Green Day – American Idiot (2004)

FrontCover1Green Day is an American rock band formed in the East Bay of California in 1987 by lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, together with bassist and backing vocalist Mike Dirnt. For most of the band’s career, they have been a power trio[1] with drummer Tré Cool, who replaced John Kiffmeyer in 1990 before the recording of the band’s second studio album, Kerplunk (1991). Touring guitarist Jason White became a full-time member in 2012, but returned to his touring role in 2016. Before taking its current name in 1989, Green Day was called Sweet Children, and they were part of the late 1980s/early 1990s Bay Area punk scene that emerged from the 924 Gilman Street club in Berkeley, California. The band’s early releases were with the independent record label Lookout! Records. In 1994, their major-label debut Dookie, released through Reprise Records, became a breakout success and eventually shipped over 10 million copies in the U.S. Alongside fellow California punk bands Bad Religion, the Offspring, Rancid, and Social Distortion, Green Day is credited with popularizing mainstream interest in punk rock in the U.S.

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Though the albums Insomniac (1995), Nimrod (1997), and Warning (2000) did not match the success of Dookie, they were still successful, with the former two reaching double platinum status, while the latter achieved gold. Green Day’s seventh album, a rock opera called American Idiot (2004), found popularity with a younger generation, selling six million copies in the U.S. Their next album, 21st Century Breakdown, was released in 2009 and achieved the band’s best chart performance. It was followed by a trilogy of albums, ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, and ¡Tré!, released in September, November, and December 2012, respectively. The trilogy did not perform as well as expected commercially, in comparison to their previous albums, largely due to lack of promotion and Armstrong entering rehab. Their twelfth studio album, Revolution Radio, was released in October 2016 and became their third to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The band’s thirteenth studio album, Father of All Motherfuckers, was released on February 7, 2020.

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Green Day has sold more than 75 million records worldwide,[2] making them one of the world’s best-selling artists. The group has been nominated for 20 Grammy awards and has won five of them with Best Alternative Album for Dookie, Best Rock Album for American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown, Record of the Year for “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, and Best Musical Show Album for American Idiot: The Original Broadway Cast Recording.

In 2010, a stage adaptation of American Idiot debuted on Broadway. The musical was nominated for three Tony Awards: Best Musical, Best Scenic Design, and Best Lighting Design, winning the latter two. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, their first year of eligibility. Members of the band have collaborated on the side projects Pinhead Gunpowder, The Network, Foxboro Hot Tubs, The Longshot, and The Coverups. They have also worked on solo careers. (wikipedia)

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American Idiot is the seventh studio album by American rock band Green Day, released on September 21, 2004, by Reprise Records. The album was produced by Rob Cavallo in collaboration with Green Day, an arrangement the group have been using since they signed with a major label. Recording sessions for American Idiot were made at Studio 880, in Oakland and Ocean Way Recording in Hollywood, both in California, between 2003 and 2004. A concept album, dubbed a “punk rock opera” by the band members, American Idiot follows the story of Jesus of Suburbia, a lower-middle-class American adolescent anti-hero. The album expresses the disillusionment and dissent of a generation that came of age in a period shaped by tumultuous events such as 9/11 and the Iraq War. In order to accomplish this, the band used unconventional techniques for themselves, including transitions between connected songs and some long, chaptered, creative compositions presenting the album themes.

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Following the disappointing sales of their previous album Warning (2000), the band took a break before beginning what they had planned to be their next album, Cigarettes and Valentines. However, recording was cut short when the master tapes were stolen; following this, the band made the decision to start their next album from scratch. The result was a more societally critical, politically charged record which returned to the band’s punk rock sound following the more folk- and pop-inspired Warning, with additional influences that were not explored on their older punk albums. Additionally, the band underwent an “image change”, wearing red and black uniforms onstage, to add more theatrical presence to the album.

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American Idiot became one of the most anticipated releases of 2004. It marked a career comeback for Green Day, charting in 27 countries, reaching for the first time the top spot on the Billboard 200 for the group and peaking at number one in 18 other countries. It has sold over 16 million copies worldwide, making it the second best-selling album for the band (behind their 1994 major-label debut, Dookie) and one of the best-selling albums of the decade. It was later certified 6× Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in 2013. The album spawned five successful singles: the titular track, “American Idiot”, “Holiday”, “Wake Me Up When September Ends”, “Jesus of Suburbia” and the Grammy Award for Record of the Year winner “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”.

American Idiot was very well received critically. It was nominated for Album of the Year and won the Award for Best Rock Album at the 2005 Grammy Awards. It was also nominated for Best Album at the Europe Music Awards and the Billboard Music Awards, winning the former. Its success inspired a Broadway musical, a documentary and a planned feature film adaptation. Rolling Stone placed it at 225 on their 2012 list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”, and again in 2020, at 248. (wikipedia)

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It’s a bit tempting to peg Green Day’s sprawling, ambitious, brilliant seventh album, American Idiot, as their version of a Who album, the next logical step forward from the Kinks-inspired popcraft of their underrated 2000 effort, Warning, but things aren’t quite that simple. American Idiot is an unapologetic, unabashed rock opera, a form that Pete Townshend pioneered with Tommy, but Green Day doesn’t use that for a blueprint as much as they use the Who’s mini-opera “A Quick One, While He’s Away,” whose whirlwind succession of 90-second songs isn’t only emulated on two song suites here, but provides the template for the larger 13-song cycle. But the Who are only one of many inspirations on this audacious, immensely entertaining album.

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The story of St. Jimmy has an arc similar to Hüsker Dü’s landmark punk-opera Zen Arcade, while the music has grandiose flourishes straight out of both Queen and Rocky Horror Picture Show (the ’50s pastiche “Rock and Roll Girlfriend” is punk rock Meat Loaf), all tied together with a nervy urgency and a political passion reminiscent of the Clash, or all the anti-Reagan American hardcore bands of the ’80s. These are just the clearest touchstones for American Idiot, but reducing the album to its influences gives the inaccurate impression that this is no more than a patchwork quilt of familiar sounds, when it’s an idiosyncratic, visionary work in its own right. First of all, part of Green Day’s appeal is how they have personalized the sounds of the past, making time-honored guitar rock traditions seem fresh, even vital. With their first albums, they styled themselves after first-generation punk they were too young to hear firsthand, and as their career progressed, the group not only synthesized these influences into something distinctive, but chief songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong turned into a muscular, versatile songwriter in his own right.

