Sam Lay Blues Band – Rush Hour Blues (2000)

FrontCover1.jpgSam Lay (born March 20, 1935, Birmingham, Alabama) is an American drummer and vocalist who has been performing since the late 1950s. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

Lay began his career in 1957, as the drummer for the Original Thunderbirds. He soon after became the drummer for the harmonica player Little Walter.

In the early 1960s, Lay began recording and performing with prominent blues musicians, including Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, Eddie Taylor, John Lee Hooker, Junior Wells, Bo Diddley, Magic Sam, Jimmy Rogers, Earl Hooker, and Muddy Waters. The recordings Lay made during this time, along with Waters’s album Fathers and Sons, recorded in 1969, are considered to be among the definitive works of Waters and Wolf.[citation needed]

In the mid-1960s, Lay joined the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and recorded and toured extensively with them. Bob Dylan used Lay as his drummer when he introduced electric rock at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. Lay also recorded with Dylan, notably on the album Highway 61 Revisited (Lay drummed on the track “Highway 61”; the drummer on most of the other tracks was Bobby Gregg)

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Lay’s drumming can be heard on over 40 recordings for Chess Records, with many notable blues performers. He toured the major blues festivals in the US and Europe with the Chess Records All-Stars.

In the late 1980s Lay was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, in Memphis. He has also been inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame, in Los Angeles, and the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, in Cleveland. He was nominated eight times for the coveted W. C. Handy Award for Best Instrumentalist, including a nomination in 2005.

Lay made two albums with his own band, released by Appaloosa Records and Evidence Records, and two recordings for Alligator Records with the Siegel-Schwall Band. His own album, Sam Lay in Bluesland, released in 1969 by Blue Thumb Records, was produced by Michael Bloomfield and Nick Gravenites.

He was nominated in 2000 for a Grammy Award for his performances on the CD Howlin’ SamLay02.jpgWolf Tribute. He was honored by the Recording Academy in January 2002 with a Legends and Heroes Award for his significant musical contributions. He was prominently featured in the PBS television documentary History of the Blues, broadcast in seven episodes, produced by the Academy Award–winning director Martin Scorsese. Lay shot many home movies of fellow blues performers in small Chicago venues in the late 1950s and 1960s,[5] parts of which were included in History of the Blues and the WTTW television production Record Row, by the filmmaker Michael MacAlpin.

In 2009, Lay worked alongside Johnnie Marshall. In 2014, a video documentary detailing his life, Sam Lay in Bluesland, was created.

Lay was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, in 2015. (by wikipedia)

Sam Lay deserves to have a red carpet unrolled before him when he walks away from his drum kit; he’s one of the outstanding drummers of the modern blues era. Rush Hour Blues, recorded in Nashville in 1996 under the direction of ace guitarist Fred James, is Lay’s latest effort. He sings here in a forthright manner over the rhythmic background provided by his masterful drums, Celia Ann Price’s organ and piano, James’s second guitar, and a string bass plucked by James’s sidekick Bob Kommersmith. While his singing isn’t as strong and steady as in the past, it retains all of its emotional authenticity. The album’s songs mostly concern women, nothing new there. Remakes of venerable Chicago blues numbers are more interesting than the new compositions. On Muddy Waters’s “Blow Wind Blow,” Lay and company expertly balance relaxation and exhilaration. They also inject new life into two more covers, Howlin’ Wolf’s “Baby How Long” and Big Boy Crudup’s “Second Man.” In sum, Rush Hour Blues is worth hearing. (by Frank-John Hadley)

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I had never heard of Sam Lay until driving home late one night and there he was at the far left end of the dial. It was an instrumental number called “midnight Drag”. That song prompted me to take a chance on this album and I was surprised at how good this album is. The style is Chicago blues, with an emphasis on the shuffle. Sam is one of the few singing blues drummers around, and he has been playing since the 50’s. He really works the shuffle well, and is backed by very tight band. The lead guitar work of Larry Burton is outstanding, and the keyboards played by Celia Ann Price are equally good. There is a good variety of tunes, from the classic chicago style opening number to the raucous “Rush Hour Blues”, and ending with the jazzier instrumental “midnight drag”. If you enjoy the blues this is one quality album worth getting. (an amazon customer)

