Paul Winter feat. Arto Tuncboyaciyan – Journey With The Sun (2000)

FrontCover1.jpgFor 20 years, new age wind player Paul Winter has headlined world-class audiovisual musical extravaganzas celebrating the summer and winter solstices at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Most of the contemplative nature of this worldbeat meets new age recording reflects the ambience of the early morning summer celebration, while two songs — the intensely percussive, Middle Eastern-flavored “Caravan at Dawn” and the mystical “Yabu” — come from the 1999 winter show that featured Mickey Hart playing RAMU, or Random Access Music Universe (i.e., an incredible array of electronic sounds). The unique spiritual power of the album derives from vocalist Arto Tuncboyacian, an Armenian whose African-sounding guttural vocals utter phrases in “vocables” from his own personal dialect; this is exotic scat singing at its most creative!

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The mystical “Broken Arm” shows the more heartfelt side of his vocals, and the interesting mood swings continue throughout. The joyous jig-like “Mountain Wedding” features the Uilleann pipes of Davy Spillane, and these pipes are used to more haunting effect on “Pas de Deux.” “Singing to the Mountain” is a wistful, folksy tribute to Tuncboyacian’s late brother, who was killed in a plane crash in Turkey.  (by Jonathan Widran)

Arto Tuncboyaciyan is yet another Paul Winter “find.” While Arto has been around as a performer for a number of years, his previous albums, recorded and produced in Armenia and Greece, have not seen wide distribution in the U.S; for all intents and purposes, this can be considered his domestic debut album. He has sessioned with, among others, Oregon, Al DiMeola and Chet Baker, as a percussionist, so he is not a totally unknown quantity. But it is his earlier Athens-produced albums “Onno” and “Tears of Dignity” which provided initial evidence of his remarkable vocal abilities.

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The brief title above could well have been called “This Journey is a melismatic trip.” It shows off Arto’s considerable vocal and instrumental skills and his intensity of song, with a near-Eastern flavor that at times is Sufi-like. Of the thirteen tracks on the album, Arto’s voice is featured on seven of them, and it is virtually impossible to pick a favorite. So I’ll pick three, instead: “Caravan at Dawn”(the opening track), “Singing to the Mountain,” and “Oror Bubrik” (the closing track), at some risk of not bringing mention to four other excellent tracks. “Caravan at Dawn” is a riot of vocal and instrumental color, very “Eastern” in its setting and with fine keyboard and percussion support by Jordan Rudess (of Dream Theater) on synthesizer and Mickey Hart on RAMU, his self-invented computerized Random Access Musical Universe, looking (and played) much like some modern-art steel pan. “Singing to the Mountain” features a long introduction by Arto on the sazabo, sounding much like some cross-fertilization of a banjo with a ukelele, and Arto is as good on the sazabo as is Bela Fleck on the banjo. “Oror Bubrik”, the closing track, is as good an album fade-out as “Dawnwalker Reprise” was on Winter’s “Celtic Solstice” album, which is about as fine a statement of praise that I can muster. The richness of the vocal and instrumental textures must be experienced, and Arto’s way with this “closer” is nigh perfect.

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But Journey With The Sun is also a “best hits” album of two years’ worth of recent Paul Winter Solstice Concerts (both Summer and Winter) at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, so the album also has the contributions of “regulars” such as Eugene Friesen, Paul Halley and Dorothy Papadakos, and “frequent Consorters” such as Davy Spillane, Jerry O’Sullivan, Niamh Parsons, Jim Beard, and of course the redoubtable Jordan Rudess. Winter and Halley once again demonstrate their stranglehold on “cathedral blues” with “Cave of the Winds,” where Winter wails as well as he ever has in his opening soliloquy and Halley trips off on one of his best-ever organ improvisations. Davy Spillane once again serves notice that he is more than just the best improvisational Uilleann piper on the planet; he is the Johnny Hodges of the pipes. Mickey Hart shows off the remarkable capabilities of RAMU in a cute, upbeat track called “Yabu.” There are keyboards (piano, pipe organ, synthesizer) galore, with Halley and Rudess laying down some truly astounding synthesizer tracks. Eugene Friesen is still the best improvisational cellist around, with a nice Friesen/Spillane duet (a fascinating sonic juxtaposition) in “Pas de Deux.” There’s a nice Celtic ballad sung by Ms. Parsons. And two great stomps in “Mountain Wedding” and “Land of the Pipers” to serve notice that not all is tinged with melismatic melancholy. (by Bob Zeidler)

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Personnel:
Jim Beard (keyboards on 12.)
Damian Draghici (pan pipes on  03. + 04.)
Eugene Friesen (cello)
Vardan Grigoryan (zurna on 01.)
Paul Halley (keyboards)
Mickey Hart (electronic drums on  01. + 09.)
Zan McLeod (guitar on  04. + 12.)
Jerry O’Sullivan (uilleann pipes on 12.)
Dorothy Papadakos (organ on 12.)
Niamh Parsons (vocals on 10. + 13.)
Jordan Rudess (keyboards on  01.,  04. + 09.)
Davy Spillane (uilleann pipes, low whistle)
Arto Tuncboyaciyan (vocals, percussion, sazabo)
Eliot Wadopian (bass on  04. + 12.)
Paul Winter (saxophone)

