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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eclectic, soulful, contemporay pop/jazz,, September 13, 2009
This review is from: Vagabond (Audio CD)
Following the critical reception of his previous albums, Spencer Day is back with "Vagabond", an eclectic collection of songs of differents styles and: folk, soul, jazz, cabaret and contemporary pop.
"I've drawn from the Great American Songbook quite a bit in the past, but I really wanted to infuse this album with a more contemporary aesthetic, and also draw on some influences from the early '60s, like Burt Bacharach, Roy Orbison and Dusty Springfield. I wanted to create a sound that could stand alone and not be easily put into one category, but at the same time appeal to a broad range of listeners".
And he has succeded.
One key element in Spencer Day's appeal, which has seen him hailed as a new jazz/crossover star to rival Norah Jones, was immediately apparent from the moment he sang on stage, while he was opening for Rufus Wainwright at the Napa Valley Opera House and at the Monterey Jazz Festival and the Tanglewood Jazz Festival.
Day's first album for the major label Concord Jazz is aimed fair and square at the middle-aged female demographic. Those women who still hanker after the singing legends of the Sixties such as Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Tom Jones and Paul Anka.
Not to mention the immediate comparisons with the new generation of jazz crooners such as Michael Buble, Harry Connick,Jr., Peter Concotti and Jamie Cullum.
Besides his look and personality and performance style, it's the way that Day's uncontrived eagerness and evident enjoyment feed into his music that explains his rapid success, combining as they do with a thorough understanding of vintage jazz idioms and the great American songbook.
The album is is full of the kind of music that you were used used to listen to on radio shows, some thirty/fourty years ago or the stuff they played over the tannoys in old-fashioned department stores: big orchestra-backed ballads with lush production values and a smooth crooner up front.
On the disc, there is a small group of string players, a quartet on most occasions, and at times they echo the approach used by the string arrangements in old rock, soul, and even doo-wop records of the past, but it does not sound too retro.
The Utah-born nomadic singer-pianist-songwiter has a fine baritone tone, and the tracks are given an intensity they so rightly deserve.
His piano playing is excellent, the arrangements throughout the show involve different permutations of a strings, horns strong backing line-up, from the intimacy of a quartet to the splash of the full band.
Some of the tracks will sound haunting and soulful.
Spencer Day's original songwriting, in fact, extends his range still further towards the quality end of the pop/jazzy market, as with the beautiful "Joe", its folky lyricism building to a force- fully urgent climax, the country-tinged "Till You Come to Me" and the swinging "I Got a Mind to Tell You".
Without a doubt, Spencer Day can sing.
His warm, seductive voice is addictive and "Vagabond" Tonight is as good as an album of great songs can get.
Pick up "Vagabond" and the music will most definitely be "down in your soul".
So, for all you romantics out there, this one is an absolute must.
Highlights: "Out of My Hands", "Till You Come To Me", "Vagabond" and "Maybe ( Tuesdy Morning)".
The album debuts at # 11 of the Billboard Top Jazz Albums.
Issue date: September 26, 2009

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and classy. A 'must' have album., March 4, 2009
This review is from: Rituals (Audio CD)
The follow-up to the classic Other Directions takes a more vocal route.
Featuring mostly live instruments, Nicola Conte is joined by a multitude of players that include Timo Lassy on sax and flute, Fabrizio Bosso and Till Brönner on trumpets, Pietro Lussu on piano. Vocals are by Alice Ricciardi, José James, Chiara Civello, and Kim Sanders. The whole thing is just so classy.
The style (though not the vocal) resembles Mario Biondi's wonderful Handful of Soul from a couple years back especially on Ellington's "Caravan" and the Eastern vibe of "The Nubian Queens", the latter featuring José James and standout solos by Timo Lassy. Nicola Conte knows "his" jazz and he has written or co-written all the tracks here except two and in an outstanding fashion.
As usual, echoes of bossa and modal jazz form the backbone, with an emphasis on the groove.
The album starts with a modal-like "Karma Flower" with lead vocals by Chiara Civello but it's Diane Peters who steels the show with her heavenly harp. The Civello/Peters combination team up again on the soft samba of "Paper Clouds" and again more Peters on the title track and the magnificent "Black Is The Graceful Veil" (that also features Osby and the vibraphone of Michael Pinto - who doubles as the bongo player on the album- and the beautiful vocals of Kim Sanders).
Kim Sanders is the vocalist also on the laid back "Red Sun" and on the upliftingly beautiful "Black Is The Graceful Veil".
Another excellent vocalist from Italy, Alice Ricciardi takes the lead vocals on the swinging "I See All Shades Of You" and on the delectable "Songs Of The Seasons", with more vibes and Osby on sax.
As for José James, "The Nubian Queens", "Like Leaves In The Wind" and "Awakenings" are very Gilles Peterson/Schema jazz room friendly, particularly the first two as pacey groovers. He is often mentioned in the same breath as legend Mark Murphy and it is so true when you listen to performances.
By coincidence, Till Brönner (who was on Mark Murphy's Love Is What Stays of a couple of years ago) turns up on "Like Leaves In The Wind", which shocases great trombone playing by Gianluca Petrella.
The two cover versions, the evergreen Ellington's "Caravan" with Peter Weiss on lead vocals, and the 7 minutes (!) instrumental take of Dusko Gojkovich's "Macedonia" are nothing short of fantastic.
A bit too easy on the ears for the hardcore jazzers, but this is the best nu jazz record currently available on the market!
A true delight.
Last Quarter Moon
The Dreamer
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 13, 2009 8:48 AM PDT

