Clint Eastwood – Cowboy Favorites (1963)

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Long before Clint Eastwood achieved iconic status as a superstar film actor and Oscar-winning director, he enjoyed (though reportedly not much) his own teen idol tenure portraying lovable dimwit Rowdy Yates on the popular TV Western Rawhide. Like all TV idols worth their salt, Eastwood had his fling in the recording studio. 1963’s “Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites” leans decidedly toward the W branch of C&W and offers a fascinating opportunity to eavesdrop as Dirty Harry drifts along with the tumbling tumbleweeds. (by Dennis Garvey)

With the rusty door-hinge of a voice he possesses today, it’s hard to imagine a time when Clint Eastwood could have been groomed as a singing star, but in the early ‘60s, when he came to fame as the rebellious Rowdy in the hit Western TV series Rawhide, it wasn’t such a crazy idea. In 1963, playing off the popularity of the show, Cameo-Parkway released an album featuring Eastwood’s versions of classic cowboy-style tunes. While Eastwood is admittedly not an exceptional vocalist, he’s not at all bad; this is by no means some Golden Throats-style celebrity train wreck. At the time, there were plenty of equally photogenic young men with no greater vocal ability than Eastwood being promoted as country singers, many with less of an actual musical background than the jazz-schooled actor. Eastwood’s soft, somewhat laconic croon might not possess the commanding quality that was de rigueur for the era’s country stars, but he never strays off-key, and his style is a kind of cross between legendary cowboy singer Roy Rogers and Dean Martin.

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Most of the tunes he tackles here were already well-known in hit versions by other artists — the Sons of the Pioneers’ “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” Bob Wills’ “San Antonio Rose,” Gene Autry’s “Mexicali Rose,” etc. The loping rhythms, lonesome harmonica, lazy guitar licks, and male backing-vocal choruses are all in keeping with the production conventions of the day for cowboy artists. A couple of non-LP singles sweeten the pot, including the written-to-order “Rowdy,” intended as a sort of theme song for Eastwood’s Rawhide character. While Cowboy Favorites didn’t make Eastwood a C&W star, it wasn’t his country music swan song — years later he would record with Merle Haggard and sing in the films Paint Your Wagon and Honky Tonk Man. (by James Allen)

As far as Clint Eastwood’s career as a Country crooner is concerned, the actor has released a couple of singles—one with Merle Haggard and another with TJ Sheppard—and starred as a failed Depression-era troubadour in 1982’s Honkytonk Man.

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Clint has never done all that well in the vocal department. Back in 1963, when he recorded Cowboy Favorites, Eastwood was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I doubt it was his idea to cut the album—popular actors were frequently called upon to drop some vinyl into the market, to attract viewers to their series, pander to their public and make a little cash.

Since Clint had almost no range as a singer, his producer on that album seemed to bury the poor guy’s voice in harmonica, steel guitar and vocal backup. This album is more of a curiosity than an embarrassment; no one is ever likely to confuse it with the great gunfighter ballads sung by Marty Robbins or with Eddy Arnold’s Country-pop confections. (Henry Cabot Beck)

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Personnel:
Clint Eastwood (vocals)
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a bunch of unknown studio musicians

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Tracklist:
01. Bouquet Of Roses (Hilliard/Nelson) 2.42
02. Along The Sante Fe Trail (Dubin/Coolidge/Gross) 2.49
03. The Last Round Up (Hill) 2.54
04. Sierra Nevada (Hannah) 2.53
05. Mexicali Rose (Stone/Tenney) 3.00
06. Searching For Somewhere (Harlington/Bramlett) 2.56
07. I’ll Love You More (Ingles) 2.30
08. Tumbling Tumbleweeds (Nolan) 2.50
09. Twilight On The Trail (Alter/Mitchell) 2.56
10. San Antonio Rose (Wills) 2.29
11. Don’t Fence Me In (Porter) 2.38
12. Are You Satisfied (Escamella/Wooley) 2.21

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Tobias Meinhart – Silent Dreamer (2017)

FrontCover1Born in a small village in rural Bavaria, Tobias Meinhart has spent the last 15 years carving out a career for himself in the international jazz scene. Since his modest beginnings in Woerth, the tenor saxophonist has garnered acclaim in both Europe and the United States, earning a nomination for an ECHO award in 2016 and claiming residency at renowned New York City jazz venues such as The Blue Note, The Jazz Gallery, Jazz at Lincoln Center and Birdland.

