Sunday, January 20, 2008

Chris Humphrey - Nothing But Blue Sky

Berlin's Blue Skies isn't on the cd, so don't let the title fool you. What is here is a spiffy collection of soft spoken jazz, scattered with bits of scat (see One Note Samba for the best example). And it seems Chris teaches jazz piano at the Univ. of So. Maine, so it's good to see a teacher Doing what he teaches, eh? He knows what he's singing about. I find his voice a bit small in the music, though it could be the mixing. Then again, it treats the voice as one more instrument in the band rather than the Star, and I find that notion refreshing. I mean, just because Sting sings and writes and plays doesn't mean there's no drum player, right? Anyway, Chris has a good voice, harkening me back to the days of singers like the guy who did the theme for Greatest American Hero. A little James Taylor in the religion of the music. Not hard and not smooth jazz. But refreshing and mainstream.

The following track list is taken right off of ebay, where you can get the cd for $12 and no postage.

1. I Can See Clearly Now 6:06
Johnny Nash (NashcoMusicInc.-ASCAP)
2. A Love So Strong 5:59
Chris Humphrey
3. If I Should Lose You 4:54
Ralph Rainger/ Leo Robin (FamousMusicLLC-ASCAP)
4. Anna's Song (Safe in My Arms) 5:04
Chris & Jenn Humphrey
5. Swingin' 'Til the Girls Come Home 5:39
Oscar Pettiford (OrpheusMusicInc.-BMI/ )/ Jon Hendricks (HendricksMusicInc.-ASCAP)
6. Solitude 6:59
Duke Ellington/ Edgar De Lange/ Irving Mills (EMI Mills Music Inc.-ASCAP/ FamousMusicInc..-ASCAP/ScarsdaleMusicCorp.-ASCAP)
7. (The Date Is) Friday the 13th 5:11
Thelonious Monk (TheloniousMusicCorp-BMI) (lyrics: Jenn Humphrey)
8. Lullaby for Jackson 5:03
Chris & Jenn Humphrey
9. In Walked Bud 6:27
Thelonious Monk (EmbassyMusicCorp.-BMI)
10. One Note Samba 4:48
Antonio Carlos Jobim/Mendonca Newton (CorcovadoMusicCorp.-BMI)
11. Every Time I Feel the Spirit 4:33
all selections arranged by Chris Humphrey

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Steve Lampert - Music from There

My favorite British TV show is Yes, Prime Minister. Brilliant satire on politics and modern human nature. In one of the episodes, Sir Humphrey defends an art gallery that no one visits, claiming that there are things worth preserving, even if no one's interested. "But it's vital to know that they're there!" he shouts. I agree with him about some things. I love the ever popular/unpopular Frank Zappa for this reason. I like his '80s stuff, but I don't listen to most of the rest of his catalog because it's beyond me. Steve Lampert's new jazz montage runs in the same field, explained in the cd booklet as "a suite of 12 pieces blending the interpretive and improvisational talents of nine performers with electronic music. The electronic music presented here was composed specifically for realization via a large system of synthesizers and samplers under computer control. These types of modular systems have been in use for decades now, in a variety of musical genres."

Without having read that, I doubt you'd guess it. It's not what I would Choose to listen to as I type my books out at the computer or go on a day trip, but I take great solace in the fact that music of this sort is still being attempted and marketed, and that there Are audiences for it. Obviously without such experimentation, we cannot grow musically. If Steve is searching for the ultimate chord or process or sound, or merely doing this as an exercise in sound, I applaud him wildly for having the courage to do something different.