No Line On The Horizon
No Line On The Horizon
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77 of 112 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Moroccan couscous, but unmistakably classic U2 recipe., March 3, 2009
This review is from: No Line On The Horizon (Audio CD)
The Irish band's 12th studio album was originally slated to come out before the end of last year, but the band pulled it back to mold and twist it some more, after the original material recorded with Rick Rubin was shelved.
They've been rocking since the early 80s, when it comes to stadium-filling anthems, there's no challenger to U2's crown.
It's been a while since their last release, 2004's "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb", but it's been worth the wait.
The result is 11 songs that thematically seem to have no link (although being lost surfaces quite a few times), but sonically unite the many sides of U2: the boys from get back to basics with their strongest offering in years. It was recorded in Dublin, New York, London and Fès, Morocco (but the rumoured North African influences are hardly audible).
Comfortingly, the production comes courtesy of Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Steve Lillywhite.
There may be some quibble as to whether this is the best U2 album since Eno and Lanois first worked with the band on 1984's "The Unforgettable Fire".
It starts out blustery and familiar, before gradually revealing an unexpected and almost lovable sense of vulnerability.
"Magnificent" with its drum crescendos, trademark guitar riffs and a soaring Bono vocal is easily the best thing here and is crying out to be released as a single.
There is the odd moment of rocking swagger which seems to be U2's way of saying that they are not too old to pull on the leather trousers yet - the trashy rock of "Get On Your Boots" and "Stand Up Comedy", the latter hinting at the muscular funk-infused rock of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
"Get On Your Boots", the album's lead single, is actually a good track : if this fails to get your foot tapping, we doubt anything will.
"Breathe" suggests that the band's classic approach can still sound contemporary.
And the albums ends in contemplative mood with "Cedars Of Lebanon", a Lanois-style soundscape, which takes shape amid a sonic fug that mirrors the exhaustion of its war reporter narrator: "Child drinking dirty water from the riverbank/ Soldier brings oranges he got out from a tank".
"Breathe" suggests that the band's classic approach can still sound contemporary.
Lyrics like 'the right to appear ridiculous is something I hold dear' on "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" show that they still have a sense of humour.
Apart from a couple of the tracks being a bit too long and the album cover being a bit boring, the album - over 54 minutes - is a worthy addition to their catalogue.
"No Line on the Horizon is a bold, beautiful and highly speculative re-imagining of U2's music". - Telegraph
"The slower, meditative efforts where Bono sings rather than screams are surprisingly lovely and hint at a future of Rubin-era Johnny Cash potential. U2 are at their strongest when they play their age but when they try and rock, it's irrelevant and cringeworthy".- L. Bazley
My favourite tracks: "Moment Of Surrender", "Unknown Caller", "Breathe" and "Cedars Of Lebanon"
The Unforgettable Fire
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 15, 2010 12:02 PM PDT