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Tracklist:
01. Caravan At Dawn (Winter/Tuncboyaciyan/Hart/Rudess) 6.25
02. First Oasis (Spillane/Winter/Friesen/Tuncboyaciyan/Halley) 4.14
03. Broken Arm (Tuncboyaciyan) 6.09
04. Mountain Wedding (Winter) 4.44
05. Cave Of The Winds (Winter) 5.49
06. Pas De Deux (Friesen/Spillane) 2.45
07. Singing To The Mountain (Tuncboyaciyan) 4.50
08. Middle Oasis (Winter/Friesen/Spillane/Tuncboyaciyan/Halle) 5.24
09. Yabu (Hart/Winter) 5.02
10. Green Grass, It Grows Bonny (Traditional) 5.03
11. Last Oasis (Spillane/Friesen/Winter/Tuncboyaciyan) 4.04
12. Land Of The Pipers (Traditional) 5.19
13. Oror Bubrik (Tuncboyaciyan) 6:12

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Charlie Mariano & Enrique Sinesi – Tango para Charlie (2000)

FrontCover1More than one is (obviously) two. Might be Four in One, as it so often is in jazz (Think Coltrane Think Rollins). Might take five. (Think Armstrong Think Miles). Might even be eighteen (Think if you still can Ellington). But two is the closest we can get. The closest by far. Two can feel what the other wants. Two is the abstraction of more than one. Two is the most open more than one.
Jazz being the art of communication, two might be the closest we can get to a definition of its essence. In the proliferation of duo recordings that filled the seventies and trickled on into the present, there have been few incorporating the guitar, and often these were guitar duets. Right now, only Joe Pass comes to my mind as a guitarist working with other instruments in a duo setting (J. J. Johnson’s trombone, Ella Fitzgerald’s voice, Jimmy Rowles’ piano). But Pass is a good case in point: a strong solo guitarist who is able to provide both a cushiony accompaniment and a free solo commentary even to a partner whose instrument limits his ability to accompany.
Which brings us (at last!) to this recording. Enrique “Quique” Sinesi, who joins alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano on these recordings, is a strong solo guitarist with a very distinctive musicality. His professional life was determined by the music of his Argentine homeland, he began in Tango Nuevo groups with bandoneonist Dino Saluzzi and Pablo Ziegler, the former pianist in Astor Piazzola’s bands. His playing stays deeply influenced by this music, but he has always remained open toward jazz.

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In 1998 he performed before Jim Hall, who since then considers Sinesi one of his favorite guitarists.
On “Tango para Charlie” this solo wizard encounters the sublime melodic magic of one of the great saxophonists in jazz. The wonder of Mariano has always been his stylistic openness, his ability to go from Kenton to Karnataka, from Pierce to Pork Pie without compromising his personal voice, his “jazz” style. So when Sinesi boards his 7-string Spanish guitar and sets up a tango groove employing the meanest bass string on any side of the ocean, Mariano counters with cool and jazzy melodic lines that abstract the groove toward that openness of the “two”. With his supple scarcity Mariano opens up the closure that is inherent in the solo/accompaniment that a guitar can provide. There is no closure here. With every sound these two musicians make here, with every beat they share, they come closer together, moving like one and yet keeping the openness of the two. An abstraction of more than one.
There is no closure in these two. They provide a dialogue that is more. Than one. The more than two. Of music. (by Stephan Richter)

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Personnel:
Charlie Mariano (saxophone, flute)
Quique Sinesi (guitar, charango)

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Tracklist:
01. Berliner Tanguismos Part I (Sinesi) 5.16
02. Berliner Tanguismos Part II (Quique Sinesi) 2.47
03. Berliner Tanguismos Part III (Sinesi) 5.35
04. Berliner Tanguismos Part IV (Sinesi) 4.24
05. The Lady (Mariano) 7.14
06. Faluseando (Sinesi) 2.22
07. Zephyr (Mariano) 6.29
08. Tarde de Lluvia en Köln (Sinesi) 5.40
09. Alta Paz (Sinesi) 4.30
10. If Only (Mariano) 4.09
11. Tango para Charlie (Sinesi) 6.52
12. Gone (Mariano) 1.59

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Mighty Blue Kings – The Christmas Album (2000)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Mighty Blue Kings is a Chicago jump blues band, formed in 1995.

Ross Bon was part of the Chicago music scene beginning in 1992 as a harmonica player and vocalist. He recorded with artists such as Willie “Big” Smith, Buddy Scott, Pinetop Perkins, Junior Wells, Dave Specter, James Cotton and Kim Wilson.

In 1995, he joined with guitarist Gareth Best, bassist Jimmy Sutton, drummer Bob Carter, pianist Donny Nichilo and saxophonists Samuel Burckhardt and Jerry DeVivo to form the Mighty Blue Kings. They made their debut performance opening for the late Junior Wells at Buddy Guy’s legends in Chicago; and followed up with a weekly residence at Chicago jazz club The Green Mill. Later, the band toured the US.

