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VINE VOICEon December 31, 2012
This is an album of 13 of Roxy's & Ferry's solo tracks done in the style of the Duke Ellington 20's Jungle Band, & in my opinion it's the album of the year.

This is EVERYTHING Joe Jackson's lame Ellington tribute wasn't. This truly sounds like 20's Duke. If you're a 20's & early 30's jazz fan, my initial take is this is awesome! (Though I have no clue what Ferry has to do with it other than being the song writer). While there are no DE songs here, stylistically it's very close; even the production values imitate 1920's recordings.

As an example of the music, picture Ellington's East St Louis Toodle-oo (DE's original version, not Steely Dan's wonderful cover) with the melody from Love is The Drug. And it TOTALLY works!

Really highly recommended & a huge surprise. I don't know if a non Roxy
fan would enjoy it as much as I do, but just using my ears I don't
recognize 80% of the songs as Roxy anyways as most are so changed.
This is miles better than anything I've heard from current revivalists on the indy labels.
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VINE VOICEon January 13, 2013
I've always thought that Bryan Ferry was born decades too late. His silky baritone would have been perfectly suited for the golden age of crooners in the 1930s and 1940s and it's clear his singing style was influenced by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and others. His 1970s era solo records however would put an odd camp spin on songs from the Great American Songbook and so at times you were never certain if this embrace of earlier music was sincere or not. Throughout his career Ferry has dipped into other songwriters catalogues and served up some truly memorable discs including As Time Goes By and Dylanesque. With "The Jazz Age" Ferry opts for this approach with his own back catalogue of Roxy Music and his solo work, but gives it a couple novel twists. First off, it's done as if performed by a 1920s or 1930s era jazz band, complete with the orchestrations of that earlier era, and secondly, it's only instrumentals, no vocals, hence the moniker of the Bryan Ferry Orchestra. At first the idea of taking well known Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry songs and reworking them as 1920s jazz sounds a bit unusual but it works quite well. The entire Roxy Music catalog evoked the sort of careworn decadence of Weimar Germany anyhow; why not take it to its ultimate expression? An odd turn for Ferry is hardly unheard of as his solo career has been full of diversions and trying on new genres like a wardrobe change. I can't say I'm surprised at this endeavor as he certainly hinted at it with the DVD Bryan Ferry in Concert (Live in Paris at Le Grand Rex, March 2000) back in 2000. Recorded on his As Time Goes By tour he recorded perhaps the most evocative and gorgeous reworking of 1972's "Chance Meeting" off the eponymously titled Roxy Music. Performed in the manner of a pop classic it showed the timelessness of Roxy Music's output. And while As Time Goes By was comprised of others' songs from the Great American Songbook this performance showed that Ferry could apply that same approach to any of his songs over the past four decades. It's likely that only now, after so many years of performing these songs, that Ferry feels the confidence and desire to make this attempt and the results are very interesting to say the least.

Ferry casts wide a far throughout his songbook from the earliest days of Roxy Music up to his latest studio release Olympia. If anything it must have been difficult deciding which songs to pick for the makeover and a part of me hopes that there will be a sequel although Ferry is notorious for one-offs such as this. Probably the major quibble here will be why Ferry isn't singing on any tracks, as clearly his voice would be well suited for it. My hunch is there are two reasons. The first is that these songs are so closely associated with him that there's no reason he HAS to sing. In fact, by not singing it allows the songs to breathe on their own. Heck, sing along if you like, you probably already know the words! Ferry likely wants the songs to speak for themselves and to show that they defy and transcend time and place. Singing would likely detract from what Ferry is attempting here anyhow, and besides that, what approach should he take? If it's reverent and respectful critics would call him out for being self-serving. Adopting the camp approach would similarly detract from an otherwise serious yet flirtatious recording. Having others sing his songs would just be wrong. This isn't a covers album where newer artists pay respect to another musician; it isn't that at all. Ferry's approach here is spot on the money. What results is a fun, funky, flirtatious, and ultimately ambitious album that works well. I don't know that this is intended to win over new fans, but it almost certainly will appeal to his existing fans. Amazon hasn't bothered to provide a track listing, but here it is:

1. Do The Strand
2. Love Is The Drug
3. Don't Stop The Dance
4. Just Like You
5. Avalon
6. The Bogus Man
7. Slave to Love
8. This is Tomorrow
9. The Only Face
10. I Thought
11. Reason or Rhyme
12. Virginia Plain
13. This Island Earth
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on January 12, 2013
The previous reviewer who one-starred this jewel while professing to be an audiophile has made me wonder: would a cinephile pan Woody Allen's "Manhattan" because it was filmed in black and white? I hope not. Moreover, this release is so well recorded that no true audiophile should diss it.