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Warning illustrated their growing musical acumen quite impressively, but here, the music isn’t only tougher, it’s fluid and, better still, it fuels the anger, disillusionment, heartbreak, frustration, and scathing wit at the core of American Idiot. And one of the truly startling things about American Idiot is how the increased musicality of the band is matched by Armstrong’s incisive, cutting lyrics, which effectively convey the paranoia and fear of living in American in days after 9/11, but also veer into moving, intimate small-scale character sketches. There’s a lot to absorb here, and cynics might dismiss it after one listen as a bit of a mess when it’s really a rich, multi-faceted work, one that is bracing upon the first spin and grows in stature and becomes more addictive with each repeated play. Like all great concept albums, American Idiot works on several different levels.

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It can be taken as a collection of great songs — songs that are as visceral or as poignant as Green Day at their best, songs that resonate outside of the larger canvas of the story, as the fiery anti-Dubya title anthem proves — but these songs have a different, more lasting impact when taken as a whole. While its breakneck, freewheeling musicality has many inspirations, there really aren’t many records like American Idiot (bizarrely enough, the Fiery Furnaces’ Blueberry Boat is one of the closest, at least on a sonic level, largely because both groups draw deeply from the kaleidoscopic “A Quick One”). In its musical muscle and sweeping, politically charged narrative, it’s something of a masterpiece, and one of the few — if not the only — records of 2004 to convey what it feels like to live in the strange, bewildering America of the early 2000s. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Billie Joe Armstrong (guitar, vocals, piano)
Tré Cool (drums, percussion, background vocals; vocals on 12.4.)
Mike Dirnt (bass, background vocals, vocals on 12.3.)
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Rob Cavallo (piano)
Jason Freese (saxophone)
Kathleen Hanna (vocals on 10.)

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Tracklist:
01. American Idiot 2.54
02. Jesus Of Suburbia 9.07
02.1. Jesus Of Suburbia 1.51
02.2. City Of The Damned 1.51
02.3. I Don’t Care 1.43
02.4. Dearly Beloved 1.05
02.5. Tales Of Another Broken Home 2.38
03. Holiday 3.52
04. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams 4.20
05. Are We The Waiting 2.42
06. St. Jimmy 2.55
07. Give Me Novacaine 3.25
08. She’s A Rebel 2.00
09. Extraordinary Girl 3.33
10. Letterbomb 4.05
11. Wake Me Up When September Ends 4.45
12. Homecoming 9.17
12.1. The Death Of St. Jimmy 2.24
12.2. East 12th St.1.38
12.3. Nobody Likes You 1.21
12.4. Rock And Roll Girlfriend 0.44
12.5. We’re Coming Home Again 3.11
13. Whatsername 4.12
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14. Shoplifter (single track) 1.51
15. Governator (single track) 2.32

Music: Billie Joe Armstrong – Tré Cool – Mike Dirnt
Lyrics: Billie Joe Armstrong, except
Mike Dirnt on 12.3. and Tré Cool on 12.4.

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More from Green Day:
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The official website:
Website

Renaud Garcia-Fons – Entremundo (2004)

FrontCover1Renaud Garcia-Fons (born December 24, 1962) is a highly accomplished French upright-bass player and composer.

Garcia-Fons started his musical studies at an early age. At five years old he picked up playing the piano, switched to classical guitar at eight, then turned to rock in his teens, and finally settling for the upright bass when he was 16. He got formal musical training at the Conservatoire de Paris, where he studied with François Rabbath, who taught him his special technique of playing arco.

Garcia-Fons is known for his melodic sense and his viola-like col arco sound; he is sometimes referred to as “the Paganini of double bass.” Garcia-Fons has been deeply influenced by his mentor, the bassist François Rabbath.

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He started playing jazz with the band of trumpeter Roger Guérin, and thereafter had many collaborators, including symphony orchestras, jazz groups, and a trio. In 1987-93, he was part of the French all-double bass ensemble ‘L’Orchestre de Contrebasses’. He remained with them for six years, also appearing with the ‘Orchestre National de Jazz’ directed by Claude Barthélemy during some of this time. Enja Records released his debut solo album Légendes (1992). Alboreá (1995) was his next album release, featuring his quartet including Jean-Louis Matinier (accordion), Jacques Mahieux (drums), and Yves Torchinsky (bass).

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His third album, 1998’s Oriental Bass, featured his own compositions and was well received in the press. Next he combined with accordionist Jean-Louis Matinier on the album Fuera (1999). On many occasions he is accompanied by a variety of instruments, including guitar, lute, derbouka, flutes, trombone, and accordion. Garcia-Fons has collaborated with jazz musicians like Jean-Louis Matinier, Michael Riessler, Sylvain Luc, Nguyên Lê, and Michel Godard, and contributed to recordings of Gerardo Núñez and to Middle Eastern players such as Kudsi Erguner, Dhafer Youssef, and Cheb Mami.

In his musical journey to meet world music, Renaud Garcia-Fons is interested in oriental music and more particularly that of the master of Iranian lute tanbur Ostad Elahi, including finding a source of inspiration for his compositions such as Hommage à Ostad (CD Oriental Bass) and Voyage à Jeyhounabad  ( CD / DVD SOLO The Marcevol Concert). His interest in this music leads him in 2019 to participate, at the invitation of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, in a tribute concert organized as an extension of the exhibition: the sacred lute, the art of Ostad Elahi (2014-2015).

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In addition to his career as a soloist, Renaud Garcia-Fons has been developing composition work for several years. He writes various pieces for String Quartet at the initiative of France Musique for the program Alla Breve. He creates for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the ‘Ensemble de Basse-Normandie’ Mundus Imaginalis. He is part of the credits for the France Culture program Les Racines du Ciel. On the international scene, he regularly plays with his various groups in the biggest Jazz Festivals. In July 2009, the Montreal International Jazz Festival invited him for a White Card of 3 concerts.

Fruit of a collaboration of several years with the lutenist Claire Antonini, he publishes in 2019 the duet album Farangi , from the Baroque to the Orient. (wikipedia)

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Some records are instantly captivating, with an ambience that immediately draws the listener in. Others require more attention, revealing layers of reward with each successive listen. The best records do both. Bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons has managed with his latest disc, Entremundo , to create one of those rare recordings whose first spin compels the listener to play it again and again, revealing richer substance each time.

That Garcia-Fons has been called “the Paganini of the double bass” is no surprise. One listen to the closing piece, the solo “Aqâ Jân,” and the breadth of his capabilities is clearly evident. With his five-string double-bass giving him access to the range of a cello in addition to the deeper resonance of the traditional instrument, Garcia-Fons’ virtuosity is remarkable. From percussive pizzicato to sweeping arco, his ability to coax distinct and unusual sonorities from his instrument is uncanny.