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Personnel:
Larry Burton (guitar)
Fred James (guitar)
Bob Kommersmith (bass)
Sam Lay (drums, vocals)
Celia Ann Price (keyboards)
Greg “Fingers” Taylor (harmonica)
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Tracklist:
01.Baby How Long (Burnette) 3.32
02. Second Man (Cruddup) 5.55
03. I’ll Be The Judge Of That (Bradford/Fleming) 2.58
04. I Like Women (James/Brandon) 3.43
05. Blow Wind Blow (Morgenfield) 3.54
06. I Got Two Woman (Burton) 4.09
07. Somebody Gotta Do It (Smith/Whiting) 3.13
08. Mama And Papa Hopkins (Hopkins/McCormick) 5.50
09. Rush Hour Blues (Bradford/Fleming) 3.26
10. I’m Gonna Shoot Her (Reed) 4.25
11. Pure Grain Alcohol (Curry) 2.45
12. Midnight Drag (Jackson) 3.41

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Madonna – Music (2000)

FrontCover1.jpgMusic is the eighth studio album by American singer Madonna, released on September 18, 2000 by Maverick and Warner Bros. Records. Following the success of her previous album Ray of Light (1998), she intended to embark on a tour. However, her record company encouraged her to return to the studio and record new music before going on the road. Her collaboration with producers Mirwais Ahmadzaï and William Orbit resulted a more experimental direction for the album. Music has an overall dance-pop and electronica vibe, with influences from rock, country and folk. The album was mostly recorded at Sarm West and East Studios in London, England. Elaborating a country theme for the album, Madonna reinvented her image as a cowgirl.

Music was generally acclaimed by most critics and earned five Grammy Award nominations, ultimately winning one for Best Recording Package given to art director Kevin Reagan. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it number 452 on the magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The record was also a commercial success, debuting at number one in over 23 countries across the world and selling four million copies in its first ten days of release. In the United States, Music debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with first week sales of 420,000 units, making it her first album to top the chart in more than a decade since Like a Prayer (1989). It was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for three million units shipped in the United States and has sold over 11 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling albums during the 2000s century.

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The album was promoted with her concerts at Brixton Academy and Roseland Ballroom, as well as several television performances such as the 2000 MTV Europe Music Awards and the 43rd Grammy Awards. It was also supported by the Drowned World Tour, which grossed over US$75 million, making it the highest-grossing tour by a solo act of 2001 (the fourth overall). Three singles were released from the album. The lead single, “Music”, topped the record charts in 25 countries worldwide and became Madonna’s 12th number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100. It was followed with another Hot 100 top-five hit “Don’t Tell Me” and “What It Feels Like for a Girl” which attained the top-ten position in several countries worldwide. “Impressive Instant” was released as promotional single, peaking at number one on the Hot Dance Club Play chart.

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For the artwork for Music, Madonna wore a blue shirt, jeans, red boots and a blue cowboy hat. In it, she faces the camera, while in the background a car and a gas station are seen. The country was a constant theme throughout the design, as the album’s title, which was a logo that simulated a buckle, showing the silhouette of a cowboy while riding a horse and a yellow background; the bright colors give a sharp contrast compared to the photograph. Photo sessions were conducted by Jean Baptiste Mondino, who had worked previously with the singer on photoshoots and music videos.[25] According to Fouz-Hernández, the artwork is “a complete celebration to the field” western United States. He also added that it “is camp, notably Madonna’s combination of Western clothing with expensive shoes and bright red high heels. In particular, there is a clear evocation of Judy Garland – a major gay icon – in the artwork”. The art direction and design for the album were done by Kevin Reagan.

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The pictures were shot in Los Angeles, California, in April 2000. In an interview with CNN’s Style with Elsa Klensch, Mondino said that he was the one who had the idea of the western themes for the album, and also stated: “[Madonna] wasn’t sure at first, but I told her that if she didn’t like it I won’t charge her. But she loved the final result!”. Madonna also decided to use her new country style during her public appearances for Music’s promotion; including jeans, shirts and cowboy hats. On her next tour in 2001, Madonna included a segment based entirely on this ambient. Meanwhile, Fouz-Hernández explained that “in this appearance Madonna may be parodying and criticizing Country, which symbolizes among other things, the supremacy of the white man, the ambition of the European pioneers and the American Dream. However, we do not realize that while recognizing the importance that the country has in American popular culture, and joins a long list of artists who have done this previously. Despite this, the cowgirl image of Madonna has become one of her most recognized reinventions. (by wikipedia)

