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Reviews Written by
William S. Oser "Snowy and Manny's Dad" RSS Feed (Florida, USA)
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Night Owls
Night Owls
6 used & new from $6.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE FABULOUS HOUR OF MUSIC!!, May 2, 2016
This review is from: Night Owls (Audio CD)
I bought this CD from this kind of fun dealer I've been buying from for years from San Francisco. His description made it sound like something I would enjoy. Now I have a huge CD collection and always have a bunch that I intend to play in the near future and some that I've bought and not gotten around to playing yet. Rarely do I play something as soon as it arrives, which I did with Night Owls. This CD is immediately going into a very select group of CDs that are absolute favorites, CDs that I give myself permission to listen to only if I deserve a special treat. This one however will be back in the player again within a few days, it is that fantastic. The playing time is 63:27, and of those minutes and seconds over 60 minutes are highlights, and the other 3 minutes would be highlights on most other discs.

Ok, clearly I love this disc, but now I have to share why that is. The liner notes are by Edward Jablonski, author of many important books on this type of music and of a biography of the Gershwin, and he doesn't write for just anyone, so that should tell you something. Kevin Cole plays piano and sings baritone, Morgan Evans sings tenor, plays ukulele and harmonica. Now when I say he plays harmonica the words simply don't convey what is going on when he plays! He plays it as a solo instrument, "I Never Know When to Say When" is never sung (one of the few disappointments on this CD as I love the lyrics of this great torch song) but plaintively played as a Harmonica solo and we are not talking about lots of whaling riffs that make you conjure the melody in your mind, the melody is clearly and beautifully played. Much of "Ill Wind" is another harmonica solo, so perfect for this overwhelmingly plaintive song until at the end Kevin contributes a vocal chorus. My only reaction is WOW! The two men have great performing chemistry together, the vocal bending on "Blue Skies" and "Steppin' Out With My Baby" is phenomenal. Like every great CD that draws me in there are a couple of new to me songs, "Love Being What is Is (by Kevin Cole and E.Y. Harburg) :"Night Owl" and "At the Jazz Band Ball (Johnny Mercer is one of the listed authors). Two final things are the frosting on the cake, that make this CD such a complete delight: Kevin Cole's scintillating arrangements that capture the absolute essence of each of the composers represented here (the sassiness of Gershwin, the way a Berlin tune moves forward which is unlike anyone else and the complete understanding that Kern has a unique pallet all his own--who would have ever thought to play "The Waltz in Swingtime as a piano solo but again WOW) and his playing, with something like the flashiness of Liberace but without his huge dosses of kitch. This CD recreates an elegant nightclub performance circa 1930s.

I hope I have been specific enough to help people decide if this is going to be their cup of tea. If you think it might, it is one fabulously entertaining hour of music making.


John Kander: Hidden Treasures, 1950-2015
John Kander: Hidden Treasures, 1950-2015
Price: $21.99
19 used & new from $16.57

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Theater Music Lovers---Not to be Missed!, April 29, 2016
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If there were only 2 songs on these CDs, "Summer without You" in a simply stunning performance by Brent Barrett (is he ever NOT stunning?) and "I Get My Music from My Dad", both songs music AND lyrics by John Kander, then I would feel they were worth whatever I paid for them. That, however is not the case, lots of interesting cut songs or earlier versions of re-worked songs that show the creative process chugging along, and with masters like John Kander and Fred Ebb, that is something! I had the opportunity to meet these gentlemen, and I can only say they were gentlemen from the top of their heads to the tips of their toes, and never have I met such gracious lovely people. This is a great souvenir for me of those two enchanted evenings spent in their company.


Jazz at Home
Jazz at Home
Price: $13.23
26 used & new from $4.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Jazz--Banjo, delightfully rendered!!, March 20, 2016
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This review is from: Jazz at Home (Audio CD)
Cynthia Sayer came to my attention via a dear friend who heard her music on Sarasota, FL WTMY 1280 AM. I downloaded this album and made CD copies for both my friend and I the same day she told me about Ms. Sayer. I played part of mine that same day. My first reaction was that I liked some of it and was luke warm to a big portion, not enough framing of the actual tune. My friend loved it so we downloaded another album and ordered a third on a CD. I always intended to give this a second listen and soon. Well my second listen was revealatory! This is fine ensemble dixie-land jazz playing, Ms. Sayer is a gifted artist not just using the banjo as a rhythm instrument but stepping front and center for melodic solos. Once I got past my expectations of what jazz banjo should be I am now able to enjoy what this group does ensemble wise. Absolutely terrific song choices (The Glory of Love, The Vo-Do-Do-De-O Blues, and the great blues cum torch song title Am I Blue). I would not have expected Indian Summer but the group manages a wistful performance that is both unusually rendered yet totally effective. The sound quality on the download is a bit thin (aren't they always) so I look forward to my CD coming in for better sound. I expect that I will be exploring even more of Cynthia Sayers' work, I like it a lot.


Sings Mel Torme
Sings Mel Torme
Price: $24.04
10 used & new from $11.95

5.0 out of 5 stars The only performer who could pay tribute to the great Mel Torme!, March 19, 2016
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This review is from: Sings Mel Torme (Audio CD)
I'm shocked that no one else has reviewed this CD! It is excellent, Billy Stritch at his best, and no one and I mean no one could have offered a tribute album to Mel Torme, he captures both Torme the composer of such great songs as Born to be Blue and The Christmas Song and the single greatest male scat singer ever. If it were not for the fact that there is almost a slavish imitation of Mel's scat style then Billy could seem like a great scat artist himself. I need to mention here that Mel's son, Steve March Torme is cut from the same cloth as his father, although Mel's late career success has so far eluded the son, but Steve is no mere imitator as so many famous singer's children have been (with the exception of Natalie Cole who was a great artist in her own right). This CD should strongly appeal to Billy's fans and fans of Mel Torme, its great to hear Mel's core repertory paid homage.