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And while Garcia-Fons’ technical skill is evident from the first note of “Sueño Vivo,” which opens the album, he is equally matched by his trio mates, percussionist Jorge “Negrito” Trasante and flamenco guitarist Antonio Ruiz “Kiko.” Yet, for all their formidable abilities, Entremundo is never about needless pyrotechnical demonstration. From the light and airy folk sound of “Cristobal” to the lush classical leanings of the title track, Garcia-Fons and his trio, supplemented by a variety of musical guests on various tracks, are never less than lyrical and transcend being mere players.

Entremundo means “Between Worlds,” and while the majority of the record has a strong flamenco flavour that will appeal to fans of, for example, Strunz and Farah, it’s distinguished by a breadth of world view. There are elements of Middle Eastern harmonies, Oriental lines and Latin American rhythms amidst the Andalusian themes of “40 Dias,” the brief and dark “Doust,” and “Sarebân,” which blends in an Indian-inflected theme.

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Garcia-Fons states that the intention of the record is to be celebratory, and there is, to be sure, a vivacious joy to be found throughout. Passion runs wild, with Garcia-Fons leading the way with his vibrant and emotive playing. Few bassists straddle the line between being a supporting rhythm section instrument and a leading voice as well as Garcia-Fons. Regardless of where he is placing his priority, the augmented trio shuffles responsibilities seamlessly and effortlessly. This is strongly groove-centric music that moves the body as well as the heart.

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Another characteristic of exceptional records is to make one forget about the individual contributions and experience the music as a transcendent whole. While the admirable skill of all involved makes this sometimes difficult, at the end of the day the album succeeds as an incredibly broad cross-fusion of ethnic influences from around the globe. Entremundo succeeds in making music that draws a coherent link between various musical worlds and, consequently, lives up to its name by fusing the music of a diversity of cultures with an improvisational verve and, in the final analysis, a pure and unadulterated joy in making evocative and provocative music. (by John Kelman)

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Personnel:
Renaud Garcia-Fons (bass, percussion, vocals)
Antonio “Kiko” Ruiz  (guitar)
Jorge “Negrito” Trasante (drums, percussion)
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Claire Antonini (lute)
Bruno Caillat (tala, daf, kanjira)

Allan Hoïst (saxophone)
Philippe Slovinsky (trumpet)
Henri Tournier (bansuri, flute)
Angel “Cepillo” Sanchez-Gonzalez  (percussion)
Gaston Sylvestre (cimbalom)

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Tracklist:
01. Sueño Vivo 4.49
02. Chrístobal 4.54
03. Entremundo 4.02
04. Mahoor 4.08
05. 40 Días (Soleá) 4.46
06. Entre Continentes (Buleria) 7.01
07. Mursiya 0.51
08. Rosario 5.18
09. Doust 1.44
10. Sarebân 6.01
11. Aqâ Jân (Bass Solo) 7.52

Music composed by Renaud Garcia-Fons

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LinerNotes

The bansuri:
Bansuri

More from Renaud Garcia-Fons:
More

The official website:
Website

Christian Walz – Paint By Numbers (2004)

FrontCover1Christian Johan Walz, born 4 September 1978 in Stockholm, is a Swedish artist, songwriter and music producer. BMG (now Sony Music) signed Walz in 1997 and the first album Christian Walz was released two years later, in 1999. The debut album featured the hit singles “Lovin’ Is All Right” and “Sentimental” and sold over 20,000 copies. In 2004, the second album Paint By Numbers was released, featuring the hit songs “Wonderchild”, “Never Be Afraid Again”‘ and “Maybe Not”. It resulted in four Grammy nominations and a Grammy for Best Pop.

In 2007, he recorded the song “Stay The Same” with the Pork Quartet. On November 26, 2008, the third album The Corner was released, which includes the single “What’s Your Name?” which he performed at the 2009 Grammy Awards. He co-wrote the 2010 winning song of the music competition Idol. On 12 February, he competed in the 2011 Melodifestivalen. The song was called “Like Suicide” and was written by Fernando Fuentes, Henrik Janson and Tony Nilsson and finished in fifth place in the semi-final in Gothenburg.

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Walz produced Veronica Maggio’s third studio album Satan in the Street, released on 27 April 2011. During the 2012 Grammy Awards, they won together in the categories “Composer of the Year” and “Lyricist of the Year” (wikipedia)

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And here´s his second album:

While Christian Walz is still largely unknown in UK, USA and in the rest of the world, he has already gone gold and won a Grammy in Sweden with his second longplayer “Paint By Numbers”. His singles are played over and over again on the radio stations, and when the 26-year-old artist plays concerts, the sales figures of his CDs always increase immensely. Now the time has come … Mr Walz is ready to convince the rest of the world of himself.

There is a surprising freshness that almost jumps out at you throughout the album. Elements of the most diverse musical genres mix into the songs, creating a creative soundtrack that one has rarely or never heard before. Pop, reggae, soul, rock, R&B all come together without any hiccups. This sound was intentional. For Christian Walz, it is important to evoke new emotions in people and not to rehash feelings that have already been triggered. Even if that meant listening to his music a few times to get a feel for it; it would be worth it.

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And indeed, many people should enjoy this album. For effect lovers, Christian has reached deep into the toy box, a whirring here, a booming there puts his individual stamp on every track. It is also allowed to dance quite uninhibitedly, whether playfully through the flat (“You Look All The Same”, “I Will Let You Down”) or slow-mo by candlelight (“Sunday Morning Breakup”). Souls with a penchant for soft, heartfelt, almost boy-band voices can also add this CD to their collection (“Never Be Afraid Again”).

It quickly becomes clear why “Wonderchild” was chosen as one of the singles, because this song has a catchy character that quickly takes hold. In addition, “Wonderchild” is an excellent reflection of the overall character of the album. But his ballads don’t lose their effect either, because Christian Walz doesn’t drown in his suffering, but highlights passages with effect elements, underlines the chorus, takes back the verses or makes them special in a different way (“Die”).

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After eleven songs and a journey through all the spectrums of feelings there are to go through in the pop world, an inner joy spreads. Joy that the album has found its way to us in Germany. And with the hope that we will soon hear more from this young man, we immediately press the start button of the CD player again. (cdstarts.de)

This really not my kind of music, but you know … many fantastic colors …

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Personnel:
Staffan Astner (guitar on 01., 04., 05. + 11.)
Mattias Axelsson (drums on 01,. 02., 07. + 11.)
Joakim Berg (guitar on 08.)
Petter Bergander (synthesizer on 01. + 11., organ on 02., 07.)
Patrik Berggren  (guitar on 02., 07., 08.)
Dan Berglund (bass on 04., 05. + 11.)
Mats Berntoft (guitar on 03.)
Blackcell (guitar on 01., 03., 07., 08. + 11.
Henrik Edenhed (guitar on 11.)
Thobias Gabrielsson (bass on 01., 02., 07. + 11.)
Andreas Levander (bass on 03.)
Ollie Olson (guitar on 03. + 11., vocals on 04., 05., background vocals on 09.)
Alex Papaconstantino (bouzouki on 10.)
Magnus Persson (drums on 04.,05., + 11.  percussion on 01. + 11.)
Rex (talking voice on 02.)
Mats Schubert (keyboards on 04., 05. + 11.,  synthsizer on 01.)
JaJu Taneli (guitar on 09.)
Christian Walz (vocals, piano, programming, all instruments on 06. + 10.)
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Stockholm Session Strings (on 04., 08., 10. + 11.

