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SOUL SUGA & DIANE DURRETT: Maybe it's just me coming from a guy perspective but Durrett can do more for female empowerment in a three minute down and dirty white girl blues than all the affirmation bullshit and brainwashing can do in a $1,000 course you buy off the internet. Using the freedom to talk sexy and sassy that her black sisters didn't have several generations back, Durrett is a gasser that knows how to deliver. Koko Taylor is smiling at how this gal can run the show on her own and let you know what's exactly on her mind without preaching for browbeating. What a cool breeze of fresh air for rocking, high octane blues. Well done.

RUDY SMITH/What Pan Did for Me: Talk a bout being an ex-pat jazzbo! Smith left Trinidad for Scandinavia in the 50s and has been holed up there ever since. More of a last word on the subject than Andy Narell, Smith was there at the beginning of steel drum music and some of the 60 year old recordings that kick off this set will prove it. Wackily enchanting when done right (check out "Take the A Train"), for a cat living in the frozen North, he certainly knew how to pack up the islands with him. An off beat set to be sure, steel drum/calypso fans won't find it any more authentic than this. Fun stuff.

JESSE PAYNE/Heirloom: Hey all you Witchseason fans, looks like the next Nick Drake is springing forth from the southwest. An interesting connection since that's where Joe Boyd had settled for a while in the 80s or 90s. Something in the vortex? Not the same as Drake but skilled in knowing about the depressing side of things and how to make John Martyn guitar sounds for today, this is a college kid classic in the making that you'll really enjoy as your moving through solid air. The more things change... Check it out.

JC SMITH BAND/Love Mechanic: And we're supposed to care about the best blues band in Silicon Valley because...? How about because of the way they meld all the regional styles of the past into a smoking gumbo that sounds like a classic blues show band that can rock the joint all night long no matter what they're playing? These cats are the end---and if you didn't have a youth like Paul Butterfield or Mike Bloomfield, you can now know what all their hooting and hollering was about. Belushi and Ackroyd could not go wrong putting this bunch on as their opening act the next time they hit the road. Killer stuff throughout.

MITCH MANN/Blackwater Creek: Don't say it doesn't add up because it does. A folk record with a load of the classic Macon/Muscle Shoals cats recording in Sheffield and Franklin, TN that works and works and works----that's what this is. A real hot tub time machine for 70s campus coffeehouse habitués, this organic date of folk blues has all the right moves that are going to drive you completely nuts. You might have to be 50 to really appreciate it but once you wrap your ears around it, you'll be thinking this was some lost Capricorn session that got lost in the vaults after they dropped the ball with Billy Joe Shaver. Hot stuff.

JIM SINGLETON/8 O'clock in the Afternoon: A white boy with the blues that likes the kind the English served back to us when we weren't looking, Singleton rounds up an interesting crew that knows how to keep it real, especially since some of them were there creating the reality. Down home, basic from the heart stuff.

JASON LEE BRUNS & KEVIN BACHELDER/Cherry Avenue: Can you kick it out on oldies with a smoking small band that swings and not sound like a Sinatra manqué? It can be done and Bachelder and his pals pull it off. Dipping deep in the classic songbag but leaving his mark all the while, this is solid listening for swinging listeners that often notice the dearth of male jazz singers and keep looking for the next one. Solid stuff by some pros that certainly have put in the time but want to spend more time close to home.

WAYNE WALLACE LATIN JAZZ QUARTET/Intercambio: The versatile bone man Wallace puts on his Latin jazz hat for the fifth time and shows that he might be right in the moment as the walls are falling around Cuba but he's no carpet bagging tourist as his chops just get honed tighter with each successive release. The gang on board knows how to sound like a contemporary band kicking it out at Hotel Nacionale and it certainly sounds like a good time is being had by all. A real dance party for the gringo that isn't as spry as he used to be, this shows you can slow it down without having to sit it out. A dandy party on a platter.

BRIANNA THOMAS/You Must Believe in Love: Just because the record business will never be the same doesn't mean there isn't vitality abounding in the music business. Billy Jeff Clinton loves her and once you get a taste of this dyed in the jazz vocalist, you'll agree that to hear her is to love her. With Ulysses Owens drumming from the producer's chair while a bunch of his name jazzbo pals gather round to lend a hand, this is straight ahead, well done jazz vocal the way you like it. Zesty and tasty throughout, this gal values the jazz heritage and moves it into the future in fine style. If she doesn't love jazz completely, you have to give her points for being a great actress---but that probably isn't necessary. Hot stuff.

KENNY CARR/ Idle Talk: Long time Ray Charles guitarist finds jazz with his child hood pals and some ringers delivering a snazzy jazz guitar date that might be laid back but doesn't overdose on mellow. With everyone on board having a history but still not taking this exactly where you might assume they might, this is a solid dose of California, sunset jazz that will turn almost anything into a beach where there's always something going on. Fun stuff that opens the ears nicely by some real pros.

Volume 38/Number 217
June 5, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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