Amy MacDonald – Under Stars (Deluxe Edition) (2017)

FrontCover1Amy Elizabeth Macdonald (born 25 August 1987) is a Scottish singer-songwriter. In 2007, she released her debut studio album, This Is the Life, which respectively produced the singles “Mr. Rock & Roll” and “This Is the Life”; the latter charting at number one in six countries, while reaching the top 10 in another 11 countries. The album reached number one in four European countries – the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland – and sold three million copies worldwide. Moderate success in the American music market followed in 2008. Macdonald has sold over 12 million records worldwide.

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Macdonald’s second studio album, A Curious Thing, was released in 2010. Its lead single “Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over” peaked at number 45 on the UK Singles Chart, and also went on to perform well in other European countries. In 2010, she collaborated with Ray Davies on his album, See My Friends; she sang with him on a cover of The Kinks’ 60s hit “Dead End Street”. Her third studio album, Life in a Beautiful Light, was released in 2012 and supplied three singles: “Slow It Down”, “Pride” and “4th of July”.

In 2017, Macdonald released her fourth studio album, Under Stars, which entered at number two on the Scottish and UK Album Charts. It also peaked within the top 10 of the album charts in Germany and New Zealand. In 2020, she released her fifth studio album, The Human Demands.

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Under Stars is the fourth album by Scottish singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald, and was released on 17 February 2017. The album’s lead single, “Dream On” was released on 6 January 2017. Macdonald’s official website and official Facebook fanpage confirmed the album for release on 25 November 2016. Album title and tracklist were confirmed the same day by both sites.

Macdonald began writing songs for the album in early 2014, 2 years after the release of Life in a Beautiful Light. In May 2014, she performed 4 new songs live. She also sang “Leap of Faith” during the Scottish independence referendum in September 2014.[3] In March 2015, Macdonald announced via Twitter she was finishing the songwriting of the album, but had not yet started recording. On 28 October 2015, she announced via Twitter she started the recording sessions for the album. Later, she stated on 9 December 2015 via her Instagram account that she had finished the songwriting for the album and that she hoped the album would be finished sometime in 2016. On 9 August 2016, Macdonald announced via Instagram her fourth album was finished and would be released early 2017.

Macdonald said although it was two and a half years in the making, which is the longest she has ever taken with an album, she was glad to have taken the time and she feels the album has “the TLC that it deserves”.

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The album up to now has gathered mixed to positive reviews, receiving a score of 3 out of 5 stars at the London Evening Standard, describing the album as “a tuneful collection that doesn’t mess with the formula”.

“Dream On” was released as the lead single from the album on 6 January 2017. The song has peaked to number 37 on the Scottish Singles Chart. The song also charted in Belgium.

“Automatic” was released as the second single off the album on 24 March 2017. The accompanying music video was released on her Vevo channel on 17 March 2017.

“Down by the Water” was released as the third single from the album on 11 July 2017, on the same day as the accompanying music video. An acoustic version of the song was previously released in late 2016 as a promotional single from the album before its release. (wikipedia)

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After an extended hiatus that had her fans salivating and chomping at the bit for new material, Scottish singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald is back in action with her newly released fourth album Under Stars. For those who have been anxiously awaiting more of Macdonald’s signature blend of guitar-driven, optimistic rock and folk pop, the 29-year-old Glaswegian with the exhilarating contralto voice and girl-next-door vibe does not disappoint.

First inspired by the music of Scottish rock band Travis, Amy Macdonald began teaching herself how to play music using her father’s old guitar before she was even a teenager. After spending years making the rounds in the pub and cafe circuit in Glasgow, she first made a name for herself in 2007 at the tender age of 19 with the release of her first album This Is The Life. A resounding success for any young break-out artist (especially one in the oversaturated guitar-pop arena), the album went on to sell over 3 million copies, and her next two album releases met with similar success.

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Leaving her fans to wonder, “Where’s Amy?”, Macdonald took a five-year break between her last album release and Under Stars, the latter half of which were spent writing and then recording the new album in London’s infamous Abbey Road Studios. Unlike the completely solo creative endeavors of her first three albums, most of the songs on Under Stars were written in collaboration with her bass player Jimmy Sims, keyboard player Shannon Harris, and friend Ben Parker. It is perhaps the synthesis created by this group effort that is responsible for a certain extra brightness in the album, giving it an injection of fresh pop energy that sets it just slightly apart from Macdonald’s previous musical undertakings, while at the same time maintaining her core sound.

Finding inspiration in the lives of those closest to her, many of Amy Macdonald’s songs are about her friends. The album’s first track and lead single, “Dream On”, a howl-at-the-moon, feel-good anthem about personal journey and triumph in the face of adversity, is one such song. Same goes for title track “Under Stars”, a motivating tune about friendship, loneliness, and the kind of love that knows no distance or separation, with the chorus succinctly paraphrasing the album’s overarching theme: “This is your song, so write it. Be who you are, don’t hide it.”

