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NANCY WRIGHT/Playdate!: The Candy Dulfer of the blues? A host of contemporary blues giants gather around to drive this set by this recent West Coast Blues Hall of Fame inductee with her sax leading the way. A well respected, towering blues sax giant, Wright decided to step out and do what she wanted here proving this gal doesn't need to be told which end is up. A white girl with the blues that's raising the bar for all, this is a non stop, smoking, good time. Killer stuff throughout.

EARWIG/Pause for the Jets: Power pop through a prism viewed through a kaleidoscope for kids in directionless suburbs where nothing makes sense and the only truism is that everything is just random molecules bobbing around in random fashion in a random universe. Crazy music for the crazy times kids are going through and the kids are sure to understand.

SARI SCHORR/Force of Nature: Joe Boyd's website says not to bother him because he's not coming out of retirement to produce just anybody. I'm sure Mike Vernon feels the same way. However, when on a busman's holiday in Memphis he tripped over Schorr and the rest is recorded history. Capturing lightning in a bottle twice, Schorr is already a chop laden pro that's earned her spurs working in the vineyards of the blues and Vernon reminds you that he first tripped across Christine Perfect. With that sly side ways voice that's loaded with innuendo, Schorr is a blues belter that can purr, soar, take it to the heights and take it to the limits. There's always an accent on shredding but this is about the vocals and this is one white gal that doesn't just have the blues, she owns them. Killer stuff throughout that will bring it all back home for you.

NATE HOOK/Progressive Overload: This young ‘un from Austin brings nu meaning to the words "Texas tenor" as his sax work is informed by the world around him for the last 25 years where mash ups, hip hop and deconstruction are the orders of the day. A solid player that's aiming for nu ears that take their jazz in a nu way, this new kid on the block has enough smarts and tricks up his sleeve that kids looking to peak into the tent will probably stay for the whole show. Smart stuff that has it's eyes and ears on tomorrow.

LEX GREY & the Urban Pioneers/Heal My Soul: The reigning dirty girl du jour, this white bleached blonde with the blues has a modern take on soul and blues delivered with such a knowing voice that she doesn't even have to blow the roof off the sucker to blow you away. The mistress of her own mash up, Grey is no mere gimmick act with a penchant for traditional blues turned on it's head, she's a force of nature that will not be denied. Since she's fearlessly going her own way, you don't have to be a fan of this or that to get it. Just sit back and enjoy the untamed proceedings. Hot stuff throughout.

RICHARD BONA/Heritage: One of those Cameroon cats that steps up to mic and makes amazing records that draws an amazing bunch of rocker to his side, album 8 keeps the string going. This time out he explores the Cuban roots of Afro Cuban sounds and pulls his voice, playing and writing smartly together for a set that blows you away even if you have no idea what he's singing about. Merrily and delightfully indigenous in the best possible way for gringos, this set is so engaging and warm that it gets hard to put it down. Mastering the art of continental and genre mash up and serving it up as a killer salmagundi, Bona is a winner throughout powered by heart and smarts that are hard to top. Killer stuff whether hipster or armchair traveler.

ROSS NEILSEN/Elemental: If you've ever woken up one morning and wanted to throw over everything you knew to go for it, Neilsen is your poster boy. After years of couch surfing, he doesn't feel like putting down roots but he's found some primally elemental element that has him recording one of those deeply one of a kind personal records with the tentacles to reach almost everyone. An uber mash up of styles, this is way too hip for your average 41 year old. An utterly bad ass set, step right up if you seriously want your mind blown by something that's not outsider music done for a lark. This is sound of turning yourself inside out and finding what's really down deep. Killer stuff.

TOM COHEN/Joyride: Philly's favorite son drummer for over 40 years honed his chops by playing with everybody over that time. For his 4th cd, he's surrounded himself with cats that have also played with everybody and the result is a disc that lives up to it's title. Careening with mad energy and dripping with chops, this is jazz with a rock attitude by geezers that don't play like they need Aleve to pull it off. Working on his own nickel like everyone else these days, Cohen knows how to serve as both his own advocate and nemesis pushing the envelope while keeping things on track. That how you last 40 years. A smart bet for creative freedom, this date mixes original and classics into a heady stew just tailor made for the classically eared jazzbo. Well done.

AUSTIN YOUNG BAND/Not So Simple: Where are all these tyros coming from? Proving his 2013 set, when he was three years younger, was no fluke, this young shredder from Colorado is a white boy with the blues throughout that seems to be guided by the spirits of his late father and SRV. Unable not to play from the heart, this young un proves he's a natchurl born bad ass. The power trio continues to be alive and well as well as in good hands. Check it out.

RALE MICIC/Night Music: The jazzbo guitarist expands his trio by one and tackles a few tunes by noted jazzbo, Bela Bartok (kidding about the noted jazzbo part) but finds the groove to wrap his angular guitar work around it tall making it blend nicely with his originals. Solid stuff for serious listeners, Micic plays but doesn't play around getting right to the meat of his music and commanding your full attention. Smart stuff from all on board, this is the real deal, the kind that makes listeners sit up and take notice. Well done.

AGNZ/Chance Meeting: An interesting confluence. The four cats that make up this foursome are all New England first call jazzbos, and most of them have some connection to Michael Brecker, who they feel is smiling down on this session. Not full of skunk funk, these guys stick to the jazz line and deliver progressive playing that let's these leaders shine in their solo spots as well as play cohesively even though this is the first time all have sat down together. A smoking dose of real playing for starved ears, this contemporary jazz outing hits it out of the park and has energy in reserve in case---for next time. Solid stuff, the kind you get when real pros sit down together.

Volume 39/Number 304
September 1, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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