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Bridges From The East
Label: Elktra Sound Works / Milo Records
At first I didn’t really know what to make of the new release by Elektra Kurtis, both stylistically and musically. Kurtis was raised in Poland by Greek parents by way of Egypt. Once I learned of her Greek heritage, it made all the puzzle pieces fit together. An Internationally acclaimed violinist, Kurtis displays her obvious talent on sixteen tracks that explore different musical styles. She mixes in various rhythmic patterns that all tie back to her Greek heritage – while at the same time including melodies typical to the Arab, Polish and Eastern European cultures. Sometime very melodic, sometime very traditional jazz, and sometimes really avant-garde, her music is somewhat an amalgamation of styles. What is undeniable is her talent on the violin, which is consistently impressive. This is a really interesting and different type of sound and if something a little off the beaten path is of interest, this one will do the trick.
Label: Self Released
Upon first seeing the album cover by the new release by Chicago Farmer I thought of one of those one man bands playing instruments with his mouth, arms, hands and knees. Upon pushing the play button, I realized this was serious music, all done in an Arlo Guthrie style. Cody Diekhoff, aka Chicago Farmer, is a supreme story teller presented in a relaxing folk music style. By Diekhoff’s own admission, “Midwest Stories” is about hope, depression, job loss, meth, skate boards, a divided nation, used cars, the late shift, farms, factories and the destruction of our environment – and all of this in ten tracks. This is music that is lyrically driven and entices the listener to listen to the message, to see what that message has to say, and to try interpret what is being said. This is thought provoking music, easily enjoyed from the comfort of your listening chair.
No Secrets No Lies
Label: Self Released
Born in Cleveland, OH and raised in Florida, Wilson began his musical career at the tender age of three playing drums in church. From there he has had an extensive education culminating with a degree in Jazz Studies from Florida State School of Music. On the sixteen tracks on this release, Wilson not only plays the drums, he also plays the Hammond B-3, Piano, synthesizers, percussion, bass guitar and even does a little singing. He is superbly accompanied by a host of artists playing almost everything from guitar to flugelhorn. All tracks are done in a traditional jazz style but Wilson also manages to incorporate and blend in fusion soul and Gospel, indicating that his church background is not too far away. This work both strolls along and flies along, sometimes highly improvisational, or at least that is what I have to believe Wilson wants the listener to think. All in all, this is finely crafted traditional jazz that is enjoyable from the first track to the last.
Label: Prima Records, Ltd.
To be very honest, when I saw this CD, my first thought was this must be some throwback to that corn pone music on a bale of hay country and western I universally hated when I was young. Then I saw track number one, “The Day the last Ramone Died” and I became really curious. What follows on track one is perhaps a eulogy to a band from Queens, NY. While digesting that, songs about a blind bartender and chopping garlic followed. This is certainly not what I expected, both lyrically and musically. Country music with a trumpet? What started as questioning the possibility I would ever get to the end of this work evolved into an interest in hearing what would come next. “No.6” melds what is best described as traditional country and fast paced bluegrass, all tightly woven into finely crafted music to support what is perhaps some of the more diverse subject matter I’ve heard in recent memory. What started as doubtful ended up as a fun experience. If you like bluegrass with a country slant, and enjoy a good story, “No. 6” delivers.
Label: Self released
Born, raised and living in Miami, Larmer was once told that he did many things pretty well but nothing great. This was the catalyst for him choosing the guitar and enabled him to appear on numerous albums and television programs, receive numerous awards and he has even written music for the Steve Miller Band. Not only did Larmer record this, his debut release at the age of twenty-one, he and the band recorded the entire album live in the the studio with an audience and unbelievably, with no editing. All seven tracks were written by Larmer and contain not only a traditional jazz feel to them, but they are also inclusive of shades of soul and funk. And if you like guitar oriented jazz, Larmer’s talent is quite impressive.
River’s On Fire
Label: No Label Listed
There is something about the Big Easy that means music must be fun, energetic, a good time, have a good beat, and honor all the superb Louisiana musicians that have come before. A long time collaborator with Allen Toussaint, Gros was recording this album in the Vermillion Bay when he learned of Toussaint’s passing. Perhaps that inspired him. Perhaps it is just a Louisiana thing. Hard to say. Gros is a highly talented singer and songwriter who for this work, used his primary instrument, the piano, as the vehicle for writing the eleven tracks. I’m not 100% convinced that any one genre can be applied to this music. Part rock, part jazz, part funk, part ballad, part good time groove, what this album really displays is superb music. If you have ever spent any time in New Orleans or along the bayou, as I have, this is the music that families take their kids to hear on a Wednesday afternoon performed on an outdoor stage. Makes you want to get up and dance, sing and shout – which I’m sure in Cajun country happens all the time. If you just want to have fun listening to a foot tapping release, “Papa” delivers.