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The free-spirited “Automatic” tips an Americana hat to Bruce Springsteen, and will likely make this galloping ode to the wide open road well-received among listeners …after all, who doesn’t relate to the feeling of wanting to pack up and get the hell out of Dodge when the going gets tough? “Down By The Water” is an absolute gem. Macdonald’s voice shines in this slow and sweet, gospel-reinforced ballad, with hand claps, tambourine, and guest vocals by British singer Juliet Roberts serving to complement Macdonald’s vocal range without the sometimes overpowering musical distractions found elsewhere on the album.

While optimistic overall, the album is not all hearts and high-fives. Known for her strong opinions on political issues like the Brexit and Scottish independence, “The Rise & Fall” is a cautionary tale warning of the human drive for “power, glory, money, fame” in which Macdonald describes all too well our current political climate. And “Never Too Late”, another impressive display of vocal prowess (this time accompanied by piano and strings), is a veritable call to action: “Ain’t no use in sitting around, waiting for the world to change. Never too late to stand your ground, do what it takes to make them proud.”

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Although at times lyrically cliche, Macdonald’s brand of emotive empowerment pop has a definite market, as her album sales can attest to. One can imagine advertising agencies worldwide flagging the album and its many positive messages for use as possible soundtracks to commercials. Released just in time for those of us in the northern hemisphere suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), listening to Under Stars is a bit like mainlining sunshine directly into your veins. For those sensitive to unbridled optimism, it is advised to limit exposure, or be sure to purchase the deluxe version of the album which includes an extra eight tracks, acoustic versions of most of the songs. A soothing and balancing break from the often musically over-assertive electric tracks, their addition almost makes for a double album: one perfect for sunny days cruising down the highway in no particular direction with no one to hear you singing along off-key at the top of your voice, and one just right for rainy, introverted days spent at home drinking tea in pajamas and ruminating on life, love, and the meaning of it all.

Fans of the vintage-like cover art of albums past may be wary of the slick, Katy Perry-esque choice of album design for Under Stars, but needn’t worry. Inside the album Amy Macdonald’s sound remains quite true to her proven, down-to-earth formula, and will be sure to please her legions of loyal fans as well as gain her many new followers. (Katherine Rae)

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Personnel:
Amy Macdonald (vocals, guitar)
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many, many studio musicians
(Today I am too lazy to list them all, sorry; see download file)

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Tracklist:
01. Dream On (Macdonald/Parker/Sims) 3.19
02. Under Stars (Macdonald/Parker/Sims) 3.43
03. Automatic (Macdonald/Parker/Sims) 3.17
04. Down By The Water (Macdonald/Parker/Sims) 3.27
05. Leap Of Faith (Macdonald) 3.04
06. Never Too Late (Macdonald/Falkner/Harris) 4.07
07. The Rise & Fall (Macdonald/Parker/Sims) 3.14
08. Feed My Fire (Macdonald/Parker/Sims) 3.16
09. The Contender (Macdonald/Parker/Sims) 3.36
10. Prepare To Fall (Macdonald) 4.30
11. From The Ashes (Macdonald/Parker/Sims) 3.37
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the acoustic tracks (live from the RAK Studios, London):
12. Under Stars (Macdonald/Parker/Sims) 3.42
13. Dream On (Macdonald/Parker/Sims) 3.19
14. Prepare To Fall (Macdonald) 4.06
15. Leap Of Faith (Macdonald) 3.13
16. Automatic (Macdonald/Parker/Sims) 3.10
17. Down By The Water (Macdonald/Parker/Sims) 3.32
18. The Rise & Fall (Macdonald/Parker/Sims) 3.36
19. I’m on Fire (Springsteen) 2.22

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Sticker

The official website:
Website

Emmylou Harris – 10 Commandments Of Country (2007)

FrontCover1Emmylou Harris (born April 2, 1947) is an American singer, songwriter and musician. She has released dozens of albums and singles over the course of her career and has won 14 Grammys, the Polar Music Prize, and numerous other honors, including induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2018, she was presented the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Harris’ work and recordings include work as a solo artist, a bandleader, an interpreter of other composers’ works, a singer-songwriter, and a backing vocalist and duet partner. She has worked with numerous artists. (wikipedia)

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And here´s a very intimate and rare live reordig, a very unique live recording:

Live performance in which Emmylou Harris presents her ten rules of what makes a great country song, personally chosen from her own extensive repertoire. Filmed in Los Angeles in an intimate venue, the show features songs with Emmylou accompanied by her blue grass band. Each track illustrates one of her 10 Commandments, with a short introduction to explain why it was chosen and what element of country music it best represents. (by bigomagazine)

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This show should promote her fantastic 4 disc album “Songbird: Rare Tracks & Forgotten Gems”, a 2007 box set of songs personally selected by Emmylou Harris: “I’ve selected not greatest hits, but personal favorites: that, with a few exceptions-have never appeared on any other compilations, but were important gems in the string of pearls that each album strives to become.”

