Monday, July 29, 2013

George Benson ~ Inspiration (A Tribute To Nat King Cole)

George Benson has been at it for only 5 decades - you'd think after all this time, he might run out of steam. The incredible thing about his new tribute album to Nat King Cole is that just the opposite has happened. The singing and guitar work is just as strong as the heyday of his career. I'm just baffled that he hasn't fallen off after all these years. Throw in some great cameos by Wynton Marsalis, Idina Menzel and Michael McDonald (+ more) and you have a classic album in the making.
Whether or not you're familiar with Nat's repertoire (I mean, who isn't at this point?) this album is enjoyable from start to finish and makes a great addition to any record collection. Highly recommended!

01. Mona Lisa – Lil' Georgie Benson (0:57)
02. Just One Of Those Things (2:42)
03. Unforgettable Feat Wynton Marsalis (5:05)
04. Walkin’ My Baby Back Home (2:43)
05. When I Fall In Love And Idina Menzel (4:03)
06. Route 66 (3:50)
07. Nature Boy (2:39)
08. Ballerina (2:46)
09. Smile Feat Till Brönner (3:22)
10. Straighten Up And Fly Right (3:05)
11. Too Young Feat Judith Hill (3:27)
12. I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter (3:04)
13. Mona Lisa (3:02)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Girl from Ipanema ~ The Antonio Carlos Jobim Songbook

01. Stan Getz and João Gilberto with Antonio Carlos Jobim - Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema) (5:24)
02. Sarah Vaughan - Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars) (3:23)
03. Billy Eckstine - Felicidade (2:47)
04. Stan Getz and Luiz Bonfá with Antonio Carlos Jobim - O Morro Não Tem Vez (Favela) (6:54)
05. Astrud Gilberto with Antonio Carlos Jobim - Água de Beber (2:20)
06. Antonio Carlos Jobim - Só Danço Samba (Jazz Samba) (2:22)
07. Wes Montgomery - nsensatez (How Insensitive) (3:48)
08. Shirley Horn - Once I Loved (7:01)
09. Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd - Samba de Uma Nota Só (One Note Samba) (6:13)
10. Joao Gilberto - Meditação (Meditation) (4:03)
11. Ella Fitzgerald - Desafinado (Slightly out of Tune) (2:12)
12. Astrud Gilberto with Antonio Carlos Jobim - Dindi (2:43)
13. Oscar Peterson - Wave (6:04)
14. Antonio Carlos Jobim and Elis Regina - Águas de Março (Waters of March) (3:34)
15. Dizzy Gillespie - Chega de Saudade (No More Blues) (10:18)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wes Montgomery ~ The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (1960)

The incredible Wes Montgomery of 1960 was more discernible and distinctive than the guitarist who would emerge a few years later as a pop stylist and precursor to George Benson in the '70s. On this landmark recording, Montgomery veered away from his home Indianapolis-based organ combo with Melvin Rhyne, the California-based Montgomery Brothers band, and other studio sidemen he had been placed with briefly. Off to New York City and a date with Tommy Flanagan's trio, Montgomery seems in his post- to hard bop element, swinging fluently with purpose, drive, and vigor not heard in an electric guitarist since bop progenitor Charlie Christian. Setting him apart from the rest, this recording established Montgomery as the most formidable modern guitarist of the era, and eventually its most influential. There's some classic material here, including the cat-quick but perhaps a trifle anxious version of the Sonny Rollins bop evergreen "Airegin," the famous repeated modal progressive and hard bop jam "Four on Six," and Montgomery's immortal soul waltz "West Coast Blues," effortlessly rendered with its memorable melody and flowing, elegant chiffon-like lines. Flanagan, at a time shortly after leaving his native Detroit, is the perfect pianist for this session. He plays forcefully but never overtly so on the bop tracks, offering up his trademark delicacy on the laid-back "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" and easy-as-pie "Gone with the Wind." With the dynamic Philadelphia rhythm section of brothers Percy Heath on bass and drummer Albert Heath, they play a healthy Latin beat on the choppy and dramatic melody of Montgomery's original "Mr. Walker." Montgomery is clearly talented beyond convention, consistently brilliant, and indeed incredible in the company of his sidemen, and this recording -- an essential addition to every jazz guitarist fan's collection -- put him on the map.

1. Airegin (4:28)
2. D-Natural Blues (5:22)
3. Polka Dots and Moonbeams (4:42)
4. Four on Six (6:15)
5. West Coast Blues (7:23)
6. In Your Own Sweet Way (4:53)
7. Mr. Walker (4:32)
8. Gone With the Wind (6:20)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Raquel Cepeda ~ I'm Confessin'

Venezuelan-born Texas talent Raquel Cepeda falls into that envious category of `Renaissance woman': she holds a degree in Geological Engineering and works full time as a geologist for the Texas oil industry, but she also is visual artist, a writer, a dancer, a beautiful woman and one hell of a chanteuse. She is to jazz what Dudamel is to classical music conducting - not a note or a subtlety slips by her without making the most musical experience imaginable. For this CD she explores almost more avenues of musical expression than the CD can hold, but here it is - four languages, American standards, Brazilian bossa novas and sambas, Latin boleros, a Venezuelan tonada, and even a ballad of her own - `Me Flechaste el Corazón , than sort of brings it all together - her musical gifts, her multicultural heritage, her sensitivity, and her intense musicality.

