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DOUBLE NAUGHT SPY CAR/Panorama City: Oddly enough, you can picture Jethro Bodine frugging to this set. And let's look at the funny thing about expectations. Jazzbos can enter the studio, toss off a set of improv in an afternoon and have us kvell. Rock makes it a dicier proposition. This set is an improv by a progressive rock band that did it in one take. I really don't know how to evaluate it---and I've liked this crew in the past. To make matters more complicated, they made this with arts council money---and it's loaded with a muted version of the pots and pans music arts councils seem to love. After hours music for wonks? I just don't know.

SHASHATY/Brighter Day: This record is a throwback in only one sense. The sax ace takes you back to the place where fuzak was before fuzak and bizjazz became very negatively connotated. Bright, bouncy summer sounding music is on parade here in the artists' first original set in quite some time. Must be the pent up demand that drives it so nicely. Tasty stuff that doesn't let you down, the well seasoned, accomplished playing hits you like you're hearing these sounds for the first time---that how fresh it is. Well done.

DONNY McCASLIN/Fast Future: Like other left leaning jazzbos before him that discovered at some point that have to come to the middle rather than waiting for the middle to come to them, the recent Grammy nominee brings his progressive jazz to the contemporary dance sphere adding EDM to the mix. Probably as shocking to purists as "Rockit" was in it's day, you just have to let the boy boogie. Is there anything here offensive to moldy figs? Only if they were offended by Miles adding funk. Tasty stuff riding the contemporary tip nicely and sure to be welcomed in Ibiza.

TOM PAXTON/I'm the Man that Built the Bridges: Just like the first Flatlanders album which was often heard of but rarely heard, here's a live Tom Paxton album recorded before his great run of albums on Elektra. No knock, but you can really hear what a difference the hands of Jac Holzman and Mark Abramson made in the recording process. Mastered off old records, this was Paxton's first recording and it already had several of his career makers on board with the legend makers still up his sleeve. More than a valentine for the fans, this is a wonderful find that might be a product of it's time but it's still a welcome addition to the shelf of albums that needed to escape from the vaults.

TOM PAXTON/Redemption Road: A few years ago, I probably would have been pissed that a team like Paxton and Jim Rooney had to take to schnooring on Kickstarter to raise the money to make an album. Time hasn't mellowed me, corporate America should have been writing the checks to pay for this, but I do accept that times have changed. The nice thing about taking the financing to the fans is that the team could make the kind of record that needed to be made without some trust fund yahoo giving them production notes and holding up the release. A look at the guest list alone shows they put every cent on the tape making a set their way that can stand note for note with the best of Paxton's formidable Elektra sides. A wonderfully classic but modern folk record, there's a damn good reason why Paxton is one of the last men standing. He's not bidding farewell to writing and recording but this is his last record before leaving the road. Killer stuff the young ‘uns could learn a thing or two from.

THE BOX TOPS/Original Albums 1967-69: Well boy howdy, here's a package for you; teen aged Alex Chilton tearing it up in Memphis with the crème of the blue eyed soul bunch in tow cranking out the blue eyed soul before anyone knew what to call it. All of the group's output, complete with non album singles and a tad more, this is a hot look at what was going on at the other side of town from McLemore Avenue. A solid dose of the stuff legends are made of, you can debate who added what until the cows come home, but until then, just accept that this package is the bomb, a super sized slice of teen aged heaven.

ANGELS OF HOPE-An Angelic Compilation/various: So who can't use an extra hour with the angels? This set takes in label tracks from the last 20 years and shows off the depth of what they have to offer, from straight ahead to ethereal, all of it fitting together nicely. A much safer stress reliever than Xanax in that only your ears have to ingest anything, these various sounds of serenity are a nice reminder that such a thing exists. Check it out, especially if you know who you are.

SIMONE DINNERSTEIN/Broadway-Lafayette: Is there really an American-French musical connection like the hype materials suggest? Who cares? What matters about this new Dinnerstein set is that she continues to take things to the next level of the game. This set has three selections, Ravel, Gershwin and specially composed piece for Dinnerstein. Recording with Leipzig Radio Orchestra led by Kristjan Jarvi, she might not be breaking any new ground here, but she's got the touch that makes it sound like something new and keeps you in tow even when you (think you) know what's coming around the next bend. With everyone on board holding up their end of the bargain to make a lovely record that's familiar and uncharted all at the same time, your ears come out the real winner here. Killer stuff throughout.

Volume 38/Number 110
February 18, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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