The band’s lineup for their 1997 release, Come One, Come All, consisted of Bon, Best, DeVivo on drums, bassist Brett Simons, keyboardist Simon Sweet and saxophonists Jonathan Doyle and Mark Colby.

The band released two studio albums, Meet Me In Uptown (1995), and Come One, Come All (R-Jay Records). Together, they sold over 100,000 copies, with the latter having debuted in the top ten on Billboard’s Blues Album chart. They subsequently released three additional albums, Live From Chicago, (reaching #14 on Billboard’s Blues Album charts), the holiday record, The Christmas Album and Alive In The City.

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The Mighty Blue Kings disbanded around 2001. In early 2010 Ross Bon formed a new band under the name, Ross Bon & The Mighty Blue Kings. (bby wikipedia)

This album was released at Christmas, 2000 (just around the time the lounge music scene was about dead in popularity). It focuses more on the blues than the lounge. What you get is a respectable Christmas CD that’s very good to listen to.

My favorite tracks on this album include “Christmas Time”, “Every Day Will Be Like A Holiday”, and “All I Ask For Christmas”. However, the standout track is their version of “White Christmas”. Irving Berlin never liked rock bands to perform his signature song (just ask Elvis). But if he heard this version (think a softer Otis Redding version), Berlin might have changed his mind. (by christmasyuleblog.blogspot)

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Personnel:
Gareth Best (guitar)
Samuel Burckhardt (saxophone)
Ross Bon (vocals, harmonica)
Bob Carter (drums)
Mark Colby (saxophone)
Jonathan Doyle (saxophone)
Donny Nichilo (piano)
Brett Simons (bass)
Jimmy Sutton (bass)
Simon Sweet (keyboards)
Jerry DeVivo (saxophone, drums)

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Tracklist:
01. Christmas Time (Mendelson/Guaraldi) 2.32
02. Jingle Bells (Pierpont) 3.43
03. Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday (Jones/Bell) 3.41
04. Just To Be With You (Kalfin) 4.55
05. Good Morning Blues (Leadbelly) 3.21
06. White Christmas (Berlin) 3.24
07. All I Ask For Christmas (Bon) 2.55
08. Ole Santa (Otis) – 4:39
09. They Say It’s Christmas (Setzer) 3.18
10. I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm (Berlin) 3.46
11. Silent Night (Gruber/Mohr) 3.18

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Rachel Portman – Chocolat (OST) (2000)

FrontCover1.jpgChocolat is a 2000 British-American romantic comedy-drama film based on the novel Chocolat by Joanne Harris, and was directed by Lasse Hallström. Adapted by screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs, Chocolat tells the story of a young mother, played by Juliette Binoche, who arrives at the fictional, repressed French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes with her six-year-old daughter and opens La Chocolaterie Maya, a small chocolaterie. She and her chocolate quickly begin to influence the lives of the townspeople in very different and interesting ways.

Filming took place between May and August 2000. The film was shot in the village of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain in Burgundy, France, and on the Rue De L’ancienne Poste in Beynac-et-Cazenac on the Dordogne River in Dordogne, France. The river scenes were filmed at Fonthill Lake at Fonthill Bishop in Wiltshire, England and interior scenes at Shepperton Studios, Surrey, England.[citation needed]

Tray1The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It was also nominated for eight BAFTAs, and four Golden Globes. Judi Dench won a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance in the film.

An unnamed female storyteller narrates the story of Vianne Rocher (Juliette Binoche), an expert chocolatier who drifts across Europe with her daughter Anouk (Victoire Thivisol), following the north wind. At the beginning of the Lenten season in 1959, “fifteen years after the War,” they travel to a quiet French village that closely adheres to tradition, as dominated by the village mayor, the Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina). Just as the villagers begin observing the forty days of Lent, Vianne opens a chocolate shop, much to Reynaud’s displeasure.

Vianne wears more colorful clothing than the village women, is an atheist, and has an illegitimate child. She does not fit in well with the townspeople, but is nevertheless optimistic about her business. Her friendly and alluring nature begins to win the villagers over one by one, causing Reynaud to openly speak against her for tempting the people during a time of abstinence and self-denial. The Comte will not admit that his wife has left him; he is romantically interested in Caroline, but he does not pursue her.

One of the first to fall under the spell of Vianne and her confections is Armande (Judi Dench), her elderly, eccentric landlady. Armande is unhappy that her cold, devoutly pious daughter Caroline (Carrie-Anne Moss) will not let Armande see her grandson Luc MoviePosterbecause Caroline thinks Armande is a “bad influence”. Having lost her husband, Caroline is overly protective of Luc and does not even want her son to play. Vianne arranges for Luc and his grandmother to see each other in the chocolaterie, where they develop a close bond. Caroline later reveals to Vianne that her mother is a diabetic, though Armande continues to eat the chocolate despite her condition.

Vianne also develops a friendship with a troubled woman, Josephine (Lena Olin), who is a victim of brutal beatings by her abusive husband Serge (Peter Stormare). After her husband violently hits her and wounds her head, Josephine leaves him and moves in with Vianne and Anouk. As she begins to work at the chocolate shop and Vianne teaches her her craft, Josephine becomes a self-confident, changed woman. At the same time, under the instruction of Reynaud, Serge, having seemingly changed into a better man, asks Josephine to come back to him. Finally happy and fulfilled on her own, Josephine declines his request. A drunken Serge breaks into the chocolaterie later that night and attempts to attack both women, before Josephine, in a moment of empowerment, knocks him out with a skillet.

