Record Review: With Kevin Bryan

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It’s time for your latest batch of record reviews, courtesy of Kevin Bryan.

Mike Zito - Make Blues Not War (Ruf Records). The co-founder of the excellent Royal Southern Brotherhood is now firmly established as a top notch solo performer, and Zito’s new Ruf CD soared into the higher reaches of the Billboard Blues Chart on the day of its release. The Missouri-born singer and guitarist’s sterling efforts are aided and abetted here by fellow bluesmen Walter Trout and Jason Ricci as he unveils what is arguably his finest offering to date, blessed with muscular gems such as Highway Mama and the harmonica-led Chicago blues of the robust title track.

The Ladies Sing the Blues - (Union Square). This inexpensive new two-CD anthology focusses attention on an interesting selection of archive recordings culled from the back catalogues of many of the leading lights of jazz and blues during the 30s, 40s and 50s. Classic offerings from the likes of Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald are given an airing alongside lesser known but equally compelling ditties such as Sippie Wallace’s I’m A Mighty Tight Woman and the formidable Memphis Minnie’s 1933 country blues opus, Too Late.

Robyn Stapleton - Songs of Robert Burns (Laverock Records). This wide-ranging celebration of the work of Scotland’s national bard finds Robyn Stapleton in peerless form as she explores the themes of history, humanity, love and nature via some of Burns’ most iconic musical creations. The use of a string quartet lends added charm to fine tracks such as Westlin’ Winds and Parcel O’Rogues, contrasting nicely with the much more traditionally folksy flavour of Tae the Weavers and Comin’ Through The Rye.

Lucie Horsch - Vivaldi (Decca Classics). The contents of this splendid new offering from 16-year-old recorder prodigy Lucie Horsch should come as a pleasant surprise to those culturally deprived listeners whose knowledge of the musical landscapes created by Antonio Vivaldi‘s extends only as far as the perenially popular Four Seasons and, sadly, no further. This prolific composer actually penned a vast body of work during the course of his lengthy career, and Lucie displays her natural affinity for the gifted Venetian’s vivid Baroque repertoire as she tackles a beguiling assortment of concertos and transcriptions in close collaboration with the Amsterdam Vivaldi Players.