Six new CDs feature an adventurous sound

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The “Taylor Made Blues” of singer/songwriter/guitarist “Mississippi” Mick Kolassa on Swing Suit Records is only the latest in a string of terrific DIY blues CDs from this earthy musicologist who donates his proceeds to The Blues Foundation. He specializes in digging out the blues from surprising sources like Graham Nash’s “Prison Song,” the “Lungs” of Townes Van Zandt and “Can’t Get Next To You” by The Temptations.

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Then there’s singer/songwriter/guitarist/harmonicat/percussionist blues man+ Eric Sommer whose “Brooklyn Bolero” (Clyde Is Thinking Records) features eight originals with him stomping away on his stomp box (a small wooden foot stomper) while his mates Jim Oakley (more percussion) and Zach Smith (bass) provide hand claps and vocal harmony. Sommer plays a sizzling slide on his humorous originals like the “Cereal Song” and “Death Ray Cataclysm.” He sings in a John Mayall-inspired voice and writes like Nick Lowe. He’s been in the bands of Leon Redbone, David Bromberg and John Hammond, Jr. and his live sets always seem to include some Little Feat and Buddy Guy. Truly a renaissance man for all occasions, he’s one of the most touring-est indie acts to come out of Boston in a while with or without his mates as he’s also perfected the art of the one-man band.

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It is said that when Frank Sinatra attempted suicide over his heart being broken by actress Ava Gardner, it was the legendary songwriter Jimmy Van Heusen [1913-1990] who rushed him to the emergency ward. Van Heusen wrote many a Sinatra hit- — some with lyricist Sammy Cahn — on his way to an Emmy and four Oscars.  On “Vanheusenism,” Daniela Schachter‘s fourth CD, the Sicily-born singer/songwriter/pianist picks 11 from his songbook and adds the title track original. Her voice functions properly as it should in service to each song, making one realize just how important this incredible songwriter was from “Here’s That Rainy Day,” “Come Fly With Me” and “All The Way” to “Call Me Irresponsible,” “Polka Dots & Moonbeams” and “I Thought About You.” It’s a great way to wrap one’s brain around the oeuvre of a master melodist like Van Heusen.

 

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Singer/Songwriter Sari Schorr is, indeed, “A Force Of Nature” on this ballsy debut. Eric Clapton producer Mike Vernon came out of retirement for this one when he was so knocked out by her live show. Walter Trout adds his signature guitar to his own “Work No More” while Sari goes wild on her 10 originals and two covers (The Supremes’ 1965 “Stop In The Name Of Love” and Lead Belly’s 1939 “Black Betty”). Robert Plant’s guitarist Innes Sibun leads her hard-charging band, The Engine Room. Schorr has sung her heart out in the bands of Popa Chubby and Joe Louis Walker. She’s a marathon runner who lives in Brooklyn with her husband and rescued pit bull triplets.

 

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I‘m always looking for a good new roots rock band these days but they’re far and few between. Most of them could be found within the Americana format and The Walcotts are no exception. “Let The Devil Win” on Local Hero Records was recorded within the hallowed halls of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals Alabama before finishing touches were added in Los Angeles. Those who went to see Chris Stapleton last year discovered them as his opening act. Now, this 12-track stunner should warrant them headline status as it’s just so damn good. Reminiscent of the kind of boy/girl harmonies that Fleetwood Mac pioneered, their blend of horns, pedal steel, fiddle and piano feels so right and so honest.  

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Is “Flux” (Mythology Records) the jazz CD of the year? Maybe. Toronto tenor sax man Quinsin Nachoff leads his oddball quartet (no bass!) with alto sax man David Binney, keyboardist Matt Mitchell and percussionist Kenny Wollesen through a stunning rock/classical/jazz fusion of epic proportions. Mitchell’s a monster:  he plays organ, piano, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer and Moog synthesizer. Wolleson pounds drums hard-rock style as well as adding tympani, Tubular Bells and his own hand-crafted percussion toys. The result is a classical gas complete with reggae and avant-avuncular instrumentals (more accessible than avant-garde).

About Mike Greenblatt

A longtime music journalist, Mike Greenblatt is a contributing editor with Goldmine magazine.

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