Sunday, June 29, 2008

Roberta Duchak - Intersections

Here's a recommended album for all of you who like vocal jazz. Roberta sings

Let Me Sing - Irving Berlin
Taking a Chance on Love - Vernon Duke
Seasons of Love - Jonathan Larson
Whoever you are, I love you - Burt Bacharach
Raise the Roof - Andrew Lippa
So In Love - Cole Porter
Can't Help Lovin' That Man of Mine - Jerome Kern/ Oscar Hammerstein
What You Don't Know About Women - Cy Coleman
So Many People - Stephen Sondheim

and does it well.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Megan Birdsall - Little Jazz Bird

You can get pretty dizzy listening to some of

Megan Birdsall - Voice
Tim Cambron - Drums
Bob Bowman - Bass
Paul Smith - Piano
Mike Melvoin - Piano
Bill Caldwell - Sax
Mike Metheny - E.V.I.


is you is
born to be blue
little girl blue
sleepin' bee
the moon's a harsh mistress
little jazz bird
save that time
when your lover has gone/in the wee small hours
hey there
i get along without you very well
my old flame

and then you can drown in the liquid mickey that is her voice on something like "when your lover has gone." The woman can knock you out. "save that time" shows the inner beauty of a singer. Simple piano and voice. A marriage of two sounds is as romantic as you can get.

I wrote a book on Paul Frees, and he sang part of Spike Jones' big hit "My Old Flame," so I had to go to this one quickly. Wow, how bold to do it as a reverse disco tune. :) Not one of my favorites on the cd, but interesting!

If you're into the club or Broadway scene, Megan combines the two quite nicely. Strong voice for a little lady. You wouldn't expect such boldness would come out of that petite frame!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Michael Dease - Clarity

Michael Dease, trombone
Brandon Lee, trumpet
Sharel Cassity, alt sax
Kris Bowers, piano
Matthew Felder, bass
Marion Felder, Kenneth Salters, Mark Whitfield, Jr, drums

are playing Dease's compositions

One 4 Steve
Lullaby for Rita
Mixed Feelings
You Dig?
Top of the Morning
Speak Low

the last being by Kurt Weill. I don't know if I'd call this album Clarity, because this untrained listener often hears more improv and modern, often smooth, jazz than clear melodies. But I would call this cd Good. The clarity of Dease's trombone is certainly strong, and not overdone. He knows to give his buddies equal time. That's what I always liked about Burt Reynolds. It takes a master to surround himself with great supporting talent. And the fact that Dease has won SO many jazz performing awards, topped off with graduating from Juilliard, doesn't give him a Madonna complex at all.

The songs are long, giving you ample time of pulling the musical covers over you and simmering. This isn't really smooth jazz, more like the cool stuff. Take the title song. Subtle piano with pauses of swooning horn harmonies, a minimum of drum (certainly not in the foreground), all making for a relaxing float in the pool some autumn afternoon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mary Lowe - Jazz Diva

Wow. This is the best singer I've never heard of! Usually instrumental releases get my attention more, but after one listen to "Can't help loving that man of mine" there's nothing left to say but said 1st sentence. Though it helps that

let's face the music and dance
ain't misbehavin
get happy
can't help loving that man of mine
night and day
this can't be love
they can't that away from me
(love is) the tender trap
it's only a paper moon
bewitched, bothered and bewildered
orange coloured sky
come fly with me
secret love

are mostly backed by a full big band sound that is perfection this side of the BBC Orchestra. I do sort of wish the tracking lists on a lot of classic jazz albums like this combined the old and new, thereby mixing new and old fans together (really the only way old music is going to thrive out of the small "nostalgia" folder of life). But that's a small argument. And nothing against her voice or what you're hearing.

Gorgeous work. I wish I could tell you where to buy the cd, but looking on amazon, her site and I couldn't find it. Don't make it so hard to buy the music, Mary!

But keep making it. Your flawless voice and choice of backing musicians are an unstoppable combo.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Yesterday I got a nice surprise. A new Disney soundtrack. I'm always happy to get these. Big Disney fan, me.

