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PHIL OCHS/A Hero of the Game: Radical when first performed in 1965, this was a live radio broadcast in which Ochs unleashed a set of almost all previously unrecorded songs. In his time, he was in the same league as Dylan but he never found his kick lap and is almost forgotten today except for periodic revivals by true believers. Unfortunately sounding like this recording was made from a tape where the mic was held up to a radio, it doesn't diminish the power and the glory of the singer/songwriter before he got hit by a Train. This is a nice glimpse of the singing journalist with his 60s passion in full flower.
SCOTT FIELDS STRING FEARTET/Haydn: And if it sounds like arts council music, it is. Fields returns to the fertile fields of turning classical music into left leaning chamber jazz and he does a bang up job of that on this double cd that reimagines Haydn's "Sun Quartets". Sure to find a home in the ears of those who like the avant edge of contemporary classical, Fields has crafted out sound sounds for people that hear music differently that the average mainstream listener. Pretty much niche stuff but performed expertly enough that fans will pack that niche tightly as they gather around.
OFFSHORE/Rootville: Here's a solid second set from a bunch of young cats that have done a fine job of finding their voices while others their age are still searching. Playing sitting down jazz for a nu generation that got their jazz chops honed by ECM, this set has it's own minimalist swing, if you can call a five piece band minimalist. Thoughtful stuff that doesn't restrict itself to eggheads, they have a knack for playing as one while bringing out the best in each other. A solid set throughout.

DEREK FAWCETT/Feel Better: A member of a crew of Chicago folk rockers that bubbled under for 11 years but never really broke through, Fawcett, who always took things into his own hands, took things into his own hands again ringing up contacts and contacts of contacts to make an accomplished solo debut funded by the fan base already there via Kickstarter. Here's wishing him the best because the dues paying shows here in ways real muso fans will appreciate. Not straying far from his folky roots, Fawcett crafts the kind of singer/songwriter set you're always glad to trip over. Thoughtful stuff that hits hard and often. Fawcett has it all on the ball this time around. Well done.

KEVIN KASTNING-CARL CLEMENTS/Watercolor Sky: When you're listening to the new work of a guy that invents things like a 30 and a 36 string guitar, words like "I don't know how he does it" just don't seem to paint enough of the picture. With only his long time sax player at his side, this duo steps up yet again with something different to say and really don't need more players to flesh out the sound. Minimalist as it reads, even when they go off on spiritual sounding tangents, it still sounds like left leaning contemporary instrumental music as opposed to new age. Channeling Fahey, Basho and the rest of that ilk when they would make their inner journeys, Kastning proves that less is more and dazzles once more. Killer stuff that shows how sitting down music is done right.

STORM LARGE/Le Bonheur: The wild thing about Large's career is you could throw a rock at a random target and have it hit something she's done and accomplished. A pal of the Pink Martini gang, there's a whole lot more to Large than retro chic, and this record tries to cram it all in at once. A veteran of just about any performing you can think of, Large goes so far as to close this set in a duet with the real Von Trapps. Nu pomo? Who knows what you can call Large and her sound other than untamable. Rod McKuen, Lou Reed and Hy Zaret all on the same record? Christ almighty, reality show manqu could learn a thing or three just listening to this once. Wild stuff that's a wild ride from start to finish. Well done.

MISSY ANDERSEN/In the Moment: The latest from this soul/blues belter finds her not losing a step since the last time around. With the backing crew cooking in top shelf show band mode, they inspire Andersen to rollick the joint as she tears the roof off the sucker. Even though she was no where near the time and place, this sounds like it came from someplace where Stax met Malaco and a good time was had by all. Solid soul that shouldn't be missed.

JEFF DALE & the South Woodlawners/Good Music: Here's a white boy that reveres Muddy with a pal of Muddy's at his side turning in a set of originals inspired by the spirit of Muddy. A Chicago cat that uses that connection to add authenticity to his electric, white boy blues, Dale is really doing his own thing under the penumbra of old school west side Chicago blues but it's not about homage, tribute, inspired by.,..etc. He's playing from the gut, even if he's laying down the tracks down the road from one of the most affluent places in Illinois. Take your fun where you find it. Not only that, but these days there's plenty of blues to spread around making it seem less like white boys are slumming when they get the blues these days. Check it out.

Volume 38/Number 278
August 5, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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