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REGGIE WATKINS/One for Miles, One for Maynard: The bone man that can play anything with anybody, and has proven it repeatedly, steps up for his first date as a leader in 10 years. To mark the event, he rounds up some other Maynard Ferguson alumni and let's the big band bopping fly. Modern jazz for the open eared, Watkins agenda is to push the future of jazz and he does so by showing where it's been, but not in an overly reverential way. Whether going low key like Miles or turning it up like Maynard, this jazzbo for all seasons remains on the money throughout. Well done.

GRAND FATILLA/Global Shuffle: And here's a secret Boston ought to share with the rest of us. A multi-culti world/jazz band, this crew turns the mixmaster up so high that you almost can't tell what culti the multi is mixing within a single song. Spirited, high octane stuff that's loaded with gleeful abandon as it takes you around the world in a song, this is the real sound of global party music. While some influences are pretty obvious, some come at you so thick and fast that you can't keep up with it all. What a gasser! This is the kind of stuff that keeps a genre vibrant. Well done.

KAYE BOHLER/Handle the Curves: We're glad to see country/roots producer Pete Anderson indulging his Stax fantasies with the ‘white Tina Turner". The two of them probably kept pushing each other to turn the heat up higher and the listener is all the better for it. With 30 years of doing this under her belt, Bohler can hold her own with any pissed off, middle aged black woman expounding bold, brassy blues into the night. Soul/blues/R&B played at the top of it's game, Bohler knows her stuff too well for there to be any trace of disappointment here. Killer stuff that works throughout, this is hot stuff in the classic mold that just won't let you down. Check it out.

LIGHTHOUSE: What's the real story on this roots set from these Swedish music biz vets? This is the record Lucinda Williams should have made with Gurf Morlix in 1989. Forget "Sweet Old World". Forget taking six years to make "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road". This would have gotten Williams her first gold record and she wouldn't have had to sell a chunk of her publishing to Madonna. If you were down with "Big Red Sun" and "Passionate Kisses", you know what I'm talking about. Killer roots/folk-rock stuff that makes you wonder how they got this so right. Killer stuff throughout.

BERDON KIRKSAETHER & the Twang Bar Kings/Latenighters Under a Full Moon: One of the fun things that keeps this job from being a job is being able to read things that start out with words like "one of Norway's hottest blues cats for the last 25 years..." Hell, I thought death metal was Norway's blues. Here's another fun thing; this sounds like I'd imagine Steve Cropper sounding at Club Manhattan after hours when he was still drinking hooch out of jelly jars. A first class after hours instrumental record of jamming that does somewhere instead of just meandering, you can't be a blues hipster without a copy of this somewhere near your player of choice. Smoky, well done stuff that was made to fulfill your late night fantasies.

STEVEN CASPER & COWBOY ANGST/Endless Sky: A roots rocker that's been around the block a few times uses his maturity to craft a really refined vision of the sound of the heartland. With input form Bob Dylan's producer and a band that follows right in step, this captures the sound of flyovers in a disappearing landscape. The American night is still out there, even if the lights from campers in the Wal-Mart parking lot seem to make it smaller and brighter. Check it out.

JP SOARS/Full Moon Night in Memphis: The white boy that won an Albert King award continues to chart the future of the blues as he continues to meld his background in metal cover bands with his love of Django and his passion for power trio, electric blues. A shredder to the core, Soars fully captures the spirit of the blues. He growls them out with such modern authenticity that you could draw a line from Muddy Waters to him. Sizzling stuff that has plenty of smoke and lots of fire.

NYSQ (New York Standards Quartet)/The New Straight Ahead: A bunch of well traveled jazzbos that have played with everybody have been hanging out together in this configuration since 2006 and now turn in their fourth set. Turning chestnuts on their heads and having an infectiously good time doing it, this is one of those tasty things that makes the familiar new again and makes you offer them a renewed welcome. It's one of those wonderful fun things that simply works throughout and brings you back for more. Check it out.

Volume 38/Number 275
August 2, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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