Booklet03ATracklist:
01. Hit N Run (Walz/Jeberg)3.42
02. No N (Walz/Berggren) 4.12
03. You Look All The Same (Walz/Olson/Berggren) 3.17
04. Never Be Afraid Again (Taneli/Walz/Olson) 4.16
05. Sunday Morning Breakup (Walz/Olson) 3.35
06. Maybe Not (Walz/Olson/Berggren) 3.34
07. Wonderchild (Walz/Berggren) 3.28
08. Die (Walz/Olson) 3.57
09.  Will Let You Down (Isacson/Taneli/Jhones7Berggren/Walz/Olson) 3.54
10. Red Eye (Walz) 3.42
11. Missing You (Walz/Olson/Jeberg) 4.16

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Wynton Marsalis Quartet – The Magic Hour (2004)

FrontCover1Wynton Learson Marsalis (born October 18, 1961) is an American trumpeter, composer, teacher, and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. He has promoted classical and jazz music, often to young audiences. Marsalis has won at least nine Grammy Awards, and his Blood on the Fields was the first jazz composition to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music. He is the only musician to win a Grammy Award in jazz and classical during the same year.

The Magic Hour is a 2004 album by Wynton Marsalis, released by Blue Note Records. The album peaked at number two on Billboard’s Top Jazz Albums chart. It was recorded on June 6–7, 2003. (wikipedia)

The Magic Hour is Marsalis’ first jazz ensemble studio recording since 1999′s Marciac Suite. His last album was All Rise, an extended composition for big band, gospel choir and symphony orchestra. “All Rise was such a huge piece involving over two hundred people. I wanted to produce my next recording with a smaller group,” says the trumpeter, who settled into Right Track Studios in New York for two days last June to record the new album. “I wanted to restate my basic love of jazz music in a quartet format,” says Marsalis. (Press release)

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As his first album of all-original material (performed with a quintet or less) since his 1988 release Thick in the South: Soul Gestures in Southern Blue, Vol. 1, and his first album for Blue Note Records, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis’ The Magic Hour is a disappointing return to progressive, small-group jazz. This is not to say that there aren’t some excellent things here, but taken as an album, The Magic Hour seems logy and inconsequential. Featuring the talented chops of pianist Eric Lewis, bassist Carlos Henríquez, and drummer Ali Jackson, Marsalis offers up a low-key grab bag of everything he’s done thus far in his career. It’s not a good sign when a predominantly instrumental jazz album begins with a vocal jazz number, albeit a stellar one featuring the epic Dianne Reeves. It would be a great start to a Reeves album, but as an opener, “Feeling of Jazz” only seems to be postponing the jazz.

Similarly irritating is Bobby McFerrin’s sickeningly cutesy guest vocal on the trite “Baby, I Love You,” an original tune co-written by the singer and Marsalis that sounds thrown together in the studio. It’s a failed and disappointing pairing that probably sounded better in theory than in practice.

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Most of the other original compositions, while not bad, are not really that impressive either, lacking the invention, humor, and general sense of purpose that hallmarked Marsalis’ early quartet albums, Black Codes (From the Underground) and J Mood. On the upside, “Big Fat Hen” is a loose and soulful second-line mix of barnyard soul and Miles Davis modalism. It’s easily the best moment on the disc, contemporizing Marsalis’ take on the New Orleans jazz tradition while threatening to get everybody out of their seats and dancing — no small achievement in the modern world of staid, concert-hall jazz. Even more impressive though is the extensive 13-minute title track, which closes the disc and finds Marsalis fearlessly exploring “Flight of the Bumblebee”-style arpeggiations, bug-like squeals, Count Basie-esque swing, Latin rhythms, and elegiac balladry all in one composition. That The Magic Hour ends with a resigned and gorgeous rendition of Marsalis’ trademark ballad — Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” — is both a poignant and brilliant summation of how Marsalis continually returns to his roots in his quest to both further and protect jazz. However, the surprising experimentation and clarity of vision of these two tracks only underlines the disappointing lack of such qualities in the rest of the album. (by Matt Collar)

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Personnel:
Carlos Henriquez (bass)
Ali Jackson (drums)
Eric Lewis (piano)
Wynton Marsalis (trumpet)
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Bobby McFerrin (vocals on 04.)
Dianne Reeves (vocals on 01.)

Alternate backcover:
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Tracklist:
01. Feeling of Jazz 6.59
02. You And Me 4.50
03. Free To Be 8.40
04. Baby, I Love You 5.20
05. Big Fat Hen 7.30
06. Skipping 8.01
07. Sophie Rose-Rosalee 6.46
08. The Magic Hour 13.15

Music written by Wynton Marsalis
except 04.: written by Wynton Marsalis & Bobby McFerrin

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More from Wynton Marsalis:More

Música Antiga da UFF – Medievo-Nordeste Cantigas e Romances (2004)

FrontCover1Música Antiga da UFF was formed in 1981, as a universitary group of Medieval and Renaissance Music. The group has a special focus on playing Medieval Iberian music, since those pieces are strongly related to Brazilian Folk music, although the group also plays pieces from other places.