March of the Zapotec and Realpeople Holland
March of the Zapotec and Realpeople Holland
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag. It is a grower., February 17, 2009
First of all, it is not an album but two EPs joined together.
Maybe it is not exactly what you might have come to expect from this enviably talented young American artist.
The first half features a Mexican funeral band and delivers oompah-ish brass and a strong dose of mariachi horns (featuring real Mexicans!).
"It's a charmingly woozy picturesque postcard Mexico: full of inconsolably grieving mothers, carnivalesque town squares, bitter wives and death by bayonet"... like Jason Schwartzman in the "Darjeeling Limited", traveling across India, but seemingly locked within the world of "Where Do You To My Lovely?", the fixed-point at the heart of it all remains Condon's richly romantic, melancholy croon". - Uncut
The second EP, "Holland", recorded by Condon under the moniker Realpeople (an early pre-Beirut alias) was recorded at home but seems like a great, reveals his more sombre Seventies synth side, featuring entirely unrelated, gently synthesized beats and keyboards and is significantly more successful.
Two of the tracks from Holland have surfaced prior to this release - "My Night With The Prostitute From Marseille" appeared on a digitally released charity affair while "Venice" featured on a compilation given away by uber-hip US monthly "The Believer".
"Venice" has a ghostly beauty, which makes you wish that Condon had fleshed out this group of songs into a whole album.
And then there is the oddly uninspired, bizarre, inconsequential Euro-pop of "No Dice", upon which this collection unfortunately closes, which disappoints.
This is a little weird, but it certainly shows a different aspect of Zach's musical personality and talent.
It's happy, sad, intriguing and different.
After repeated listenings, it will grow on you.
And you will come to like it.
The Flying Club Cup
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 5, 2014 5:11 PM PST

Years of Refusal
Years of Refusal
Price: $7.35
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars His best solo work., February 17, 2009
This review is from: Years of Refusal (Audio CD)
While most of his idols' best work came early in life, here is this charming man on the cusp of 50 doing his best solo work.
This is an album bursting at the seams with rocking guitars, ambitious flourishes, and the most lovelorn lyrics Morrissey has written for years.
From the splendidly ludicrous mariachi frills of "When I Last Spoke To Carol" and "One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell" to the full-throttle power pop stomp that is the opening "Something Is Squeezing My Skull", he has never been more sure of himself.
"That's How People Grow Up" is one of the most honest songs he has written, about the narcissistic arrogant swine that he could be: "I was wasting my life always thinking about myself" he intones over Boz Boorer's driving guitar riff.
Despite approaching the critical middle age line, he still sings with the swooning self-pity of his Smiths days.
"On this ninth solo outing his backing music is at times uncomfortably cosy, but his complaints (about prescription drugs, horrid journalists and, naturally, lovelessness) are yelped, gurgled and growled with the old élan. Long may his adolescence continue". -Michael Deacon
The album was produced by Jerry Finn, responsible for his resurrection on "You Are The Quarry", who died shortly after the record was completed.
My highlights: "That's How People Grow Up", "Something Is Squeezing My Skull' and "One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell"

Greatest Hits (Deluxe Version)
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 23, 2009 7:11 AM PDT

Hot Corner
Hot Corner
Price: $14.90
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Swing tempos, Fifties-meets-Sixties, retro style. Brilliant !, February 12, 2009
This review is from: Hot Corner (Audio CD)
After their wonderful first album (2005s "Chasin The Jazz Gone By"), these finnish jazzcats return to the scene with an even better one.
You can hear that over the last three years they have been playing an awful lot! The fantastic horns, the tight rhythms, the deep grooves...everything is still in place.
Not every Scandinavian band does brooding electronica or grunge-metal jazz-rock. Like Italy's Nicola Conte, Finnish arranger-composer-DJ Tuomas Kallio has handpicked a core quintet for the task (with trumpeter Jukka Eskola particularly suitable) and selects his guests (vibist Arttu Takalo, female singer Okou) with similar care.
On "Hot Corner',it's just that everything sounds so much tighter! Musicians at the top of their craft, doing what they love best. Can it get any better?
By happy coincidence, the legendary hipster Mark Murphy was also in the Helsinki studios, and his vocals enhance several tracks.
Vocal support comes also from Okou (also on the first album, as well as the Teddy Rok album).
"Most attempts to nudge jazz onto the modern dancefloor have co-opted samples, remixes and digital trickery to do so. This Finnish outfit have taken the opposite, organic route. Drawing on the palette of jazz's golden age, they blend hard bop and swing into something funky but refined. This outing features swaying string arrangements, insidious tunes and Mark Murphy spouting hepcat poetry about his "Kerouac Days". It's an easy, enticing listen that looks back to find the future".- Neil Spencer
Album Track Listing:
1. Hot Rod
2. Kerouac Days in Montana - (featuring Mark Murphy)
3. Skinny Dipping
4. Rich in Time - (featuring Okou)
5. Midnight in Trieste
6. Come and Get Me - (featuring Mark Murphy)
7. Interlope II
8. Waltz Up
9. Easy Diggin
10. Shake It
11. Habib's Habit
Love Is What Stays
Chasin' the Jazz Gone By
Of All the Things