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As the rivalry between Vianne and Reynaud intensifies, a band of river gypsies camp out on the outskirts of the village. While most of the town objects to their presence, Vianne embraces them, developing a mutual attraction to the Traveller Roux (Johnny Depp). Together they hold a birthday party for Armande with other village members and gypsies on Roux’s boat. When Caroline sees Luc, who sneaked out to the party, dancing with his grandmother, she begins to see how strict she has been with her son and that his grandmother’s influence in his life may after all be beneficial. After the party, Josephine and Anouk fall asleep on a boat, while Roux and Vianne make love. Late that night, Serge sets fire to the boat where Josephine and Anouk are sleeping. Both escape unharmed, but Vianne’s faith in the village is shaken. Luc helps Armande home from the party; her death soon after devastates both him and his mother. After the fire, Roux packs up and leaves with his group, much to Vianne’s sadness.

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Serge later visits Reynaud at his home to confess to setting the fire, which Reynaud initially thought was divine intervention: he is horrified at the thought of people almost getting killed as a result. Realizing that Serge is beyond help, and fearing that people would also blame him for the arson, Reynaud demands that Serge leave the village and never come back.

With the return of the North wind, Vianne decides that she cannot win against Reynaud or the strict traditions of the town. She decides to move elsewhere. Anouk refuses to go, and during a scuffle, an urn containing the ashes of Vianne’s mother falls and shatters. After a moment, Vianne goes into her kitchen to see a group of townspeople, who have come to love her and the way she has changed their lives, making chocolate for the festival Vianne had planned for Easter Sunday. Realizing that she has brought change to the town, she decides to stay.

Despite the shifting sentiment in the town, Reynaud remains staunch in his abstinence from pleasures such as chocolate. On the Saturday evening before Easter, he sees Caroline leave the chocolaterie, which devastates him. Convinced now that chocolate will make people stray from their faith, he sneaks into Vianne’s house in order to ruin her preparations for the Easter festival. After accidentally tasting a bit of chocolate that fell on his lips, he finally yields to temptation and devours much of the chocolate in the window display before collapsing into tears and eventually falling asleep. The next day, Vianne awakens the chastened mayor, a mutual respect between them is established, and Pere Henri improvises an inspiring sermon. Both the Easter Sunday sermon and the festival are a success, and the storyteller reveals that Reynaud and Caroline start a relationship half a year later. Josephine takes over running Serge’s café, which she renames Café Armande. Vianne throws her mother’s ashes out the window, which are carried away by the departing north wind.

The unseen storyteller concludes the story: Roux returns in the summer to be with Vianne, who despite her constant need for change resolves to stay, having found a home for herself and her daughter in the village; and her grown-up daughter Anouk herself is the storyteller. (by wikipedia)

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And here´s the soundtrack of this movie.

The soundtrack was nominated for the Academy Award, the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score and the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media.

Director Lasse Hallstrom’s recipe for Chocolat is bittersweet, a tale of human hope and frailty imbued with no small amount of symbolism. It’s a story that requires a deft, sensitive musical touch, and Hallstrom has wisely turned again to English composer Rachel Portman for the honors. As she did on The Legend of Bagger Vance and her previous, Academy Award-nominated collaboration with Hallstrom, The Cider House Rules, Portman walks the fine line between preciousness and delicacy with grace and dignity. The gypsy flavor of Django Reinhardt’s and Stephane Grappelli’s “Minor Swing” sets the story’s place and time, while Portman’s gentle pastoral melodies outline its emotional core, with a few gratifying excursions into more Euro-ethnic music to keep it well-seasoned. The result is another quiet, powerful Portman masterpiece. (by Jerry McCulley)

And you´ll hear a very fine, very special version of the Duke Elltongton classic “Caravan” !

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Rachel Mary Berkeley Portman, OBE (born 11 December 1960) is an English composer who is best known for scoring films.

Portman was born on 11 December 1960 in Haslemere in Surrey, England, the daughter of Sheila Margaret Penelope (née Mowat) Portman and Berkeley Charles Berkeley Portman.

She was educated at Charterhouse School and became interested in music from a young age, beginning composing at the age of 14.

After finishing school, Portman studied Music at Worcester College, Oxford. It was here that her interest in composing music for films began as she started experimenting with writing music for student films and theatre productions.

Rachel Portman’s career in music began with writing music for drama in BBC and Channel 4 films such as Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Mike Leigh’s Four Days in July and Jim Henson’s Storyteller series.

Since then, Portman has written over 100 scores for film, television and theatre, including The Manchurian Candidate (Jonathan Demme), Oliver Twist (Roman Polanski), Hart’s War (Gregory Hoblit), The Legend of Bagger Vance (Robert Redford), Beloved (Jonathan Demme), Benny and Joon (Jeremiah Chechik), Life Is Sweet (Mike Leigh), Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek), Grey Gardens (Michael Sucsy), The Duchess (Saul Dibb), One Day (Lone Scherfig), The Vow (Michael Sucsy), Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Wayne Wang), The Lake House (Alejandro Agresti), Infamous (Douglas McGrath), Mona Lisa Smile (Mike Newell), and The Human Stain (Robert Benton).

