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SLAM ALLEN/Feel These Blues: You blues fans already know Allen from his 9 years as James Cotton's lead singer and guitarist but will non-blues fans believe he's a long standing blues belter with annunciation this good? Singing as sharply as his guitar slinging stings, Allen and his pals are no strangers to doing the wang dang doodle all night long. The only sop they given to modern times is addressing their blues to the road house in the strip mall where the edge of town used to be. Killer modern stuff that keeps the tradition alive and well.

FERNWOOD/Arcadia: Certainly not the kind of music you would think of as being recorded in a Malibu home studio, these cats can be explained in two words---Norman Blake. If you've ever dug those 70s cats that would turn up on mighty sessions and seem to not let it go to their heads as their solo albums made John Fahey seem mainstream, this is certainly for you if you still have your vinyl Takoma sets. Exotic instruments, off beat signatures and strange tunings that all come together in a wildly glorious fashion is what's on display here. You might have to be a hard core, pre-Windham Hill acoustic music fan to get it, but Toulouse Englehardt could jam with these cats anytime and a good time would be had by all. Utterly killer stuff for ears of a certain age.

PHIL FEST/That's What She Says: There's no doubt that Phil's pop taught him well. Coming out with a set that seems to want to pre-empt all comers thinking of making the great summer jazz record this year, Fest brings the Sao Paulo vibe to Miami with such grace and fine form that you would have thought 45 years ago Sergio Mendes was hovering in the production booth. Brazilian smooth jazz that hits all the right notes throughout, with guests that add to the FESTivities on board, this is a can't miss set that's sure to brings smiles to all the ears it lights on. Well done.

CHRISTIAN MUTHSPIEL & STEVE SWALLOW/Simple Songs: Swallow has already been nominated for a German Grammy for this set and from the sound of it, maybe they should have called it deceptively simple songs. With an opening dour vibe that sets the tone for this song cycle being something that pulls you in rather than pushes you away, there's a clear cut sensibility running along side the JCOA vibe that makes this the sound of a sad café cabaret where the nighthawks at the diner congregate. Wild stuff if you let it run away with your mind, this is a mad case of art for art's sake. Check it out if you want a wild ride where the wheels don't fall off.

BLAKE AARON/Soul Stories: A Hollywood session cat that's remained jive ass free no matter how deep he's plugged into the scene comes forth with his latest high octane, guitar led, fusion set that simply smokes. Never bothering to simmer, Aaron gets right to heart of things with some blistering stuff that just can't be contained in the indie jazz world for long. Calling on friends from his impressive list of like minded cats to really get things flying, this is well made, well played stuff that opens your ears resoundingly. Killer stuff to get the summer started right.

MARK LITTLE/Suite Mother: Ok, we found you another one. Here's a jazz piano man that's impressed everyone he's stayed in the background with all these years and has drawn praise from such a roster of greats that no matter what kind of jazz you dig, someone from that stripe has dug him already. With a set that pays tribute to his late mother for sending him this music from heaven, prepare to have your socks blown off by this pure listening date. Played with the classic vibe that never gets old running through it, Little is sure to open your ears in the most delightful way. Well done throughout.

ROBERTA DONNAY & Prohibition Mob Band/Bathtub Gin: A jazz baby because she likes the vibe and not because she has any point to make, Donnay revisits the 20s & 30s with a coo and a wink and both feet firmly planted in the present. With a crew backing her that knows all the right moves, this set might be off beat but will serve as a real tonic for anyone bitching about how music isn't real anymore. Solidly fun stuff in the mode of classic Maria Muldaur and all the other ladies of the past that enjoyed peering into the past, this could be the introduction to jazz for a nu generation. Well done.

ARTHUR NASSON/Emperor's New Sound: With the kind of swinging rock sound that lends itself well to contemporary TV soundtracks in tow, the master of the art takes it to the next level of the game by adding classic rock moves sure to grab the attention of the young up and comers that avoid these sounds when spinning their satellite dials. 70s almost nostalgia for the new working class, this is a fine sampling of nu sounds for residents of those new apartments that don't have parking lots on site.

CONCETTA ABBATE/Falling in Time: A multi media art chick that takes this platform to explore poetry with found sounds as well as what she can pull out of her multi-instrumental attack, there's a direct lineage between this and the indie art chick albums of the early 70s created by ladies that were even too far out there for the stonedest a&r man looking to toss out a deal in exchange for getting lucky to sign. The lineage probably even goes back to jazz clubs in basements, black clothes and clove ciggies since she is from New York. Far too precious for life in a Taylor Swift world, this is a set that young left field young ladies of tomorrow will wish they could find in their mom's stuff. Quite wild.

CHRIS WASHBURNE & the SYOTOS Band/Low Ridin': A quartet of a century ago, a kid from rural Ohio gets bitten by the Latin music bug and here we are now with his latest entry in his Acid Mambo genre. Pulling out all the stops and recrafting 70s rock staples in acid mambo, anyone raised on classic rock will go completely nuts when giving this session a spin. Whether putting his chops on "Feelin" Alright", "Walk On the Wild Side" and everything else in between, you can't help but get into the groove and grin. Lead on acid mambo meister!

Volume 38/Number 148
March 28, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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