Música Antiga da UFF started its activities in 1981, retrieving and transmitting not only music, but the very worldview of the Medieval and Renaissance periods. Over the years its members have specialized in the techniques of the medieval and renaissance instruments and in the interpretation of the songs of these important historical periods. Formed by Leandro Mendes, Lenora Pinto Mendes, Márcio Paes Selles, Mario Orlando, Sonia Leal Wegenast and Virginia van der Linden, the group is still researching and discovering new ways to inform the public about the early music of Western Europe. Beyond historical and musicological research, the audience has the opportunity to see replicas of the instruments used in those periods and hear the stories that come along with the songs and music performed. During their career, the group has recorded seven CDs and a themed LP that sold a total of 20.000 copies. Over these years the group has held more than 2.000 concerts throughout Brazil, recorded soundtracks to music videos, in addition to organizing courses at festivals and Renaissance fairs. Música Antiga da UFF performs in the most important concert halls of Rio de Janeiro and has also performed in concert halls throughout Brazil. (seviqc-brezice.si)

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And here´s is one their real beautiful albums full of rare medieval music:

Medieval music consists of songs, instrumental pieces, and liturgical music from about 500 A.D. to 1400. Medieval music was an era of Western music, including liturgical music (also known as sacred) used for the church, and secular music, non-religious music. Medieval music includes solely vocal music, such as Gregorian chant and choral music (music for a group of singers), solely instrumental music, and music that uses both voices and instruments (typically with the instruments accompanying the voices). Gregorian chant was sung by monks during Catholic Mass. The Mass is a reenactment of Christ’s Last Supper, intended to provide a spiritual connection between man and God. Part of this connection was established through music. This era begins with the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century and ends sometime in the early fifteenth century. Establishing the end of the medieval era and the beginning of the Renaissance music era is difficult, since the trends started at different times in different regions. The date range in this article is the one usually adopted by musicologists.

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During the Medieval period the foundation was laid for the music notation and music theory practices that would shape Western music into the norms that developed during the common-practice era, a period of shared music writing practices which encompassed the Baroque music composers from 1600–1750, such as J.S. Bach and Classical music period composers from the 1700s such as W.A. Mozart and Romantic music era composers from the 1800s such as Wagner. The most obvious of these is the development of a comprehensive music notational system which enabled composers to write out their song melodies and instrumental pieces on parchment or paper. Prior to the development of musical notation, songs and pieces had to be learned “by ear”, from one person who knew a song to another person. This greatly limited how many people could be taught new music and how wide music could spread to other regions or countries. The development of music notation made it easier to disseminate (spread) songs and musical pieces to a larger number of people and to a wider geographic area. However the theoretical advances, particularly in regard to rhythm—the timing of notes—and polyphony—using multiple, interweaving melodies at the same time—are equally important to the development of Western music. (wikipedia)

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What a wonderful opiece of music, full of inner harmony and peace … for all who like such melodies from very long time ago …

Listen and enjoy !

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Personnel:
Leandro Mendes – Lenora Pinto Mendes – Márcio Paes Selles – Mario Orlando – Sonia Leal Wegenast – Virginia van der Linden

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Tracklist:
01. Verbum Caro (documento do século XIV, anônima) 5.04
02. Virga de Jesse (cantiga de Santa Maria, CSM 20) 6.40
03. Mandad’ei comigo (Martin Codax, Cantiga de Amigo, Ca II) 4.39
04. Santa Maria, Strela do Dia (cantiga de Santa Maria, CSM 100) 2.47
05. Arbolicos d’almendra (tradição oral sefaradita, anônima) 3.07
06. 22:22 Juliana e D. Jorge (romance, Rio Grande do Norte)
07. 26:41 Io mestamdo em Coimbra (excerto de romance documentado no século XVI)
08. 31:57 A Virgem mui groriosa (Cantigas de Santa Maria, CSM 42)
09. 35:49 Paulina e D. João (romance, Rio Grande do Norte)
10. 40:23 Todos me llaman ‘La bohemiana’ (tradição oral sefaradita, anônima)
11. 43:03 Vida e Morte (romance, Goiás)
12. 44:53 A la una yo naci (tradição oral sefaradita, anônima)
13. 47:25 Non sofre Santa Maria (cantiga de Santa Maria, CSM 159)
14. 52:00 Faixa bônus. Vida e Morte

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Sarah Brightman – The Harem World Tour – Live From Las Vegeas (2004)

FrontCover1Sarah Brightman (born 14 August 1960) is an English classical crossover soprano, singer, songwriter, actress, dancer and musician.

Brightman began her career as a member of the dance troupe Hot Gossip and released several disco singles as a solo performer. In 1981, she made her West End musical theatre debut in Cats and met composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, whom she later married. She went on to star in several West End and Broadway musicals, including The Phantom of the Opera, where she originated the role of Christine Daaé. Her original London cast album of Phantom was released in CD format in 1987 and sold 40 million copies worldwide, making it the biggest-selling cast album ever.

After retiring from the stage and divorcing Lloyd Webber, Brightman resumed her music career with former Enigma producer Frank Peterson, this time as a classical crossover artist. She has been credited as the creator and remains among the most prominent performers of this genre, with worldwide sales of more than 35 million albums and two million DVDs, establishing herself as the world’s best-selling soprano.

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Brightman’s 1996 duet with the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, “Time to Say Goodbye”, topped the charts all over Europe and became the highest and fastest-selling single of all-time in Germany, where it stayed at the top of the charts for 14 consecutive weeks and sold over three million copies. It subsequently became an international success, selling 12 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles of all-time. She has collected over 200 gold and platinum record awards in 38 different countries. In 2010, she was named by Billboard the fifth most influential and best-selling classical artist of the 2000s decade in the US and according to Nielsen SoundScan, she has sold 6.5 million albums in the country.

Brightman is the first artist to have been invited twice to perform the theme song at the Olympic Games, first at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games where she sang “Amigos Para Sarah_Brightman02Siempre” with the Spanish tenor José Carreras with an estimated global audience of a billion people, and 16 years later in 2008 in Beijing, this time with Chinese singer Liu Huan, performing the song “You and Me” to an estimated four billion people worldwide.

In 2012, Brightman was appointed as the UNESCO Artist for Peace for the period 2012–2014, for her “commitment to humanitarian and charitable causes, her contribution, throughout her artistic career, to the promotion of cultural dialogue and the exchanges among cultures, and her dedication to the ideals and aims of the Organization”. Since 2010, Brightman has been Panasonic’s global brand ambassador.

In 2014, she began training for a journey to the International Space Station, later postponed until further notice, citing personal reasons. Brightman was awarded the decoration ‘Cavaliere’ in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic on 2 June 2016[19] and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Hertfordshire in 2018, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to music and theater.

The Harem World Tour: Live From Las Vegas is a live album by classical crossover soprano Sarah Brightman released to coincide with the DVD. The album was released on 28 September 2004. It features a cover version of Indonesian singer Anggun’s “Snow on the Sahara”. (wikipedia)

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Recorded in March 2004 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas during Sarah Brightman’s Harem World Tour, this live CD demonstrates the musical seductress’s penchant for fusing musical genres – musical theater, classical, rock, & world music – & plays like a collection of greatest hits performed live.