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Filled with vocoders, stylish neo-electro beats, dalliances with trip-hop, and, occasionally, eerie synthesized atmospherics, Music blows by in a kaleidoscopic rush of color, technique, style, and substance. It has so many layers that it’s easily as self-aware and earnest as Ray of Light, where her studiousness complemented a record heavy on spirituality and reflection. Here, she mines that territory occasionally, especially as the record winds toward its conclusion, but she applies her new tricks toward celebrations of music itself. That’s not only true of the full-throttle dance numbers but also for ballads like “I Deserve It” and “Nobody’s Perfect,” where the sentiments are couched in electronic effects and lolling, rolling beats. Ultimately, that results in the least introspective or revealing record Madonna has made since Like a Prayer, yet that doesn’t mean she doesn’t invest herself in the record. Working with a stable of producers, she has created an album that is her most explicitly musical and restlessly creative since, well, Like a Prayer.

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She may have sacrificed some cohesion for that willful creativity but it’s hard to begrudge her that, since so much of the album works. If, apart from the haunting closer “Gone,” the Orbit collaborations fail to equal Ray of Light or “Beautiful Stranger,” they’re still sleekly admirable, and they’re offset by the terrific Guy Sigsworth/Mark “Spike” Stent midtempo cut “What It Feels Like for a Girl” and Madonna’s thriving partnership with Mirwais. This team is responsible for the heart of the record, with such stunners as the intricate, sensual, folk-psych “Don’t Tell Me,” the eerily seductive “Paradise (Not for Me),” and the thumping title track, which sounds funkier, denser, sexier with each spin. Whenever she works with Mirwais, Music truly comes alive with the spark and style. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

Okay, that´s really not my kind of music … but I can recommend her version if the Don McLean song “American Pie” … one of the finest ballads in the history of Rock … Even her video-clip is a good one.

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Personnel:
Mirwais Ahmadzaï (keyboards, programming)
Madonna (vocals)
Guy Sigsworth (guitar, keyboards, programming)
Sean Spuehler (programming)
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Mirwais Ahmadzaï (guitar on 04. + 07.)
William Ørbit (keyboards, guitar on 03. 05. + 10., background vocals on 03. + 05.)
Steve Sidelnyk (drums on 03., 05. +  10.)
Paul Stacey (guitar on 10.)

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Tracklist:
01. Music (Madonna/Ahmadzaï) 3.45
02. Impressive Instant (Madonna/Ahmadzaï) 3.37
03. Runaway Lover (Madonna/Orbit) 4.47
04. I Deserve It (Madonna/Ahmadzaï) 4.23
05. Amazing (Madonna/Orbit) 3.43
06. Nobody’s Perfect (Madonna/Ahmadzaï) 4.59
07. Don’t Tell Me (Madonna/Ahmadzaï/Henry) 4.40
08. What It Feels Like For A Girl (Madonna/Sigsworth/Torn) 4.44
09. Paradise (Not For Me) (Madonna/Ahmadzaï) 6.33
10. Gone (Madonna/LeGassick/Young) 3.29
11. American Pie (McLean) 4.36
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12. American Pie (A Long Long Time Remix) (McLean) 6.08

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A long, long time ago
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while

But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step
I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died

So bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
And them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’ “This’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die”

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Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Now, do you believe in rock ‘n’ roll
Can music save your mortal soul
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

Well, I know that you’re in love with him
‘Cause I saw you dancin’ in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues
I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died

I started singin’ bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
Them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’ “This’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die”

Now, for ten years we’ve been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rollin’ stone
But that’s not how it used to be
When the jester sang for the king and queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
And a voice that came from you and me

Oh, and while the king was looking down
The jester stole his thorny crown
The courtroom was adjourned
No verdict was returned
And while Lenin read a book on Marx
A quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died

We were singin’ bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
Them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’ “This’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die”

Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast
It landed foul on the grass
The players tried for a forward pass
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast

Now, the halftime air was sweet perfume
While sergeants played a marching tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance
‘Cause the players tried to take the field
The marching band refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?

We started singin’ bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
Them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
And singin’ “This’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die”

Oh, and there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again
So come on, Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
‘Cause fire is the Devil’s only friend

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan spell
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died

He was singin’ bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
Them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
And singin’ “This’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die”

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play

And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died

And they were singin’ bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
And them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’ “This’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die”

They were singin’ bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
Them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’ “This’ll be the day that I die”

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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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