Ron Ringwood – Earth Tones

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Listening to Michael Whittaker’s debut Earth Tones is a lot like glancing at postcards from a short but eventful trip around the globe, with each tune offering a different cultural vibe based on brief visits to Scotland, France, Asia, and Africa. The young but well traveled keyboardist/composer keeps the travelogue light and frisky, as if to say, my last stop was great, had fun, wish you were here, gotta go — which is to say he only scratches the surface of world music but still engages us nonetheless. There are a few attempts at deeper explorations, most notably “Quench the Thirsting,” whose Swahili chants encourage a singalong but speak of the tragic drought in Malawi, Africa. Combining Yanni’s flair for symphony light with Jon Anderson’s ethereal Irish flavors, Whittaker remembers a trip to the green fields of “Highland Air.” Draws from other diverse influences throughout, including 70s wah-wah guitar driven soul (“Coffee of The Day”) and Pat Metheny (“Write on Track”), Whittaker enjoys taking us on an upbeat search for his musical identity

Booker T. Jones – The Road From Memphis

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The Road from Memphis starts with a young Booker T. Jones hauling his stack of newspapers to Phineas Newborn s front yard where, while folding them for his after-school delivery route, he could listen to the jazz great practice piano. It ends with Booker and The Roots roaring through a set of both timeless and contemporary originals (and propulsive covers of Gnarls Barkley s “Crazy” and Lauren Hill s “Everything Is Everything”). Along for the ride are vocalists Matt Berninger of the National, Yim Yames of My Morning Jacket, Sharon Jones, Lou Reed, and Booker himself, telling the story of how the funk/soul sound that Booker helped invent spiraled out from Memphis, touching The Root s hometown of Philadelphia, New York (where engineer Gabe Roth has been recreating classic soul sonics for everyone from Sharon Jones to Amy Winehouse), and Detroit. Detroit as in Dennis Coffey, legendary Motown session guitarist who introduced driving rock funk rhythm to hits like “Cloud Nine” and “Ball of Confusion” by the Temptations, and brings his Detroit grit to these tracks. The Road from Memphis is classic Memphis soul, and classic Booker in the tradition of “Green Onions”, but beyond that it is the story of a sound, and how Booker, working with the inheritors of his sound, is keeping a tradition alive.

John Campbell-A Man & His Blues

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John Campbell lived a short life. And the shame of it is that his recorded musical legacy is short as well. A MAN AND HIS BLUES was recorded before John fell off into the hoodoo. It contains the type of music that made John a Blues legend in East Texas and Louisiana. The music is basic Texas Blues, not the dark and forbidding over produced stuff of the New york years. This is John as he was at Yakofritz or the Crossroads in Nacogdoches on those special Saturday nights.

Harry Manx – Om Suite Ohm

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Harry Manx has been called an “essential link” between the music of East and West, creating musical short stories that wed the tradition of the Blues with the depth of classical Indian ragas. For Om Suite Ohm, his eleventh album, Manx teamed up with composer/producer Hans Christian (who worked with Daniel Lanois and was bassist on Robbie Robertson’s solo CD) in Australia where he recorded with guests Yeshe and didjeridoo player Ganga Giri, who played with Peter Gabriel.
Manx has been cultivating his musical roots for more than 30 years. Much of that time has been spent immersed in Eastern culture under the guidance of mentors like slide guitarist Vishwa Mohan Bhatt in India. With Om Suite Ohm, however, Manx seems to be expanding his global influences.
“Further Shore,” for example, sings of Spain with an overriding African melody, while “Way Out Back” is clearly drawn from countless tours in Australia.
Despite his little jab at the music industry’s need to pigeonhole, Manx is an artist who happily professes to always have one foot in the blues door. From India to jazz to Africa, it doesn’t seem to matter where the other foot may go. His intricate compositions, virtuosic playing and natural ability to blend genres have allowed Manx to carve out a place for himself in music that always feels like Om Suite Ohm.

James Brown – Messing with the Blues

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Recorded between 1957 & 1975. Includes liner notes by Cliff White and Harry Weinger. MESSING WITH THE BLUES is a collection of Brown’s blues and R&B covers, and includes many previously unreleased recordings; several tracks released for the first time without overdubbed applause; and two tracks in stereo for the first time. The package includes a 16-page booklet with rare photos. This two-disc set makes an intriguing case for an aspect of James Brown’s roots not always considered: blues…

NME (Magazine) (2/23/91) – 8 (out of 10) – “…Although James Brown has been cited by many as the last great blues shouter…[he] has been quoted as saying he didn’t even like the blues. For one who didn’t like the blues, he was certainly a consummate blues singer….Imagine what he’d have done if he’d have actually liked the blues.”

Chingon – Mexican Spaghetti Western

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Chingon is a Mexican rock band based in Austin, Texas. Their sound is heavily influenced by mariachi, ranchera, and Texan rock ‘n roll music.
Chingon was formed by film director Robert Rodriguez to record songs for his 2003 film Once Upon a Time in Mexico. They contributed on Mexico and Mariachis, a compilation album to Rodriguez’ Mariachi Trilogy, and released their debut album, Mexican Spaghetti Western, in 2004. The band’s name comes from a Mexican slang term, chingon, loosely but closely enough meaning “badass” and/or “awesome”.
Chingon also contributed the song “Malaguena Salerosa” to Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 2 — which Rodriguez scored — and a live performance by the band was included on the film’s DVD release. They also contributed to the soundtrack for his next film, a collaboration with Tarantino, Grindhouse, doing a cover of the film’s opening theme, re-titling it “Cherry’s Dance of Death”. Rodriguez plays guitar in the band.