Randy in Brasil
Randy in Brasil
Price: $17.23
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tasty, colourful cocktail of jazz and latin vibes., February 12, 2009
This review is from: Randy in Brasil (Audio CD)
Randy Brecker's misfortune is that he's been overshadowed for most of his career by his brother Michael, one of the most admired tenor saxophonists.
It could also be because he is the possessor of a gorgeous trumpet sound and a set of chops that allows him to make whatever he plays sound easy. In fashion or not, musicians know the elder Brecker brother's worth.
He has kept a relatively low profile since the high octane fusion heyday of the Brecker Brothers. While younger brother Mike's barnstorming appearances with Pat Metheny gave him jazz cred, the trumpeter's been content to issue the odd date as leader in between his countless studio sessions.
To some critics, he's atechnically accomplished if slightly anonymous player, and prone to the odd lapse of taste too.
On this new offering, recorded two years ago in Brazil and release only now for some strange reasons related to the music industry's market, the material is largely chosen from popular Brazilian writes including Djavan, Gilberto Gil, Ivan Lins and Joao Bosco, though Brecker's two contributions - the ballad "Guarujá" and a jazzy samba-ish "Sambop" - fit seamlessly into the program.
Ruriá Duprat (keyboards), Ricardo Silveira (guitars), Teco Cardoso (saxophones, flute), Sizão Machado (bass) and various percussionists form the basis of the accompaniment.
Randy Brecker is no stranger to Brazilian music having guested with Flora Purim, Joao Donato and Hector Martignon.
"Randy always had an interest in Brazilian music. His marriage with pianist Eliane Elias (from São Paulo) gave extra fuel to that and also brought him in contact with many of São Paulo's session musicians".
He revisits some of the Brazilian classic catalogue, breathing new life into them: when he shifts focus to more acoustic settings things get more interesting, turning out some typically attractive soloing, getting a hand from "the craftsmanship of (acoustic) pianist André Mehmari.
And then there's a wonderful participation of pianist Gilson Peranzzetta on his own composition "Fazendo Hora," maybe the highlight of this album". - Kees Shoof
Trust me, you will not grow tired of hearing this CD while listening. The musicians have so much talent, and "Randy in Brasil" truly exhibits their expertise.
The 12-track album is his first for smart Mama Records and is all live, no sequencing, no tricks, nothing but real musicians playing real music.
Everything from the songs' choice, to the production is amazing.
"Most remarkable about "Randy in Brasil" is perhaps how he places a firm stamp on the music, with a sometimes pervasive Brecker Brothers vibe despite the lack of a rhythm section on most tracks". - Allaboutjazz
Producer/Arranger Ruriá Duprat did a wonderful job to give Randy Brecker the opportunity to do his own thing in the music he loves so much: "his appreciation for Brecker's distinct horn voicings makes Lins' funky, synth bass-driven "Aiaiai" feel, in fact, as if it were drawn straight from The Brecker Brothers' songbook".
All in all,"Randy in Brazil" is as startling and inspired as anything Randy's ever cut in his long and varied career.

Free Your Mind
Free Your Mind
Price: $12.58
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant combination of jazz,funk,Soul and Brazilian music to soothe you., February 12, 2009
This review is from: Free Your Mind (Audio CD)
Ultra smooth Smooth Jazz saxman releases an album that will reinforce his reputation alongside Kim Waters as the smoothest sax player around.
The eleven song set features Derek Cannon on trumpet, Craig Shaw on bass, Phil Davis on keyboard and John Roberts on drums.
Pieces of a Dream leader James K. Lloyd wrote and produced five of the 11 songs.
Walter's soulful sax playing is equally at home on the sensual "DukeZillia" - which has a pleasant Brazilian vibe and is dedicated to George Duke and his Brazilan period (Brazilian Love Affair) - and the Soul oriented song "Barak's Groove", where he interplays with Davis and guitarist Mark Strowbridge.
Once again he has relesed an album that has a good deal of quality that would please his fans, combining the genres of jazz, funk, Soul and Brazilian music.
Not the more adventurous tunes that you may expect from a very talented artist, who has not showcased all his potentials yet, choosing to go once more for the easy path of successful and radio friendly format instead of trying something a little different from the Smooth Jazz saccharine mould.
Beasley's playing displays virtuosity in the saxophone and this album it thoroughly recommended to anyone who needs chilling out.
The overall feel of this compilation is funky, laid back and relaxed.
The album is a perfect chill out album to sooothe you into winter or after a hard days work.
It will free your mind.
A Brazilian Love Affair
The album debuts at # 5 of The Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz Albums. Issue date:2009-02-21