Steve Lampert, trumpet
Rich Perry, tenor saxophone
Jamie Baum, flute
Adam Kolker, bass clarinet
John Hebert, double bass
Rick Cutler, drums
Jeff Hirshfield, drums
Jim Clouse, percussion
Sue Lampert, vocals

Friday, January 11, 2008


To be honest, I wouldn't listen to Ashia's cd for pure pop enjoyment, but I think she deserves to be singled out here for doing something very different. And it takes courage to be different. That's why most young actresses only do a dance or pop album, if they're sexy enough. But to bare only your voice and your cello, writing your own music in the artistic element to boot, well, you've got guts. She's also got the pipes, and a steady hand on the strings with a tonal quality that is often something special.

Akin to coffeehouse music, this is mood music, which Could appeal more to the theatrical crowd than the teens, but there's a captivating magic to it if you allow yourself the time to sit and stare and ponder. You can lose yourself in the emotion of the complexity of the disc's simpleness. Well worth a listen, for the open-minded.

1 Divine Killer
2 Fossil
3 Pay to be Loved
4 Ne me quitte pas
5 Nomanmad
6 Clean for You

Click on the cover for more info.

Monday, January 7, 2008

most surprising cd of the week!

I love, absolutely love, this cd. It's also a great commercial for not judging a cd by its cover. Looking at it, one might think that Pedro Alfonso is going to come on comically strong like Frank Zappa, just not with rock. Something about the way he's biting his violin on the cd cover. Something about his mugging and stylish but manic clothing shots inside the case. But the music is anything but nonsensical. More than being your average violinist who has backed every Latin number from Gloria Estefan to Shakira, here's a one-take session player who knows what he wants from his own music, hires his own backup musicians and goes out and gets it. I'm talking about putting the prof in professional, slicing some strings like you wouldn't believe.

Not just the foreign flavor of "Oil for Fools" but some classy, heartfelt remakes of classics - "My Funny Valentine" and "Here We Are." These don't stand out. They are average in this man's genius. Not a weak song on the album. One listen to this man mixing "Little Havana" and I immediately want to hear him do an entire Henry Mancini album. I'm begging for it.

Go buy it. No reason to wait, romantics.

1.- Cuerdas locas (Pedro Alfonso)
2.- The next one (Pedro Alfonso ­ Yasmil Marrufo)
3.- Deep breath (Pedro Alfonso)
4.- Oil for fools (Pedro Alfonso)
5.- Little Havana (Pedro Alfonso)
6.- Balada para Liduvina (Pedro Alfonso)
7.- The big mountain (Pedro Alfonso)
8.- La comparsa (Ernesto Lecuona)
9.- Open arms (Jonathan Cain-Steve Perry)
10.- My funny Valentine (Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart)
11.- Here we are (Gloria Estefan)
12.- The Sunday after (Pedro Alfonso)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Dorothy Doring - Southern Exposure

Here's an interesting surprise that popped up in the mail one day. Dorothy certainly belongs in that ol' smokey jazz club. Her voice at times - I know this is an obscure reference - reminds me of Janet from the prequel to Rocky Horror Picture Show, called Shock Treatment. It's not her. Mostly she's a kitten, but often showing her strength in belting numbers like "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'" and the piano-driven truck drive of a song, "That Old Black Magic."

But it's the intro I fell in love with. Not as much because of the writing of "Besame Mucho," but more thanks to Dorothy's tone of voice and mood putting us into that very Typical mind of jazz. When the word "jazz" comes up, even to unmusical people, we all start to think of This sound. And the very erotic, minimalist "Throw It Away." You find yourself swaying, ever so slightly. Tapping the foot once in a while. Setting yourself up mentally for sleep, at a later date. You are past relaxed - you are Ready to be relaxed. That's what happened to me in the outro/intro to this fine indie release.

I'd welcome seeing her live. For those who don't do the club scene, why don't you put a bonus live video on the next release, Dorothy? I'd like to see that brow fret while you wring all the soul out of your cool backdrop of smooth sound.

1 Besame Mucho
2 I Love Paris
3 Nice Work If You Can Get It
4 What The World Needs Now
5 The Good Life
6 A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square
7 Giant Steps
8 Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'
9 That Old Black Magic
10 Throw It Away