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CHARLIE DENNARD/From Brazil to New Orleans: It always starts out like this. Who doesn't like Nawlins? Who doesn't like Brazil? What happens when a talented jazz piano cat calls up 20 of his closest musical pals and puts it to them in the purest Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland hey kids let's put on a show fashion that it's time to throw a wing ding and see what happens when you fuse the two modes? You wind up with a real mutha! You can hear the shades of this that and the other running through the music but the end result is a jazz statement that forges ahead with a singular, new voice. There's just so much fun stuff going on here that you can't grab it all with one listening. If you need a solid, new dose of invention and creativity, this is most definitely a set that will blow your ears wide open. Killer stuff throughout.

OLD SMOKEY/Wester Easter: When a next gen pomo crew from Athens, GA cites the Clancy Brothers original guitarist as an influence, you know you're in for a wild ride. Like a marching band form Mars, every track has a different vibe and influence percolating through it making these musical merry makers slyer than you might think. Sort of a super group of pomo cats from the recession era that have recombined their DNA, this is what you get when you think Mumford is folk and something has to come in it's wake. Wild stuff that's sure to give you a wild ride, particularly if you aren't a moldy fig.

BOB CORRITORE/Taboo: One of the perks of being a cat playing at the top of your game is you can do anything you want and put it all out there. It's nice of harp ace Corritore to let us in on a bunch of his probable fetishes at once. The cover sports his whacked out vision of sexy, the record is loaded with a bunch of stellar guests all raising each other's game and spirit of Little Walter is smiling down upon the whole enterprise keeping Corritore's harp true. This all instrumental set is a killer throughout. With nothing but the best of the best on display throughout, you can be sure this is going to snap up every blues award it come near in the next award season. This is smoking platter of the real deal and not to be missed by any deep blues fan.

TERRY HANCK BAND/Gotta Bring It On Home To You: Maybe it's just jingoism on our part, but this disc seems to hold further proof that if you're going to be a white boy and have the blues, you better be from Chicago. This award winning vet knows the right way to power a show band. With his sax and vocals out front leading the way, Hanck serves up a hotter, longer lasting party than his white hair might have you think. With a million years on the road under his belt, including a long stint with Elvin Bishop (who found his blues in Chicago, of course), Hanck knows how to entertain in fine style. A must for party people that know where the party is lurking in the blues.

TAKESHI ASAI/French Trio V. 1: It's happening again. Here's another jazz piano trio that has popped up out of nowhere and is determined to make their mark doing nothing but playing great music. Classy, uncluttered and well recorded, don't bother trying to find fault with this set because there isn't' any. The tunes bounce and swing, the beat is upbeat and everything is in the pocket and on the money. This player/composer/leader not only does it right, he makes it look too easy. Top shelf throughout.

SHANE DWIGHT/This House: It's always worth digging in the crates to find something new by Bekka Bramlett and guess who's singing and writing a few on here? That's not all this set has on the ball. Dwight brings in some back 40 all stars, locks in a groove and the gang delivers a solid set of roots music that won't get the approval of genre hipsters but will be at the top of your charts. Dwight's specialty seems to be cutting to the chase like early Kristofferson, hitting hard and often before you even know you've been hit. Call it bluesy folk rock if you will as Dwight's songwriting and guitar slinging seem to be a fast ball right down the middle of that lane. Hot stuff throughout.

EILEEN CAREY/Let It Go: When you gotta make a living, it's a long way from being one of the Ray Charles Uh Huh girls to being the ambassador for Super Cuts, but since Carey's act is built around been there/done that and owning it while passing on the wisdom, it's all good is the watch word here. Her messages don't hit you over the head, and since Charles liked country music so much, it shouldn't be such a stretch finding the transplanted Ohioan to LA tracking her music in Nashville. All that and she still has time to cover ‘Walking on Sunshine'. A worthy successor to the divorcee pop pioneered by Dory Previn et al in the 70s, somebody has to chart the course for the rest. This certainly won't take the guys away from March Madness but the girls have to be doing something in the meanwhile.

PERRY BEEKMAN/Bewitched-Perry Beekman Sings & Plays Rodgers & Hart: Remember that line in "Piano Man" where a drunk asks Billy Joel ‘man, what are you doing here?" Before the great economic collapse when resort towns had a fancy hotel that had a piano bar going seven nights a week with the local luminary that the locals would come out and see several nights a week, cats like Beekman were that guy, even if this guy is a guitar player. A simply smoking set by a cat that feels like he can really be appreciated in a laid back atmosphere with an Irish coffee, this is jazz trio with no pretense but plenty of flair. With impeccable material on his set card and a bright bounce that ties it all together, this is dandy, grown up listening. You just can't go wrong with this set.

STEVE PICATAGGIO/Two Feet On the Ground: An earnest young man and recent music school grad, this jazz drummer's debut album could almost pass for a master's thesis except that it swings too much for that. Mentored and taught by the best since he was 10 years old and decided music was the circus he wanted to run away with, he's the kind of student that actually enjoys his schooling and can't get enough of it, especially since a bunch of it was in New York jazz clubs playing the real deal for people that know what it is to be only a few blocks away from amateur night at the Apollo. With Ulysses Owens at the helm and a bunch of songs you love in the stack, Picataggio seems ready to make his way in the world and make is mark as well. Check it out.

Volume 38/Number 147
March 27, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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