Recorded live at The Derby, Los Angeles, CA; September 9, 2007.
Very good audio (ripped from HDTV broadcast).

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Personnel:
Mike Audridge (dobro)
Tom Gray (bass)
Emmylou Harris (guitar, vocals)
Keith Little (banjo, mandolin, guitar, vocals)
Ricky Simpkins (fiddle, mandolin, vocals)

BookletBackCover1Tracklist:
01. Introduction / Snowin’ On Raton (Zandt) 5.19
02. Mama’s Hungry Eyes (Haggard) 5.50
03. For No One (Lennon/McCarntey) 5:32
04. Rough And Rocky (Justice/Tabuchi) 4.14
05. My Songbird (Winchester) 4.01
06. Bright Morning Stars (Traditional) 3.38
07. Jordan (Traditional) 3.03
08. Love And Happiness (Harris/Rhodes) 4.46
09. Sin City (Parsons/Hillman) 4.45
10. Wheels ((Parsons/Hillman) 3.59
11. The Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn (Stanley) 3.45
12. Sweet Old World (Williams) 4.51
13. Get Up John (Monroe) 4.39

The cover of an unofficial DVD:
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More from Emmylou Harris:
More

The official website:
Website

Paul Roland – Professor Moriarty’s Jukebox (2014)

FrontCover1Paul Roland (born 6 September 1959 in Kent, England), is a singer-songwriter, author, journalist and paranormal researcher.

Since the release of his first (shared) single “Oscar Automobile” in 1979, Roland has been spinning his tales against a backdrop of gothic rock, psychedelic pop, folk and, occasionally, baroque strings. His character creations include a Regency magistrate, various 19th Century murderers, a retired executioner, an opium addict, and an entire court of medieval grotesques.

Paul has been called “the male Kate Bush” by one-time label-mate Robyn Hitchcock, and “The Lord Byron of Rock” by the French music magazine Les Inrockuptibles.

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“Paul Roland has remained a cherished figure on the gothic rock and psychedelic pop periphery for 30 years…a treasury of detail and eloquence…Roland’s impeccable narratives (and) formal, baroque instrumentation…creates the antiquated yet timeless ambience his songs deserve” (Marco Rossi, Record Collector, May 2010).

Joshua Pfeiffer of Vernian Process is quoted as saying “As for Paul Roland, if anyone deserves credit for spearheading steampunk music, it is him. He was one of the inspirations I had in starting my project. He was writing songs about the first attempt at manned flight, and an Edwardian airship raid in the mid-80s long before almost anyone else….”[1]

“Paul Roland writes nice melodies and has a very particular personality but he is too intellectual for me!” (Frank Zappa, 1988). (wikipedia)

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A few years back Paul Roland released ‘In Memoriam 1980-2010’ a superb collection highlighting the range of great tracks Paul has produced over 30 years. In his latest release ‘Professor Moriarty’s Jukebox’ Paul has revisited his back catalogue again but this time through a previously unreleased session recorded last year. Like the best sessions and live material these recordings retain the spark that made them so fondly regarded but they are arranged or played differently (sometimes subtlety) so you can listen with fresh ears.

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As with all of Paul’s material there’s a distinctly gothic edge to these new versions: from (one of my favourites) 2007’s rock edged ‘Re-animator’ to 1989’s acoustic macabre fan-favourite ‘Nosferatu’. Special mentions must go to ‘Aleister Crowley’ (originally on 1997’s ‘Gargoyles’ album) which as infectious a track as it was almost 20 years ago; and a rougher take on ‘The Puppet Master’ from the previous decade’s ‘Burnt Orchids’ long player.

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There’s also an extra 9 tracks of outtakes, remixes and rarities, expanding the set considerably. One gem is his excellent version of The Kinks ‘I’m Not Like Everyone Else’, starting baroquely and cutting loose with fiddle. The track is particularly apt for Paul’s ghoulish tales giving the lyric new meaning. Whilst there’s plenty of Roland originals in these curios, equally as good as the earlier 10 session tracks, I must finish mentioning Paul’s version of Joy Division’s ‘Day of the Lords’. It’s an outstanding gothic remake of this seminal number.

So if you like Paul Roland you’ll love this release, and if you haven’t heard Paul’s work ‘Professor Moriarty’s Jukebox’ it’s another great place to start. (Jason Barnard)

And we hear fantastic violin melodies played by Veronique Rocka

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Personnel:
Mick Crossley (guitar, background vocals)
Patryk Korzybski (drums)
Veronique Rocka (violin)
Joshua Roland (bass)
Paul Roland (vocals, guitar, percussion)
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Derek Heffernan (guitar on 11.)
Simon Jeffrey (drums on 11., percussion on 12.)
John Tracey (bass on 11.)
Geoffrey Richardson (violin on 12. + 18.)
Nico Steckelberg (piano on 15.)

