CLARENCE SPADY/Surrender: Following ZZ Hill's footsteps in bringing the blues back to black audiences, this collection that has tracks and performances that stretch back 20 years and is as down home as you can get from a cat from Pennsylvania. Running toward an unexpected spiritual side, this really takes traditional blues to new places. Never failing to take it to church when the spirit strikes, this is a dandy all around modern blues set.
(Nola Blue 14)
ALEX SIPIAGIN/Upstream: The straight ahead trumpet cat hooks up with the label all stars for his label debut and blows up a storm that's anything but quiet. Pure jazz for pure jazzbos, there's all the notes you could want flying by, and all of them in the right order no matter how he juggles the line up. On the money throughout.
CHRISTOPHER MARK JONES/Looking for the Light: Possibly the late to the party link between the original Dylan and the new Dylan (possibly Prine?), this unrepentant folkie/troubadour doesn't fit into any easy hole but since it's clear that what he's doing is so heartfelt, it cuts through the dross and really resonates. A real singer/songwriter under the radar treat, he makes you want to bring back candles stuck in empty Chianti bottles in dark listening rooms----in a good way. Well done.
JACQUI NAYLOR/Long Game: Always set apart from the rest of the diva pack because she can write ‘em as well as sing ‘em, Naylor brings her A game to back up her throaty, sassy, slightly slurry vocals that are right at home in the jazz vocal canon. Mixing originals and often unexpected standards as chosen by fans, it is a fine portrait of an artist that's been at it long enough to know all the right moves but still has a sense of wonder lurking throughout. She pretty much gets you thinking that diva is the root word of divine.
(Ruby Star 11)
GABRIEL EVAN ORCHESTRA/Global Entry: Lawdy, help my jaded ears! Evan loves kicking it with old timey stuff but he does not hit the usual bases. His opening Tchaikovsky track sounds like it should be the soundtrack for a "Little Rascals" short---and things go on from there. The funny thing here is that he's working out on legit pieces that he runs through a serious side of Spike Jones (?) and keeps them legit but turns the whole thing into a world of whimsy that we sorely need. This may be no way to get rich but it certainly is the way to warm the hearts of malcontents that need a grin everywhere. Killer stuff.
DANNY PAISLEY & the Southern Grass/Bluegrass Troubadour: Don't take this the wrong way Danny, but it seems like a long time since we've had real bluegrass from a real bubba. Paisley looks like your dad but plays and sings in a way that's as real as it gets. There's no frippery, just killer stuff throughout that doesn't need gimmicks or stylists or anything but the music. Oddly enough, this is the kind of stuff that bluegrass needs more of to bring more newbies into the tent. Solid playing right from the heart and a way to get a taste of Charlie Poole and Alfred Brumley. Hot stuff.
FOCUSYEAR BAND 2021/Bosque: Give a bunch of kids a scholarship to study jazz for a year with some contemporary masters, let them play their hearts out in various combinations and styles, turn on the recorder and if everything was done right, you get a smoking set like this from a bunch of young lions you will be hearing more from. First class listening material that's wise beyond their years, this class has class and you won't believe this is a bunch of tyros still out to prove themselves. This is where the jazzbos of tomorrow are coming from. Well done.
(Neu Klang 4245)
ANTONIO OYARZABAL/La Muse Oubliee: Once upon a time, a muse was more than a screwy stripper that a creator had on the side to do things his wife wouldn't and unleash his creativity. Prior to the advent of Christianity, Muses were goddesses and music had one all it's own. Pianist Oyarzabal celebrates the year of the woman in his own way by calling back the forgotten muse and giving new voice to classical women composers. If this collection is any indication, they were no slouches either. While the playing is gentle, it doesn't have a decidedly feminine feeling even if it does take you away on it's wings. Yes, it certainly is inspiring---and a real treat for classical piano fans throughout.
CARLOS MENA-MANUEL MINGUILLON/Per Voi Ardo: A little bit of a forgotten art best appreciated by the hard core these days, lute song and madrigals were mainstays in the 1500s. Even though mostly Italian and Spanish, they'd been bastardized so much, today we think of them as English, the province of wandering minstrels. This duo knows their stuff and they put enough shine to it that their target audience will celebrate.
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE BAND-AIRMEN OF NOTE/2021 Jazz Heritage Series: With two programs, one featuring Peter Bernstein, the other Chris Potter, it's really dismissive not to think of these fly boys as hip---certainly hip enough to relate to jazzbo action like this. Started in 1990 and showing no signs of running out of gas, this is one of the most right on big bands you are going to encounter. It almost makes you want to sign up so you can hear them more often. Hot. Catch it when it hits a radio station near you.
Volume 45/Number 168
April 17, 2021
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2021 Midwest Record
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