TROY ROBERTS/Days Like These: C'mon, how can you not get giddy over a sax led organ trio date with Tain Watts, Emmet Cohen and Joey DeFrancesco on board? Straight up stuff that doesn't even need to go daddio to entice you into the mostly original program, it's the solid playing and rock cred the jazzbos bring to the fore that keep it forthright. Smoking and swinging throughout, this crew plays by telepathy and is right on the beam throughout. Killer stuff.
(Toy Robot 8)
RONNY WHYTE/Whyte Witchcraft: A winging jazz vocal set that focuses on the songs of Cy Coleman with an especially light shined on his co-writes with Carolyn Leigh. Backed by three different swinging crews, Whyte feels the music and understands the lyrics making this a real treat of a set. A member of the cabaret jazz hall of fame, it's easy to imagine his induction was by unanimous vote. A classic cat with no dust on him, this is a fine look at the art as it's supposed to be displayed. Top shelf.
CAROLYN LEE JONES/Close Your Eyes: A jazzy cabaret vocalist, Jones changes it up again with a jazz vocal set that focuses on the oldies but doesn't lay it real straight. The backing feels like Les Baxter arranging some tiki lite sounds for a set of saucy, suburban exotica. Fun stuff from a swinger that wants you to have a good time when she's in the vicinity, this is a dandy after hours treat led by a guide that won't rob you in a back alley. Well done.
JOHN McDONOUGH/Can You See Me Now: Normally, when we get a set by someone leaving the real world to be a muso, they're a lawyer. This Austin cat is a former shrink. With all the angst that comes blasting right out of the box, sounds like he retired just in time as all of this listening to other people's bitching wore him down. A double barreled blast of angst that you wouldn't expect form a cat that's be knocking at music's door for five decades, he's certainly over come the aging, angry young man paradox. Don't be surprised if you see thins turning up in the back pack of the next kid that shoots up a school---that's how much emotion is in the grooves of this singer/songwriter joint.
McNaMARR PROJECT/Holla & Moan: If this duo doesn't make you wish Carla and Otis left us more sides, you just don't know your deep soul. This duo does---and they're from Australia. Drenched in old school soul, this is some of the coolest duet work to come along since Planter Bank had to do their dirty work and shut down Stax. Even going so far as to record in Memphis with some of the original cats, as much as they've owned the blues awards in the past, this set is a springboard to them OWNING those awards in the future. Killer stuff throughout.
MICHAEL BLOOM/Whisper in the Wind: A guitar slinging rocking white boy with the blues from Chicago whose name is almost Michael Bloomfield? How eerie is that? Probably spending a few minutes on the same mean streets as Butterfield along the way, Bloom leads his seasoned crew through the paces delivering a fine performance of contemporary, electric blues that lights up the night. Hot stuff throughout.
JOHN McANDREW/Walkin' Back: Using music as a way out of addiction should have made this a set that hits you over the head with a bunch of 12 step stuff. It isn't. With music in his genes to start with, he offers up rocking, singer/songwriter stuff about hope without sounding evangelical or touchy feely. Having a lot of musical miles under his belt, he knows how to give the audience what they want while leading them in the direction that works for him. An interesting set for those who like to go beyond the superficial and leave with something real under their belt.
JIOHN SURGE & the Haymakers/Your Wonderful Life: So old school it sounds new. Influenced by post punk Bakersfield sounds, this third generation honky tonk from outside the lines is as fresh as the neo traditionalists were in the wake of the collapse of urban cowboy crossover. A cut right to the chase kind of set, this is modern honky tonk for a world where they really don't have honky tonks anymore---but should. A first class party on a platter.
HELENE CRONIN/Old Ghosts & Lost Causes: Holy moley, if this doesn't sound like a lost album from Roseanne Cash's dark period in the 90s, what does? From laboring in the background to winning at Kerrville last year, this folkie is more than ready for her run for the roses. Certainly a dark album, it's one of those ones that finds beauty in pain and leaves you changed when it gets done with you. Finally making her first full length set, the wait has been worth it when old chucks of coal turn out like diamonds like this. Whew!
SPARKY PARKER/In the Dark: A former tyro, this guitar slinging blues rocker is going to be the next one of those cats that gets insulted when a major label offers him a 360 deal since he'll already be doing better on his own without even having to leave Texas. Leading a crisp trio through everything form pimp scores to straight up power trio stuff, this is one seriously exciting cat that is well versed in delivering the goods. High octane and hard hitting throughout, this is what you need for cardio to really get sweating. Hot.
Volume 43/Number 320
September 6, 2019
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2019 Midwest Record
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