OK, well. I love Bryan Ferry. He launched his career with Roxy Music and immediately launched a parallel solo career by reworking (mostly) other people's songs, with results ranging from mundane ("Taxi") to sublime ("Song to the Siren," "The 'In' Crowd," "Like a Hurricane," for example). "The Jazz Age" brings Ferry's career full circle, as he has reworked his own songs into 1920s hot jazz stunners.

This is the first release in Ferry's 40+ year career on which he does not perform. No worries, fans: Bryan's hand is firmly on the throttle throughout, and the result is perhaps his most groundbreaking release ever.

No, this is not a geriatric tribute to music long since passed. Rather, "The Jazz Age" is an unprecedented reinterpretation of 13 Ferry originals as if they had been debuted in America circa 1925. To console the audiophile who sparked this review: relax, dude. Ferry made "The Jazz Age" monaural on purpose. He recorded it on 1920s-era equipment. One channel. That is why it sounds like genuine hot jazz, not like some sterile (though reverent) exhumation of music long since passed.

Tell me another artist who could have turned his/her new wave catalog into genuinely hot jazz instrumentals. Go ahead, I dare ya.

I suppose that people who dislike hot jazz will not change their minds because of this album. No problem, folks: go with God. But if you can wrap your head around "The Jazz Age" by pretending that it is a parallel universe radio retransmission of a world in which Bryan Ferry was allowed to flourish forty years ahead of schedule, then click "Add to cart" and get ready to enjoy the album of this (or a much earlier) decade.
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on February 8, 2015
This album is an absolute homage to jazz. In keeping with Fitzgerald's term of the 1920's being the "jazz age," Ferry masterfully takes the different styles and aesthetic of jazz and sets them to some of his greatest hits. Adding class to style, the album comes in what looks like a book. In it is a complete hashing of inspirations in performers from the past and particular styles both American and British. Moreover, the book/album case shows original jazz themed art from the 20's.
Take a note of caution, Bryan Ferry does perform his work with lyrics but that is in the Great Gatzby soundtrack album. This is just the music with no lyrics.
It is a good album. Your appetite will be sated if you are a jazz fan and or a Bryan Ferry fan.
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This retro concept album is so well produced that the packaging is in the form of a book with slick glossy cover and Art Deco fonts. Illustrations are of Josephine Baker, with banana skirt and not much else, fox-trot dancers, and even a cubist form suggestive of Picasso's costume design for Erik Satie's ballet, Parade. [While the tempered sound engineering, designed to capture the 1920's sound, may be suitable for .mp3 downloads, you will otherwise miss the very worthy CD packaging and notes!] All the songs are by Bryan Ferry, at least in part, recorded earlier in art rock style for Roxy Music, but the performance style here is modeled on bands of the Roaring 20's and the early Jazz Age. The 15-member orchestra covers the usual cornet and trumpet, trombone, clarinets and saxophones, and piano, and adds viola, violin, double bass, and cello strings, and guitar to join the characteristic rhythm banjo of the time. Ferry asked the ghosts of Duke Ellington, Bix Beiderbecke and British dance band leader Billy Cotton and saxophonist Buddy Featherstonhaugh to visit for inspiration. Interestingly, the title's of Ferry's modern songs fit nicely with the romantic tunes of yore, such as Avalon, Don't Stop the Dance, and Slave to Love. The result is much more than a curiosity piece. It simply works. Pianist Colin Good scored the arrangements. Ferry's song, Isaac, and Michael Knight designed the packaging. The entire enterprise is delightful.
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VINE VOICEon July 27, 2013
bryan ferry has decided to re-record some of his most popular songs in the style of 1920s dance tunes. why? who knows! ferry explained his desire to reset his songs in this fashion and one day, i may get around to reading the liner notes. until then, i will have the songs as they are to keep me company.

the arrangements for some of the tunes bring out even more melancholy and aching than their original versions; especially the last track on the disc. it is very haunting.and some, like 'slave to love' take on a jaunt, even humorous tone.

i have to admit that, outside of 'avalon', i didn't know any of these melodies and the recent film version of 'the great gatsby' didn't help me love the new arrangements. but now that i have listened to them on a couple of road trips i have tapped my fingers and even danced a charleston or two down the grocery store aisle. it is a fun witty set of tunes and i hope avalon fans aren't too disappointed about the end result.
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on February 12, 2013
This release comes, as Ferry might put it, from "out of the blue." It's an intriguing and perhaps bold move that has, I think, mixed results. First of all, whatever else this album may be, it is NOT musically comparable to the virtuosity of Duke Ellington's Washingtonians, or other early jazz legends as some reviewers claim. The arrangement of Love Is The Drug, is clearly modeled on tunes like East St. Louis Toodle-oo--as one reviewer points out. But there's no comparing the respectable retro soloists in The Bryan Ferry Orchestra (with Alan Barnes and other British jazz musicians) to Bubber Miley's plunger-muted trumpet work on the aforementioned Duke classic. Other songs, such as This Is Tomorrow, seem to emulate Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives. It even kicks off with a lone trumpet intro that nods directly to the classic intro to West End Blues. The remainder of the song comes off a bit like an uptempo Hot Fives tune. But the bottom line regarding these comparisons is that there's just no way to recreate the inspired melting pot of virtuosos and creative geniuses that coalesced in the Harlem of the 1920s. Legends like Duke, Fletcher Henderson, Don Redman, Bessie Smith,Earl Hines, King Oliver and all the others can be admired from a distance, but never really imitated convincingly. For a tribute to Duke, I would recommend The Vienna Art Orchestra's versions which don't try to imitate the originals as much as breathe new life into them.

