Ron Block,”Walking Song” (Rounder Records)- This multi-talented Californian is probably best known for his work with bluegrass specialists Alison Krauss and Union Station, whose stylish line-up he’s graced for the past two decades or so. The singer,guitarist and banjo ace also pursues a fairly intermittent career as a solo performer when time constraints allow ,and his third Rounder offering is a subtly spiritual back to the roots exercise featuring guest appearances from the likes of Dan Tyminski,Jerry Douglas and Kate Rusby,who chips in on harmony vocals on three of the stand-out tracks,”Summer’s Lullaby,” “Walking Song” and “Chase Me To The Ocean.”
Tedeschi Trucks Band,”Made Up Mind” (Sony Masterworks)-The husband and wife pairing of Susan Tedeschi and demon slide guitarist Derek Trucks pooled their collective talents in 2010 to create the Tedeschi Trucks Band, creating an eclectic sound which blended elements of sixties soul with a generous helping of the melodic bluesy rock which Trucks had perfected during his lengthy stint with the Allman Brothers. “Made Up Mind” is the 11 piece band’s most accomplished offering to date, showcasing their growing confidence as a tightly knit performing unit via fine tracks such as “Do I Look Worried,” “It’s So Heavy” and “Misunderstood.”
Ike & Tina Turner,”On The Road:71-72”(MVD 5276D)- This fairly rough and ready home movie was the brainchild of noted rock photographer Bob Gruen and his wife Nadya,who dogged Ike and Tina Turner’s footsteps for a couple of years during the early seventies,using a handheld video recorder to capture the dysfunctional duo as they went about their business on stage,at home and in the recording studio. The DVD certainly wouldn’t win any awards for its audio or video quality , but Tina’s dynamic performances of gems such as “A Love Like Yours,” “Proud Mary” and “River Deep Mountain High” are well worth investigating nonetheless.
Howe Gelb, “The Coincidentalist” (New West Records)- Howe Gelb’s unique brand of dusty Americana has graced a string of alternative country albums by the excellent Giant Sand during the past thirty years or so,and he makes his New West debut with this typically eclectic and unpredictable solo offering. The Tucson based musical visionary is aided and abetted here by the likes of Will Oldham,KT Tunstall and Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley as he applies his appealingly gruff non voice to fine tracks such as “The 3 Deaths of Lucky,” “Unforgiveable” and “Vortexas.”
“Handel : Water Music-Masterpieces” (Warner Classics 2564 65168 3)- This attractive anthology spreads tunefully over 3 CDs and rewards listeners with performances of many of the most popular pieces in George Frideric Handel’s illustrious repertoire. Baroque specialists such as Nikolaus Harnoncourt, William Christie and Jean-Francois Paillard serve up stylish orchestral renditions of the much loved “Water Music,” “Concerti Grossi” and “Music for the Royal Fireworks” alongside archive offerings from top notch vocalists Felicity Lott, Thomas Hampson and Natalie Dessay.