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COSTAS BALTAZANIS/End of Seas: He might be a jazz guitar man, but you can hear echoes of Miles in his oeveur as this Greek native now living in New York creates New York/Mediterranean fusion with a laid back set that sounds like cocktail hour as the sun goes down on the Mediterranean. A cat that knows his jazz well enough to teach it in any language (he‘s also an educator), he puts his pro chops on display here serving up the laid back side of acoustic fusion. Solid stuff made to take the down out of down time.

KRISTIN LEMS/You, Me and All of the Above: Not every blast from the past has to be a chilling wind. Sounding every bit as fresh and vibrant as when she was a fresh faced lass recording for Flying Fish, Lems has not only matured into the folkie's folkie, she knows how to bring pop flourishes and worldwide accents into a program that careens from serious to funny to inspiring. A first class set from stem to stern, Lems is raising the bar for all comers in her wake, it's well done throughout.

ANGELA EASTERLING/Common Law Wife: Americana. Is it really that much of a jump from Etta Jones or Hedy West to Easterling? No matter what it is, she's writing about what she knows as autobiographically as Joni Mitchell would, she's just doing it from the folk rock side of the ledger with a country twang. The funny thing about Americana is that it aims for the heart rather than the chart which explains how tasty stuff like this flies under the radar but gets well known. This is the rocked up sound of the exurbs as Wal-Mart eats another one off the landscape. Check it out.

NOCONA/Long Gone Song: Does Buddy Cage know about this? NRPS for contemporary times with no Jerry Garcia hanging around? Filtering history through cowpunk and roots lenses, this crew is all set to tear it up with a nu generation discovering nu country rock wanting to rave it up before they settle into a life of sippy cups for the next few decades. Wild stuff that doesn't follow lines you've come to expect, just listening closely to the lyrics will flip you out. Outsider stuff that really hit's the mark and is sure to be celebrated by disenfranchised everywhere. Check it out.

WILL HERRINGTON/Solace: Here's a dandy find. A piano tyro from Nawlins relocates to LA where his talents are recognized behind the scenes before he knew what hit him (or they them for that matter). So steeped in Nawlins that you can't separate his barrel house piano chops from his Disney chops, this is an old soul of a piano cat because nobody can be this good over night. Solid jazzbo stuff that'll tickle your ears like they haven't been tickled for a while, behold a solid slice of the real deal.

CRISTINA MORRISON/Baronesa: Morrison's back story makes her sound like some globe trotting gal in a 50s movie and you wonder how she has the time and energy to do it all. Focusing on this record, she turns Brazilian jazz on it's head with this mostly original set. Calling on her experience as an actress to give the tunes that something else extra and calling on her linguistic versatility to keep things on the move, this might as well be the template for future after hour jazz for millenials. As smoking a set as she is, this is hot stuff on a futuristic tip that can be enjoyed in the hear and now. Check it out.

NATION BEAT/Carnival Caravan: Too bad this is only an ep. A Brazilian crew that likes second line Nawlins funk mixes it up with a Nawlins crew and the two cross pollinate in fine style. Bristling with contemporary energy that still leaves room in the tent for fans of all ages, this is a street party that can go all night without the neighbors complaining. Heady, hearty stuff that even grabbed Willie Nelson's attention, if that doesn't tell you there's something here for every one, nothing will. Fun stuff that better be a full lengther next time around.

SLACKJAW/It's Always Something: Admit it, when someone says they were inspired by..., it makes you want to puke. So what, right? The Slackjawsters were inspired by ZZ Top but they don't even mention it since they are from Jersey and there's plenty of Butterfield and his associates in the mix. A bunch of white boys in a blues rock power trio, they use their inspirations as a jumping off point to points unknown while keeping true to the tradition. You can count on this second album to lift them out of local hero status to something that will chase away their blues without chasing away their blues (y'know what I mean?). Hot stuff throughout.

CONSIDER THE SOURCE/World War Trio (Parts II and III): Here's an under the radar trio with a rabid and large fan base that serves them up classic genre bending prog rock that can careen from being thick as a brick to telling tales from topographic oceans in a wink and them move on to something McLaughlin-ish before moving on to something else as well. Certainly the sweet spot where prog meets jam blowing listeners over with wondering what comes next, this trio leaves it all on the stage or all on the tape with each performance. Heady stuff fans have dubbed ‘sci-fi middle eastern fusion', we see no reason to upset that apple cart trying to stretch for something more clever. Check it out, there's two discs here and plenty for you to sink your teeth into.

BRET HIGGINS/Atlas Revolt: This Canadian bass ace has his fingers in so many pies at once that it probably doesn't phase him to toss off a klezmer/surf/crime jazz track that would have been at home in a movie produced by Golan Globus financed with middle eastern money. Taking ‘world jazz' the next step further to ‘other world jazz‘, Higgins never gets precious or obscure in his flights of fancy leaving any open eared world beater to feel free to strap themselves in and enjoy the ride. Check it out.

Volume 38/Number 245
July 3, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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