While the sales of Sarah Brightman’s ambitious, Middle Eastern-themed 2003 album Harem may have fallen short of its predecessor, the veteran UK chanteuse’s popularity as a live performer has only mushroomed. This live recording of her ambitious, sold-out Harem World Tour engagement at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Arena is testament to that appeal, begging the question: Will Brightman become the Grateful Dead of classical crossover? Indeed, abetted by the rich sonic textures of longtime producer/collaborator Frank Peterson, the worldbeat conceits of her recent studio recordings are folded into a larger, even more expansive live vision here.

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Brightman’s overt dramatic instincts and oft-chaemeleonic vocal abilities drive a slate of material that stretches from the Arabian Nights/Madame Butterflypastiche of Harem’s seductive “It’s A Beautiful Day” through surprisingly effective classical/rock reinventions of Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind” and The Moody Blues’ chestnut “Nights in White Satin” to expected classical bowings “Nessun Dorma” and the obligatory nod to “Phantom of the Opera”Harem’s East-meets-Eurodisco sensibility will also welcome the melodic new studio bonus cut, “Snow in the Sahara.” (by Jerry McCulley)

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Personnel:
Sarah Brightman (vocals)
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unknown live band

Booklet
Tracklist:
01. Kama Sutra (Danna) 2.01
02. Harem Overture (Cançao do Mar) (Seeman/DeBrito/Brightman/Peterson) 3.10
03. It’s A Beautiful Day (Brightman/Puccini/von Deylen/Peterson) 4.27
04. Dust In The Wind (Livgren) 4.02
05. Who Wants To Live Forever (May) 4.02
06. Anytime, Anywhere (Brightman/Peterson/Soltau) 3.17
07. La Luna (Ferrau/Dvorák) 5.16
08. Nessun Dorma (Puccini/Adami/Simoni) 4.11
09. The War Is Over (Benzer/Draude/Brightman/Peterson) 5.24
10. Free (Brightman/Hawkins/Meissner/Schwartz) 3.49
11. A Whiter Shade Of Pale (Brooker/Reid) 3.16
12. Phantom Of The Opera Suite: Twisted Every Way/Phantom Overture/Little Lottie (Hart/Stilgoe/Webber) 4.27
13. Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again (Hart/Stilgoe/Webber) 4.36
14. Time To Say Goodbye (Sartori/Quarantotto) 4.14
15. A Question Of Honour (Peterson) 5.43
16. Snow On The Sahara (Bonus studio track) (Benzi/Matheson) 4.46

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Harvey Mason – With All My Heart (2004)

FrontCover1Throughout his career, Harvey Mason has been a busy studio musician and a highly versatile drummer able to excel in many different situations. Mason attended Berklee and graduated from the New England Conservatory. Early gigs included four months with Erroll Garner in 1970 and a year with George Shearing from 1970-1971. Soon after leaving Shearing, Mason moved to Los Angeles and quickly became established in the studios, working in films and television. In addition to his anonymous work through the years, Mason has often been part of the jazz world. He played with Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters in 1973, Gerry Mulligan for a 1974 Carnegie Hall concert, Freddie Hubbard, Grover Washington, Jr. (appearing on Mister Magic), Lee Ritenour, Victor Feldman, George Benson (playing drums on “This Masquerade”), and Bob James, among many others. In 1998, Mason paid tribute to Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in some local Los Angeles club gigs. The early 2000s found Mason continuing with his steady session work, as well as releasing two solo albums with 2003’s Trios and 2004’s With All My Heart. In 2014, Mason revisited his ’70s Headhunters roots with Chameleon on Concord. (by Scott Yanow)

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Because Harvey Mason has appeared so frequently as a sideman on lots of smooth jazz dates, one tends to think of him solely within that genre, even though his roots are in straight-ahead jazz. This rare date as a leader features the drummer leading a series of 11 different piano-bass-drums trios, primarily in post-bop, bop or hard bop settings. His arrangement of “Bernie’s Tune” is very refreshing, utilizing reoccurring displaced rhythm behind Kenny Barron and Ron Carter. The magic continues with Chick Corea and Dave Carpenter in their creative rendition of “If I Should Lose You.” Victor Feldman’s less familiar “So Near, So Far” features Fred Hersch and Eddie Gomez, though the expected influence of the late Bill Evans is minimal. But elder statesman Hank Jones steals the spotlight with his elegant interpretation of “Tess,” a tune that was brand new to him; Mason and Jones’ longtime bassist George Mraz joins him. Some of the other participating musicians for this project include Monty Alexander, Charlie Haden, Cedar Walton, Mulgrew Miller, Herbie Hancock, Brad Mehldau, Bob James and Dave Grusin. Mason’s informative liner notes not only describe how each take came together in the studio but add background about his relationship to each musician or what appealed to him about each individual’s playing. The only oversight on this terrific release is the inadvertent omission of track-by-track composer credits, though a few of them are included within Mason’s commentary. (by Ken Dryden)

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Harvey Mason’s motto on With All My Heart seems to be “The one who plays drums in a jazz trio with the most bad-ass pianists and bassists wins. Arguably, that can be also stated of his entire career, as he has played and recorded with a mind-numbing amount of artists through various historical periods and musical styles. The lengthy and illustrious development of the quintessential small jazz group is definitely boosted by this recording.

The premise of the production was quite simple: Mason endeavoring to pair several of his favorite pianists and bassists to record material that is largely familiar to both musicians and the average jazz audience, as well as suited to the respective instrumentalists involved. With the exception of bassists Dave Carpenter, who performs on “If I Should Lose You and “Speak Like a Child, and Ron Carter, who executes on three compositions, the only common thread of the recording is the dexterous and versatile drumming of the leader. Blessedly, Mason also decided to write the liner notes—hence the prospect of knowing what he had in mind for each super-trio, their respective interpretations, and their raison d’être.

“If I Should Lose You, interpreted by Chick Corea, Carpenter, and Mason, is a first and only take. It’s emblematic of the best this project, the traditional jazz trio, and this type of music has to offer. Herein the devil isn’t only in the details, even though they tell a story by themselves. The cymbal ride, Carpenter’s in-and-out march (he seems to vanish while being ever more present), and Corea’s elegant and robust lyricism are some particulars worth mentioning. But those are minutiae within a dreamily tight and expressive cohesiveness that closes with an understated driven coda.

Hank Jones and George Mraz join the leader in “Tess. Jones opens by himself and takes immediate ownership of this number. Mason does quite a bit with it, without intruding one bit as Mraz lays it heavy yet unruffled before following Jones for a couple of bars. It is finger lickin’ good! (Javier Aq Ortiz)

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Personnel:
Monty Alexander (piano on 04.
Kenny Barron (piano on 01.
Dave Carpenter (bass on 02., 10.
Ron Carter (bass on 01., 06., 08.
Chick Corea (piano on 02.
Eddie Gomez (bass on 03.
Larry Grenadier (bass on 07.
Dave Grusin (piano on 09.
Charlie Haden (bass on 05.
Herbie Hancock (piano on 10.
Fred Hersch (piano on 03.
Bob James (piano on 05.
Hank Jones (piano on 11.)
Harvey Mason (drums)
Brad Mehldau (piano on 07.
Mulgrew Miller (piano on 08.
Charnett Moffett (bass on 04.
George Mraz (bass on 11.)
Cedar Walton (piano on 06.
Mike Valerio (bass on 09.)