Nevertheless, it is very interesting to see how these old Roxy and solo Ferry faves sound when they are processed through retro 20s style jazz as instrumentals. My opinion is that some work much better than others. Love Is The Drug really does work in this context, while the haunting melodies of This Island Earth are only diminished in comparison to the original 70s solo Ferry version. The rigid meter and dynamically flat contours of the remake here just don't flatter it, imo. I was really interested to see how The Bogus Man (one of Roxy's more avant-garde efforts) would work as 20s-style jazz. It is probably the most adventurous reworking on the album. It sounds a bit surreal-- pleasantly anachronistic. This may be due to the melodic and harmonic aspects of the song, which don't resemble anything from the 20s jazz legends--even the adventurous Duke Ellington in that period. But for that reason it sounds experimental and, to me, compelling. Anyway, these are my impressions, and an album like this is sure to excite some and disappoint others. The songs themselves are great, the playing here is quite accomplished (not brilliant or anything) and the album gives fans a chance to re-imagine Ferry's output from the 70s classics to recent material. I'm sure it will divide listeners, but I found it worthwhile as a diehard Ferry/Roxy fan.
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on November 5, 2013
Interesting to redo your music w a twist...remake it with a jazzy sound. Its a new way to introduce yourself to a new audience people who frequent the movie theatres! That's where Id heard it first in jazzy form. From what I understand music came from The Great Gatsby film starring Tobey Mcguire and Leonardo DiCaprio . Music is great. Wonderful spin on Ferry's past work.
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on November 29, 2014
What an interesting idea!
Bryan Ferry took 13 of his classic songs and arranged them (one should say 'rewrote' because that's the extent of what he did) as if they were period pieces of the 1920's. He did it with such great talent that you'll be transported into the Jazz Age (the '20s) at once. You will need to listen intently to associate the music of this album with the original songs, none of which are sung, which adds much to the difference. This is a truly lovely album that you will enjoy with or without prior knowledge of the music of Bryan Ferry or that of Roxy Music.
Go for it. Turn the lights low, pour yourself a glass of your favorite Bourbon or some nice wine, sit down in a comfortable chair, turn the music on, lay back, and enjoy. Ain't life grand all of a sudden?
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on April 2, 2013
As others have noted, Bryan Ferry may have been born a few decades too late. There is little doubt that he finds the music of the jazz age deeply inspirational. Bryan has been covering songs from the jazz era since the 1970s. Just listen to his gorgeous covers of "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and "These Foolish Things". Mr. Ferry's solo offering "As Time Goes By" successfully explored much loved songs from the golden age of the big bands. I was fortunate to catch his show supporting that release at a small venue in Philadelphia the night before he played The Beacon Theater in Manhattan. I can truthfully say that show was a transcendent experience.

I have been a Roxy Music fan since college and greatly enjoy much of Bryan Ferry's solo material. I was lucky to see him perform with Roxy Music and as a solo performer at Radio City Music Hall among other venues. Songs like "Slave To Love" and "Love Is The Drug", both included on "The Jazz Age", are among my all time favorites.

I knew I was taking a chance when I purchased "The Jazz Age". It was obviously an experiment that took Mr. Ferry far from his usual track much as the recent release "Apres" did for Iggy Pop. Certainly the record sounds extremely authentic. It could easily have been recorded during the era that inspired it. Mr. Ferry's songs have been remade and remodeled to sound like creations right out of the Jazz Age. To that extent the experiment is an unqualified success. Unfortunately the structure of the songs change so much they are barely recognizable. That might have been OK if only he had actually sung them! Where oh where is Mr. Ferry's beautiful baritone voice? He is one of greatest rock crooners of all time. To make a CD like this without any vocals seems like a missed opportunity to me.

"The Jazz Age" is an intriguing experiment. Perhaps it will grow on me. I strongly suspect, however, that it will languish in my collection rarely listened to. Bryan Ferry is nothing less than a ground breaking pioneer who has made tremendous contributions to popular music. With so many home runs behind him it's OK to hit a double once in awhile. Anyway kudos to Mr. Ferry for trying something completely different.
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