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MARGIE BAKER/Sings With So Many Stars: A swinging vocalist that gives us more reasons to revere her than just because she's crossed over into her 80s, Baker kicks out the jazz vocal jams with hot cats from her stomping ground in the Bay Area. Certainly this twofer set is loaded with oldies well into her comfort zone, but she does them the kind of justice that filled the Hilton Brothers ears when an accidental audition for them led to an 18 year gig at their San Francisco property. Killer vocal work from a pro that might have well written the book in her spare time.

TOHPATI/Tribal Dance: An Indonesian, a Zappatista and a Yellowjacket come together for some power trio riffing that shows it's obvious homage to Zappa when he shut up and played his guitar as well as world and jazz elements woven through the proceedings. Simply put, this is a fine example of state of the art power trio riffing where nothing ever descends into noodling. A real trip for progressive ears that can appreciate both Jeff Beck and Allan Holdsworth in the same song stack, this is a killer set from a bunch of cats that haven't given in to just selling tracks on ITunes when they still have full length statements in them waiting to be said. Hot stuff throughout.

COPERNICUS/Immediate Eternity 2: Barry White meets slowed down Art of Noise meets Serge Gainsbourgh? A mysterious album in which the same crew re-recorded the same songs 13 years later. No matter how you slice it, this is art rock through and through and if you aren't an artso, you really have no business judging it because it's just too over the top to be on your radar.

RALPH BOWEN/Standard Deviation: Here's an experiment that really works well. Sax man Bowen tackles the standards, one generally presented in mellow tones, but he changes things up and gives them a hard edge. Solidly swinging post-bop, Bowen and his crew get inside the music and find things generally never brought out on these tunes except in church basements, if at all. Hard hitting stuff that's easy to take, sax fans will really dig the way he and his crew kick it out here. Well done.

SHAD WEATHERSBY/Lucky #3: He might still be hanging out with George Winston but this is nothing like what he was doing back in the day when Winston was letting Weathersby's efforts cross collateralize his royalties. A science lesson for kids, this is a pop look at science that'll work wonders for the ADD generation and the teachers charged with cramming facts into their heads. You don't have to be a kid trying to work your way through science class to like this, it's wild stuff that merrily colors outside the lines in ways you have to hear to believe. No wonder he wins awards from Disney.

JOHN AXELROD/Brahms Beloved- Symphonies 1 & 3 Clara Schumann Lieder: Another twofer of Brahms symphonies inspired by another long hair's wife really gets to the heart of the turgid, purple passions she stirred in his soul. Almost sounding like gothic scary movie music more often than not, this is about as far from Brahms lullabies as you can get. Pianist Axelrod is right there in step with the music pulling out a performance from orchestra and vocalists that raises the bar for all comers. This twofer is classical music like the kind they used to make all the way throughout. Hot stuff, without a doubt.

THE SOURS: Prior to "Blue", Joni Mitchell was a known quantity and had to be acknowledged as a force of nature, but she wasn't everyone's cup of tea. Sarah Schrift is right in that same bag right now. The Sours are a guitar/vocal duo focused around Schrift. She delivers stark, confessional material that covers the highs, lows and in betweens with a vibe that shows her to be a real witness to real life. A bare bones production with so much presence that you don't notice how bare bones it is, this is the beginning of a juggernaut that's going to be more than a one hit wonder. Hot stuff that'll blow singer/songwriter fans right out of their chairs. Check it out.

Volume 38/Number 192
May 10, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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