“I am my father’s son. I’ve never known when to shut up,” Justin Townes Earle sings on “Mama’s Eyes,” one of 12 unforgettable tracks on his latest release Midnight at the Movies. The outspoken son of alt-country icon Steve Earle proves he is very much his own man here, stepping out of his famous father’s shadow with a near-perfect set of rocking, rolling, and riveting singer/songwriter fare. Kudos to producers R.S. Field and Steve Poulton, along with keyboard ringers Skylar Wilson and Cory Younts, for framing Earle in inspired musical light. Earle whispers on the title track, pleads for mercy alongside prancing piano and pedal steel on the country cooker “What I Mean to You,” and struts like a teenager on the rousing, boogiewoogie- fied “Poor Fool.” One of 2009’s true breakout recordings, Midnight at the Movies is worth the price of entry — and then some.
Steve Kuhn Trio With Joe Lovano
STEVE KUHN TRIO WITH JOE LOVANOMOSTLY COLTRANESteve Kuhn’s stunning new disc Mostly Coltrane opens with the master pianist starkly stating the theme to John Coltrane’s “Welcome.” Like church bells ringing out across a town square, Kuhn’s plaintive, single-note melodic call is the perfect beginning to an album full of serenity and surprise. As the original pianist in the John Coltrane Quartet, Kuhn has a perspective on ’Trane’s repertoire that few others possess. Here, accompanied sympathetically by saxophonist Joe Lovano, bassist David Finck, and drummer Joey Baron, Kuhn breathes new life into familiar tunes. On “Crescent,” his assured touch and orchestral use of the piano impart the music with a cinematic sense of drama. And on “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes,” his dynamic comping and motifically-charged solos lift Lovano and company to new heights. Coltrane would approve.(ECM, stevekuhnmusic.com