AMINA FIGAROVA EDITION 113/Persistance: Finding an electric cord and plugging in after 20 years of letting her fingers do the working, Figarova rolls the clock back 40 years to a time before consultants got their hands on fusion and gave it rules. Fresh, eclectic and ripe for rediscovery, she adds her own special sauce to the mix taking it forward rather than letting it simmer in the past. Keeping her claim on the keyboard high ground, this date is a real spirit lifting winner.
MICHAEL McDERMOTT/What in the World: Here comes a high rocking middle finger to all who wrote him off. The perennial underdog/cult figure comes roaring out of the box with the vigor that carried him through the last 30 years of hard times, now focused like a laser. With everything around us falling apart, this could be his bid to be the poster boy for looking to the phoenix. A mighty vindication for indomitable spirit.
HARRISON ARGATOFF/Toronto Streets Tour: Thanks to our various friends up north, we are continually exposed to how plucky the Canadian jazzbos are. Here we have a recent college grad documenting how he took solo sax busking to different places as he presented himself and his music in a unique DIY manner. Stretching the boundaries of how far you can take a voice like that in that way, Factor ought to come riding up like the Mounties and give this lad a check for some sidemen and some studio time to take it to the next level of the game making his work reach farther than the art head community. A solid, crafty move to get out of the gate.
SOPHIE TASSIGNON/Mysteries Unfold: If Gregorian chants were done like an art chick, kind of like Nico if she told John Cale to bugger off, you'd get a picture of what this eclectic Belgian lass is up to here. Augmenting with electronics but not electronic instruments, you have a perfect storm of suburban Goth lite going on here as she brings her fits to unexpected places, like classic Dolly Parton. A wild ride for musical wild riders
(Rare Noise 119)
WET INK ENSEMBLE/Glossolalia-Lines on Black: A contemporary classical crew of hard hitters might seem too dense for their own good to the uninitiated but they are knocking the eggheads dead on a continual basis. A load of well conceived art with a capital A, these 8 players know how to play up a storm, even when they are doing it the minimalist way. The perfect soundtrack for your next wine & cheese soiree when you need some outré in the air.
PETER KARP/Magnificent Heart: Easily the heaviest cat you never heard of since Rolling Stones mention him in the same breath as Bob Dylan and James Taylor, who have nothing in common except recording for Columbia, this vet rocker who got fed up with the bullshit and exited attempted his return/comeback at an inopportune time but has been making it work. Currently seeming like an alt.roots rocker but really a master of AOR anthems, being a road warrior might be a young man's game but Karp shows that being a rocker through and through can be done at any age. This sounds like the records that were blasting out of car stereos in the parking lots of your youth and it's good to have it back in the right hands. Hot stuff.
DAVE ASKREN-JEFF BENEDICT/Paraphernalia The Music of Wayne Shorter: This guitar/sax duo of long standing are the latest to team up and send some love Shorter's way, this set focusing on his Miles/Weather Report years. Breaking down his often complex solos into manageable takes the casual listener can appreciate, their affection for Shorter comes through loud and clear. A tasty set throughout that brings home fusion for those who were often intimidated by it, they set a mighty table with a feast for all. Hot stuff.
CRYSTAL SHAWANDA/Church House Blues: Shawanda's label debut album was one of those ‘where have you been all my life' records. The second shows this belter delivered no fluke. Cranked up in sound and fury even more than before, this is music coming from a deep well of her soul where it might start out as blues but on the way out, it melds so well with everything else found in there that there's no way she don't put a spell on you. Theatrical without being stagy, this is how it sounds when an artist really owns it. Killer stuff.
(True North 748)
ROBERT LEE/Ascension: A skillful recent college grad that knows his way around bass isn't afraid to give someone else some, especially when that someone else is Allison Au who isn't afraid to come through for him. Not quite an after hours session but wonderful listening for laid back times, Lee is off to a great start with a date that never fails to impress. Well done.
MARK TELESCA/Higher Vibrations: A geezer who recently beat cancer sounds like he just stepped out of a 70s college coffeehouse. An acoustic picker with originals under his arm and a love for pre war blues serves up one of those solo sets that just plain grabs you by the ears and doesn't let go. Presented directly and to the point, the dazzling simplicity gives the heart and soul invested here a great front and center presentation. If you know what it is to fire up a doob and listened to a finger picker that really knows his stuff, this record is for you and needs no further introduction or explanation. Smoking!
Volume 44/Number 152
March 31, 2020
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2020 Midwest Record
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