07 30 2016
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The Wake of Vanport
McMenamins

"THE BIG PUSH"
LARRY WILLIS TRIO
Highnote
*****

These men know how to make not just good music but exemplary music in trio form.
The leader is pianist Larry Willis, someone I've come to know as a man of great spirit, faith, sensitive nature and abundant talent. Veteran bassist Buster Williams and drummer Al Foster are familiar names because of their stellar work through several decades. Some say Foster is the most recorded drummer of all time.
Although the players are well known, the material herein is not recognizable with the exception of the first track, "The Surrey With the Fringe On Top." The prettiest is Willis' composition, "The Day You Said Goodbye," a very slow ballad with Foster on brushes and Williams' bass soloing with deep resonance. Willis unhurriedly constructs a lovely memorial to something or someone he cared very much about.
His affection for the late Nat Adderley is much in evidence on another Willis tune, "Poppa Nat," a wonderful up-tempo salute.

"TOPH-E AND THE PUSSYCATS LIVE IN DETROIT"
*****

The musical biographies of these five hard-swinging gentlemen is astounding!
The combined list of names they have worked with is more than impressive. It includes Bob Dylan, David Letterman's Late Show Band, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Saturday Night Live Studio Band, Ashford and Simpson, Weather Report, Quincy Jones, George Benson, Tower of Power, the Brecker Brothers and more. That's a lot of bandstand cred.
They ignite off the top with a rock-'em-sock-'em treatment of Duke Ellington's "Rockin' in Rhythm." David Mann delivers a fine soprano saxophone solo as a highlight. A solid gospel feel emanates from "Tee," with pianist Clifford Carter using some wonderful block chords to make his point. Mann, this time on tenor, nearly blows the house down.
He comes back on "Just the Two of Us," along with vocalist Will Lee for a rousing soul trip. It's hard to pick a favorite tune from the above tunes and "All Blues," "Compared to What" and "Mr. Magic."
This release is five stars from start to finish!

"LIVE AT THE DAKOTA 2"
NACHITO HERRERA
****

This band, with all its firepower, could light up the darkened night sky.
Leader-pianist Nachito Herrera is loaded with technique and an intuitive grasp of everything Afro-Cuban. He opens with his own powerful "Spin and the Twins." Bassist Terry Barnes is eloquent with his lyrical solo.
It's only a quartet with percussionist Shai Hayo and drummer Gordy Knuttson, but together they create a much larger sound. Two well-known tunes, Wayne Shorter's "Speak No Evil" and "Yes and No," are special given the Herrera treatment.

"TIMELESS LOVE"
SMOKEY ROBINSON
Universal
****

Smokey Robinson, known for his long string of soul hits, takes a different route on this exciting Universal release, which hears him dip deeply into the great American songbook.
Robinson opens with a glorious treatment of "You Go to My Head," and generates plenty of excitement with the next track, "I'm In the Mood for Love." He sings the first chorus as it's likely intended, but then sings the second in a style similar to that of Eddie Jefferson's vocalese.
Robinson sticks to the pop hits of the '20s, '30s and '40s, including such tunes as "Tea for Two," "Our Love is Here to Stay," "Night and Day," "Speak Low," "I'm Glad There is You" and more.

"BEYOND THE OBVIOUS"
VALERY PONOMAREV
Reservoir
****

What is obvious is that this is a pianoless group — but that doesn't seem to inhibit the band from swinging.
On the first cut, "You Dig, I Hear You, You Know What I Mean, etc." is also tenorless. Saxophonist Don Braden was held up by traffic, making him late for the session. What we have, then, is Ponomarev on trumpet; Martin Zenker, bass; and Jerome Jennings on drums. Ponomarev, blowing clearly and in an upper range, carries the solo load and even engages drummer Jennings in a brief call-and-response exchange.
Braden comes on board for "Close Your Eyes," a version that differs radically from the usual. Its typical lyrical sensibility is cast aside until the very end, and in its place is some very innovative improvisation.
"Party Time" allows for some unison horn work by Ponomarev and Braden.
The prettiest offering is Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge," with Ponomarev soaring to some very high places.

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  • Russian hackers likely responsible for hacking attack on Clinton HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Giddy if exhausted, Hillary Clinton embarked on a post-convention Rust Belt bus tour just hours after becoming the first female presidential nominee of a major political party. The celebratory mood quickly evaporated amid fresh revelations that hackers had breached a program used by her campaign and Republican nominee Donald Trump promised to sharpen his barbs. "Remember this," Trump said during a rally Friday in Colorado Springs, Colorado. "Trump is going to be no more Mr. Nice Guy." And for the first time he encouraged his supporters' anti-Clinton chants of "lock her up." "I've been saying let's just beat her on Nov. 8," Trump said, "but you know what? I'm starting to agree with you." About an hour later, Clinton aides acknowledged that a hacking attack that exposed Democratic Party emails also reached into a computer system used by her own campaign. The FBI said it was working to determine the "accuracy, nature and scope" of the cyberattacks. Campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said the newly disclosed breach affected a Democratic National Committee data analytics program used by the campaign and other organizations. Outside experts found no evidence that the campaign's "internal systems have been compromised," Merrill said, but he gave no details on the program or nature of the attacks. Partnerships with modern e-commerce companies can allow sophisticated tracking, categorization and identification of website visitors and voters. President Barack Obama and cybersecurity experts have said Russia was almost certainly responsible for the DNC hack. The House Democratic campaign committee reported Friday that its information had been accessed. The developments followed the leaking of DNC emails earlier in the week that pointed to a pro-Clinton bias by party officials during her primary contest against Bernie Sanders. In the furor that followed, party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz resigned just as Democrats launched their convention. Clinton and her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, will attempt to return attention to their positive economic message on Saturday, with campaign stops through economically struggling areas of Pennsylvania and Ohio. "When we take that oath of office next January, we know we can make life better. We know we can create more good jobs," she told voters gathered at an outside market in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Clinton cited an economic analysis by economist Mark Zandi, a former economic adviser to 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, that found more than 10 million jobs could be created in her first term if her economic proposals were put in place. Zandi's analysis of Trump's plans found they would cost the country 3.5 million jobs and lead to a "lengthy recession." Joined on the bus tour by her husband, Bill Clinton, Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, Clinton stopped at a toy and plastics manufacturer in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, where she and Kaine cast Trump as a con artist out for his own gain. "We don't resent success in America but we do resent people who take advantage of others in order to line their own pockets," Clinton said. Trump is also focusing on Ohio and Pennsylvania, two states where he might make headway with blue-collar white men. That group of voters has eluded Clinton and may be a hard sell after a Democratic convention that heavily celebrated racial and gender diversity. Clinton is playing up economic opportunity, diversity and national security. Democrats hammered home those themes this week with an array of politicians, celebrities, gun-violence victims, law enforcement officers and activists of all races and sexual orientation. Their goal is to turn out the coalition of minority, female and young voters that twice elected Obama while offsetting expected losses among the white men drawn to Trump's message. Democrats continued contrasting their optimistic message with the more troubled vision of the state of the nation presented by Trump and others at the GOP convention a week earlier. Kaine called the "very dark and negative" event a "journey through Donald Trump's mind." "That's a very frightening place," he told thousands of supporters in Philadelphia. Clinton told voters that they faced a "stark choice," calling the coming election the most important one in her lifetime. "This is a moment of reckoning for our country. I don't recognize the country that Donald Trump describes," she said.___Lemire reported from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Associated Press writer Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.
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