Archive for CDs

Barbra!

Streisand Bwy Album 2

A few years ago, Ms Streisand was all over PBS with her show “Barbra Streisand: One Night Only At the Village Vanguard”.  She can still touch people with her voice and it was fun to listen and watch her wrap her tiny audience (the NYC club only seats about 150) around her finger – or vocal chords in this case.  Barbra is still amazing.

I wanted to hear her, so I dug out one of the diva’s old records “The Broadway Album” (yes, “album” – like I said “old”, but now on CD) and again was in awe of her renditions of some great songs from past musicals. I have a weakness for Broadway show tunes, especially those songs from Sondheim, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gershwin – music from Porgy & Bess, Carousel, West Side Story, The King & I, etc. These songs appeals to me because they always have a story to tell, an emotion to crystallize, a longing to express.

Over the years, these poems set to music have become “standards” – they haven’t gone away, they are being sung someplace, somewhere every day. Whether in person or on CD, Ms Streisand’s versions are beautiful, soaring, romantic, funny, perfect.

Barbra Streisand – a treasure!

 

 

 

CD Corner: Luther Vandross

Listened again to “The Ultimate Luther Vandross“. It contains great classics from the 80’s and 90’s that are still staples of “soul”, “smooth listening” radio stations around the country: “A House Is Not A Home”, “Power of Love”, “Here and Now”, “Superstar”, “Give Me the Reason”, “Never Too Much”, “Dance With My Father” (which won the Grammy for “Song of the Year” 2004).

Starting off as a back up and commercial jingles singer, Vandross’ solo career began in 1981 with the hit album “Never Too Much”. He went on to win 8 Grammys and sell 25 million CDs.


Saw him only once in concert, but, like the rest of the audience was in the “Luther” zone throughout his terrific performance. Warm, personable and soooo talented, you were pulled right in and ya loved it.

BTW: There are of course several of his clips on youtube. You might even be able to find complete CDs.

However you do it, expect brilliant listening!

 

Music of Cape Verde – Lura

She sings the music of Cape Verde, an island off the west coast of Africa which declared independence from Portugal in 1975. 

Singing both in Portuguese, and in the language of her small country, Lura mixes some of the musical traditions, like “Morna”, with a more contemporary, urban sound.  Different from the better known tragic, emotional Portuguese “Fado” songs, the music from the Cape Verde interior catches you up in its smooth, jazz-like rhythms.

Lura Albums:

“Di Kopu ku Alma” (Of Body & Soul)

“M’Bern di Fora” (I come From the Country)

 

Luther Vandross Revisited!

Listened again to “The Ultimate Luther Vandross“. It contains great classics from the 80’s and 90’s that are still staples of “soul”,  and “smooth listening” radio stations around the country:
“A House Is Not A Home”, “Power of Love”, “Here and Now”, “Superstar”, “Give Me the Reason”, “Never Too Much. There are also some more recent songs like, “Dance With My Father” (which won the Grammy for “Song of the Year” 2004).

Starting off as a back up singer and writer of jingles, Vandross’ solo career began in 1981 with the hit album “Never Too Much”. He went on to win 8 Grammys and sell 25 million CDs.

Saw him only once in concert, but, like the rest of the audience was in the “Luther” zone throughout his terrific performance. Warm, personable and soooo talented, you were pulled right in and ya loved it.

Luther Vandross is still magic!

 

Brian Stokes Mitchell – Like Him!

The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “South Pacific”  is running on PBS again during their pledge weeks. Its not the Mary Martin film of 1950’s, but a musical done “in concert”, (all in character and full voice w/o sets), at Carnegie Hall. He starred as Emile the estate owner – the entire cast was great, but as always, Brian Stokes Mitchell stood out.

As he sings “This Nearly Was Mine”, he uses his voice to paint a picture of a man lamenting about a “paradise” he has always wanted and dreamt about, and just missed reaching. Beautiful and heartbreaking. (He got a standing “O” for that one.)

