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BOB MERRILL/Cheerin' Up the Universe: A music biz lifer steps to the other side of the glass to turn in his 4th set as a leader. The singing trumpeter falls somewhere between Rat Pack cool and Mark Murphy cool bringing the daddio when he has to and finger popping when he wants to. With nothing to prove and a smoking crew of sidemen and guests that you wouldn't think even knew each other, Merrill gets it right right from the git and gives the good times a push to keep them rolling. Well done.

DUDLEY TAFT/Skin & Bones: This is a guy that started a band in high school with Trey Anastasio and went on to buy Peter Frampton's house in Cincinnati (?) where he located his home studio. Taft has been around the block a few times. This white boy that likes to shred the blues and take a walk on the dark part of the wide side is a party animal in the southern rock tradition, no matter where he came from. Badass, loud rock that could easily become a frat house classic.

ANNABELLE'S CURSE/Worn Out Skin: Recorded in that time tunnel where the folk music scare meets Americana. A rocking folk set that isn't folk/rock, these five youngsters deliver a wise beyond their years performance that has something original to say as well. Tasty stuff that would be as at home on "Midnight Special" as a satellite back porch channel, this is a solid slab of lo-fi-ish glory in all it's splendor with all the clichés you might expect left in the recording studio's parking lot. Killer stuff.

ANDY POXON/Must be Crazy!: Whew, a young, white boy with a smoking set of blues and show band chops loaded with rock attitude sails into his new release with the kind of surety that no amount of hype can buy. A real ace of a guitar slinger, Poxon plows ground that has been plowed before so there will be a lot of lazy writers making lazy comparisons to who came before him but this is a fine example of how it doesn't have to break new ground if it comes out of the box smoking and doesn't back down. Check it out.

ROTEM SIVAN TRIO/A New Dance: Not quite supper club and not quite basement club, this jazz guitar trio finds a sweet spot to mine a nu kind of groove that the urban hep cat will find goes well with martinis and smooth good times. Highly creative, with Al DiMeola's fearless deployment of chops, Sivan's jazz excursions are a great oasis for tired ears that aren't ready to call it a night yet but don't want to be overwhelmed. Solid stuff.

GHOSTS IN POCKET/Barberton: Every generation needs their own REM, post millenials now have theirs. Nu sounds for intellects trying to stretch and prove their elders wrong.

CASSOL-HATZIGEORGIOU-GALLAND/Aka Balkan Moon-Alef Ba Double Live: This is the way we blow your mind, blow your mind, blow your mind (you know the tune to sing this to). So, here we have a double live album where the core trio of crazed jazzbos hook up with two other unwieldy assemblages that never heard of a concept like rules. Taking world jazz, then making it ethnic, then adding funk, then throwing in the kitchen sink, but doing it for good cause, the result that comes out this are a must for the open eared that want to go on a wild ride where they are sure the wheels won't come of once they strap in but are sure of little else. Free world jazz? Free World Jazz? You decide, just have a good time doing it because this is like very little else you've ever heard.

WEBB WILDER/Mississippi Moderne: Primed as the next big thing over 30 years ago, Wilder is back where he started on the label where it began. Hiding behind the kind of wizened look the years will give you, Wilder still is wilder than the average rocker and ready to rock like the kids only wish they could. From the heartland that existed before the Walmart parking lots took it all over, Wilder is still roaring like a madman that can't be contained and delivers a clarion wake up call your soul so badly needs. Killer stuff throughout.

WHISKERMAN/Nomad: For youngsters that think Leonard Cohen reminds them too much of their great grandfather but still want to celebrate the end of days, Whiskerman rides in to the rescue. Wrapping their dour message in a nu version of prog, the is a great soundtrack for college kids to gargle with razor blades to until the time their law degree gets them a new, fully equipped Beemer and they stash their old yearbook in a closet corner where it will never be found.

LAURIE ANTONIOLI & RICHIE BEIRACH/Varuna: Sometimes you just have to wait until things are right. Antonioli has been working with Beirach for over 25 years, mostly on his stomping grounds in Germany when she was based over there. This set was begun 10 years ago and was only finished up recently, and it's just the two of them for most of the set. Even when tackling the chestnuts, Antonioli finds her art chick side, making this a totally different set than her Joni Mitchell tribute set last time around. Not comfortably fitting into the jazz vocal realm, this is a solid set or people that want that kind of session that takes them away to someplace else.

YORON ISRAEL/This Moment: A live date recorded in the wake of his Stevie Wonder tribute album, this set mixes Wonder with originals for a compelling drummer led stew. With other leaders in his band, everyone knows how to make righteous jazz and delivers the goods. A dandy straight ahead set that doesn't roil the waters but gives you some wonderful, smooth sailing. Check it out.

LONG TALL DEB featuring COLIN JOHN/Streets of Mumbai: The only thing this has in common with traditional blues is that Deb tallies up her hardships and tries to work them away in song. Other than that, Muddy Waters would call this post millennial, post industrial blues from another dimension. Sitar? Yep. Funny, but I can hear this as the bed for a beer commercial where everybody is bouncing up and down.

ACT/Act II: In which we find a cat that knows his way around the commercial work place kicking with his trio that lets him make off the clock, one for me records. Smacking soundly of a civil rights jazz redux, you can just picture a room full of too cool for school cats getting their groove on to this.

Volume 38/Number 314
September 9, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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