Kurt Weill: Street Scene (1990 Studio Cast)
Kurt Weill: Street Scene (1990 Studio Cast)
Price: $32.16
18 used & new from $10.95

3.0 out of 5 stars A very good performance, but there is a far better one available, March 11, 2016
The thought of writing a mixed review of a Kurt Weill (one of my favorite theater composers) when the performance is really quite decent, goes against my grain. The problem is that there is another complete performance of Street Scene that is far superior (on Jay Records). This performance has a starrier cast, but the other cast performed the work together on stage and it shows. John Mauceri's conducting is fine but Carl Davis on the English National Opera performance knows the work inside out from having conducted stage performances of it. If this were the only complete recording available it would be more than satisfactory, but it's not and the other is much better. Also, when this recording first came out some of the dialogue was missing although John Mauceri assured me it had all been recorded. It is possible that later all the dialogue was restored.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 4, 2016 1:52 PM PDT


That's Entertainment!: The Ultimate Anthology Of M-G-M Musicals
That's Entertainment!: The Ultimate Anthology Of M-G-M Musicals
11 used & new from $34.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Superior Sonic Quality to any of the previous releases of this material, January 23, 2016
Playing through this set a disc at a time, I am struck by sonic quality, which is in a word superb. They have gone back to original sources and the quality shows. It is amazing how many of the orchestral parts were recorded in Stereo starting in the early 50s or perhaps late 40s. Add in having the complete musical number, with all the dance music intact and this set has given me a new respect for the MGM music department. This set is so much better than any of previous releases of any of these songs. The set is simply F A N T A S T I C !!!


The Bridges of Madison County
The Bridges of Madison County
Price: $14.99
79 used & new from $10.70

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best as a Concert Piece??, January 19, 2016
I've waited a long time to write this review. I have now played this CD 3 (maybe 4) times and am finally beginning to fully realize how beautiful Jason Robert Brown's score is. I hated the book when it was new, never finished it, didn't much care for the movie (only saw it because of Meryl Streep) and just find the entity not to my taste. I was unable to see the show when it was on Broadway, although based on the CD O'Hara and Pasquale must have been giving Tony worthy performances. But OMG the gorgeous songs Mr. Brown has created. Since most of the Broadway cognoscenti agreed that the show as a whole didn't work all that well, perhaps the best way to present this glorious score is as a concert piece, although it is going to take some mighty fine singer/actors to fully realize all the emotion in it. Cut all the stuff for the other characters, except "Another Life" which is on the same highly emotional plane and just revel in some of the most beautiful, deeply emotional theater music written, ever.


Autumn Leaves
Autumn Leaves
Price: $8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A new CD from 2 of my favorite artists!!!!!!, January 10, 2016
This review is from: Autumn Leaves (MP3 Music)
Ok, the truth is I haven't heard this, yet but am downloading it as I write. I have heard Joan and Bill perform several of these songs (Three Penny Things) live in concert. My love affair with these performers goes way back to the vinyl release of After the Ball. To say I am a fan is a great understatement. I have shared several very dear memories with them, including when they performed a concert at the Manchester (NH) Museum of Art which came at a down point in my life, no $$ and was FREE. She sang When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along to end the first half. I already know that a new collection of songs by them is going to be 5 stars. I can't wait to listen to it tomorrow night. Alright..........the world is good, there is a new CD from two of my favorite artists!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is added after I did get to listen to the music. Both performers are still great interpreters of this repertoire, but if I were new to their work, I would not start here. Joan's voice has lost some of its youthful freshness. I still love these artists, but this is not their absolute best.


Irving Berlin - This Is The Life
Irving Berlin - This Is The Life
Price: $14.99
29 used & new from $10.77

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Early Irving Berlin as never heard before!, January 10, 2016
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I am a big fan of The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, and Rick Benjamin's musicology. I think I followed this group into Sarasota's Van Wezel Theater (they played live music for screenings of early Charlie Chaplin films. If I am correct, I liked them way back then, and I LOVE them now. I have several of their discs and they clearly illuminate the style that was prevalent in American Music circa late 1800's to 1920s. They have introduced me to important composers who I had little knowledge of (Louis A. Hirsch). Here they play early Irving Berlin from original period scores, and oh my word, some of the songs are so different than we are used to hearing them. I Love a Piano, a song I have never been that partial to (and I revere Irving Berlin) becomes something entirely different when heard as Berlin conceived it, a raggy one step. The entire 68 minutes flew by the first time I heard it, and second and third listenings have revealed new delights. Quite simply this is Paragon Ragtime Orchestra's most important disc to date, musicologically and wonderfully entertaining, I defy listeners to keep their toes from tapping. How about Irving Berlin, Vol II? Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, keep up the brilliant work!


Preludes (Original Cast Recording)
Preludes (Original Cast Recording)
Price: $14.99
38 used & new from $12.79

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not to my taste!, January 10, 2016
The two star rating is based on my reaction to the piece itself. I find it a very strange piece, not what I expected. First let me say that people who liked "Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet" (I did, but not for its techno/pop style but for its overwhelming theatricality) without reservations will probably like this much more than I did. Several selections are dialogue against a backdrop of a Rachmaninoff melody which has been given a techno/op rendering. The selections that I did like more than others were more traditional theatrical singing. The cast is mostly good, although I did not care for Niki M. James' voice (a fine voice for modern musical theater writing) in this context which for my ears screamed for a much purer vocal sound. All in all this is simply not to my taste but people who embrace composer Malloy's style will probably like it more than I did.


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