Booklet02ATracklist:
01. Re-Animator (Roland) 3.48
02. The Crimes Of Dr Cream (Roland) 3.02
03. Cairo (Roland) 2.59
04. I Was A Teenage Zombie (Roland) 3.11
05. Captain Nemo (Roland) 4.35
06. Aleistair Crowley (Roland) 2.40
07. The Puppet Master (Roland) 3.33
08. Tortured By The Daughter Of Fu Manchu (Roland) 3.38
09. The Hanging Judge (Roland) 2.05
10. Nosferatu (Roland) 4.57
11 Meadows Of The Sea (unreleased re-recording 2007) (Bolan) 4.36
12. I’m Not Like Everybody Else (unreleased acoustic version 2007) (R.Davies) 4.29
13. Faeries (unreleased version) (Roland) 2.51
14.  Eight Little Whores (unreleased version) (Roland) 3.35
15. Kali (unreleased acoustic radio session) (Roland) 4.08
16. Bates Motel (unreleased acoustic radio session) (Roland) 5.11
17. I Dared The Devil (remixed from ‘The Devil in Love’ album) (Roland) 4.36
18. Death Of A Clown (outtake from ‘Sarabande’ sessions) (D.Davies) 3.55
19. Day Of The Lords (from ‘Shadowplay’, the Joy Division tribute album) (Curtis/Hook) 4.37

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Professor James Moriarty – as you might imagine him to be:
Professor Moriarty

Barbara Thompson’s Paraphernalia – Never Say Goodbye (2007)

FrontCover1One of the finest saxophone player ever… Barbara Thompson:

Barbara Gracey Thompson MBE (born 27 July 1944) is an English jazz saxophonist. She studied saxophone and classical composition at the Royal College of Music, but the music of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane made her shift her interests to jazz and saxophone. She was married to drummer Jon Hiseman of Colosseum from 1967 until his death in 2018.

Around 1970, Thompson was part of Neil Ardley’s New Jazz Orchestra and appeared on albums by Colosseum. Beginning in 1975, she was involved in the foundation of three bands:

United Jazz and Rock Ensemble, a ‘band of bandleaders’ …
Barbara Thompson’s Jubiaba and:
Barbara Thompson’s Paraphernalia, her most recent band

Barbara_Thompson01She was awarded the MBE in 1996 for services to music. Due to Parkinson’s disease, which was diagnosed in 1997, she retired as an active saxophonist in 2001 with a farewell tour. After a period of working as a composer exclusively, she returned to the stage in 2003.

Thompson has worked closely with Andrew Lloyd Webber on musicals such as Cats and Starlight Express, his Requiem, and Lloyd Webber’s 1978 classical-fusion album Variations. She has written several classical compositions, music for film and television, a musical of her own and songs for the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble, Barbara Thompson’s Paraphernalia and her big band Moving Parts.

She played the incidental music in the ITV police series A Touch of Frost starring David Jason. She also played flute on Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds.

From 1967, until he died in June 2018, Thompson was married to the Colosseum drummer Jon Hiseman. The couple’s son Marcus was born in 1972, and their daughter Anna (now known as singer/songwriter Ana Gracey) in 1975. (wikipedia)

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And here´s another brilliant album … criminally underrated …:

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In the aesthetic sense, Barbara Thompson has never been a revolutionary. She has not developed a new style, a new attitude or a new concept. But that was never her intention. She was more concerned with breaking the “men among themselves” attitude and drawing her audience deeper into her music than was usual in the eccentric jazz of the seventies. Her trademark was captivating, inviting but uncompromising jazz rock. She liberated her jazz from all reservations. Her fearless openness made it easier for her to incorporate all imaginable genres – whether classical, pop or world music – into her music and to move light-footedly between the various contradictory schools and eras of jazz without ever having to resort to programmatic thinking or logos.

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By bringing together what was excluded elsewhere, she perfected and refined the ideas of her more experimental contemporaries. But unlike many of her male colleagues, Barbara Thompson found recognition where jazz usually had no chance. She broke with the American pattern early on. She didn’t necessarily explore new territory in European jazz, but she gave it a new face from which it still benefits today. From the beginning, she cultivated a language that promised to be timeless and that could adopt a wide variety of styles without distorting them. As such, her ornamental, arabesque compositions, in which the not-too-soft sound of the saxophone remains organic and leads back into the ensemble, have lost none of their hypnotic fire.

