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B & B
BEATA PATER/Golden Lady: In which we find Pater trying a new brand of special sauce, totally changing her vibe and sound, and if nothing else, she shows how less is more. Dumping the big band for a piano and bass, Pater has found that spot where Chaka Khan meets eastern Europe for a wildly sexy spin. Deftly mixing cabaret, performance art vibes and 50s black, chick singer moves, this set handily turns everything topsy turvy giving your expectations a real kick in the pants. If you're not impressed with the bitching today's 17 to 23 year olds pass off as singing the blues about life these days, this world wise set is going to put you in a head lock and not let go. This is a real treat for mature tastes that still like to buy albums but just can't find what they want at Target and don't have the time to invest in investigating Amazon. Totally hot.

DIXIE PEACH/Blues With Friends: This guys have been around for 40 years--but not continuously. Here they are again with pretty much the original line up kicking it out like they did back in the day when white boys could have fun playing electric blues. There's no dust on this bunch, even when their lyrics reflect the tongue in cheek sensibilities of two generations ago. Since boomers are destined to get old while not really growing up along they way, this is a great time for any pot bellied former frat boy, even if he can't sell a dad and lad experience (but maybe the grand kids will come around and get some kicks). Fun stuff by pros that know how to serve up the real deal.

JAMES ARMSTRONG/Guitar Angels: Armstrong started out strong and just keeps getting better. This new one starts off with a rolling and rollicking nu jump blues that brings the grins as well as the smoke. While it's not all grins and giggles lyrically, the music stays hot no matter where these blues takes it. This s a cat that got the goods and knows how to deliver them with no chips or dents. Hot stuff contemporary blues fans are going to flip for.

DAUNIELLE: We seem to be entering a new golden age of pissed off, middle aged black women that really know how to serve up red hot blues and R&B. A legacy from Memphis (her pop was one of Stax's Mad Lads) she doesn't sound like someone that's been making a living backing up Huey Lewis and maybe that's why she's letting it all out here. A musical vet that's making her solo debut, she's in good hands with Jim Gaines producing and the Catfood ‘house band' playing up a storm for her. If you've been wondering where the new Koko Taylors are going to come from, here's the proof you just have to be patient because they just don't grow on trees. Killer stuff throughout.

FRANK DiBUSSOLO GROUP/Songs to Write Home About: There's an interesting and fun mix going on here. A vet guitarist that sounds like he was taught by Bucky Pizzarelli or Joe Pass teams up with some pals and a young vocalist that couldn't sound more like a classic jazz thrush if Pro Tools was turned up to 10. Sticking with WWII themes and imagery throughout, the players are in the pocket and the songbird in front of it all is a joy. Just when you think you'll turn green with one more trip down memory lane comes a sweet set like this to turn your thinking around. Killer stuff that's a gasser throughout.

FERENC ILLENYI/Gypsy Dream: So what happens when the first violinist of the Houston Symphony suddenly gets pinged by his atavistic Hungarian roots and needs to give them voice? Well, suppose the opening riffs from Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me to the End of Love" were given a life their own, in capable hands. Where would they wind up? On this record. Illenyi is obviously a no nonsense player and here, we find him literally flexing muscles he doesn't use in classical music. The result is some of the wildest Grappelli flavored world beat you are going to find in the market today. Killer stuff that blows your ears wide open, more with it's presence than it's power, that really goes the distance. This is the kind of stuff that shows it can stand the test of time in the end. Why wait? You can enjoy it now. Hot stuff throughout.

ADRIANNA MARIE and Her Groovecutters/Double Crossing Blues: Do you miss the fun Lavay Smith brought during the swing revival? It's back. A singer with a long musical life that snagged a blues best new artist nomination, Marie is a musical sponge that soaked up influences from Kingston Trio to Memphis Minnie and let that all be her classroom. She learned all her lessons well. A release too energetic to be ghettoized solely into a blues corner, it is a blues/R&B record but it's big and bold enough to break down barriers as well. This is one hard hitting gal that knows how to set the table for a good time and deliver on all promises---and then some. All this from the child of folk singers? This is purely a hot time in the old town tonight! Check it out.

LAURA McMILLAN/Storybook Love: A life long classical pianist finds true happiness by turning to new age/NAC and setting that corner of the world on fire. To follow up, she's attacking the keyboard with a vigor and passion that shows she wasn't just genre hopping for commercial satisfaction. Solo piano with no noodling, McMillan rivals Jim Brickman for romantic piano playing giving a nice counter to his work since she's coming at the subject from the distaff side. A warm, tasty recording, she's a perfect example of how you can take a niche and make it take on a size and scale all it's own. A must for all solo piano fans to hear. Well done.

Volume 38/Number 91
January 31, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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