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LISA CASALINO/I'm Old Fashioned: What more do you need than a great voice that knows how to command a song and a back up crew that plays like they do it for the love of it. This set has it all on the ball and is a sure fire winner for the straight ahead jazz vocal fan. Mixing originals with chestnuts in fine style, Casalino shows what it's like to be playing a the top of your game. Hot stuff throughout.

CITY WALLS AUTUMN FALLS/Factory: It's nice when a crew can cite influences without trampling them or being manqué about it. This bunch was so inspired by Dylan they schlepped off to record this in a barn in Woodstock. I hear the Dylan influences, don't hear any Band influences but I do hear a bunch of McGuinn seeping through the cracks. Non protest Dylan for today's generation? Why not? At least they aren't a bunch of shoe gazing whiners. Nice neo-folk rock that feels nicely like today.

NAWA/Ancient Sufi Invocations & Forgotten Songs from Aleppo: A punk drummer gets a cel call with bad reception and it leads him to preserving some Syrian ethnic stuff right before the destruction of it all. How's that for a back story? This deeply ethnic set isn't for everyone. In fact, it sounds like something Lee Groban might have been listening to while he was working his way into the Guinness Book of World Records, and this could have been the soundtrack for the pic that put him there. This is hard core stuff for the real world beater that really wants to go behind the curtain.

LITTLE MIKE & THE TORNADOES/All the Right Moves: With the original Tornadoes on board backing Little Mike like in the old days, for anyone that remembers back in the day Chicago blues from when Butterfield brought the cats to the north side, this is going to be a real gasser. Sure, they're white boys, but they play it like it spilled out onto Lincoln Ave in the late 60s and early 70s, and it's a welcome return to form. And they're white boys that staked out their turf in the big apple on top of it. This is smoking, smoky stuff that'll take you back to the day, even if you weren't there the first time around, in mighty fine style. Sure footed stuff for the frat boy in all of us. Well done throughout.

JOHANNA SAMUELS/Double Bind: Talk about a mixmaster. Samuels is a contemporary singer/songwriter that has some vaudeville in her sound and vibe. A nu chick with a tough but tender edge, Samuels zeroes in on the trials and tribulations of today's generation and gives voice to those looking for voice. Wild stuff that takes you through so many levels the trip is sure to make you dizzy but feeling sonically fulfilled. Check it out.

MANUEL VALERA/Self Portrait: The vet piano man comes in with a very personal, solo jazz set that shows his versatility and how well it's displayed when the artist feels in his bones that he's ready to set sail on that course. Valera knows his stuff, doesn't need to over play and wins you over if you've never heard him before. Tasty stuff that works well throughout.

FELIX PEIKLI/Royal Flush: A rising clarinet tyro shows that when this stuff over took him 16 years ago at age 8, he already knew what direction he was headed in. Tasty stuff that has a contemporary edge and takes the licorice stick to new places. With the kind of special sauce that can be attributed to him getting his jazz in his native Norway, this newbie and his tunes have it all on the ball. Check it out.

Volume 38/Number 196
May 14, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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