And YES, I'm looking forward to seeing Wall*E, though it's certainly not a Disney film, it's a Pixar film.

But the soundtrack to the film is not what I would call a crowd pleaser. I like it - quite a lot - because by coincidence it happens to be the kind of music I choose to listen to nearly all the time I'm at the computer - because I'm always working when I'm sitting here. Wall*E is a great working man's soundtrack. To be listened to when you're doing something. And a solid score for a film.

It's not to be listened to in the car or on its own because, as good as Thomas Newman is, it's like a Broadway play without an audience. Half its power will be lost to you if you sit there JUST listening to this updated Tangerine Dream-like score. Its pleasantness is its ability to underscore action. Yours or the film.

So... I say, if that's what you like, buy it. Worth it. If you're a Disney fan who thinks this is the score to Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland (my 2 favorite cartoons), reconsider, kids!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Leanne Weatherly - Go and Find...

When "Caravan" began to play on my computer, my wife asked me if I was playing the Sex and the City soundtrack. Well, Leanne's new release is better than that soundtrack (which had just a bit too much of a hip hop influence for me, when we saw the film), and just as big and sexy. Yes, it makes you think of the big city, the latest club on Saturday night, and you think Leanne has the smoothness of a crooner with the sass of a woman in love, coming out subtly as she belts out

1 Caravan
2 Simple Things
3 Go and Find..
4 Oo So Cool
5 Midnight At the Oasis
6 God Bless the Child
7 Chocolate and Roses
8 Songbird
9 Sunny Skies
10 The Water is Wide
11 True Colors
12 Dream a Little Dream

The title song reminds me of those Helen Reddy albums my mom used to listen to in the '70s. A mixture of class and innocence. How I wish the world as a whole could go back to the "Go and Find" era for just a week.

Very fine jazz voice, one that wants to make you get just a little tipsy and put on your best clothes and find that intimate booth and sip and stare and love and dare.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mary Fettig - Brazilian Footprints

  • Mary Fettig - Alto & Soprano Saxophone, Flute

  • Marcos Silva - Acoustic & Electric Pianos, Synthesizer, Tamborim, Shakers, Woodblocks, Triangle, Repinique, Handclap and Shells

  • Chico Pinheiro - Acoustic & Electric Guitars

  • Scott Thompson - 6-String Electric Bass

  • Celso Alberti - Drums, Handclap and Caxixi

  • Alex Calatayud - Pandeiro on Tracks 1, 6, 8, 10

  • Michael Spiro - Congas, Guiro, Chimes and Shells on Track 7

  • Claudia Villella - Voice on Track 7

are playing
  1. Take the RR Train

  2. Nova

  3. No Balanço do Jequibáu

  4. Baixixe

  5. Jequié

  6. Neguinha

  7. Waterfalls

  8. Inspiração na Esquina

  9. Gliders

  10. The Monster and the Flower

and things have never felt cooler in the house. Well, looking at her bio, Mary's been playing on soundtracks for a while - One Fine Day, Snoopy specials, Garfield specials, and lots of others. She's performed at every jazz festival ever thought up: Playboy, Monterey, North Sea, etc., etc. You'll see why she's in demand on this new cd.

I get a lot of cds. Most are passed on to other fans. Not this one. It's a keeper. It's got the 2 things I love most about jazz. Smoothness. And movement. Often, true smooth jazz can be just a variation of new age that can slow me down to the point of yawning at the work station. Then there's the other extreme where players are trying so hard to sound original that the only thing that remains of the tune is its title printed on the cd case. Mary won't have that. The opening "Take the RR Train" defines who she is. I adore Snoopy music and listen to it often. And I can see why this lady has played ON those soundtracks.

Beautifully done 52 minute release. She's got another one out too, and I hope she sends it to this reviewer. Meantime, click on the cover and go buy Footprints. The tropical side of your personality will be grateful.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Camp Rock soundtrack

I know this isn't an indie cd - a Disney release is about as corporate as you can get. However, all who know me know I love nearly all things Disney, including the recent rash of DisneyMania releases, which put a modern pop/rock spin on classic, and not so classic, Disney songs. (I don't care for DisneyMania 6 all that much because the classic songs have been done often on other Manias, and the new songs are such obscure Pixar songs that you realize these are just on here to promote things that Need to be promoted because they aren't popular songs or soundtracks.)