Tobias began his musical life as a drummer before switching to the saxophone at age thirteen. He found inspiration in his grandfather, a classically trained bassist who began playing jazz in many of the U.S. Army clubs after World War Two. This early and intimate exposure to the music had a profound effect on young Tobias, leading him to hone his skills to a tee and win first prize in Germany’s Jugend Jazzt competition.

Tobias Meinhart04After touring throughout Germany with his quartet Fourscore, Tobias went to study at the Basel Music Academy in Switzerland, where the renowned European saxophonist Domenic Landolf served as his mentor. His teachers included Adrian Mears, Jorge Rossy and Wolfgang Muthspiel. He then went on to the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and the Bern University for the Arts to study with Ferdinand Povel and Andy Scherrer.

While still a student, Tobias caught the attention of critics and audiences throughout Europe. His band won first prize at the 2009 Startbahn Jazz Competition, as well as the “Audience Award for Best Group” at the 2009 Getxo Jazz Festival in Bilbao, Spain. Already endowed with more real world experience than many musicians have long after leaving school, Tobias graduated with honors and received a diploma in Jazz Performance and Music Education the same year that he won the prize at Getxo.

Shortly after Graduation, Tobias moved to New York City and quickly became immersed in the city’s highly competitive music scene. In 2012 he received his Master’s Degree from the Aaron Copland School of Music, where he studied with Antonio Hart, John Ellis and Seamus Blake. 2012 was also the year that Tobias returned to Getxo, now with his quintet, and earned not only first prize for the band’s outstanding performance, but also the “Best Soloist” award, and the opportunity to open for of his most forceful inspirations, Wayne Shorter.

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He has five albums out under his own name, with his newest effort, Berlin People, released in Spring 2019 on Sunnyside Records. It is a new band including guitar icon Kurt Rosenwinkel.

Aside from the numerous accolades already mentioned, Tobias has also toured Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Italy and Poland and opened for renowned saxophonist Chris Potter. He has been featured at many European jazz festivals including GetxoJazz and Elbjazz, and was part of a national Next Generation All-Star Orchestra. His 2015 album Natural Perception was praised by European and American critics alike, hailed by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as “jazz at it’s finest” and as “graceful and organic… subtle colors and delicate rhythms” in a five-star review in the New York City Jazz Record. In 2017, Tobias released Silent Dreamer which got a DOWNBEAT feature article describing him as “Not only a commanding saxophonist but also a keen composer”. (taken from his website)

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One of the best things about reviewing music is putting on a disc by an artist I’ve never heard of and being blown away by it. “Silent Dreamer,” by German saxophonist Tobias Meinhart, is one of the best CD’s I’ve heard this year. Meinhart had racked up a host of awards in Europe before moving to the United States to study with some of New York’s top saxophonists. He now resides in Brooklyn and works with a variety of groups. His fourth album, “Silent Dreamer,” is not only a vehicle for his bold tenor style, it’s also a showcase for his adventurous compositions and gorgeous arrangements.

The album is also brimming with superb solos and group playing by some familiar players, like trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and bassist Orlando Le Fleming, and some less familiar but equally powerful musicians. Yago Vazquez is excellent on piano, and Justin Carroll makes the synthesizer wail. Charles Altura crosses over into rock-fusion territory on every guitar solo, and Phil Donkin and Jesse Simpson are a formidable rhythm section on acoustic and electric bass and powerhouse drums. (by Ron Netsky)

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Personnel:
Justin Carroll (synthesizer)
Phil Donkin (bass)
Ingrid Jensen (trumpet, effects)
Tobias Meinhart (saxophone, electronics)
Jesse Simpson (drums)
Yago Vazquez (piano)
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Charles Altura (guitar bei 02., 03. + 04.)
Orlando LeFleming (bass bei 02., 03. + 06.)

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Tracklist:
01. Fighting For Fears (Meinhart) 5.38
02. Letter Of Intent (Vazquez) 4.54
03. Silent Dreamer (Meinhart) 5.51
04. Mariana’s Dream (Meinhart) 5.48
05. Can’t Say Enough (Simpson) 1.44
06. Equality (Meinhart) 6.08
07. Ghost Gardens (Meinhart) 6.54
08. Purple Space (Meinhart) 4.40
09. Simple Beauty (Meinhart) 6.11

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