The ensemble who joins her in this satisfying concert is composed of Bob Chadwick, Flutes, David Cáceres, Alto Sax/Tenor Sax, Warren Sneed, Tenor Sax/Soprano Sax, Dennis Dotson, Trumpet, Paul English, Piano, Fugelhorn/Trumpet, Thomas Hulten, Trombone, Brennen Nase, Guitar, Guil Fonseca, Guitar, Jeffry Eckels, Bass, Dean Macomber, Drums, Jorge Orta (Cro-Cró), Tony Paraná and James Metcalfe, Percussion, Marcia Sterling and Oleg Sulyga, Violin, Dan Strba, Viola, and Shino Hayashi, Cello.

01. East of the Sun (3:35)
02. Besame Mucho (7:14)
03. Chega de Saudade (3:51)
04. These Foolish Things (4:43)
05. Tonada de Luna Llena (5:52)
06. Somos Novios (4:15)
07. I Don't Know Enough About You (3:21)
08. Dream a Little Dream of Me (4:28)
09. How Deep Is the Ocean (4:09)
10. Me Flechaste el Corazon (5:02)
11. What Is This Thing Called Love (2:50)
12. I'm Confessin' (That I Love You) (5:12)
13. Corcovado / Estate (6:58)

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Glenn Miller Orchestra ~ In the Digital Mood (1983)

This album contains the original Glenn Miller arrangements... the only updating was in the method of recording digitally... an aural pleasure created by the melding of yesterday's music with today's technology.

01. In the Mood (3:38)
02. Chattanooga Choo Choo (3:37)
03. American Patrol (3:26)
04. String of Pearls (3:15)
05. Little Brown Jug (3:09)
06. Kalamazoo (2:40)
07. Tuxedo Junction (3:40)
08. St. Louis Blues March (4:20)
09. Pennsylvania 6-5000 (3:12)
10. Moonlight Serenade (3:17)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nat King Cole ~ Lush Life

This CD includes recordings that Cole made between 1949 and 1952 with arranger Pete Rugolo, a crucial time in Cole's career when he was breaking away from his jazz trio and emphasizing his singing, both on popular ballads and novelty tunes. During the period, Cole formed a close relationship with Rugolo, who was best known for his innovative work with Stan Kenton's orchestra. While never as commercially successful as Cole's collaborations with Nelson Riddle, their work represented a remarkable association between a great singer and a visionary orchestrator, with Rugolo emphasizing surprising contrasts in voicings and rich harmonies. The material ranges from Cole's bantering songs with his wife Maria, like "Hey, Not Now! (I'll Tell You When)" to a sonorous version of Alec Wilder's "Summer Is A Comin' In," and it's all imbued with the unmistakable Cole voice in its prime. The centerpiece, though, is "Lush Life," a superb rendition of Billy Strayhorn's languid hymn to wearied sophistication, with Rugolo adding Latin percussion and impressionistic textures to highlight the presence of Cole's rich baritone

01. Lush Life
02. You Stepped Out Of A Dream
03. Hey, Not Now! (I'll Tell You When)
04. I'll Always Remember You
05. Where Were You?
06. Tunnel Of Love
07. It's Crazy
08. Funny (Not Much)
09. That's My Girl
10. Roses And Wine
11. It's A Man Every Time
12. Time Out For Tears
13. Get To Gettin'
14. It Was So Good While It Lasted
15. The Way I'm Loving You
16. Ev'ry Day
17. Wish I Were Somebody Else
18. Home (When Shadows Fall)
19. You Can't Make Me Love You
20. Red Sails In The Sunset
21. Get Out And Get Under The Moon
22. My Brother
23. Land Of Love (Come My Love And Live With Me)
24. Poor Jenny Is A-Weepin'
25. Summer Is A Comin' In

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Modern Jazz Quartet ~ Scandinavia (1960)

01. Django (5:31)
02. Bluesology (4:32)
03. La Ronde (3:07)
04. I Remember Clifford (5:09)
05. Vendome (2:29)
06. Odds Against Tomorrow (6:58)
07. Pyramid (8:44)
08. It Don't Mean A Thing (If It A (5:32)
09. 'Round Midnight (3:48)
10. Bags' Groove (5:10)
11. I'll Remember April (4:50)
12. Skating In Central Park (6:08)
13. I Should Care (5:23)
14. Festival Sketch (4:23)