“Never Say Goodbye” is a stunning and – for some perhaps – unexpected return from one of the most prolific musicians around. (intuition-music. com)

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Personnel:
Dave Ball (bass)
Jon Hiseman (drums)
Peter Lemer (piano)
Barbara Thompson (saxophone, clarinet)
Billy Thompson (violin)
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Rob Buckland (saxophone on 03.)
Ana Gracey (vocals on 04.)
Andy Scott (saxophone on 03.)
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trombone:
Andy Wood – Gordon Campbell – Mark Nightingale

trumpet, flugelhorn:
Derek Watkins – Paul Spong – Simon Gardner – Stuart Brooks

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Tracklist:

Living In The Fast Lane (Concerto in three movements)
01.On The Wings Of A Prayer (Thompson) 5.24
02. Still Waters (Thompson) 7.32
03. Living In The Fast Lane (Thompson) 7.17

04. Never Say Goodbye (The Tango That Got Away)(Thompson) 7.56
05. Giant Steps (Coltane) 6.05
06. Finger Dancing (Thompson) 7.09
07. Son Of A Gun (Thompson) 5.30
08. Are You Real (Golson) 6.42

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Liner Notes

More from Barbara Thompson:
More

Christopher Dell – The World We Knew (2007)

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Someone has come up with something fine and that someone is Christopher Dell:

Christopher Dell (* 17 September 1965 in Darmstadt) is a German musician, composer and theorist.

Dell studied vibraphone, percussion and composition in Hilversum in 1985/1986 and in Rotterdam from 1986 to 1988, followed by studies at the Berklee School of Music from 1988 to 1990. He worked as a freelance composer and vibraphonist, and from 1992 to 2000 as a lecturer at the Darmstadt Academy of Music. He also plays in the permanent trio D.R.A., which won the JazzArtAward in 2002. He has also recorded with Theo Jörgensmann, Bob Brookmeyer, Seda, Klaus König, Hiram Bullock, Norbert Stein, Vince Mendoza and with ElbtonalPercussion.

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Dell has directed the “Institute for Improvisation Technology” in Berlin since 2000 and was artist in residence at the Goethe-Institut Kolkata from 2007 to 2008. From 2008 to 2010 and from 2015 to 2018, he held a substitute professorship for urban design theory at the chair of “Urban Design” at HafenCity University Hamburg. He also held a visiting professorship in this subject at the TU Munich. Since 2017, Dell has taught urban design and urban renewal at the Berlin University of the Arts. In May 2012, Dell completed his doctorate at the University of Duisburg-Essen with the thesis “The improvising organisation: management after the end of plannability”. Since 2010 he has worked in a trio with Christian Lillinger and Jonas Westergaard (album Grammar, 2013). Dell has toured extensively with Wolfgang Haffner’s quartet. In 2017, Dell was elected to the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences. (wikipedia)

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And here´s real pretty good album:

Everybody knows Strangers in the Night, one of the greatest hits of the 20th century. Yet, hardly anybody knows that the German composer Bert Kaempfert wrote the song. One can find his name credited next to a great number of worldfamous titles. Kaempfert made music history and created a distinctive style with titles like Spanish Eyes, Danke Schoen, A
Swingin’ Safari or the aforementioned Strangers in the Night, that facilitated Frank Sinatra’s furious return to the top of the charts in 1966.

The Hamburg-born composer, arranger and big-band leader Bert Kaempfert (October 16th 1923 – June 21st 1980) discovered the Beatles and produced their first recordings, he arranged for Elvis Presley, and helped Al Martino to his comeback with Spanish Eyes. His incomparable sound – dominant “knack-bass” figures (Ladi doubling the bass line an
octave up on muted guitar), swinging rhythms, horns and a carefully created luminous background of choir and strings – created a stir all over the world in the early 1960’s.

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All the greatest stars of American showbiz were crazy about Kaempfert’s work. Wayne Newton adorned himself with Danke Schoen; the great Nat King Cole celebrated a triumph with L.O.V.E. Jack Jones (Lady), Dean Martin (I Can’t Help Remembering You), Sammy Davis Jr. (Lonely Is The Name), but also Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Bassey, Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee, Caterina Valente, Nancy Wilson – all of them had celebrated success with compositions by Bert Kaempfert. His hits have become evergreens.

In the year 1993, Kaempfert posthumously received the greatest honour that can be bestowed upon a composer: the acceptance into the American Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame.

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Christopher Dell about this album:
Kurt Weill, Hanns Eisler: the most noteworthy German songwriters of the 20th century. Here is another one: Bert Kaempfert. His melodies, atmospheres and his – then revolutionary – concept of sound and space have moved millions of listeners worldwide.
There is a unique quality to each of his compositions, that has fascinated me as a musical “problem” to be solved.
Another musically interesting aspect of his work was Kaempfert’s way of interpreting music as a design object.
In approaching the music, it was important for me that we transport the compositions into a contemporary context. To achieve this, we tried to not let the aspect of space (Kaempfert) or structure (jazz) take priority; rather we focused completely on colour. This impressionist approach allows our music to become a statement independent of the original.

The pieces seem to become excavated monuments from far-gone days. They have the morbid charm of a ruined building, the beauty of which becomes apparent if we take a second look. The voices and the atmosphere that once filled these rooms with life sound out to us from its walls. The title The World We Knew takes on a whole new meaning
in this context, and contributes an inner unity to our conception of a “considerate archaeology”.
There is one musician whose sound left its mark on Kaempfert’s music: guitar player Ladi Geisler. I’m very pleased that he contributed so much of his creativity and elegance to this recording.