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Tracklist:
01. Bernie’s Tune (Barron/Leiber/Miller/Stoller) 3.41
02. If I Should Lose You (Carpenter/Corea/Rainger) 7.27
03. So Near, So Far (Gomez/Hersch) 4.42
04. Swamp Fire (Alexander/Moffett) 4.18
05. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (Harbach/Kern) 6.13
06. Hindsight (Walton) 5.26
07. Dindi (Grenadier/Jobim/Mehldau) 7.48
08. Without A Song (Miller/Youmans) 6.40
09. One Morning In May (Grusin) 4.42
10. Speak Like A Child (Carpenter/Hancock) 5.18
11. Tess (Jones/Mraz/Surman) 4.50

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Razorlight – Up All Night (2004)

FrontCover1Razorlight are an English indie rock band, formed in 2002 in London by lead singer and guitarist Johnny Borrell. Along with Borrell, the current line-up of the band is composed of founding member Björn Ågren on guitar, keyboardist Reni Lane, bassist Ben Ellis and drummer Mat Hector.

The band have gone through several line-up changes, with Borrell remaining the sole permanent member. They released three studio albums before splitting up in 2014. The band reformed in 2017 and released the album Olympus Sleeping in 2018.

They are best known for the singles Golden Touch and America. (by wikipedia)

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Up All Night is the debut album by English indie rock band Razorlight, released on 28 June 2004. The album was mainly recorded at Sawmills Studio and mixed at Sphere Studios by John Cornfield.

The album garnered favourable reviews but critics questioned the band’s influence-filled musicianship throughout the tracks. Up All Night peaked at number 3 on the UK Albums Chart and spawned six singles: “Rock ‘N’ Roll Lies”, “Rip It Up”, “Stumble and Fall”, “Golden Touch”, “Vice” and “Somewhere Else”.

On 4 June 2014, the band, with only lead singer Johnny Borrell remaining from the line-up which recorded the album, played at the Electric Ballroom in Camden to mark Up All Night’s 10th anniversary. (by wikipedia)

Razorlight2004There must be a healthy middle when it comes to capturing the essence of Brit-pop. Something in between the impenetrable swagger of Liam and Noel Gallagher and the vacuous and hollow bravado of Jet that can both pay homage to big riffs and bad attitude, yet still maintain a unique personality, which is what made the rock gods of yesteryear so endearing. Razorlight mastermind, lead singer/guitarist Johnny Borrell wants so desperately to be the next Joe Strummer or Lou Reed, and for what Razorlight’s first album lacks in identity, it gathers momentum on effort and sheer will. It’s the same, albeit slightly worse, garage rock revival record that’s been all too common in the early 2000s, but quick, aggressive tracks such as “Vice,” “Rip It Up,” “Golden Touch” and “Stumble and Fall” are undeniably catchy and Borrell himself is largely responsible for playing them as if he really were the next Freddie Mercury.

Razorlight02He wails and passionately groans over some horribly vapid vocals, “hey girl/get on the dancefloor/rip it up, yeah/that’s what it’s there for” (on “Rip It Up”) but even a bad cover version of your favorite Strokes-type song can still appeal to the less cynical part of your brain. Even John Cornfield and Borrell’s production seems like a shoddy attempt to re-create the frontman’s favorite records note for note. His desire to add a layer of grime by muddying up the louder moments (such as on “Don’t Go Back to Dalston,” which starts off quietly before careening into a bloated call and response conclusion) doesn’t remove the feeling that the entire recording process was extremely sterile. At this stage, Borrell lacks the confidence to move beyond his idols, and his energetic music remains a game of spot the influence. (by Erik Leijon)

And one of best songs from this album “In The City” sounds a little bit, like “Gloria” from Them (they use the same chords…)

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Personnel:
Björn Ågren (guitar, vocals)
Johnny Borrell (vocals, guitar)
Carl Dalemo (bass, vocals)
Christian Smith-Pancorvo (drums, vocals)

Singles

Tracklist:
01. Leave Me Alone (Ågren/Borrell/Dalemo/Smith-Pancorvo) 3.50
02.Rock N Roll Lies (Borrell/Fortis) 3.08
03. Vice (Ågren/Borrell/Dalemo/Smith-Pancorvo) 3.14
04. Up All Night (Ågren/Borrell/Dalemo/Smith-Pancorvo) 4.03
05. Which Way Is Out (Ågren/Borrell/Dalemo/Smith-Pancorvo) 3.19
06. Rip It Up (Ågren/Borrell/Dalemo/Smith-Pancorvo) 2.25
07. Don’t Go Back To Dalston (Ågren/Borrell/Dalemo/Smith-Pancorvo) 3.00
08. Golden Touch (Ågren/Borrell/Dalemo/Smith-Pancorvo) 3.25
09. Stumble And Fall (Ågren/Borrell/Dalemo/Smith-Pancorvo) 3.05
10. In The City (Borrell) 4.51
11. To The Sea (Ågren/Borrell/Dalemo/Smith-Pancorvo) 5.31
12. Fall, Fall, Fall (Ågren/Borrell/Dalemo/Smith-Pancorvo) 2.43
13. Get It And Go (Ågren/Borrell/Dalemo/Smith-Pancorvo) 3.23

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Bill Bruford & Michiel Borstlap – Every Step A Dance Every Word A Song (2004)

FrontCover1.jpgDrummer Bill Bruford has certainly come a long way since his emergence with Yes in the early ’70s. While his interest in jazz was evident in the improvisational aspect of his 25-year association with King Crimson, his mathematical sense of precision and disposition towards mind-boggling subdivisions of rhythm often precluded the kind of elasticity required to approach the looser demands of jazz. As early as ’83, however, Bruford was experimenting with the intimate conversational nature of the duo on recordings with Swiss pianist Patrick Moraz, a strong precursor of what was to follow with the formation of his Earthworks Mark I group featuring Iain Ballamy and Django Bates. Still, as wildly exploratory as that group was, and as comfortable as Bruford was at creating natural-feeling grooves in challenging meters, it would take a dozen more years and the creation of his all-acoustic Earthworks Mark II group before he would truly reconcile his predilection for challenging compositional form with a looser, more elastic playing style.

