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NIGHTHAWKS/Back Porch Party: After the success of their last acoustic recording, the Hawks return to the format with a live audience that probably appreciates the volume being turned town while the heat is still on full. An engaging set of rocking blues by pros that have gone their own way for over 40 years and are none the worse for wear for it all. Hot stuff recorded in one take with no fixing in the mix, this is real music for real ears. Hot stuff full of heart and soul.

SUNSOUL ORCHESTRA/What Matters Most: Two long time studio rats who's long time chops show dustless resume entries as current as Kendrick Lamar finally get it together after having this on the back burner for 5 years and at long last serve up some of the kind of skewed pop/soul people who didn't like mainstream music in the 70s were drawn to. With a vibe that exists somewhere between white girl soul and Broadway, this duo and their well traveled pals make the kind of set you could expect from the WB artist development department as they would farm for back up acts when the superstars got itchy. Tasty fun stuff for anyone that likes it gently left field but pro throughout with well chosen covers for spice. Hot stuff.

PHIL MATURANO/At Home Everywhere: The swinging, grooving drummer hits it out of the park again as he shows that he's one of those drummers that knows how to give everyone some. Keeping the ball in play as he passes it to different courts along the way, the changes are never so jarring that you have to stop and think about it, you just enjoy the groove. Flexing his muscles beyond his normal straight ahead and Latin jazz perimeters, Maturano is the kind of cat that doesn't let you down. Well done.

RICH HALLEY 4/Creating Structure: This far into the genre, improv jazz can be quite a tricky thing, but Halley proves himself a master magician as he and his crew go deeper into improv for his 17th outing and they keep the wheels from rolling off the track. A sax man with a set of lungs that would have made Pam Anderson jealous 20 years ago, the leading, blowing and writing are on point throughout making this a real high water mark set for the style. Check it out.

BOBBY BARE/Storyteller-Anthology 1960-83: One of the great losses of contemporary music is how the Columbia 70s/80s recordings by Bare never got their due and probably would have been forgotten if Raven didn't rescue them all from the bottom of the vaults. The label's admiration of Bare now goes mostly career wide as they cull the hot spots from across Mercury, RCA and Columbia (the end of his major label days). Believe it or not, over the 50 plus tracks here, there will be plenty of room to quibble over what was left off. This is two discs of utterly great stuff by one of the pros of country music that chose to call his own shots a little too early and wound up paying the price for it. Killer stuff that lives on mightily even across the decades since it was first recorded.

REINA DEL CID/The Cooling: Wow. Hot shot contemporary pop that has stewed and brewed in a variety of influences but has emerged fully formed from 2 years of intense gigging---a crucible enough to teach you what works from what doesn't. Going beyond the pale as well as the veil, Del Cid and company are entertainers that know how to tease and please you with one head fake after another. Singer/songwriter? Rockers? Whatever? A little of everything, sometimes in the same song. This is a real shining star on the horizon.

AMY BLACK/Muscle Shoals Sessions: Killer blue eyed soul recorded in contemporary Muscle Shoals by a smoking gal that has the blues but is more interested in her own vision that she is in being Aretha or Janis. Serving up a solid dose of local classics along with her originals, this could easily be passed off as a 1970ish Atlantic session that never got released for ‘contractual' reasons. Black knows her Dusty, Jackie and Lulu giving them the sonic props Jerry, Tom and Arif wanted them to always be due. Well done.

ANNE LINDSAY/Soloworks: Unless Lili Haydn and Lindsay Sterling can convince us to blame it all on the record company, Lindsay is the pop violin virtuoso you want to bite into once your musical tastes have left the musical McDonalds. Adept enough to rosin the bow for Led Zep and Chieftains, the supersonic Lindsay is front and center here with little else to back her up that some cello coloration. A form of adult pop that pushes the boundaries (she sings ‘em as well), she amazed with how much you can accomplish with ‘so little'. Smoking stuff that'll make any adult sit up and listen. Well done.

DW3/Vintage Truth: There's hokey and there's not hokey. DW3 are a crew of crowd pleasers looking to make a living in their chosen profession and they've got the chops to be crowd pleasers without being hokey. Also having access to a great bunch of guests, the deep chops held up their sleeves make this label debut even more snappy. Some of the best funky, smooth jazz to come along this season, this set came along at just the right time---just as the sun is coming out over the rest of the country beyond their California beach head. Well done.

JUS/Obsession: A proposed merger of rap and anthemic arena rock is on tap here as a youngblood raised on mash up music makes the transition from high school marching bands to tackling the big topics. It could become the nu sound of the streets with the proper seeding.

Volume 38/Number 178
April 27, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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