JIM ROBITAILLE TRIO/Space Cycles: So, what if Wes was on ECM, how would it sound? Robitaille returns to the trio format, with is guitar front and center, and explores sonics and white space on this set that moves traditional guitar music into a new place. Deceptively progressive, this is a sonic tonic for thirsty ears on the prowl for that new vibe. A tasty outing throughout, this is certainly music for times that demand tunes that give that something extra.
(Whaling City Sound 122)
GORDON GRDINA SEPTET/Resist: Old world meets new world as progressive jazz, ancient instruments and classical feeling sounds unite in a nu place that brings art to the fore. Far from being egghead music although not the usual fare of the casual listener, Grdina takes you to that some other place where the unknown is around every corner and the intrigue is always in the air. In it's own way, this is very much music for our times, right now.
LISA MILLS/Triangle: Sounding very much like the spirit of young Bonnie Bramlett is still in the air, Mills recorded this album in Muscle Shoals, Memphis and Jackson with many of the scene's original cats on board. She doesn't need any new songs as she revisits soul standards from the locations and gives them a smoking blue eyed soul treatment that brooks no manqueing around. A real belter with real soul, Mills makes her statement and proclaims it boldly. Solid stuff for people that want, need and have to have the real deal.
ART HIRAHARA/Balance Point: Can you swing and still play introspectively? Piano man Hirahara shows how it's done, often in the same song. A solid listening date that you don't have to be sedentary to enjoy, this is mostly music that encourages you to kick back and let the word go by---especially if there are elements to it that annoy you. Not new age at all, it's spirit is in the right place to nearly mistake it for same. Invention at it's highest level plays out here.
DAVE STRYKER/Blue Soul: To keep from repeating himself, the modern jazz guitarist kicks it up a notch by bringing in Bob Mintzer and WDR Big Band for a set that'll force him to put off the next volume of his retro 8 track series---even if he dips into a few oldies here. Effectively creative and engaging, this is what you want to be listening to just when you think you've heard it all. Right on the money throughout.
IAN CAREY QUINTET + 1/Fire in My Head: Money and creative outlets are a wonderful combination. Given a grant by a chamber music association, Carey mixes jazz with chamber vibes and focuses his impressionistic attention on anxiety, something that plagues him. These days might just exacerbate the subject but hopefully the music here with have a positive effect once things settle down again because anxiety is one of those crippling things that those of us who don't have it don't know how to deal with. Perhaps in the long run, this will be a fine piece of music as medicine but for now, it's a straight up solid piece of sitting down jazz that you can sink into as it's creative vibe does it's thing. Well done.
(Slow & Steady 12)
DYLAN HAYES ELECTRIC BAND/Songs for Rooms and People: How could a recent college grad that was barely born in this century have such a fine feel for pre-consultant era fusion capturing it's sound and fury so perfectly? Well, time and tide didn't give him a choice about starting his adult life here and now but he doesn't sound like the kind of cat that lets anything stand in his way. With playing wise beyond his years, lets hope the jazz gods keep smiling on him and give him a career path lined with rose petals. Simply killer stuff throughout.
CHRIS POLAND/Resistance: The vet jazz guitarist has exactly the kind of left field vibe Ropeadope has a knack for locating and putting out. With heavy metal and punk chops on his resume, he wears his Zappa tendencies on his sleeve and creates a vibe that's like his own version of King Crimson splinter group vibes. Easily qualifying as a geezer for Medicare purposes, he sure doesn't play and compose like one. This cat could be the poster boy for showing other angry young men past their angry young man shelf date how to do it right without looking like that guy. Wonderful progressive stuff for restless, malcontent ears.
PIERRE BENSUSAN/Azwan: He might not be the plucky 17 year old phenom that made you jealous all those years ago, but when talking about guitarist Bensusan you shouldn't apply any adjectives---they're just too limiting. A world class acoustic guitarist, he's got the touch that makes you think you can imitate him and makes you want to kill yourself when you find you can't. Blowing you away again and again with what you can accomplish with six strings, five fingers and a nimble mind, he's such a master that he can sit in the front row and sass the teacher. Art in motion with none of the pretense that you'd expect to go with a description like that. Killer stuff.
NIGHTHAWKS/Tryin' to Get to You: Move over Grand Funk, I don't know what to call these guys anymore other than An American Band. Bringing in some new members to kick off their 50th year, the old and the new merge perfectly and they just keep flying---high. After hours blues rock that takes in stuff from all of blues and all of rock, this is a solid musical education in a nutshell---and none of it is pedant. Easily another in a series of their penultimate records.
MARSHALL CHAPMAN/Songs I Can't Live Without: Chapman has always been such an unstoppable writer (even a jive, proto MTV version of "Betty's Being Bad" couldn't stop it from going #1 and changing her life) that I never thought I'd look forward to her doing a covers/bucket list album. I was wrong. I dropped my teeth. Possibly the most deadly, solid perfect set of blue eyed southern soul ever recorded, this set can make the Tall Girl stand even taller. Opening with a take on Leonard Cohen that Judy or Jenny could never even come close to, you have to listen to it in one sitting so you can just get destroyed when she does that white, southern testifying at the end of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands". As long as COVID 19 is starting to cancel things into autumn, let's just call off the Grammys now, give her album of the year and start looking at the field for 2022. (PS: send this album to the producers of network talent shows so they can show the mopes how to express more emotion with less caterwauling). An utterly raw nerve performance, if this is acting, give her an Oscar now as well.
Volume 44/Number 165
April 13, 2020
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2020 Midwest Record
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