Camp Rock is much in the same vein as DisneyMania - very same sound - and anyone who likes the energenic, mostly positive-message songs sung with spirit and breathy Wham, you won't be disappointed by this new release. Frankly, I wish the 2 hip hop songs here would go on their own Camp Hip Hop (if they ever do it) rather than mar the power pop theme of Camp Rock, but that's like complaining about the weather, so never mind.

The tracks:

We Rock
Play My Music
Gotta Find You
Start the Party
Who Will I Be?
This Is Me
Hasta La Vista
Here I Am
Too Cool
Our Time Is Here
2 Stars
What It Takes

Tracks like We Rock, Play My Music and This Is Me are worth buying the cd for. Very recommended new release. Bob Dylan may be good for the soul, but I'll take this crowd pleasing stuff over his depression Any day.

Friday, June 6, 2008

John Bayless - Circle of Life

John Bayless is once again playing

1. Circle of Life
2. Your Song
3. Tiny Dancer
4. Can You Feel the Love Tonight?
5. Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word
6. Believe
7. Daniel
8. Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road
9. The One
10. Crocodile Rock
11. Rocket Man (I Think It's Going To Be A Long, Long Time)
12. Candle In the Wind
13. The Last Song

on his Steinway, this time trading in the Beatles that made him famous

(Bach Meets the Beatles, 1985) for Elton John, but still retaining Bach, because that's what the man does best. Frankly, it's great hearing a different and classical spin on things (like Circle of Life) that have been rerecorded far too much before. But never like this.

Sometimes it'll take you a few moments to find the tune in the flourish, and it's like an instant photo developing before your eyes. Something that will happen as often as you listen to the cd. Never dull. Not predictable, even though you've just heard the cd the other day. What better compliment can you give a "pop" cd?

His Puccini album topped the Billboard Classical crossover chart for 18 weeks, so that's my next stop, getting a copy of that.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Michael Antonelli Quartet

Micahel Antonelli, sax
Peter Nobile, bass
Tim Herrmann, drums
Kevin Golden, guitar

are giving out with

1 Golden Opportunity
2 Well You Should
3 Only For You
4 Bossa Que Passa
5 Woody-N-Me
6 Waltz For Lefty
7 Before You Walk Away
8 Tell Me Now
9 VC Blues
10 Spring Feathers
11 Three Halves

and it's, to quote their own press release, "11 swinging original straight ahead jazz pieces" all written by the sax man. He knows how to put fire into a traditional sound. You think you're in a club when you hear the drum solo on "Golden Opportunity" and "Well You Should" just makes you want to dance with its simple melodic wag. Had this man lived in the '40s some of his pieces would've been golden oldies long before now.

Their quiet sound is a welcome relief from all the experimentation a good jazz lover like myself has to go thru to hear the gems. While smooth is my favorite flavor of the jazz world, and you would not classify Michael as such, this is 2nd, because you want to get up and do something while he's saxing you up.

I enjoyed it. You will do, unless you're dead.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Syncopation - Wonderful You

I've always been a fan of harmony singing. Not as much a fan of Broadway/stage singing, though going to live shows is always fun. Syncopation's new cd, Wonderful You, seems to combine the two. You get the feeling you're listening to a fireworks concert of

Aubrey Logan
Christine Fawson
David Thorne Scott
Tsunenori "Lee" Abe


I Can Fly
Wonderful You
High and Dry
Invisible War
Broken Wings
Betcha By Golly, Wow
Both Sides Now

and as you might tell, there are reworked classics to enjoy here. The instrumentation is mostly subtle, and the recording softer than you might expect, but when you get your emotions into the gist of "Broken Wings" for instance, you'll see that it was all meant to be. Soft can often work to our advantage, in this loud society of ours. The harmonies are mostly kept for the background, this isn't an Andrew Sisters act, and there's something pleasing about that.