Since the release of Earthworks Mark II’s début, A Part, and Yet Apart (Summerfold, ’99), Bruford’s playing style has loosened up to the point where he is now a far more in-the-moment player, responsive to his musical surroundings. So when he met Dutch pianist Michiel Borstlap in ’02 and began playing duo shows that were less about the confines of structure and more about what Bruford terms “performance-based” music—music of the moment where spontaneity and interaction were the predominant factors—it seemed as though Bruford had made yet another leap forward. With the release of Every Step a Dance, Every Word a Song , an album of live performances culled from dates performed in Europe during ’03 and ’04, Bruford’s evolution is confirmed.

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While Bruford and Borstlap are still more concerned with form than, say, Italian pianist Enrico Pieranunzi—whose recent album with Paul Motian, Doorways , is another beast entirely—the reciprocation between the two jumps out from the first notes of the more structured “The 16 Kingdoms of the 5 Barbarians.” Bruford’s liner notes allude to the fact that the performance space impacts the nature of the musical dialogue—smaller rooms having “the intimacy of a dinner table conversation between old friends,’? while larger venues “naturally become a bit more muscular and assertive.” Still, on more introspective pieces including the title track, the anthem-like “Inhaling Shade,” and an abstract, yet faithful reading of Monk’s “Round Midnight,” Bruford may gently assert the forward motion, but he’s also become a masterful colourist. And while Borstlap’s supplementing of his piano with electronic keyboards sometimes gives the duo a broader complexion, the subtleties of their exchange are never overshadowed by sheer demonstrativeness.

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Every Step a Dance, Every Word a Song may not be as great a step forward for Borstlap, already a well-established jazz figure, but it represents one more advance in the pursuit of a more instinctive and natural approach for Bruford, an artist who has, for all intents and purposes, left his rock roots completely behind him. (by John Kelman)

Recorded live in Europe, 2003-4

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Personnel:
Michiel Borstlap (keyboards)
Bill Bruford (drums, percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. The 16 Kingdoms Of The 5 Barbarians (Bruford/Borstlap) 8.46
02. Bemsha Swing (Best/Monk) 6.07
03. Inhaling Shade (Bruford/Borstlap) 5.34
04. One Big Vamp (Bruford/Borstlap) 6.05
05. Round Midnight (Hanighen/Williams/Monk) 5.40
06. Announcement 0.53
07 Every Step A Dance, Every Word A Song (Bruford/Borstlap) 5.22
08. Stand On Zanzibar (Bruford/Borstlap) 7.55
09. Swansong (Bruford/Borstlap) 6.58

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Willie Nelson – It Always Will Be (2004)

WillieNelsonFrontCover1It Always Will Be is the fifty-second studio album by country singer Willie Nelson. It includes a cover of the Allman Brothers Band’s “Midnight Rider”, recorded here as a duet with Toby Keith. This cover was released, but did not chart. (by wikipedia)

On his millionth album (or does it just feel that way?), Willie Nelson teams with a new band — except for Family Band harmonicat Mickey Raphael — and duets with some major leaguers. Most of the time, It Always Will Be feels like a Willie album of old. Recorded for the Lost Highway label and produced by James Stroud in Nash Vegas, it’s an inspired collection of fine songs for the most part, and Nelson is in fine voice with the edges beginning to show just a tiny bit. He wrote the title cut, one of the strongest here. Lyrically, it’s tender without being overly sentimental, sweet without being saccharine, and delivered with his trademark elegance and grace. The cover of Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan’s “Picture in a Frame,” though faithful, puts Nelson’s stamp firmly on it. With Raphael’s harmonica, Willie’s acoustic, and a skeletal band featuring an understated pedal steel, Nelson’s dignity in the delivery is deeply moving. When he’s this on fire, the only place he usually blows it is in duets — at least on his own records. There are duets here. “Be That As It May,” with daughter Paula and written by her, is just a gorgeous country song. The pair’s voices contrast beautifully and the tune itself is tight and hooky in a Texas country music way.

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“Dreams Come True,” with Norah Jones, is a pretty swing tune that is forgettable but far from offensive, and Lucinda Williams is the star on her own “Overtime.” Willie and Lucinda were made to sing together; the melancholy of the tune lends itself well to her whiskey contralto and his easy baritone. The tune sweetly drifts and lilts with swaying guitars, an accordion, and whispering brushwork. Toby Keith makes an appearance singing background vocals on his “Tired,” but Nelson makes the song his own. Nelson’s “Texas” is a wonderful mariachi blues song that gives way to bittersweet Southwestern honky tonk balladry and showcases his excellent guitar work. The set closes with the album’s only dog, a big-beat over-produced dancy punch-up of Gregg Allman’s classic “Midnight Rider.” It sucks bad. Why this song made the cut is a mystery, but it’s a typical thing for Nelson, to add something that just doesn’t fit. Thankfully, it’s the album’s final song and can be skipped. Be that as it may, It Always Will Be is the best outing for Nelson since Teatro. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Eddie Bayers (drums)
Dan Dugmore (pedal steel-guitar)
Chris Dunn (horn)
Scotty Emerick (guitar)
Shannon Forrest (drums)
Paul Franklin (pedal steel-guitar)
Kenny Greenberg (guitar)
Wes Hightower (vocals)
Jim Horn (horn)
Clayton Ivey (keyboards)
Amy James (vocals)
Sam Levine (horn)
Liana Manis (vocals)
Brent Mason (guitar)
Steve Nathan (keyboards)
Willie Nelson (guitar, vocals)
Steve Patrick (horn)
Mickey Raphael (harmonica)
Michael Rhodes (bass)
Matt Rollings (keyboards)
Biff Watson (guitar)
Glenn Worf (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. It Always Will Be (Nelson) 4.12
02. Picture In A Frame (Waits/Brennan) 3.39
03. The Way You See Me (Adams/Day) 4.21
04. Be That As It May (Nelson) (Duet with Paula Nelson) 3.29
05. You Were It (Nelson) 4.28
06. Big Booty (Throckmorton) 3.03
07. I Didn’t Come Here (And I Ain’t Leavin’) (Emerick/Smotherman) 3.10
08. My Broken Heart Belongs To You (Anderson/Nelson) 2.26
09. Dreams Come True (Hopkins) (Duet with Norah Jones) 4.35
10. Over Time (Williams) (Duet with Lucinda Williams) 3.45
11. Tired (Cannon/Keith) 4.19
12. Love’s The One And Only Thing (Emerick/Loggins) 3.35
13. Texas (Nelson) 3.56
14. Midnight Rider (Allman/Payne) (Duet with Toby Keith) 3.00

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