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BILL PHILLIPPE/Ghosts: A contemporary white boy that thinks he was born in the Delta back in the day does a fine job of keeping the traditional, solo guitar powered blues alive. Hopefully he has a good day job or trust fund so he doesn't have to starve for his art, this cat comes on like the real deal. As long as you like music that colors outside the lines, this is sure to drive you nuts with it's inferred authenticity---even when most of the set card is originals after some Robert Johnson sets the mood. Fine stuff for a real soldier for the blues.

SEVENS COLLECTIVE/A Too Much Divided Heart: One of those releases that seems to start out normal but rolls off the rails in no time flat as the mixmaster fusion of malcontent asides lurks everywhere and comes out to play freely. For the college kid that isn't a business major, this boundary stretching set is released in a limited edition of 500 showing how the merry makers behind this realize what a minority they are in. A head trip supreme.

ARDIENNE WEST with Alessio Menconi/With Love to Ella & Joe: Really, how to do you compete with those wonderful Fitzgerald/Pass recordings on Pablo even if they were late career records for both with the age spots showing? You don't. But you can hunker down around the mic and show the love. That's what this duo does by the bushel. With a set card of chestnuts the original duo did right by, this duo keeps it right in the pocket doing good by doing right. Tasty stuff for classic jazz vocal fans.

DONALD RAY JOHNSON/Best of-These Blues: From "Boogie Oogie Oogie" drummer to blues belter in 35 short years, Johnson stops to catch his breath and look back at the second stage of his career. With enough tracks he didn't write to show how close hillbillies and blues belters can be, the infusion is complete. With a lifetime of playing with the best of the best under his belt, Johnson shows he can go it on his own quite well as well. Check it out.

TOM GULLION/Time It Is: With an 11 minute, big band sounding work out on "Rainy Days and Mondays", Gullion and his pals show that almost anything can be jazz. Giving the same treatment to Sting and several others that you don't think of as jazzy, the ears are opening nicely to other possibilities. A solid work out by a crew that takes chances but still wants to hit the nail squarely on the head. Check it out.

ART HIRAHARA/Libations & Meditations: Classic piano trio stuff with some post-bop and pomo touches. If you're ready to settle back with a set that invites you to think about what you're drinking, this is primo cocktail music for the millennial.

CARMEN RUBINO/Aquarian Dream: Soul music for the spiritual seeker, Rubino was raised on various forms of prog music and now stitches them together to give you music for fueling your dreams. A nice throwback to head music without it's often angst edge, Rubino is certainly a seeker that wants you to take this ride with him. A real mind opener.

BLUE LUNCH/Above the Fold: This show band of 30 years standing issues their second album for the label unleashing their brand of electric blues nostalgia with nary a smirk or drop of homage----they just love what they do and it shows. Mixing various sounds that sounds like they came here straight from the 40s, this crew has that easy rolling vibe that seems like it's natural rather than studied. Fun stuff that's a must for when you need to sonically travel beyond the pale. Hot stuff even when they don't turn up the heat. Check it out.

FIVE PLUS SIX/Such Sweet Thunder: Snappy big band treatments by such jazz notables as Ellington, Monk and Dolly Parton (?) hits that big band sweet tooth right in the mouth. There's really nothing new here except for the load of youthful, jazz energy coming out of Knoxville, that's all the new needed for this set of smoking sounds on tunes we know well. Big band is alive and well under Vance Thomson's baton. Well done.

NICHOLAS DAVID/Make Hope: Hippycentric folk with world electronic overtones, David is a vet that's all about the words.

Volume 38/Number 40
December 10, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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