New Music Monday: Squackett, Steve Smith, Robert Lamm, Gonzalo Rubalcaba

New Music Monday arrives chock full of of new music-y goodness, with highly anticipated sides from Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Ralph Bowen, Squackett, Steve Smith and Vital Information, and one-time Iron Maiden frontman Blaze Bayley, among others. Amongst the new concert documents and reissues are Bachman Turner, Foreigner, Jerry Reed, Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, Robert Lamm of Chicago, and Twisted Sister. Also newly arriving in the coming days are releases from Aruan Ortiz, Giacomo Merega, Tom Carey and others.


ARUAN ORTIZ – ORBITING (JAZZ): Ortiz, whose triumphal 2010 release Alameda invoked the power and grace of Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, returns with another deeply intelligent, rhythmically challenging, wholly enjoyable set. Drummer Eric McPherson is back, but Ortiz also is joined by new sidemen Rahsaan Carter (an alum of the Wallace Roney band) on bass and David Gilmore on guitar. Together, they’ve fashioned another terrific jigsaw puzzle of an album. With each listen, you can only put so many of the pieces together, but the journey remains endlessly enjoyable. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

BACHMAN TURNER – LIVE AT THE ROSELAND BALLROOM, NYC (POP/ROCK): Lunch-pail rock that, in many ways, sounds better than ever when positioned against an auto-tuned next-gen pop landscape. Recorded in November 2010, as Randy Bachman and Fred Turner toured in support of their celebrated self-titled duo reunion, this concert document blends all of the party-rocking favorites from their time with Bachman Turner Overdrive (“You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” “Takin’ Care Of Business,” “Roll On Down The Highway,” “Let It Ride”), with a smattering of tunes from Bachman’s tenure with the Guess Who (“Shakin’ All Over,” “American Woman”) and some key cuts from Bachman Turner. – (More here.) Nick DeRiso

BLAZE BAYLEY – THE KING OF METAL (POP/ROCK): That’s a pretty ostentatious album title from the guy who flopped as the replacement singer of Iron Maiden. Granted, Bayley’s better on his own than he ever was with Maiden … but really? — Fred Phillips

Country Joe McDonaldViet Nam Experience; War War War Live (Pop/Rock)
DalaBest Day (Folk)
David BenoitConversation (Jazz)
Django ReinhardtAnthologie (Jazz)
Donavon FrankenreiterStart Livin’ (Pop/Rock)
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic ZerosHere (Pop/Rock)
Florian HoefnerSongs Without Words (Jazz)

FOREIGNER – ALIVE AND ROCKIN’ (POP/ROCK): Unlike several of the other dinosaurs of rock who continued without one of their lead singers — Chicago, the Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Styx — Foreigner had a singular figure as its frontman from its genesis to its zenith. That makes Lou Gramm’s absence so much more difficult to overcome here. It’s certainly founding guitarist (and only remaining original member) Mick Jones’ right to go on, and replacement singer Kelly Hansen certainly gives it his best. Unfortunately, though, Alive and Rockin’ left me cold as ice. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Gemma RayIsland Fire (Pop/Rock)

GIACOMO MEREGA – WATCH THE WALLS INSTEAD [WITH NOAH KAPLAN, MARCO CAPPELLI] (JAZZ): A set of rhythm-less free form improvisations, Watch the Walls Instead is a lot like listening to the soundtrack of a suspense thriller movie: the songs don’t proceed so much as they lurk. The album features a trio that is only actually a trio for five of the twelve tracks; Anthony Coleman joins them on piano for seven cuts and violin player Mauro Pagini makes it a quintet for two performances. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

GONZALO RUBALCABA – XXI CENTURY (JAZZ): Rubalcaba reaffirms his place as one of the most important Afro-Cuban jazz figures to have emerged in the 1990s. He still possesses both the expected ebullience and the stirring power so long associated with Latin players — but also (and this is what makes him so special) the crystalline patience, and a thoughtful finesse, so few have managed. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Grateful DeadDick’s Picks Vol. 30 New York City, 3/25 and 3/28/72 (Pop/Rock)
Heather PeaceFairytales (Folk)
Isaac Hayes and Dionne WarwickMan and a Woman (R&B)

