TODD WOLFE BAND/Long Road Back: Long time guitar slinger that looks like he grew up on loads of 60s underground rock shows that it seeped into his DNA with this rousing rocker that transports you back to the 60s, the Fillmore and all that jazz. With John Ginty and Ben Elliott in the background keeping an eye on things, Wolfe proves over and over again that he doesn't need anyone looking over his shoulder---but when you don't have to do it all at once it really let's the rocking rock out, like it does here. Hot stuff.
CHRIS O'LEARY/Gonna Die Tryin': A real barn burner of a blues rock shouter, O'Leary, already riding at the top of the heap, turns it up a notch to make sure you really know his presence is here. A vet of Levon Helm's finishing school, with harp, voice and a crew that's right in step, this is the kind of great, sweaty blues rock that makes you think he made a deal with the devil, or some other kind of blues malarkey, to come across this hot and heavy. A winner throughout.
KENNETH SALTERS HAVEN/Enter to Exit: One of those drummers who know how to give everyone else some, which explains why he is in demand, Salters leads his crew from the back of the stage and everyone works to raise everyone else's game. Straight ahead modern jazz that doesn't tip any apple carts but doesn't put you to sleep either, it's the kind of music that flows with a flow that was forged in too many smoky clubs. Solid stuff that knows what you want, this is a tasty work out that won't leave you sweaty but will leave you wanting more. Well done.
PATRICIA BAHIA/Save Your Heart: Let's be upfront. It's easier to get this disc if you are a woman that's a cancer survivor. Loaded with songs loaded with affirmations, this singer is singing her bucket list after having been there/done that. How do we know this is on point for a certain audience? When boy friends in the next room hear this playing , they won't feel like putting their fist through the wall. Inspiring stuff with a positive message, it's universal message is that it's good to stop bitching and realize John Lennon was right when he said ‘life is something that happens when you are busy making plans'. If this fills your bill, by all means check it out.
KEVIN KASTNING/Otherworld: Is Kastning's first solo record after 19 others really a journey through the past? Our fave experimental guitarist seems to be dialing it back a notch and turning in in a set that would have been right at home as one of Windham Hill's tent pole solo guitar releases 30 years ago. Leaving us wondering just how a face off between him and Michael Hedges would have come out, the playing here is far more intricate than it sounds and shows another side of Kastning in expected fine form. Guitar fans have to put this on their must have list. Killer stuff.
GILAD HEKSELMAN/Homes: Using this release to celebrate 12 years in New York and a decade with the crew on board here, Hekselman finds himself taking the impressionistic route first blazed by feminist writers in 1600s Paris as the road map for his feelings about various homes. No longer in the shadow of Pat Metheny, where he's often put by those who don't listen closely, this is a dandy modern jazz guitar date that might wander all over the lot but never meanders on it's way. Tasty stuff for sitting down jazzbo that wants a pro session delivered a real pro who will treat their ears right.
OCHION JEWELL/Volk: A jazz date that's hard to classify by a sax man that can tell you first hand about police brutality is on tap here. Experimental throughout, it takes various folk music from various places, finds the jazz in it and then explodes the whole thing into something new. Professionally conceived so you know you're in good hands, this is a masterwork of sitting down jazz that listeners who lean left but aren't in love with arts council music will champion. Certainly out of the ordinary and a worthwhile experience.
RANDY BRECKER/RandyPOP!: Be honest. You never read the liner notes and you never heard of this guy until he started his own band. Now it's a real surprise that he was blowing his trumpet on loads of your fave hits from a varied group of artists that don't even fit together. Turning 70 in November, Brecker decides this is the right time to take a journey through the past with some solid pals and not play covers but to play the songs as he hears/feels them now. That's a dandy kind of journey through the past. Of course the set list is impeccable and familiar but the playing is what this is all about. Hot stuff throughout that'll make some shared memories really come alive. Check it out.
AL BASILE/B's Expression: Do you need to know anything other than Basile and Duke Robillard are at it again? How about Basile's pen is sharper than ever and only he knows the proper way to give these tunes the first airing? How about the usual suspects of this bunch are on board giving their all? Using his established charm as an unassuming blues rock vocalist, Basile commands the proceedings righteously and mightily making it the kind of set that would draw you to an outdoor festival no matter how much the weather might not be to your liking. Solid stuff in a canon that hasn't misfired yet.
AZIZ SAHMAOUI & University of Gnawa/Mazal: Even if you are categorically against world beat, you have to stop and pay attention to this musical mash up that grew out of a jam session in a Paris bar. Led by a multi instrumentalist that has a dance with Joe Zawinul punched on his dance card this high octane rock flavored jazz/world/ethnic date starts out in the right place and quickly takes you through a mass of switch backs you least expect. At the very least, this could turn a hard rockers ear toward north and west Africa just to see what it's all about and what's being nurtured out there in the desert. Killer stuff sure to get you rocking.
Volume 38/Number 310
September 5, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record
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