Wax Returns with “Melted” | Plus the Violin Fusings of Natalie Brown

Melted has been digitally remasterd and released.

A few weeks ago, two new CD releases came to my attention. I heard from long-time friend Rick Levy that a lost recording from his 1971 band Wax had been found, digitally re-mastered, and released as Melted. Rick indicates that Melted has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Historical Album. Just a few days after hearing from Rick, Natalie Brown’s Violin Crossings CD showed up in my mailbox. Both deserve your attention.

Melted, by Wax

During my high school days in Allentown, Pennsylvania, some of my neighborhood friends formed a band named the Limits that became the rage around town. At the end of high school, members of the Limits took different paths. But two of them, Rick Levy and Beau Jones, joined a new group from Philadelphia named Wax that became known as a soulful, funky R&B band. In the early 1970s, they opened for various high-profile groups including the Byrds and Chicago. They also headlined numerous music festivals in the East.

In the summer of 1971, the band recorded a live (no overdubs) studio session. But soon thereafter, the group disbanded and the tape was stored away and forgotten. Recently, the tape resurfaced, and now this excellent recording has been digitally mastered and released. The music will take you back to the glory days of ’70s rock. The clarity of the recording and high-quality musicianship make this CD special.

For those who like to sample, start with the epic 10-minute “Greasy Street,” a musical odyssey that twists and turns through several changes of rhythm as it swings from Spirit-flavored vocals to sophisticated instrumental improvisations.

With each listen, Wax will melt into your psyche.

Later, the members of Wax developed remarkable careers. Keyboardist Rob Hyman became a founding member of the Hooters and co-wrote “Time After Time” with Cyndi Lauper. Drummer Rick Chertoff is a five-time Grammy nominated producer who has worked with the Hooters, Joan Osborne, Air Supply, and Cyndi Lauper. Vocalist David Kagan developed a successful career in magazine publishing and advertising. Guitarist Rick Levy has managed or led bands for classic ’60s artists including Herman’s Hermits, Bo Diddley, Tommy Roe, Freddy Cannon, Jay & the Techniques, and the Box Tops. Bass guitarist Beau Jones, who passed away in September 2010, played and sang with Jay & the Techniques for six years.
Kudos to members of Wax for their music and accomplishments!

Violin Crossings, by Natalie Brown

Iowa City’s passionate violinist Natalie Brown mixes Celtic, jazz, funk, folk, bluegrass, fusion, and other genres into her own personal style. The 11-track instrumental CD Violin Crossing reveals Natalie’s comfort moving deftly from one style to another. Her classical training shines brightly as a complement to her intriguing compositions.

On the track “Chit-Chat,” Natalie and company mix bluegrass and jazz with Brown’s violin, which is reminiscent of David Flamme’s soaring electric fiddle during his vintage run with the band It’s a Beautiful Day. On “Dusted,” you’ll find yourself in the back of a pick-up truck heading down a corn-lined Iowa country road, dust swirling just like Natalie’s fiddle-playing. My favorite is the 5:24-minute track “Schönbrunn” with its dreamy, down-tempo ethereal swoon and just enough reverb to transport the listener to the middle of a European cathedral. No matter what your musical tastes are, you’ll find some delightful moments with Natalie Brown. Stay alert to the calendar at the Mill in Iowa City, where Natalie can be found from time to time.

These two off-the-beaten path CDs will bring you an appreciation for the roots of contemporary music and the intriguing new fusions that keep us asking for more.

Hear Fringe Toast every Wednesday, 8-10 p.m., CST on KRUU FM 100.1 in Fairfield, Iowa.

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