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LARA IACOVINI/Right Together: Steve Swallow channeling Creed Taylor in a late career switcheroo? Applying his storehouse of musical knowledge, Swallow creates a nu bossa setting for this rising Italian vocalist that seems to toss off a vibe that says there isn't much difference between south Atlantic or Mediterranean. Astrid Gilberto with some gale force and bass instead sax behind her is what's going on here in this session heavy on Swallow originals. The lad must have packed his uniform on top when he took off for Italy for these sessions because there's no wrinkles on his efforts. Fun stuff for the jazz vocal fan looking for something for the sweet tooth in his ear.

IAN CAREY-BEN STOLOROW/Duocracy: After years of striving and making albums everyone raves about, this duo that has worked a lot together but never recorded together decided to take a tip from us and go after hours. Just the two of them smoking it up hotel piano bar style on a set card of warhorses carries the day quite nicely and you can tell they enjoy recording with the pressure off. In fact, these Bay area staples sound like they were kicking it out in the bar at this swank hotel on the rehabbed Berkeley waterfront with the sun going down in the background and the glasses clinking. First class throughout, loaded with the joy of playing for the fun of it. Infectious---in a good way!

DOMINIC MILLER/Ad Hoc: If Sting and Paul Simon feel the need to tour together to make sure the seats are filled, you can bet they won't want to save money by bringing the B team on tour with them. Miller is holding down the guitar chair on this tour and he's going to liven things up as much as Adrian Belew did a generation ago. This cat is a rock star through and through as he pushes the limits and defies convention without a smirk. The spiritual grand child of Hendrix, Miller takes risks, surrounds himself with the best and delivers the goods for people that want real music without compromise. Killer stuff that'll blow you away from start to finish.

CARL HIAASEN (read by Arte Johnson)/Dance of the Reptiles: You need proof that truth is stranger than fiction? With Medicare fraud replacing drug dealers as the crime of choice in Hiaasen's fiction, he turns his typewriter on his columns about real life, pulled from the headlines in the newspapers that carry him. With a generous 12.5 hour serving of his works, loaded with humor, indignation, disbelief and a general aghastness, Hiaasen has his say on recent elections, Bernie Madoff, pollution and shenanigans of every nature. And usually, he somehow makes most of it funny. If you're a newbie to his works, it's time to get off your Hunter/Leonard/Parker high horse and lend an ear to the best of the living mystery writer/cultural observers plying his trade today. This is a wild ride that was just made for headphones to block out the rest of the world as you let it go by.

CHARLES KRUATHAMMER (read by the author and George Newbern)/Things that Matter: In which we find a life in letters distilled by the political commentator, Pulitzer Prize winner and doctor. Collecting his ground breaking essays, unique views and penetrating insights, Krauthammer takes you on a tour of the last few decades looking at things that shaped him and us. The centerpiece of national discussions on Friday nights, here he fills out 12 hours of presentation quite quickly and easily. He might have all the egghead credits that one can amass but he never talks down to you. There's a lot of wisdom here for the taking no matter where you line up on the political spectrum.

ROBERT GORDON/Respect Yourself: A generation ago, Rob Bowman's "Soulsville, USA" was the last word in reporting about Stax Records. Since then, Mavis Staples has had a late career bounce, Stax was sold again and revived for it's 50th anniversary and time has passed in general setting the stage for Memphis scribe, Robert Gordon to offer another last word on the Stax saga and crediting Bowman's fine work in the process. With more attention paid to the Johnny Baylor years as well as the civil rights flowering that powered the label's second act, this work compliment's Bowman's work and really fills out the picture for the soul music lover. As much fun to read as the music is to listen to, this tome is more well written than the usual music history dissection and will lead you to the distinction between Motown and Stax once and for all. Well done.

Volume 38/Number 104
February 12, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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