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NEWPOLI/Nun te Vuta: Ethnic cultures everywhere are cutting their ties to the old ways and southern Italy is no exception to this trend. This crew, together for 12 years, is leaving the old ways in the dust, even while acknowledging them. The lyrics, which gringos can't understand unless they speak Italian, have a foot in the past, but the sound leaves all that come see, come sa, finiculi finicula stuff in the dust. With a high octane party sound surrounding them, this crew is ready for an assault on the future. Hot stuff that marries chops and vision in a killer way. Check it out.

GIANT PANDA GUERILLA DUB SQUAD/Bright Days: Huh? A white reggae crew goes Americana roots for their sixth album? Long time fans won't know how to compare these career apples and oranges but they are still singing about gage and they surf this terrain nicely. Hell, everybody needs a change, right?

EXOVEX/Radio Silence: A bunch of prog rockers with fewer and fewer outlets for their creativity band together to put on a show. You know the drill and if you like the form, you'll get what's going on here.

DAVID BERKMAN/Old Friends and New Friends: Back on the label after a decade away, Berkman serves up some tasty sitting down jazz played with the kind of cats the title describes. An award winner that knows the good notes from the bad notes, the piano man and his pals play it straight, right down the middle, and show how much welcome creativity exists in the great divide. Well played, well written, this date is a fine example of what happens when a bunch of top shelf players get together to make sure it all sounds right. Well done.

PINDER BROTHERS/Melancholy Sea: Nu folk/rockers convey contemporary concerns without getting all emo about it, unless you'd consider Jackson Browne's spiritual grand children emo. Nice stuff.

JERRY LAWSON/Just a Mortal Man: At 71, after 40 years as lead vocalist for The Persuasions and spending three months on a ventilator, this cat finally makes his solo debut, with a band no less. This date is loaded with surprises, even going so far as to have a song he co-wrote with Robert Hunter. A record that could have been a final statement, it's loaded with heart and loads of soul making a sum total of killer adult pop. There's no effort to pander to younger tastes that wouldn't appreciate this and by being as direct as possible, it really speaks to the kid that grew up on buying records two generations ago. Killer stuff by pros that really care and knew they were part of something special.

WES MONTGOMERY/In the Beginning: Next month, budget minded Montgomery fans will encounter two bricks that pretty much cover everything Montgomery did prior to joining Verve. I said pretty much. This set covers his Epic album produced by Quincy Jones as his debut and at least an album's worth of contemporaneous material that has been previously unreleased. For everyone that ever thought Montgomery's Riverside releases were a bit unformed, hear how he knew what he was doing before the record company exerted their commercial concerns. Bopping and bouncing, Montgomery, along with sometime help from his brothers and others knew all about moving and grooving from jump. A great find as well as a great excavation, modern studio techniques make these recordings sonically crisp and clear making this a good time for all jazz guitar fans. Well done.

SCOTT HENDERSON/Vibe Station: Things change. Here we find the former co-leader of Tribal Tech and sideman to Joe Zawinul and others teaming up with Metal Mike Varney to produce a ‘jazz' trio date that sounds so Zappa infused you'd think Henderson had made his way into one of the last incarnations of the Mothers before founding Tribal Tech. Anyone with a taste for hot and heavy jazz from hell will find this new chapter in Henderson's canon a stop well worth making.

SHOE BIRDS/Southern Gothic: Southern folk rockers spared no expense in getting the right peeps behind them for their debut to make sure it cuts through the dross. Literate without being pretentious, this duo hit's the nail on the head for their auspicious debut. As influenced by indigenous literature as much as music, their take on life's journey is as compelling as it is interesting. Check it out.

THE GAMBLER: No, we don't have to believe Mark Walhberg is Kenny Rogers, we are asked to believe he is James Caan post Godfather. In this tale of a self destructive gambler, Walhberg is doing his intellectual turn as opposed to his action turn as he wrecks everything in his path and wake while finally looking for redemption. Way more of a character driven pic than a gambling pic, Walhberg moves nicely through the brainy stuff and knows how to play a flawed man trapped in a situation he didn't see he was creating. Clearly a nice way to spend two hours you don't have to worry about getting back.

Volume 38/Number 180
April 29, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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