JERRY REED – THE UNBELIEVABLE GUITAR AND VOICE OF JERRY REED (COUNTRY): It’s a shame that most people remember Jerry Reed mainly for the Smokey and the Bandit movies. He made some great music. This re-release of his 1967 record is as good a place as any to start discovering it. — Fred Phillips

Joan ArmatradingStarlight (Pop/Rock)

Julia StoneBy the Horns (Folk)

MICK FLEETWOOD’S ZOO – I’M NOT ME (POP/ROCK): This home-recorded Mick Fleetwood project is neither a solo effort nor a Fleetwood Mac knockoff — though, admittedly, there are moments when I’m Not Me can sound like his main group. Instead, more often than not, this short-lived quartet has a very unique feel — well, a bunch of them, really. Zoo, in fact, boasted three credible frontmen — and each of them adds his own texture and personality to the proceedings. Unfortunately, this was the only album this quirky, deeply underappreciated quartet ever managed — and, before now, it’s never even appeared on CD. Here’s a great chance to catch up. (More here.) – Nick DeRiso

Melody GardotThe Absence (Jazz)

RALPH BOWEN – TOTAL ECLIPSE (JAZZ): This time, Bowen is leading an organ/guitar quartet making good use of the services of B-3 boss Jared Gold and guitarist Mike Moreno; Rudy Royston mans the drums. Bowen might change up the personnel and the configuration from album to album, but the results remain solid. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Regina SpektorWhat We Saw From The Cheap Seats (Pop/Rock)

ROBERT LAMM – THE JVE REMIXES (POP/ROCK): Really, this isn’t a remix album at all. More like a complete rebuild, using scraps of timber, radically rearranged bricks and a few familiar pieces of furniture. In John Van Eps’ hands, age-old Chicago songs like “25 or 6 to 4,” “Beginnings,” “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is” and “Saturday in the Park” aren’t just transformed with a big beat, they’re pulled apart and put back together again — sometimes in radically different ways. And yeah, there’s also a big beat. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Rory BlockI Belong to the Band: A Tribute to Rev. Gary Davis (Blues)
RumerBoys Don’t Cry (Pop/Rock)
Sandy DennyLike an Old Fashioned Waltz; Rendezvous; Sandy (Folk)
Scissor SistersMagic Hour [Deluxe Edition] (Pop/Rock)
Sigur RósValtari (Pop/Rock)

SQUACKETT – A LIFE WITHIN ONE DAY (POP/ROCK): A sun-filled, surprisingly light-hearted experience, this collaboration between Yes’ Chris Squire and Steve Hackett of Genesis fame is a journey that’s both at peace with what came before, and yet somehow brand new in the way that it combines the sensibilities of both bands without getting bound up in their pasts. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

STEVE SMITH AND VITAL INFORMATION – LIVE: ONE GREAT NIGHT (JAZZ): This anniversary project is an occasion to celebrate what a terrifically tight and vibrant unit Vital Information has been, despite several personnel changes over the years. What might be most impressive is their ability to perform up to the high standards they establish in the sterile studio environment: Though concentrated on material with the most recent line-up, One Great Night serves as a great reminder to the band’s three-decade legacy. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Story CityTime and Materials (Jazz)
The SupremesAt the Copa: Expanded Edition (R&B)
The WalkmenHeaven (Pop/Rock)
Tom JonesSpirit in the Room (Vocals)
12 StonesBeneath the Scars (Pop/Rock)

TIM CAREY – ROOM 114 (JAZZ): For the first album under his own name, Room 114, Carey sticks to the electric bass exclusively in the service of contemporary jazz, and all the music which he composed himself is a little tamer than his other band, the zany Reptet. “Tamer” is not a euphemism for “uninteresting” in this case, as his songs’ friendly and light manner belie the detailed harmonics and rhythmic patterns running close underneath. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

TWISTED SISTER – CLUB DAZE 2: LIVE IN THE BARS; LIVE AT THE HAMMERSMITH (POP/ROCK): A couple of live sets from Twisted Sister. One from their earliest days, the other from the height of their popularity in 1984. How can you go wrong? — Fred Phillips

UltravoxBrilliant (Pop/Rock)
Wade BowenThe Given (Country)

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