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REBECCA KILGORE/I Like Men: The swinging vocalist shows her sly sense of humor as well. Backed by Harry Allen and his quartet, she sneaks "I'm Just Wild About Harry" into an opening medley. And so it goes from there. A delightfully straight ahead, mainstream date where an easily swinging vibe rules the set card of off the beaten track oldies, this is a comfy set that goes great with an easy chair to settle into when you're not quite ready to settle down. (Where else can you hear stuff like this anymore?). A solid winner throughout.

ADRIAN CUNNINGHAM/Ain't That Right-The Music of Neal Hefti: The funny thing about this set is that I was thinking about Neal Hefti a few days before it came, thinking I need a break from the cavalcade of new releases to dig some old grooves I'd been neglecting. Then this shows up. Two for one! Here we find the Professor stepping up from the DIY ranks to ply his trade at an established label that will take his killer playing to the next level of the game. With a program that focuses on Hefti‘s writing solely that starts out with "Odd Couple" and ends with "Cute", the listener will be more than satisfied waiting for a collection that shines the light on Hefti's arranging, solely. This is a sterling showcase of commercial jazz, loaded with Cunningham's own brand of special sauce, that no malcontent can ever fault as pandering. Well done throughout.

ZONGO JUNCTION/No Discount: When this band was first starting out, you could almost mistake them for a Fela Kuti tribute band. Not a bad place to start from. However, now that they've found their own voice, they are set on taking Afrobeat to the next level of the game. Hot, sweaty and high octane throughout, this is loaded with big bold sounds that deliver non-stop goods. A real party on a platter, world beat partiers have a four on the floor winner here.

ONWARD CHARIOTS/Take Me to Somewhere: Did someone send out an order for a millennial Van Dyke Parks? Here's some sunshine pop as filtered through 2010 sensibilities by an indie vet who might have found the right guise for his slimmed down group. Delightfully left of center, this kind of stuff begs you to come to the sunshine because you know I know you know.... Fun stuff that hit's the target.

JALILAH'S RAKS SHARKI/Stage Cuts: We tried educating you in the past about belly dance music but you're still confusing Hozam Ramsy with Ramsey Lewis. Sheesh. Let's try again. Jalilah has been putting out (short version) the karaoke version of belly dance records ever since she first got the bug. This set is a greatest hits set of a sort in which she shortens the tracks for today's shorter attention span (yeah, kids, we know how hard it is to watch some babe shake it for you----that's why strip clubs are almost out of business (add snark here)). A sonic trip to an opium den where babes in veils are running around freely, this now shapes up as an oriental dance/pop record, and as such, it's a wild trip out of the ordinary. Crazy stuff sure to open your ears to some new world beat possibilities.

NADAKA & GOPIKA/Surya Chants of Light: Here's a set of chants for the committed new ager/yoga practitioner that's finally ready to add some new titles to the collection of Kim and Singh Hang Out in the Desert titles they stocked up on 25 years ago. Recognizing that everything comes from the sun, this duo and their pals take you on that inner journey that will much more satisfying than the upcoming movie "As Above So Below". Chanters be advised, this collection is satisfyingly mantralicious.

TERJE LIE/Bright Moments: You need proof that time is flying? It's been four years since Lie's last release with Jeff Lorber and Jimmy Haslip aboard. In all that time, the transplanted Norwegian sax man hasn't lost his taste for SoCal fusion and is now even planting his flag on his own sub-genre, "groove jazz". No matter what you call it or how you slice, it's dandy moving easy jazz whose statement will be easily understood by anyone that just wants some nice vibes to carry them away from the grind. Tasty and non-confrontational, see how long you can sit and listen to this before you realize you've been sitting there bobbing your head to the groove without even realizing it. Well done.

ZEBRINA/Hamidbar Medaber: A lot of the records on Tzadik are for a well defined niche and the catalog is loaded with records that need to be made. That's alright for the niche for not for those outside the niche that wonder why they don't get the hipster/insider vibe that has so many kvelling. The difference we get here is we get an inkling of what Miles on klezmer might have sounded like. A tasty world fusion date that sails well beyond the dictate of the usual Tzadik release, this is fun stuff that doesn't feel anything like what you'd normally think of as klezmer. Without a doubt a real ear opener of a set, it's a real every man set that goes well beyond niche. Check it out.

Volume 38/Number 241
June 28, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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