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A wonderful, measured and yet new bow to one of the great composers of the past century by one of the great vibraphonists of our day. Light and yet of high standard. Simply great. (jazzpodium)

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Personnel:
Carsten Daerr (piano)
Christopher Dell (vibraphone)
Ladi Geisler (guitar)
Christof Lauer (saxophone)
Oliver Potratz (bass)
Eric Schaefer (drums)

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Tracklist:
01.Don’t Talk To Me 5.55
02. Danke schön 3.55
03. A Swingin‘ Safari 7.41
04. Strangers In The Night 5.56
05. Afrikaan Beat (Part II) 2.50
06. Wiedersehn 6.24
07. It Makes No Difference 4.33
08. Spanish Eyes 3.11
09. Afrikaan Beat (Part I) 2.48
10. Geh nicht vorbei (I Can’t Help Remembering You) 5.50
11. The World We Knew (Over & Over) 4.25
12. Love After Midnight (90 Minuten nach Mitternacht) 3.58

Music: Bert Kaempfert

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More Bert Kaempfert:
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Mika – Life In Cartoon Motion (2007)

FrontCover1Michael Holbrook Penniman Jr. (born 18 August 1983), known by his stage name Mika (/ˈmiːkə/ MEE-kə, stylised as MIKA), is a Lebanese-born British singer-songwriter.

After recording his first extended play, Dodgy Holiday, Mika was named the number-one predicted breakthrough act of 2007 in an annual BBC poll of music critics, Sound of 2007. Mika released his first full-length studio album, Life in Cartoon Motion, on Island Records in 2007, which sold more than 5.6 million copies worldwide and helped Mika win a Brit Award—winning Best British Breakthrough act—and receive a Grammy Award nomination. He topped the UK Singles Chart in January 2007 with “Grace Kelly”. He has since gone on to record four more studio albums (most recently My Name is Michael Holbrook released in October 2019), as well as serve as judge/mentor on both the French version of The Voice and the Italian version of X Factor. Mika has also starred in his own television variety show in Italy, Stasera Casa Mika [it], which won the 2017 Rose d’Or Award for Entertainment.

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Life in Cartoon Motion is the debut album released by British recording artist Mika. The album was produced by Greg Wells and Mika himself, mixed by Wells, with co-production on two songs by Jodi Marr and John Merchant. The album was released via Casablanca Records on 5 February 2007 in the United Kingdom, and on 27 March 2007 in the United States. The album’s lead single, “Grace Kelly”, stayed at number one on the UK Singles Chart for five weeks straight and became a number-one hit in many countries.

The Life in Cartoon Motion album cover has since been used in a commercial for the iPod Touch. It was the ninth-best-selling album in the world during 2007.
Prior to obtaining his record deal, Mika sent demos to many record companies in Britain, but was never signed. One record label in particular claimed that Mika had a good voice, but insisted he write more conventional songs like Robbie Williams in order to become more commercial. Mika rejected this advice. The song “Grace Kelly” was inspired by these problems. In 2006 Mika signed with Island Records and began recording his debut album. His musical influences are based in classical music. Before Mika released his debut album, he promised the media that “It was a magical world that you could live in. A parallel universe for people that is illusory and enchanting and amazing.”

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Some songs on the album are sexually ambiguous, which prompted some questioning regarding Mika’s sexuality. On this, Mika commented that he has no taboos about what he can use to tell a story or what stories he can actually tell, and said that while he believes that sexualising music is great, politically sexualising music and making the artist’s sexuality the defining point of someone’s music is “boring”. He said about his own sexuality: “laying myself out on the table to almost a tabloid level and kind of sharing my entire personal life, I’m really not into that.” The songs on the album have different subjects. “Grace Kelly”, as stated before, is about the struggle of getting a record deal. Mika stated that the song is important because “it’s a flagpole for the record in terms of lyrical content and the whole pop vision I wanted to get across.” The cover for the album and booklet were designed by Mika’s sister, Yasmine, who works under the pen name DaWack, Richard Hogg and Mika himself. In March 2007 the album was released in the United States. Before its release there was much publicity about the album, mainly due to its success in Europe. Mika commented on the hype by saying: “I think I’m lucky. Hype can be good and hype can be bad. The good thing that’s happening to me is that the hype is about the project, it’s about the music … I’m not the son of anyone famous, I haven’t really slept with anyone particularly well-known … it’s really just about music, and that’s something I think is very healthy.”

