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KINKY FRIEDMAN/ They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore: A themed collection culled from Friedman's recent Bi-Polar tour, this set focuses on Kinkster's humorous songs from the classic era. In their original form, these cuts reside deep in various label vaults, even with all the consolidation, and here you get nifty, new lived in versions where the cash flow flows directly to Friedman. With added humorous asides interstitially delivered to an appreciative audience, Friedman remains in top form undimmed by time. Almost as good as being there, this set really provides a nice impetus to catch him the next time he rolls thorough your town. Hot stuff loaded with well needed laughs.

JOE DRISCOLL & SEKOU KOUYATE/Faya: The Jimi Hendrix of west African harp hooks up with a rapper from upstate New York and both embrace the future of their arts, twine them together tightly and deliver world beat from another galaxy. If you've favorite genre of music is music, this mind blowing ear opener will defy all your preconceptions and get you bouncing in your seat or tearing up the dance floor depending on how you like to tear things up. A mind blowing fusion of uncharted territories with two chest thumping leaders as guides, this is a sonic trip into the unknown that you can safely take no matter what your taste. Hot stuff.

GINA CHAVEZ/up.rooted: Here comes one of those records that makes you hold on to your hat. Released a prelude to her first national tour, the Austin darling put this together with dough via Kickstarter and didn't waste a cent of the meager budget giving a big, bold sound that sounds like she spent every cent on every byte. A super sonic stew that feels like urban contemporary with a strong Latin edge, you can't reduce the sound to simple descriptors as there is a lot going on. A left field record with the kind of magnetic pull that could being top 40 to it rather than this coming to top 40, Chavez is a serious minded woman that really knows how to throw a party leaving egghead tendencies at the door. A killer pop record for people that are above pop music, this world beat outing will blow your world view wide open. A young feeling record that you don't have to be a youngster to enjoy, Chavez has been harboring and saving up her talents for a sophomore set that shows sophomore jinx is a myth perpetuated by the lazy. Chavez is the bomb from start to finish. Killer stuff.

BOB DOROUGH/Eulalia: Once upon a time, being a hipster didn't mean wearing an Elvis Costello hat. In fact, 90 year old Dorough was there at ground zero of hipster providing the template for the lifestyle. Still hopping at his advanced age, Dorough has earned the right to thumb his nose at anything he wants and here he thumbs his nose at time and tide turning in a set like he's recording for the original incarnation of Bethlehem. Simply gorgeous when it's needed and wild and wooly when called for, the hipster behind "Schoolhouse Rock" shows the youngsters what music is all about and how to deliver hits to all fields. A grown up record that shows what it's like to appreciate grown up things, Dorough is not making a lion in winter statement here but he shows he's to be venerated for more than just being old. A winner throughout.

DEL VENICCI/Haunted Hall: Shoegaze art pop with heavy duty suburban Goth lite overtones, this down tempo dream pop is right for those times kids need noize as rendered thorough an 80s nostalgia patina.

JANICE BORLA GROUP/Promises to Burn: Borla tackles songs not generally associated with jazz vocalists in that they are by instrumentalists but she makes her voice into another instrument of the band, even when not doing vocalese offering up some new sonic directions for jazzbo ears. Cutting an interesting swath where this can be enjoyed equally by those who like vocalists and those who like instrumentalists, when you have a vocalist tackling Jack deJohnette, you know you are up for a new experience. After all is said and done, this set comes at you right down the middle and is a gasser throughout. Check it out.

SINE QUA NON/Simple Pleasure: Maybe it's the steel drum being an integral part of the sound but a lot of this sounds like crime jazz as envisioned by Andy Narell. Anything wrong with being compared to Narell? Not likely. The rest of the crew holds up their end as well. With an obvious island vibe washing over the proceedings, this jazzbo outing has that something delightfully different going for it that really grabs you hard. Very much an auspicious debut, if you'd like some of the helium let out of the lite jazz balloon, this is the next stop on your tour of new releases. Fun, timely stuff that sonically damns the Polar Vortex to hell in fine style. Check it out.

JOHN STEIN & THE Mingotan Project/Emotion: Supposing Wes had a thing for tango as envisioned by a fusion minded Argentinean and grabbed a flute player from the civil right era church basement tossing them all under the mic away from the watchful ear of Claus Ogerman. Just suppose. Perhaps the result would have been something like this nu tango set that could introduce yuppies and banker/finance types to jazz. It might just untighten their asses and stop them just short of destroying the economy faster than a hungry hacker with Pac Man fantasies. Stein does it again. Refusing to give us another record that seems like grass is growing under his feet, he shifts directions once again to mightily open the ears. Fun stuff that finds Buenos Aires barreling down 52nd St., this set is a sure jazzy tonic for world wise ears that are feeling a bit world weary right about now. High octane as always, Stein continues to bend those strings in the right directions.

Volume 38/Number 78
January 18, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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