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Record Reviews

I have been reading a book on jazz by Nat Hentoff, a noted critic who loves jazz but writes more about socio-political stuff these days, and a book by the late great Edwin Newman that goes into why he does not like amorphous terms such as socio-political, so I guess I end up being a bit confused. But I agree with Hentoff that cool jazz is cool and with Edwin Newman that the degradation of the English language is a damned shame.
    And truly saddened by the news that 11-year-old Shannon Tavarez, who played one of the cubs in the Broadway musical version of “The Lion King”, has succumbed to cancer. At least she got to fulfill her dream of performing on stage and for that we applaud her.
    Jerry Bock, who composed the musical score for “Fiddler on the Roof”, has also gone on at 81. Another 81-year-old, gospel Grammy award winner Albertina Walker has left for the Heavenly choir, along with James Phelps, 78, a gospel and R&B vocalist. Polish avant-garde composer Henryk Gorecki has died at 76. One of his works depicted thje Virgin Mary as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. And Tony Moreno has passed at 66. Born in Cuba, he was raised in Miami, where he founded MP Records, a Latino music label.
    A name more of our readers might recognize is off this plane too. Solomon Burke was 70 when he died at an Amsterdam airport while on tour. He was a major influence on the lives and styles of many artists and people in the business said he was the king of rock and soul and the man who made modern music possible. Late in his career he appeared on a throne, but it was more due to health and weight problems than anything to do with that king stuff going to his head. Oh what a voice! Solomon Burke was survived by 21 children, 90 grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren.
    While not musicians, a couple more people deserve some mention here. One is Lisa Blount, an Academy-Award winning actress who was born in Fayetteville and passed away in Little Rock at 53. The other is one of the guys who gave us Bullwinkle Moose and Rocky the Flying Squirrel and all that other good stuff that came along with them: Alexander Albertson, Jr. He was 90.

Eryn Shewell
    This lady can sing and she has good range and timbre. She also has eclectic tastes in her music. Recording at Trax East in South River, New Jersey and at Jpad Music in Nashville, Tennessee, she swings from blues and jazz to country and has a whole host of great musicians backing her. An excellent set.

Carter Sampson
    Carter Sampson can sing and play the guitar and she can flat sell a song. She wrote all the songs on this album, recorded at Dirty Bird Studios in Norman, Oklahoma. OK, all but one, which she co-wrote with Gabriel Marshall. But they had it mastered in Pennsylvania. Oh well, maybe they know a really good engineer up there. Ah, here is his name: Garrett Haines; his studio is Treelady in Turtle Creek. Sweet, cool, hot; how can that be?

John Gillette
    Nice set. The music ain’t bad neither. I have yet to truly develop a taste for the style, which might be described as evolved rap.

Ghost Town Blues Band
Inside Sounds
    Never heard “Come Together” done as a blues, most interesting. They do some other covers, more traditional ones I guess you could say, plus several originals, mostly written by singer / guitarist / harpist / organist / believe it or not clavichordist. You just cannot find that many blues bands with a clavichord (and I have known blues bands that were lucky to have three chords, period). Kevin Houston of Inside Sounds recorded and mixed and Kevin Nix of Ardent Studios mastered. Good stuff.

Mark David
Bee Jay’s
    Hey, Bee Jay’s is no label or even a recording studio. It just happens to be a hair salon; they even have a price list in with the liner notes along with a plug for their teaching techniques. David has a good voice and some power. He is backed by Marquis Hunt on sax, Clay Paul on percussion, and Michael McKinnis on keys. Go to beejayshairstylingacademy.com for further info or drop by 1907 Hinson Loop in Little Rock or 130 West Main in Batesville and get a haircut.

Robin Rogers
Blind Pig
    Now then, talk about selling a song, Robin Rogers not only sells the song, but also adds interest. She is one hell of a singer, which is what we have to come to expect from Blind Pig. This disc just swings from end to end.

Buddy Guy
Silvertone / Jive
    Whoa, the cat is 74 and still wailing on the guitar, singing too. He also has B.B. King and Carlos Santana sitting in on one cut each. Many of the songs are in a reflective mood, which is fine with me; cat has every right to look back fondly on a long successful career. I saw him at the Fillmore West in 1969 and he blew the crowd away that night. I suspect he could still do that sort of thing. 74 years young and gonna keep on having fun.

Lawson Garrett & Peaces of Way
    Unusual music from an unusual combo and most engaging. Mike Stephenson played drums, Todd Jones played some bass, as did Kim France, Rick Anderson played some violin and pedal steel, Jonathon Wallace added some banjo, and David Streng did some percussion, but the core of the recording is Lawson Garrett on vocals, guitars, Kim Bos on vocals and percussion, and mandolin, and Jud Barry on oboe, bassoon, electric dulcimer, pennywhistle, and harmonica. I told you they were unusual.

Eddie Cohn
Big Fat Cat
    This is well played, well produced, but just not my favorite thing. For those of you who like draggy, mournful pop, it might just be your thing. Have at it.

Jay Gaunt
    A play on the words harmonica and cornucopia, the title does give one a good idea of what lies inside: lots and lots of harmonica. If you like that sort of thing, then you should enjoy this fine album. If you do not care for it, you should skip to the next entry.

The Hippocrites
Dirt Floor
    Another play on words, what goes on here? In this case, some purty dadgum good music I must say. Recorded in Connecticut, at the Dirt Floor Studios in Chester and Deep River, this album nonetheless has a sound similar to much of what I have heard produced down home. Their song about Jesse James is especially poignant. Many of the songs are downright catchy.

Chris Cain
Blue Rock’it
    Chris Cain is, as always, Chris Cain, a great guitarist / vocalist / songwriter. This album is no departure from his established style, which is California blues at its best, laid back when the song calls for it and scorching when that is what is needed. Robben Ford adds some rhythm guitar and it all adds up to a fine piece of work, or should I say play? Cain also plays some keyboard and is backed by a variety of instruments providing a fuller sound.

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