Portman is perhaps best known for her music soundtrack compositions in the movies Chocolat and The Cider House Rules.

RachelPortman01Her other works include a children’s opera, The Little Prince (which was later adapted for television) and Little House on the Prairie, a musical based upon the Laura Ingalls Wilder books Little House on the Prairie (2008). Portman was commissioned to write a piece of choral music for the BBC Proms series in August 2007.

Rachel Portman married in 1995 Uberto Pasolini Dall’Onda, with whom she had three daughters, Anna Gwendolen, Giulia Ginerva and Niky Joan Pasolini Dall’Onda.

Portman’s first award was received as the result of scoring “a large body of work” for The Storyteller, for which she received the Anthony Asquith Award from the British Film Institute.

Later, Portman became the first female composer to win an Academy Award in the category of Best Musical or Comedy Score (for Emma in 1996). (Previously, female songwriters Barbra Streisand, in 1977, Buffy Sainte-Marie, in 1983, and Carly Simon, in 1989, each won Oscars, but in the category of Best Original Song). Portman was also nominated for Academy Awards for her scores for The Cider House Rules in 1999 and Chocolat in 2000.

On 19 May 2010, she was given the Richard Kirk Award at the BMI Film & TV Awards for her contributions to film and television music. Portman is the first woman to receive the honour.

Portman was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours.

In 2015 Portman received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special for her work on Bessie. (by wikipedia)

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Personnel:
Unknown orchestra counducted by Jeff Atmajian and Rachel Portman

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Tracklist:
01. Minor Swing (Reinhardt/Grappelli) 2.15
02. Main Titles (Portman) 3.08
03. The Story Of Grandmere (Portman) 4.10
04. Vianne Sets Up Shop (Portman) 1.59
05. Three Women (Portman) 1.03
06. Vianne Confronts The Comte (Portman) 1.23
07. Other Possibilities (Portman) 1.36
08. Guillaume’s Confession (Portman) 1.30
09. Passage Of Time (Portman) 2.33
10. Boycott Immorality (Portman) 4.40
11. Party Preparations (Portman) 1.29
12. Chocolate Sauce (Portman) 0.49
13. Fire (Portman) 2.38
14. Vianne Gazes At The River (Portman) 1.07
15. Mayan Bowl Breaks (Portman) 2.15
16. Taste Of Chocolate (Portman) 3.09
17. Ashes To The Wind / Roux Returns (Portman) 2.20
18. Caravan (Ellington/Tizol) 3.44

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This entry is dedicated to a real wonderful woman called Margarete

Kirsty MacColl – Tropical Brainstorm (2000)

FrontCover1Tropical Brainstorm is the fifth and final studio album by Kirsty MacColl, released in 2000. It was inspired by her trips to Cuba, and many tracks include Spanish or Portuguese lyrics. “Good for Me”, a non-album track co-written with James Knight, was her last song.

Despite the apparent success of the album (certified Silver in the UK), the V2 label dropped MacColl before her death in 2000.

The album was released with three extra tracks in the US. (by wikipedia)

Ewan’s pride was always a folkie in her bones, a singer whose acute arrangements were dulled by prefunk grooves. That’s why the sauciest songs on her Galore best-of sound a little fusty, and also why this Latin-inspired and -flavored return to the studio seemed like nothing to get worked up about. (Remember Rei Momo? By David Byrne? Right.) Making no claims for the clave of her same old Brit backing guys, she soars like she never has anyway. She always had attitude, but whether she’s stalking a fan gone “to a record store/To buy a CD by some other girl not me” or walking all over some Limey masochist in her most impractical shoes, these songs are so loose and raunchy they live the carnival cliche of life-giving rhythm “Mambo de la Luna” stakes its video on. The saxophone-and-autoharp finale is a return to foggy London town even though most of the album takes place there, the non-Latin bonus tracks are letdowns, and MacColl’s death in the Caribbean last December hurts every time she ai-yi-yis about what a slut she turned out to be. (by Robert Christgau)

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This is a very difficult album to critique in a dispassionate way. A singer/songwriter with a nearly perfect bloodline (her father was Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger was her step-mother), Kirsty MacColl had been writing brilliant songs and releasing modestly successful albums since the early ’80s. The last time listeners heard from her, on 1993’s grim Titanic Days, she had just gone through a painful divorce; she swore that she wouldn’t record another album until she could make a happy one. Almost eight years later, she did just that. Tropical Brainstorm is, in part, a celebration of the musical traditions of Cuba, Brazil, and Mexico; mambo and samba rhythms are everywhere, and Latin percussion bumps up against violins, trombones, and nylon-string guitars on almost every track. But the songs’ lyrical themes range more broadly — while “Mambo de la Luna” is all about the flavor of life in Cuba, “England 2, Colombia 0” is a hilarious tale of romantic treachery and “Us Amazonians” a wry depiction of a matriarchal tropical utopia.

