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A mix of music on tap

Stewart Oksenhorn

Following are brief reviews of recent CDs by acts coming to the Roaring Fork Valley.The Motet, “Music for Life” (Harmonized Records)While the personnel for Colorado’s the Motet shifts constantly, the groove remains the same. On “Music for Life,” the mainstay rhythm team of drummer Dave Watts and percussionist Scott Messersmith leads an attack that includes two saxophones, giving their fourth album a slightly different feel from past efforts. One can argue with the Motet’s predictability from album to album, but it’s hard to quibble with the thick, inspired fusion of Latin, funk and jazz jams.The Motet performs Friday, Aug. 6, at the Blue Door in Snowmass Village.Michael Gulezian, “Concert at St. Olaf College” produced by Gulezian (Timbreline Music)In the vein of the late Michael Hedges and Leo Kottke, Michael Gulezian plays solo, finger-style guitar that blends melody, harmony and rhythm. The trick is making such music something more than a mere exercise in technique, and in this concert from Minnesota’s St. Olaf College, Gulezian clears that hurdle with room to spare. In addition to lively originals like “Mile High Country” and “Little Meggie,” Gulezian takes stabs at Kottke’s “Watermelon” and a heartfelt version of Bach’s “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring.”Michael Gulezian appears at Main Street Bakery on Wednesday, Aug. 4.Marcia Ball, “So Many Rivers” produced by Stephen Bruton (Alligator)Marcia Ball, already 6-feet-plus, gets even bigger on “So Many Rivers.” The boogie-woogie pianist and singer brings in two separate horn sections, a slew of backing singers and even Red Young on the B3 organ to fill out the sound. The style sometimes moves closer to New Orleans, as on “Baby, Why Not?” and “Foreclose on the House of Love.” But fans of Ball’s usual rollicking r & b won’t be unhappy with the expansion of the sound here.Marcia Ball plays Thursday, Aug. 5, in the Snowmass Free Summer of Music series on Fanny Hill in Snowmass Village.Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, “Pin Your Spin” produced by John Porter (Basin Street Records)Singer and multi-instrumentalist Jon Cleary puts a modern spin on what Dr. John calls “New Orleans fonk” on “Pin Your Spin.” The beats and drum sounds, in particular, have a bit of hip-hop and neo-soul influence and give the album an up-to-date feel. But at its heart, with tunes like “Agent 00 Funk” and “Funky Munky Biznis,” “Pin Your Spin” isn’t far removed from the usual New Orleans voodoo music. One neat thing: Cleary plays guitar, keyboards and bass, and various songs can be categorized by which instrument seems to be leading the way.Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen play Sept. 4 at Jazz Aspen’s Labor Day Festival.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com


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