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AVI KATZ/Ground Level Portraits: Sinister sounding pop where he isn't really a down and dirty cat, he just likes to make it sound gritty. Methinks college kids have a new left of center, malcontent voice to give rise to their own.

MIKE LONGO/Live From New York: Leading the 17 piece New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble, piano man Longo takes his place along side the legendary big band leaders and he inspires the crew to really kick it out. Kind of coming full circle in that he started out with Dizzy Gillespie and this was recorded in the Gillespie Hall at the New York Bahai Center, this jazzbo isn't looking back in the least. For a real tour de force big band date that goes the distance, this is a must stop to make. Well done.

MOON RIVER-Great Instrumental Hits of the 60s/various: This threefer originated in England so the title and the subtitle might not translate well across the pond since cats like Frank Chacksfield were déclassé on these shores, but the half of the tracks that resonate here are going to ding the hippest mid period boomer where they live no matter how hip they've become over time. If you lived in a mid period, well adjusted, boomer home, you have a load of these songs on your DNA because this was the stuff the MOR/coffee head station your mom played to keep her company played as they broke for news on the half hours. One mind wallop of a trip down memory lane, it's all here from lonely bulls to strangers on the shores. As an added bonus, you'll finally know the real title of the Match Game theme. Check it out.

FORREST SMITHSON/Dreaming Time: Christmas is coming. Want to give your massage therapist a gift to help her freshen up her music selections? This set, made by a cat that works with the developmentally disabled, made music to bring people to a more positive space. Our take, this is better than a lot of drippy stuff that passes for new age in the massage therapist's room. Gentle head stuff all the way, give this to her at your own risk as it might make the hour seem to pass too quickly.

EARL McINTYRE/Brass Carnival & Tribute: After more than capably doubling on trombone and tuba in a raft of front line organizations for the last 40 years, McIntyre finally steps out as a leader, showcasing his two bands and their different style. Big, bold and brass happy music, McIntyre shows he knows how to party in a ball room and shake the dust off it as well. Engaging stuff that's fun to play, this is the kind of music that can get you through many a dull day with wings.

JANE IRA BLOOM/Sixteen Sunsets: An album like this makes you appreciate what it takes to pull off an album of all down tempo and ballads and not have the listener break out the razor blades, aiming for his wrist. A gently lyrical set that takes a lot of chestnuts to places they haven't been before and delivers the newly raised bar for mellow. With taste to spare, Bloom delivers a real career defining kind of set that only a tried and true vet knows how to deliver. A winner throughout.

AMY BLACK/This is Home: I'd sure like to think that my enthusiasm for her debut album helped provide some o the spark that sends her second album way over the top. With different takes on the meaning of home, Black takes Americana to new places that mix the basics with white southern soul, all of which she comes by naturally. Top loaded with talent that's major league all the way, Black delivers a bar raising set that we'd been hoping Lucinda Williams would have come up with if she didn't take so long between albums. It's killer stuff that let's everyone come into the tent with the goods delivered in top shelf fashion. Hot stuff throughout.

BARRY DANIELIAN/Metaphorically Speaking: A trumpeter that's played with everyone that matters over the last 30 years, no matter what the genre, the vet pops out an adventurous new date under his own name that rounds the bases nicely, keeping the funk in mind most of the time. With some clever titles for his tracks and killer licks and grooves to underpin the cleverness, this is a solid set of killer playing with a left leaning edge that keeps your ears on their toes. Fun stuff to the max with a real pro in control.

Volume 38/Number 31
December 1, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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