Ella's lushly orchestrated songbook albums were popular when first issued in the '50s and '60s and again more recently as reissues. They were not just popular. They were transformational, whether she was re-interpreting Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Ellington, Irving Berlin or Jerome Kern.
Yes, yet another Thelonious Monk reissue review. What can I tell you? Love that Monk. Criss-Cross with the same quartet (and in serious need of a reissue) was the second jazz record I ever bought and it made an even bigger impression than Coltrane's My Favorite Things, which was my first.
Van Dyke Parks: singer, songwriter, arranger, session musician, producer, creator of soundtracks, music video audio-visual pioneer...raconteur, (I'm sure I'm missing a few)...and above all, an artist. I can't think of another figure in recorded music for whom the title "Renaissance Man" would be more fitting.
Nick Drake was born June 19, 1948 in Rangoon, Burma. Such unusual beginnings for a shy singer-songwriter who would die of a drug overdose twenty-six years later might seem exotic to some. But the gentle music he created sounded quite ordinary to most, if they heard it at all.
A few months ago my friend and fellow Stereophile writer (not to mention Pulitzer Prize winner, author of a new book "Insurgents" about General Patraeus, etc.) Fred Kaplan and I were lamenting the absence of reissues of Thelonious Monk's Columbia catalog.
Baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan's 1959 major label debut features his self-penned liner notes advocating putting the fun back in jazz and not worrying about hipness. Mulligan states that the album is all about fun and he's not kidding.
The issue here isn't Norah Jones, it's the amount. While Jones "burst upon the scene" more than a decade ago while still in her early thirties with her debut album come away with me, she was hardly an overnight sensation. What's heard on that memorable debut is the result of years of live playing at The Living Room, an intimate, lower Manhattan club that encourages artistic growth over headliners.
One side electric, one side acoustic, both sides of this March, 1965 release announced in both words and music Dylan's liberation from his folk music and "spokesperson for a generation" straight jacket and a turn towards more personal expression.
Dirty Projectors has been around for a decade. This is the group's, what? sixth album? but only the first I've heard since becoming aware of it only a few month ago. How totally clueless have I become?
When I write about Swing Lo Magellan do I fake it and write as if I've known about the group for a decade? I can't do that. So I'll have to admit how unhip and out of the loop I've become.
I know! I'll blame The Beatles and all of the reissues I have to cover. Right!
The song "Imperial Bedroom" does not appear on E.C.'s fourth album issued back in 1982 but it does as a bonus track on Rykodisc's twofer CD. The twofer's other album Almost Blue does not include the song "Almost Blue," which is on Imperial Bedroom. Got that?
"Don't want my MP3," Neil Young protests on side two's "Drifting Back (Part 2)".
Young's lifelong obsession with sound quality is well known and of course welcomed around here. He was one of the first musicians to express serious reservations about digital recording and playback. Back in 1993 he appeared on an MTV News piece along with Peter Gabriel and me too. You can watch it here. "We've lost the sound" Neil laments—and that was before the scourge of MP3.
The classically trained Cuban-born jazz pianist Elio Villafranca and his group the Jass Syncopators recorded this album Direct-to-Disk last Winter at the "Least Significant Bit Studios", which is actually a large room in the Sound-Smith.com production facility converted into a performance space/recording studio.
The double LP set is but one of many DirectGrace D2D records produced by Sound-Smith's founder Peter Ledermann to benefit a charity dedicated to helping some 215 million exploited children around the world enduring child labor, or abandoned to the streets due to the AIDS epidemic and other public health catastrophes.
The late Arthur Lee exited a California prison in December of 2001, having served more than five years of a twelve year sentence for negligent discharge of a firearm. The long mandatory sentence resulted from California's ridiculous, now repealed "three strikes you're out" law.
Before being incarcerated Lee had resurrected his moribund career by teaming with a talented group called Baby Lemonade (named for a Syd Barrett song) much as had Brian Wilson with The Wondermints. Once out of prison, Lee took up where he left off, touring the world as Arthur Lee and Love.
While The Beatles' musical arc was ever upward, the group's cinematic efforts traveled in the opposite direction. "A Hard Day's Night" was the group's best film. Shooting in black and white was more of a financial than esthetic choice it worked perfectly to capture the staid post-war period the boys found themselves in growing up.
A woman walks into a butcher shop. She says "Can I see that chicken?" The butcher hands it to her. She smells it in front, she smells it in back, she smells it all over and then hands it back to the butcher saying "Mister, this chicken stinks!" The butcher replies "Lady, could you pass a test like that?"