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THE L.A. TREASURES PROJECT/Live at Alva's Showroom: This is too much. The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra took two vet west coast jazz vocalists to a music store and let the tape roll and the fur fly. Sounding very much like what any boomer in a hipper household heard while growing up, you can't pinpoint who is hotter than who here. The band blazes as always and Barbara Morrison and Ernie Andrews are in top shelf form on vocals. It's not streaming that's killing record sales, it not enough of these killer performances by thoroughbreds in their kick laps being preserved and celebrated. The tunes might be from back in the day from several different jazz quadrants but the net result is smoke, sizzle and steak. This is mainstream jazzbo heaven without having anyone having to die to get there. Killer stuff throughout.

ARTHUR MIGLIAZZA/Laying It Down: And here's our new, top shelf left field goodie. Migliazza is a boogie woogie piano man and he's not afraid to add a band, electronics and anything else he feels like to the mix to keep it hip and up to date. Utterly wild stuff that would have no one accusing him of being a revivalist, this is no baggy suited hipster sneaking time away from his day job. Taking it down south, taking it to church, taking it to Nawlins, taking it to Mars, Fats Waller is having a stomping good time checking this out in case you think he's rolling in his grave. Never creative just for the sake of it, this boogie is a gasser. All left field ears ought to check this out. Well done.

JOHNNY COX/Thin Blue Line: Over history, we've made a big deal out of the Brits ripping off the blues and selling it back to us, but what spyglass has been cast upon the Scots? This Scotsman that's been holed up in Canada doesn't do it 60s style. He's down with the blues but he comes on like an earnest folkie well versed in the ways of the coffeehouse. A smoking guitar player with hippie tendencies, Cox is easy going when he's not standing his ground. This is a fine dose of amped up folk boogie in the way that Michael Hurley probably envisioned the future. This cat has a lot on the ball.

JOHNNY O'NEAL/Live at Smalls: The singing piano man who played Art Tatum in "Ray" comes in with his first new album in ten years and we wonder what took so long for a label to get the message from this early 80s Jazz Messenger. A trio date that owes an obvious debt to the great Cole trios, particularly when looking a the era of most of the set card, this is a smokingly charming set with a great you-are-there feel. Sophisticated without being urbane or having a cabaret edge, this is just pure jazz that works righteously from top to bottom. A cat that could teach us all a thing or two about jazz appreciation, O'Neal delivers mightily. Well done throughout.

FRANK LACY & the Smalls Legacy Band/Live at Smalls: Here comes one of those hold onto your hats kind of dates. The musical tyro with the physics degree and a long standing ownership of the bandstand Tuesday nights at Smalls gathers a few of the regulars and residents for a rousing date that finds his funky trombone in good company no matter how they're kicking it out. Crackling with that no second chance energy, Lacy and company are on the money and in the pocket throughout. Smoking post bop throughout, this is the kind of top shelf sitting down jazz that gets you moving in spite of yourself. Hot stuff.

MIKEY JUNIOR/Traveling South: The 8th outing from this harmonica playing youngblood that was already gigging before he was out of high school tells us one thing--in the right hands the future of the blues is in good hands. Playing like he's a dyed in the wool old school cat, this guy might as well be the grandchild of Butterfield as he blows and hollers his way into your heart like he sold his soul on highway 61. A solid dose of traditional post war blues for modern ears, this set is the kind of stuff that could single handedly light the fuse on a whole nu blues revival. Well done.

KPM MUSIC RECORDED LIBRARY/New York Trouble-Electric Progression: You've probably noticed the underground bubbling with interest lately for old music libraries. Huh? This stuff was supposed to be cheese when it was first recorded. Well, if you go digging in the crates, you find some of the hippest and commercialist cats were moonlighting away from the studio tans that they were made famous for doing needle drops for cheapo producers. Crate diggers Shawn Lee and Tim Love Lee found needle drop records with dates led by Herbie Flowers and Barry Morgan. This stuff was just supposed to be beat tracks but the Loves took it upon themselves to ‘finish' these tracks into songs. Wild stuff. Considering Flowers was the bass player on "Walk on the Wild Side" and "Space Oddity" among a million other songs, you know you aren't starting out with moldy chopped liver here. Yes, it doesn't hurt to be a hard core hipster to gravitate to this but anyone with left field tastes is sure to warm up to this once they get a handle on what all this music library passion is all about. Found music is taken to a new level here and we see the Lee's are wonderful pranksters that know how to deliver the goods without the knowing smirk. Check it out.

TWEED FUNK/First Name Lucky: This crew came out of the box a few years ago with an amazing soul party record that made you wonder how these cats came from Wisconsin. The funk continues, but this time around they pack their bags to tear it up in Memphis and the change of scene gives them a change of energy that's welcome and sure to keep you on board as they don't deliver more of the same. Trying to record it as live as they play it, they aren't retro so much as they are keeping the tradition alive by moving it forward. Loaded with the kind of classic show band sound that inspired the Blues Brothers, this gang continues to show they know how to deliver the funk in top shelf fashion. Well done, again.

STORY OF TOMORROW/various: How do you really know where the corn is cut? How about when you get a record label headed by a member of The Band for over a decade who is producing new music that really new music, the looking ahead kind. Highlighting goodies from recent releases along with some surprises from Professor Louie's private stock where he brings old Woodstock to nu Russia, stuff like this makes you feel like the golden age of label samplers is coming back. Fun stuff that you'll wind up wanting more than just a taste of.

Volume 38/Number 145
March 25, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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