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The original version of the album, released in the United Kingdom and Europe on 5 February 2007, contains a total of 12 tracks, including the hidden track “Over My Shoulder” and the bonus track “Ring Ring”. It also includes an enhanced section, with links to music videos and live performances, as well as other exclusive content. The version released via the iTunes Store in Europe features three additional acoustic recordings as bonus tracks. The American version of the album, released on 27 March 2007, is essentially the same as the British release, however, it includes the exclusive bonus track “Erase”, not included on the original release. American versions of the album bought at Best Buy stores also carry two exclusive bonus tracks – acoustic versions of “Love Today” and “Satellite”, while the American iTunes Store version also includes an exclusive acoustic version of “Grace Kelly”. The version of the album released in Japan is essentially the same as the original British release, however, it also includes the American exclusive track “Erase”, as well as the Japanese exclusive track “Your Sympathy”, and an enhanced element containing the music video for “Grace Kelly”.

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The demo version of the album, issued to media journalists and critics, has a very different track listing than any of the main versions of the albums. It does not include the tracks “Lollipop”, “Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)” and “Over My Shoulder”, but does include the Japanese only bonus track “Your Sympathy”, as well as including “Gave It All Away”, Mika’s original version of the track, before it was given to Boyzone. Mika’s version had never appeared on any other release, until the release of the Asian Tour Edition in March 2008, which includes the eleven standard tracks from the British album, the European bonus track “Ring Ring”, “Gave It All Away” from the demo version, “Erase” from the American version, “Your Sympathy” from the Japanese edition, and the B-side recordings “Satellite”, “Only Lonely One” and “Instant Martyr”. The album was also packed with a bonus disc, including six acoustic recordings, four live recordings, and the single mix of “Happy Ending”.

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The album had significant success in Europe, with the album achieving 1.65 million certified sales in the United Kingdom and 1.45 million in France. The album was certified five-times platinum in Belgium and two-times platinum in Switzerland, and three-times platinum in Ireland, also achieving gold and/or platinum status in Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany and Greece. The album also charted in the Czech Republic and was certified in Japan. In Oceania, the album was certified two-times platinum in Australia and gold in New Zealand. In North America. the album was certified two-times platinum in Canada. (wikipedia)

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Mika’s vivid, aptly named debut album, Life in Cartoon Motion, borrows and builds on the glittery, glamorous, and not-so-secretly sentimental musical territory carved out by Elton John and Freddie Mercury, or more recently, Rufus Wainwright and the Scissor Sisters. Fortunately, his name-dropping, shape-shifting pop is usually good, and genuine, enough to come across as eloquent homage rather than blatant thievery or a tired rehash. Mika’s singles are his most charming moments, especially the instant sunshine of “Grace Kelly,” which crams tap-dancing rhythms, filmic dialogue, Elton’s pianos, Freddie’s vocal harmonies, and Brian May’s guitars into just over three minutes. “Relax (Take It Easy)” is in the same vein of hypnotic, danceable melancholy as the Scissor Sisters’ reworking of “Comfortably Numb,” albeit less showy, while “Billy Brown”‘s brass arrangement, flowing melody, and soft-shoe rhythms give it the feel of an unusually witty show tune about pre-life crises and living in the closet. As Life in Cartoon Motion unfolds, it reveals more of Mika’s musical identity, both for better and worse.

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His classical piano training gives the album an appealing fluidity, especially on “Any Other World,” and lilting, Afro-pop-inspired guitars and harmonies pop up here and there, most effectively on “Big Girl (You Are Beautiful).” However, while Life in Cartoon Motion has lots of enthusiasm and creativity, it doesn’t have a lot of nuance. On songs like “Lollipop” and “Love Today,” Mika straddles the line between adorable and annoying. And as the overly long, overwrought “Erase” shows, he also doesn’t have quite the masterful touch with gentler songs that his influences possess. As admirable as Life in Cartoon Motion’s eclecticism is, it could use more focus — something that songs like the jaunty breakup song “Stuck in the Middle” and angry rocker “Ring Ring” suggest Mika is developing. While more restraint could’ve taken the album from good to great, its Technicolor, everything-at-once, borderline overdone feel makes it a fitting portrait of Mika as a young artist. (Heather Phares)

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Personnel:
Matt Chamberlain (drums)
Derek Cintron (percussion)
Mika (vocals, keyboards, guitar, percussion, programming)
Tim Pierce (guitar)
Dan Rothchild (bass)
Dylan Schiavone (guitar)
Fabien-Waltmann (programming)
Greg Wells (guitar, bass, drums, programming, percussion, keyboards)
Lyle Workman (guitar)
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background vocals:
Zuleika Penniman – Paloma Penniman – Fortuné Penniman – Audrey Moukataff – Alexander Millar – Ida Falk Winland
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The Spoon Orchestra of Chiswick conducted by Paul Buckmaster
Studio Gospel Choir
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Larry Corbett (cello)
Lee Thornburg (horns)