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But even when her lyrics cut to the bone, there’s an underlying sense of happiness and good humor that was entirely missing from her last album. And there’s the rub. What makes this album so difficult to approach with much critical distance is the fact that MacColl was killed in a boating accident several months after it was completed; she died in the ocean off the coast of Mexico, one of the places that inspired the exuberant and sweet-natured music on this wonderful record. How to listen to this music in the wake of that fact? With grateful joy, one supposes. And with a gentler gratitude that she was this happy at the end of her life — if Titanic Days had been her last effort, it would have been difficult listening indeed. (by Rick Anderson)

This is the perfect album for a hot summer night … believe me !

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Personnel:
Roy Dodds (percussion)
Ernesto Estruch (piano, violin, background vocals)
Pete Glenister (guitar, programming)
Kirsty MacColl (vocals, autoharp, lap steel guitar)
Chucho Merchán (bass)
Bosco DeOliveira (percussion)
Omar Püente (violin, background vocals)
Dave Ruffy (drums, programming)
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Luiz de Almeida (surdo on 08., guitar on 08. + 12.)
Felix Gonzalez –(background vocals, Cuban rap on 01.)
Lee Groves (additional programming)
Joseph de Jesus (trombone on 06.)
James Knight (saxophone on 13.)
Mark Hinton Stewart (keyboards on 12.)
Ben Storey (trumpet on 02.)

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Tracklist:
01. Mambo De La Luna (MacColl/Glenister/Ruffy) 4.38
02. In These Shoes? (MacColl/Glenister) 3.39
03. Treachery (MacColl/Gouldman) 3.51
04. Here Comes That Man Again (MacColl/Glenister) 4.49
05. Autumngirlsoup (MacColl) 3.54
06. Celestine (MacColl) 3.35
07. England 2 Colombia 0 (MacColl) 3.45
08. Não Esperando (MacColl/Glenister) 4.04
09. Alegria” (MacColl, Ruffy) 2.01
10. Us Amazonians (MacColl/Glenister) 4.09
11. Wrong Again (MacColl) 4.16
12. Designer Life (MacColl/Crouch) 2.35
13. Head (MacColl) 3.56

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In 2000, following her participation in the presentation of a radio programme for the BBC in Cuba, MacColl took a holiday in Cozumel, Mexico, with her sons and her partner, musician James Knight. On 18 December 2000 she and her sons went diving at the Chankanaab reef, part of the National Marine Park of Cozumel, in a designated diving area that watercraft were restricted from entering. With the group was a local veteran divemaster, Iván Díaz. As the group were surfacing from a dive, a powerboat moving at high speed entered the restricted area. MacColl saw the boat coming before her sons did; Louis (then 13) was not in its path, but Jamie (then 15) was. She was able to push him out of the way (he sustained minor head and rib injuries), but she was struck by the boat which ran over her. MacColl suffered severe chest injuries and died instantly. MacColl’s body was repatriated to the United Kingdom, and was cremated after a humanist funeral at Mortlake Crematorium in Kew. (by wikipedia)

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Joe Bonamassa – A New Day Yesterday (2000)

FrontCover1A New Day Yesterday is the debut studio album by American blues-rock musician Joe Bonamassa. Recorded at Pyramid Recording Studios in Ithaca, New York, it was produced by Tom Dowd and released on October 24, 2000 by independent record label Okeh in tandem with Epic Records and 550 Music. The album registered at number 9 on the US Billboard Top Blues Albums chart and spawned the singles “Miss You, Hate You” in 2001 and “Colour and the Shape” in 2002.

Taking its title from the song of the same name by British progressive rock band Jethro Tull, a recording of which is featured on the album, A New Day Yesterday features six original tracks written by Bonamassa and others, in addition to six cover versions of songs by classic blues and rock artists. The album was reviewed positively by critics, who praised Bonamassa’s performances throughout on both the original and cover songs, identifying it as a strong debut release.

Joe Bonamassa recorded his debut album at Pyramid Recording Studios in Ithaca, New York, working with producer Tom Dowd, and engineers Alex Perialas and Jason Arnold. His backing band included bassist Greg “Creamo” Liss and drummer Tony Cintron, with a number of guest musicians also contributing to the recordings (including guitarists Rick Derringer and Leslie West, and keyboardists Gregg Allman and David Borden). A New Day Yesterday was released on October 24, 2000 by Okeh in tandem with Epic Records and 550 Music.[2] “Miss You, Hate You” was released as the first single from the album in 2001, including a music video which received airplay on shows including Chicago, Illinois-based JBTV and Brockton, Massachusetts-based Rage. “Colour and the Shape” was issued as a promotional single in 2002.

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After an initial low-key release, A New Day Yesterday “caught the ears of veteran record executives”, according to CNN’s Simon Umlauf, and was rereleased in September 2001 by Medalist Entertainment.[5] Later reissues would follow in 2004 and 2009 by J&R Adventures (Bonamassa’s own record label), in 2005 by Provogue Records and in 2012 by Mascot Records.[6][7] All later releases include the original full-length version of “Miss You, Hate You” as a bonus track.[6][7] The album was promoted on a North American concert tour throughout 2001, the final date of which (December 12, 2001) was recorded for the 2002 live album A New Day Yesterday Live.

