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TURTLE ISLAND QUARTET/Confetti Man: 30 Years at the same pop stand and all they do is get better with age. Expanding on their pre-eminent position in crossover classical, TIQ is gleefully working off the clock in sound and on content here. They have managed to ape Copland's Americana vibe and take everyone else trying to do so to school. Drawing material from a variety of sources but finding a way to keep it all on one track, this is another stone cold winner from the sonic pros that never let you down. Tasty stuff throughout that you don't have to be a real adult to appreciate, but it does help. Check it out.

GEORGIE BONDS/Stepping Into Time: And the rappers talk about keeping it real? Bonds spent way too many years in jail and then got the best job he could---shoeing horses. You tell me that ain't a prelude to the blues. Writing and singing from a place in his gut most of us will probably never find on our own (thank the Lord), this is traditional blues that ain't from the cotton fields. Forget Delta, Piedmont and all that, this is stuff you can feel down to your toes with thoughts the best newspapers used to publish when they were still in the news business. Killer stuff that'll grab you no matter what your musical taste.

FERENC NEMETH-ATTILA LASZLO/Bridges of Souls: This is the kind of stuff you have to go to Europe to record. Two Euro jazz hitters act like movie directors as they craft a record they want to play with the core of Yellowjackets. And from there, it's kind of a conceptual art piece. Still with me? Everybody on board here is too much of a skilled old hand at this for the set not to work so that's not even an issue. More arty that you might expect from a Yellowjacket inspired project, it certainly is sitting down jazz but it's nothing you have to work at to enjoy. Almost classical in feeling, this is a solid piece of real music by real players that finds them doing off the clock the interesting things they would like to pursue. Well done.

MICHAEL EATON/Individuation: If I were a sax man inspired and groomed by Dave Liebman, I'd invite him along to do some blowing on my debut too. Eaton likes to show off the realm of what's under his musical penumbra and does so without jarring passages from one track to the next while still letting you know he's no one note Charley. A dyed in the wool jazzbo even at his still youngish age, Eaton knows how to blow up a storm, give everyone else some and let the saxy good times roll. One of those auspicious debuts you want to get your mitts on now rather than later.

CHRISTMAS JUG BAND/Jugology: Not to be confused with ISP's Jugalos, this bunch of Bay Area merry pranksters finally decide it's time to make their first greatest hits set since their inception in 1986, and they include the bonus unreleased tracks just like the big kids do. A wild ride of hokum powered by some of the all stars you've been digging in the background all these years, they aren't kidding about being a jug band if you've been so far unexposed. A gasser for anyone with a sense of humor, this isn't a novelty record but it sure is a one of a kind collection. Trust me, almost every house needs this in it's Christmas music collection. Killer stuff from the hippie/beatnik left field.

HANK MARVIN/Django's Castle: There's almost nothing like letting a geezer that knows what he's doing do what he wants. Yep, this is the cat from The Shadows that influenced Clapton, Page, Beck, Brian May and about a million punters stretching back some 50 years. With fast phalanges still flying, he shares his love of gypsy jazz with us opening the ears with some delightful stuff powered by the same guitar lust that powered a ton of hits before your pop was born. A joyful record loaded with playing that has nothing to prove, this is a wondrous palette clearer that'll probably wear out a few Ipods before you wear it out. Hot stuff.

ALTERED FIVE BLUES BAND/Cryin' Mercy: With all the white boys usurping the blues these days, it's nice to see this bunch of electric blues white boys found a lead singer that sounds and looks like a grand child of the northern migration. The chemistry is powerful. With a real blues belter up front, this bunch doesn't even sound like they are from the bad side of Milwaukee, they sound like they are from where the blues powers the night, all night. A solid set throughout that stays in a contemporary pocket, this is the child of the sound the kept frat houses rocking in fine style a generation or two ago. Well done.

ALEX BELHAJ'S CRESCENT CITY QUARTET/Sugar Blues: If you love old timey, Nawlins whorehouse hokum, cast your net no further. With a mix of gospel, tea pad tunes, pure hokum like "Tiger Rag" and more, this is the good time you want in grabbing distance when cake walking feelings are getting the best of you. With clarinet man Ray Heitger so openly out front you'd think this is his record but it's the guitar man leader's all the way. This is what they're talking about when they say a good time was had by all. A winner throughout.

STUYVESANT/Shmyvesant: In which we find a bunch of 90s alt.rockers that now look very much like a bunch of ‘that guy''s in the club showing they've been keeping their alt.chops up in various ways, even if you haven't noticed. Left leaning, skewed power pop that could teach the young ‘un a thing or two, not everyone is ready to go gently in that good night and this bunch are the leaders of the pack. The sound and fury is still there.

MARK MURPHY/Shadows: You don't normally think of jazz vocalist Murphy as a writer but this set finds him having a hand in most of the set card. A 1996 date cut with a bunch of cats you don't normally associate with Murphy, this out of the ordinary event kind of date, which had been previously unreleased, is a mind bender and an ear opener which will really rock his fans. This is not a label driven, assembly line project made to cash in on name value, this is work coming from the heart of everyone involved. The kind of hot stuff that doesn't come around often.

Volume 38/Number 358
October 24, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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