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RAN BLAKE/Ghost Tones: Hey, Blake you want to spend your genius grant money on your 80th birthday reminding people of the genius that was your old comrade in arms, George Russell? See if we stop you. Mostly solo recordings that really strip Russell's theoretical avant music to it's core, Russell wasn't all that out there as it might have seemed he was thought to be. The piano man makes an engaging set for left field ears that never really came in any closer, this is a look back at one way how you could take it to the limit in the 50s. Sure it's artsy, consider the source. Solid stuff for those in the know.

BRIAN LANDRUS/Deep Below: The musical rising ace of the sax surrounds himself with a trio consisting of Lonnie Plaxico and Billy Hart and takes the arty way out when these hell raisers should be raising hell. If you like it artsy, this is first class stuff. However, you don't want to hear this guy sound like someone working on his doctorate, you want him raising hell. At least he's got the good taste to open another facet of "I'm a Fool to Want You" and knowingly deliver the heartbreak in that tune.

OPUS/Definition: With Sweetbottom long out of the way, Opus is Milwaukee's longest running jazz crew, now in it's 35th year, mellowing nicely into middle age as the best of the national and regional fusion crews have done over the years. While they have also followed their own paths over the years, they still have the simpatico to come together and pop out a quiet fire kind of set like this that's a real treat to listen to. In the pocket as always, this is as must dessert as it is main course. Tasty throughout.

VOO DAVIS/Midnight Mist: Rocking it up more than on his last few releases, Davis takes the balls out approach of knocking this set out with one take recordings (I didn't say first take) where the fire is really flying. Loaded with heart and soul, he goes well beyond blues guitar slinging, letting the high octane flow. A real road house rocker of a set, all the right moves are in all the right places to ensure this rocks as well as it rolls. Find stuff that shows what real rock is all about.

CUSSES/Here Comes the Rat: Retro arena punk rock with a lead chick that sounds like she'd look good in spandex. Ah, the nu sound of the suburbs?

DMITRY BAEVSKY/Over and Out: The still youngish Russian knows how to come over here and surround himself with all the right people. Serving up his new set in a simple trio setting, the sax man puts his stamp on everything he touches knowing how to raise the roof on a set packed with august challenges to keep new and fresh. Not only does he do it in fine form, Baevsky captures a New York vibe most of the rest of us only know from movies. Appropriately smoky playing runs the table here and he does a fine job of showing how a little can sound like a lot. Well done.

CORINNE WEST/Starlight Highway: Well, here's a folkie that shouldn't have to make records on her own label. Surrounded by her bluesy old duet partner, her former new age producer, a former Beach Boy and others of that calibre, she decamped from her NoCal aerie to write these songs over a year in Austria taking full advantage of the foot looseness the hegira afforded her. A mind blowing set from the voice of an angel, the bar has officially been raised to all comers who think they can top this. Killer stuff that restores any lost luster to the folkie-singer/songwriter mantle.

OIM Vol. 1/various: The Busboys were right when they said ‘there goes the neighborhood, the whites are moving in'. Nu folk music from Oakland? Scouted by the driving wheel of Mayhem Festival? There's a bunch of multi culti stuff here, and before you roll your eyes, it's all pretty credible stuff that goes for the jugular instead of the left field fences. As much as old timers don't want to admit it these days, there's loads of interesting stuff still out there waiting to be discovered, and in this case, enjoyed. There's a little something for everybody here, and at times, a lot for all. Good luck to this bunch.

BILLIE RAINBIRD/Deep Blue: Deep throated neo hippie chick walks the recording divide between Woodstock and LA pulling her two divergent halves together. Produced by one of England's top hit man drummers pulling together the basic tracks recorded in Woodstock, Rainbird has the mutil-culti hippie chick moves that show she knows how to shake her Reiki in the pop culture hot spots around the world. A solid set of nu girl friend music, this is a solid find for the daughters of the "Eat, Love, Pray" set. Now go out and find yourselves.

LUDOVICO EINAUDI/Taranta Project: And for the world beater multi cultist out there, here's a set of Greco-Italian music inspired by tarantula spiders and the loony dance trance you go into when they bite you. The music is centuries old and Einaudi makes it more palatable to contemporary ears by adding traditional Turkish and West African music. Sounding snaky aside, sure this is egghead music, but damned if it doesn't have the accessibility and vibe of "Chariots of Fire". Nearly symphonic in it's presentation, rest assured this is first class Sunday afternoon listening music. A wild workout and a wild ride throughout.

JC CROSSFIRE/AWOL Blues: Out there in the American night, musos keep toiling away at hitting the lost chord and finding the eternal groove when they should just give it up and get a job in a bank so their kids don't have to be jealous of what other kids have. We're not talking about the guys with no talent, we're talking about the guys that keep playing because they have to. Crossfire sounds like one of those cats. Now well into his AARP years, Crossfire slings a dandy blues guitar and tells the simple truths. He also know how to get cats like Matt Murphy out of a 20 year hiatus. A solid set of workingman's blues that seems to be disappearing like roadside Americana.

HARVIE S-SHERYL BAILEY/Plucky Strum: The cover art could trick you into thinking this is a Grant Geissman set. Fun thing is, the playing could as well. With the guitarist and the bassist playing friendlier music that either of these chopmeisters is usually associated with, they might only be a duo with no augmentation, but they know how to raise a proper racket. With killer technical skills between them, they actually sound like they are putting that aside to have a good time. Never coming off like the master class it really is, this is just two cats working it off the clock that invite you to string along for a good time.

Volume 38/Number 185
May 4, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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