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dreamy melodies and distinctive vocals., February 12, 2009
This review is from: Colonia (Audio CD)
"A Camp" is a collaborative effort between two Swedish musicians: pop star and former figure skater Nina Persson, of The Cardigans fame, and Niclas Frisk, (guitarist and composer), an outdoorsman and explorer who had himself enjoyed pop stardom with his Swedish pop eccentrics Atomic Swing.
Their first LP, the eponymous "A Camp" in 2001, was awarded four Swedish Grammies and met with much critical praise abroad and Stateside.
Its follow-up, "Colonia", was recorded last year in New York - where she lives and performs with Brechtian political cabaret outfit The Citizens Band - with help from Persson's husband (soundtrack composer, formerly of influential US alternative mavericks Shudder To Think) Nathan Larson, drummer Kevin March, Joan Wasser (aka Joan As Police Woman), Swedish singer-songwriter Nikolai Dunger and former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha.
Over the years, the music and lyrics Persson has produced have grown increasingly ambitious and intellectually bold, slowly revealing a talent of quirky originality and genuine substance. "I am still the Lovefool girl", she insists.
"Colonia" is an absolute gem of smart, melodious, provocative pop Americana, and Nina eases through this collection of a dozen darkly luscious songs.
If anything, it's a better effort than their charming debut, packed full of lovely melodies, a dreamy style, clever lyrics and wondrous vocals.
The bold, elegant opening track, "The Crowning", is a gaudy, sarcastic farewell to an unnamed former world leader. It is quite a departure from the band's intimate, country inflected debut.
The guitar loops that herald the arrival of "Stronger Than Jesus", meanwhile, are melodic, folksy and classic American... with Persson hinting at the style of Sheryl Crowe vocally
"We wanted it to be more of everything," says Persson. "A little more restless, less introvert and more irritated. Grumpiness can be quite charming. It's more funthan being someone really smart and clever and politically correct", she says.
"Colonia" is a seductive album about big themes, "an exploration of colonialism, as the title implies", according to Nina's husband, Larson, and the world's cultural surrender to America.
"The music is romantic but lyric-wise we wanted to take away the romantic fog and just look at human instincts", says Frisk.
If anything, it's a better effort than their charming debut, packed full of lovely melodies, a dreamy style, clever lyrics and wondrous vocals.
And Nina eases brilliantly through this collection of a dozen darkly luscious songs.
My highlights: "Stronger Than Jesus", "Love Has Left The Room", " My America", "The Weed Got Here First", "Stronger Than Jesus" and, back to the swinging '60s mode, the upbeat "Here Are Many Wild Animals".
Warmly recommended.
A Camp
To Survive

Send One Your Love
Send One Your Love
Price: $9.00
45 used & new from $5.98

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sensual grooves to share with your Valentine !, February 11, 2009
This review is from: Send One Your Love (Audio CD)
Boney's latest album, "Send one your love" is the consummate title for a record filled with benevolent ballads of jazz that will perk up one's heart and put them in the mood for love.
Ten tracks - nine of them are instrumental - from the accomplished Smooth Jazz sax man include some new tunes plus covers from Stevie Wonder, Barry White, John Klemmer, James Taylor and the Stylistics.
James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" is the only one track with vocals, provided by Quinn. The song then blends in Boney's indisputable saxophone work along with this young talented vocalist from Atlanta.
BUT, there are other songs on it. And it's just the new, original material is where the talent of Boney James shines throughout: "City Of Light", dedicated to Paris, featuring Steffon Harris on vibraphone and Dean Parks on guitar, sparkles with a Parisian charm.
"Butter" has James echoing the genius of Grover Washington, jr. while "Wanna Show U Sumthin" shows a laid-back, sparce sound and excellent vocal support by Sue Ann Carwell.
The icing on the cake and my favourites are his grooving take of The Stylistics' "Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)" and the seductive "Hold On Tight".
Okay, admittedly it's nothing groundbreaking here, but who says that every album by an artist has to be completely revolutionary?
To sum up, "Send one your love" is the perfect album to turn on when you want to get just the right affectionate response.
The album debuts at # 1 of the Billboard Top Contemporay Jazz Albums. Issue date 2009-02-21

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