Mr. Mitchell elevates all that he graces with his presence. From his non singing comedy turn as Trevor the weatherman on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, to performing with the Boston Pops. Always intense, always present, he is always excellent.

Known best for Broadway musical theater – I was fortunate to see him twice as the dapper & tragic “Coalhouse Walker ” in “Ragtime”, (1998). His other credits include Jelly’s Last Jam (1992), Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993), a revival of Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me, Kate” (1999), for which he won a Tony, and August Wilson’s “King Hedley II” (2001)

He also has a CD – “Brian Stokes Mitchell” – Jazz, show tunes and pop standards with his own special style. He is a baritone with great feeling.

Brian Stokes Mitchell – I like him.

Lura * Music of Cape Verde

Lura sings the music of Cape Verde, an island off the west coast of Africa which declared independence from Portugal in 1975.

Singing both in Portuguese, and in the language of her small country, she mixes some of the musical traditions, like “Morna”, with a more contemporary, urban sound.  Different from the better known tragic, emotional Portuguese “Fado” songs, the music from the Cape Verde interior catches you up in its smooth, jazz-like rhythms.

“Di Kopu ku Alma” (Of Body & Soul)

New CDs: Jazz!


During the past  holiday season, record companies seemed intent on creating a  “Box Set” for anything that wasn’t nailed down.  The good news for Jazz lovers is that there are lots of new packages of Jazz greats in a box. Abundance!

* “The Complete Miles Davis Columbia Album Collection” – 70 CD set (yes, 70) with DVD)

* “Ella Fitzgerald: Twelve Nights in Hollywood” – 4 CD set from Ella’s 1961 engagement at the Crescendo Club in Los Angeles

* John Coltrane’s, “Giant Steps”

*And there are also new compilations of early live recordings from Billie Holiday and Oscar Petersen.

Chaka Khan

I seem to be going thru a stage where I’m admiring “longevity”. Artists, entertainers, anyone who just keeps going (like that obnoxious TV bunny).  I look at people of a certain age and think, “still doing good work, still chasing”. One of my favorites, Chaka Khan, is still out there taking risks.

Like the name of one of her biggest hits from the 70’s, “Once You Get Started”, once Chaka Khan started pursuing her dream or need to be, she never really stopped. There have been ups and downs in her career, but, she keeps “reaching” with new people, new things.

She did something different and joined a Prince tour a few years ago, (one of her biggest R&B hits from 1984, “I Feel For You”, was a Prince song). She debuted on Broadway in January ‘08 when she took over the role of “Sofia” in the play “The Color Purple” and her latest album is called “Funk This”.

It’s been awhile since the successful “Chaka Khan and Rufus” 70’s – 80s hits, “Ain’t Nobody” “Tell Me Something Good “, etc. but, her music – whether ballad or dance tune – is still fun and soulful.

Chaka Khan – “I’m Every Woman” indeed.

CD: Tony Bennett

The song “Because of You”, number #1 pop single of 1951, was my introduction to Tony Bennett. My mother loved that song and when my mom loved a song, she would play it over and over. (I occasionally shock myself when I hear something on the radio or in a movie and I start to hum/sing along to a song from the 40’s or 50’s and not remember why I know it. Its like I heard them in my crib and the words and melodies of Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole, and a few Broadway show tunes, are in my bones)

But, back to Mr. Bennett, I received a DVD of his called “Duets: An American Classic“awhile back and I listened to it again. He sings with assorted pop stars like John Legend, Elton John, Christina Aguilera (He sings “Because of you” with K.D. Lang, “Smile” with Barbra Streisand, “For Once in My Life” with Stevie Wonder)
Fun to see these youngsters work at holding their own
with this octogenarian – who btw, just seems to be having a great time
with it all. I enjoyed it.

“BECAUSE OF YOU” (Written in 1940 by Arthur Hammerstein and Dudley Wilkinson for the movie “I Was An American Spy”)

Because of you there’s a song in my heart
Because of you my romance had its start
Because of you the sun will shine
The moon and stars will say you’re mine
Forever and never to part…