAKAM/21st Century Hits Best of 2000-12: Yoakam is one of those award winning, best selling acts that does his thing so easily and without drama that it gets too easy to take him for granted. This set follows his journeys through indie world since leaving Warners and he's more honky tonk than ever, even when being directed in a Buck Owens music vid by Fred Durst. With the freedom to push all the envelopes he wished over the last decade plus, Yoakam does a great job of tearing it up for a cat with 35 professional years under his belt. There's a heavy dose of his tribute to Buck Owens on board and you just can't get enough of that. This set picks up from where his last greatest hits set left off and it really provides an impetus for the uninitiated to dig deeper. Well stocked throughout with enough high octane to keep the party going in the parking lot after the roadhouse closes down.
6272 (DVD combo pack)

JERRY JEFF WALKER/It's a Good Night for Singin' & Contrary to Ordinary: Continuing to explore Walker's MCA years, Raven delivers two sets that have never been on cd before and are long overdue. Although referred to as a member of the Outlaw movement, he ran toward the left side of it and was never really identified as part of the Willie & Waylon camp. More like your sloppy pal that kept the spirit and the spirits flowing all night, these loosy goosy sets, with extra tacks from his live album, show how much fun palling around with the Lost Gonzos was as the search for great songs, new writers and ultimate vibes to head off the endless bummer that was Cleveland really was. Always rollicking and always feeling well after hours, this is the glorious sound of what it was to be an Austin hippie 35 years ago. This is one well stocked twofer that covers all the bases and shows that just because everybody already recorded killer songs like "Old Five and Dimers Like Me" and "Till I Gain Control Again" that a unique personality can't do them one more time and make them his own. More people should have gotten off that L.A. Freeway!

TOM SCOTT/Master of Funk-The Essential Albums 1974-77: With three albums covering his Ode/Epic period, this shows what happens when you stay on that L.A. Freeway and Joni Mitchell puts your name on everyone's lips. In fact, you have to appreciate the slightly schizzy liner photo of him blowing up a storm with Mitchell---but we always knew she had the funk in her long before she started hanging out with Mingus. Probably only known to ardent crate diggers, the grooves on these albums have powered so many chart topping records full of samples that Scott really doesn't have to worry about innovating ever again, financially, if he doesn't feel like it. With a career's worth of jazz/funk innovation on board here, you don't have to look at this as a journey through the past. This is white boy funk 101 and class is back in session. Still killer stuff.

TIM WARFIELD/Jazzy Christmas: If Warfield doesn't feel like slugging it out in the jazz trenches in smash mouth combat, the sax man can join the ranks of those who are making a career out of great holiday and event sessions and just coast easily. Rounding up a bunch of all star pals, this leader serves up a straight ahead, jazz Christmas that offends no one without being bland. The right kind of set for bringing family and friends (or just listener and headphones) together, this is mainstream groovers paradise that can make anyone from tykes to grandpas feel like hipsters. With just the right amount of swing in tow, this is a right on holiday set for any jazz taste. Check it out.

Volume 38/Number 10
November 10, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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