Despite being released almost two years earlier, A New Day Yesterday debuted at number 9 on the US Billboard Top Blues Albums chart in the week of August 17, 2002. Bonamassa’s second studio album So, It’s Like That would enter the chart at number 2 just two weeks later. The album has the lowest peak position on the chart, with all of Bonamassa’s future releases reaching higher than number 9.

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A New Day Yesterday received positive reviews from critics. AllMusic’s Eduardo Rivadavia described the album as “a fine debut by guitar ace Joe Bonamassa”, claiming that it proves the guitarist and vocalist to be “much more than a traditional bluesman”.[12] Rivadavia highlighted several songs on the album, including “A New Day Yesterday”, the cover of which he dubbed “a jaw-dropping performance”, the singles “Miss You, Hate You” and “Colour and the Shape”, which he described as a “jolting double whammy” and “the most obvious standouts”, and “If Heartaches Were Nickels”, which he suggested featured “a tense, riveting performance”.[12] In a review of the album’s lead single “Miss You, Hate You”, Chuck Taylor of Billboard magazine praised Bonamassa as “a bold talent, who rises above narrow radio formatics”, outlining that the song “throws in all the ingredients of a classic rock moment, led by a thrush of driving guitars … and a vocal that sounds like sandpaper against velcro”. (by wikipedia)

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Personnel:
Joe Bonamassa (guitar, vocals)
Tony Cintron (drums)
Creamo Liss (bass)
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Gregg Allman (vocals, organ on 10.)
Len Bonamassa (guitar on 09.)
David Borden (keyboards on 08.)
Rick Derringer (vocals, guitar on 06.)
Leslie West (vocals, guitar on 10.)
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background vocals on 05. + 13.)
Annie Burns – Jeannie Burns

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Tracklist:
01. Cradle Rock (Gallagher) 3.50
02. Walk In My Shadows (Rodgers/Kossoff/Kirke/Fraser) 3.27
03. A New Day Yesterday (Anderson) 4.45
04. I Know Where I Belong (Bonamassa) 5.38
05. Miss You, Hate You (rock radio remix) (Bonamassa/Feldman) 3.39
06. Nuthin’ I Wouldn’t Do (For A Woman Like You) (Kooper) 5.10
07. Colour And The Shape (Bonamassa) 5.03
08. Headaches To Heartbreaks (Bonamassa) 4.56
09. Trouble Waiting (Bonamassa/Steve Tyrell/Stephanie Tyrell) 3.25
10. If Heartaches Were Nickels (Haynes) 7.51
11. Current Situation (Bonamassa) 3.35
12. Don’t Burn Down That Bridge (Jones/Wells) 4.21
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13. Miss You, Hate You 8long version) (Rock Radio Remix) 6.04

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Toni Braxton – The Heat (2000)

frontcover1The Heat is the third studio album by American recording artist Toni Braxton. Released in the United States on April 25, 2000 by LaFace Records, the album marked Braxton’s departure from her ballads in favor of a more urban sound. Most of the songs (including the nearly instrumental “The Art of Love”) were written and produced by Braxton and her husband Keri Lewis (a former member of Mint Condition), two ballads were penned by Diane Warren, and collaborations featured rappers Dr. Dre and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes.

