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ADRIAN RASO & FANFARE CIOCARLIA/Devil's Tale: Fanfare is the crew that has reinvented the Balkan Brass sound, Raso is a Canadian guitar man that was looking for new challenges as hard as Fanfare was. The result? A wild mash up of the Balkans heading to Nawlins via Canada with some heavy pals tossed into the mix for insurance and assurance. Listen to this enough times and you're sure to hear world beat stops you didn't hear the time before as it all makes your ears skip a beat and your heart race. With each track finding a different port of call, this is wild world beat that has as much Russian café as Africa, India and the kitchen sink lurking in these bytes. Grand a grand world beat outing from top to bottom.

BOB LANZA BLUES BNAD/'Til the Pain is Gone: This white, blues howler from Jersey knows his way around the west side of Chicago courtesy to misspending his youth hanging around with cats like James Cotton. Too set in his ways now to go for an MBA, especially since his son is on the band, Lanza plays a stinging guitar and howls it out like he's in the market to sell his soul but the devil is a little afraid of the bargain. First class roadhouse blues for the frat boy in everyone that ever wanted to yell, "Otis, my man!".

THE BAND/Live at the Academy of Music 1971: The big, bad box set too much for you? Even with Amazon discounts? How about downsizing to something akin to the original two record set with this two cd set that captures the "Rock of Ages" concerts without the redundancies. This cup of meat doesn't have to be well marbled to be tasty, hell, it's choice that simmered in the slow cooker all day and it's just as tasty and healthier to you (or, actually, your wallet). Kick back, take a load off Manny and enjoy the finest drunkard's dream if you ever did see one. All the modern touches make this the classic that those on one side of the great divide said it was all those years ago.

JOSHUA BREAKSTONE/With the Wind and the Rain in Your Hair: Start with some Wes, add 30 years of special sauce and some personal attention to detail and you get a solid, tasty, guitarist that is more interested in his art than chasing flavor of the month stardom. That attention to craft pays off here. Sounding nothing like a run of the mill jazz guitar date, Breakstone's only acquaintance with clichés with when describing him as ‘hitting his stride', ‘being at the top of his game' et al, etc and on and on. With simmering but hot fire burning throughout, Breakstone and crew show their hand as the kind of band that would get you out to a small club on a crummy night because you know they are going to deliver something you don't want to miss. It's all here. Well done and ready for you to hear this cat now and wonder where he's going to take it next.

JIM CLAYTON/Songs My Daughter Knows: A decorated Canadian piano man with no one to answer to packs up the family, heads down to Nawlins for a quick trip where he rounds up a few all stars and makes a reimagined set of "Sesame Street " songs and more because it's stuff his three year old likes. There's plenty here for the three year old in all of us. Not a typical kiddie album in that it doesn't talk down and any age can enjoy it, this cat form the frozen north is one serious hot shot. Well done.

HALLEY DEVERTERN BAND/Fabbo! Boffo! Smasho!: Ready for a balls to the wall white blues belting mama that has sung with Big Brother & the Holding Company and has the admiration of Bonnie Bramlett? This fearless, two fisted broad grabs the spotlight, owns it, growls one minute, purrs the next and carries on like there's no tomorrow. A wild ride throughout, mama loves her job and isn't afraid to let it show. Hot stuff.

DEE BELL-MARCOS SILVA/Silva Bell Elation: When vets of the system get together, take off the gloves, stop worrying about the clock, perception and taste, wonderful things can fly through the air and land successfully. Essentially after a few decades away, this Concord vet rounds up a bunch of SF pros, finds the jazz in Neil Young and sets sail. A jazz vocal date with a lot of traditional elements, it all comes together in a non-traditional way that blows your ears wide open. Jazz vocal fans won't be offended in the least, no matter how purist they are, and you can bet a good time will be had by all. Bell obviously remembers that this is the entertainment business and if we aren't having fun, we aren't doing our jobs. Fun stuff throughout.

MATT WILSON QUARTET + JOHN MEDESKI/Gathering Call: The faintly Impulse inspired cover art should be the tip off that this is Wilson really getting in touch with his daddio side. Bringing his old jam band pal into the fold this time around, the fur is really flying in every direction and none of it sounds like the work of a wannabe. This is the cat the raises the bar to the gold standard. Since there's no guitar in this group, isn't it time someone introduced Wilson to Grant Geissman so these two can daddio it to the max? Certainly the kind of session Al Lion would have been proud of, Wilson does it again proving what a national treasure and visionary he is. Do we really have to wait it out another 30 years for this cat to get some NEA recognition? Screw them, be sure to enjoy him now. Killer stuff that recorded in only 6.5 hours. Solid proof that when you know what you're doing...

Volume 38/Number 58
December 28, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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