The Heat opened at number two on the Billboard 200 chart selling 194,448 units in its first week. It was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on October 13, 2000, with sales of over 2.2 million copies within the U.S. Additionally, the album was nominated for Best R&B Album at the 2001 Grammy Awards, while lead single “He Wasn’t Man Enough” won for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and was nominated for Best R&B Song.
After the success of her sophomore studio album, Secrets (1996), which spawned Braxton’s signature song and biggest hit of her career, “Un-Break My Heart”, and sold over 15 million copies worldwide, Braxton filed a suit to be released from her contract with Arista and LaFace records in Los Angeles Superior Court, citing a law that states employers may not enforce labor or service after seven years. After a year of legal issues, Braxton settled her lawsuit with LaFace Records, with plans to release a new album in May 1999.
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In February 1999, Babyface told MTV News that, “We’re getting ready head back in the studio with Toni and we’ve got everything worked out, and we’re really excited about getting back into the studio, getting back to the music.” However, only in January 2000, during an interview with CNN.com, Toni revealed that the album was going to be released in March 2000, while stating, “Some of the producers on the album are, of course Babyface, R. Kelly, David Foster, Keith Crouch and Keri Lewis of Mint Condition, just to name a few,” while also revealing collaborations with Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes from TLC and Dr. Dre.
“The Heat” is built on solid ballads and smoldering, mid-tempo dance numbers, as noted by Allmusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine. Colin Ross of PopMatters noted that, “By taking a more active role in the writing and production of the set, Toni’s material begins to be constructed around her voice rather than the latest producer’s sound.”
The album’s first single and opening track, “He Wasn’t Man Enough”, was written and produced by Rodney Jerkins. The R&B song, with synth-funk bassline and Jerkins’ taut beats and harp,[8] has Toni warning a female friend not to marry a man the singer knows all too well[9] and that came back begging for forgiveness. On the title track, “The Heat”, co-written by Keri Lewis, was described as “an infectious mid-tempo groove.” Lyrically, the song talks about wanting to “get it on” and enjoying coed skinny-dipping.[10] Third track, “Spanish Guitar” ,was written by Diane Warren (who wrote “Un-Break My Heart”) and was considered a “latin ballad”, inspired by “Un-Break My Heart”. Lyrically, the song has the singer inviting an alluring stranger to play her “through the night” like a “Spanish Guitar.”
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The fourth track “Just Be a Man About It” is a telephone breakup song, with Toni once again questioning the status of a partner’s manhood and Dr. Dre playing the wayward lover breaking the news to her, while fifth track, “Gimme Some”, features Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and was named “an R&B/summer ‘jerky funker’ track”, with Braxton demanding intercourse and oral sex from a man.
“I’m Still Breathing” is another song written by Diane Warren and talks about a woman stung by a painful breakup who summons strength, while “Fairy Tale”, co-written and produced by Babyface, is an “acoustic piece” where the singer implies that being “just friends” may be healthier than a “love affair.” Pillow talk and ecstatic moaning characterize “The Art of Love,” a track that features no discernible lyrics, Braxton’s sighs and moans over undulating rhythms”. On “Speaking in Tongues,” a “sensual affair” with stickerwarm harmonies, spiritual expressions are co-opted and woven amid passionate propositions including, “Talk dirty to me.” The tenth track “Maybe” has rapid-fire lyrics, informed by hip-hop vocal rhythms and lyrically discuss the singer debating —in rapturous detail— whether or not to have drinks and sex again with her boyfriend (“Should I give him some/Will he make me hot/Will he hit the spot I love a lot”, she sings). The eleventh track “You’ve Been Wrong” was considered “plodding”, while the twelfth and final track, “Never Just For a Ring”, finds Braxton questioning her lovers lack of fidelity the song features the embittered choral hook “Why?, when?, where?, how?, who?, what?”, made you go off and do this crazy thing. (by Wikipedia)
Toni Braxton went through a lot in the years separating her star-making Toni Braxton and her 2000 comeback The Heat. Yes, she became a star, but she also went through a painful bankruptcy that delayed her sequel for years. Fortunately, you wouldn’t be able to tell that there was so much behind-the-scenes drama from The Heat — it’s a confident, assured, sexy effort that reaffirms Braxton’s status as one of the finest contemporary mainstream soul singers. She may not be as street-smart as Mary J. Blige, nor does she push the boundaries of the genre the way TLC does, but she has a full, rich voice that instantly lends her songs a sense of maturity and sensuality, especially since she never, ever oversings or misjudges her material. And, while that material can occasionally be a little generic, much of The Heat is built on solid ballads and smoldering, mid-tempo dance numbers. Producers as diverse as Babyface, Rodney Jerkins, Daryl Simmons, Teddy Bishop, and David Foster are responsible for various tracks on the album, which is typical for a big-budget, superstar release like this, but rarely are the tracks quite as consistent and cohesive as they are here.
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The skittering beats of “He Wasn’t Man Enough” and “Gimme Some” are every bit as effective as the simmering title track or ballads “I’m Still Breathing” and “Spanish Guitar” — or “Just Be a Man About It,” an instant classic telephone breakup song, with Dr. Dre playing the wayward lover breaking the news to Ms. Braxton. True, The Heat slightly runs out of momentum toward the end, but there aren’t many dull spots on the record — it’s all stylish, sultry, seductive, appealing urban contemporary soul that confirms Braxton’s prodigious talents. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)
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Personnel:
Teddy Bishop (keyboards, programming)
Toni Braxton (vocals, keyboards)
Dorian “Soul Dog” Daniels (keyboards, bass)
Nathan East (bass)
Ray Edwards (keyboards)
Greg Phillinganes (piano)
John Smith (guitar)
Scott Storch (keyboards, programming)
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Dr. Dre (additional vocals)
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes (rap)
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Background vocals:
Trina Braxton – Deborah Killings

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Tracklist:
01. He Wasn’t Man Enough  (R.Jerkins/F.Jerkins III/Daniels/Mason, Jr) 4.21
02. The Heat (Lewis/Braxton) 3.30
03. Spanish Guitar (Warren/Foster) 4.47
04. Just Be A Man About It  (Braxton/Austin/Bishop/Cox) 4.50
05. Gimme Some (featuring Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes) (Alexander/Braxton/Babyface/Lopes/Pha  4.03
06. I’m Still Breathing  (Warren/Foster 4.15
07. Fairy Tale”  Marc Harris, Tommy Sims, Babyface  Babyface  4:22
08. The Art Of Love  Toni Braxton, Keri Lewis  Braxton, Lewis  3:47
09. Speaking In Tongues (Braxton/Lewis) 3.46
10. Maybe (Braxton/Crouch/Gause/Jamison/Smith) 3.08
11. You’ve Been Wrong  (Braxton/Brian Casey/Brandon Casey/Bishop/Hicks/Bell/Creed) 3.45
12. Never Just For A Ring (Simmons/Braxton/Daniels) 4.01
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