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Tracklist:
01. Grace Kelly (Mika/Marr/Merchant/Warner) 3.08
02. Lollipop (Mika) 3.03
03. My Interpretation (Mika/Marr/Supa) 3.35
04. Love Today (Mika) 3.55
05. Relax, Take It Easy (contains a prelude to “Any Other World” at the end) (Mika/v.Eede) 4.30
06. Other World (Mika) 4.19
07. Billy Brown (Mika) 3.14
08. Big Girl (You Are Beautiful) (Mika) 4.08
09. Stuck In The Middle (Mika) 4.09
10. Happy Ending / Over My Shoulder (hidden track) (Mika) 10.21

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The official website:
Website

Ben Sidran Hammond Quartet – Cien Noches (2008)

FrontCover1Ben Sidran (* August 14, 1943) , a master of many trades in music and media, makes your average Renaissance man look like a slacker. Jazz pianist of international renown, lyricist of a rock classic, award-winning national broadcaster, record and video producer, scholar, author, journalist, and father to a second generation musical prodigy, Sidran has been a major player in modern jazz, rock and pop for over forty years. Ben Sidran is more widely recognized as the host of National Public Radio’s landmark jazz series “Jazz Alive”, which received a Peabody Award, and as the host of VH-1 television’s “New Visions” series, which received the Ace Award for best music series.

Born in Chicago in 1943”his father was a friend of Saul Bellow’s”Sidran was raised in the industrial lakeshore city of Racine, Wisconsin, going up to Madison to play keyboards at frat houses parties while still a teenager in 1960. The next year he was enrolled at the university, playing dates on campus and around town. He soon joined the Ardells, a Southern comfort party band led by frat boy singer Steve Miller and his friend Boz Scaggs. But when Miller and Scaggs went west to become stars, Sidran stayed to complete his degree in English lit.

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After graduating from the UW in 1966 (with honors), Sidran moved to England to pursue a Master’s Degree in American Studies at the University of Sussex. But when the Steve Miller Band came to England the following year to record with the legendary British engineer Glyn Johns, Sidran found himself back on the two-track life of academia and music.

It started with his haunting harpsichord break on Scaggs’ “Baby’s Calling Me Home” for the Miller band’s debut album, “Children of the Future.” A little later on, Ben would pen the lyrics for Miller’s “Space Cowboy,” earning a place in rock history (and enough royalties to pay

for his graduate degrees). While still pursuing his studies, Sidran also developed a relationship with Johns, often doing session work at Olympic Studios with musicians like Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. In 1969, Johns produced Sidran’s demo tape, featuring Charlie Watts, Peter Frampton and others.

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Upon receiving his doctorate in American Studies at the height of the war-induced grad school glut, Sidran faced bleak prospects in academia. Then he realized his time for studying the information was over; it was time to become the information. So in the fall of 1970, after dropping his dissertation with some publishers, he moved to Los Angeles to go into the record business. Things started to break in a hurry. First came competing bids to publish his thesis; Ben bypassed the low-key offer from Oxford University Press to take a lucrative (to him, at the time) offer from Holt, Rinehart & Winston to publish the dissertation as Black Talk, or How the Music of Black America Created a Radical Alternative to the Values of Western Literary Tradition. Then, thanks to an introduction from Johns, Sidran soon had his own record deal on Capitol Records. Feel Your Groove, a jazz/rock hybrid, featured Blue Mitchell on trumpet (the first of five such engagements), guitarists Scaggs and Ed Davis and Jim Keltner on drums.

Recognizing Ben’s skills on both sides of the studio, Capitol also offered him a job as staff producer. But because his wife Judy was unhappy in the isolated haze of the Hollywood hills, Sidran did the unthinkable and walked away from LA in the summer of ’71, returning to Madison just as Feel Your Groove was released and Black Talk was published (a set of circumstances which did not provoke the label into excessive promotional activity). Taking up the Hammond B3 residency at a local club, Sidran soon found another life- long musical partner when James Brown played in town and his drummer, Clyde Stubblefield, stayed behind. It wasn’t long before another national label came calling – Blue Thumb Records, which released Ben’s “I Lead a Life” in 1972, quickly followed by “Puttin’ In Time on Planet Earth”(1972) and “Don’t Let Go,” (1973).

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Sidran showcased his many talents in varied fields the year he turned 30 – leading a national tour, producing Tony Williams and Paul Pena, creating and hosting a weekly television series, even returning to academia to teach the social aesthetics of record production at the UW. His pace hasn’t slackened since.

After the demise of Blue Thumb, Sidran joined the Arista Records roster, releasing “Free in America” (1976), “The Doctor is In” (1977), “A Little Kiss in the Night” (1978), “Live at Montreaux,” (1979) and “The Cat in the Hat,” (1980). Although Ben developed a significant career in radio and television work during the eighties (see sidebar), he kept his hands on the keyboard, recording “Get to the Point”(PolyStar, 1981), “Old Songs for the New Depression,” (Antilles, 1982), “Bop City,” (Antilles, 1983), “On the Cool Side,” (Windham Hill, 1984), “Have You Met … Barcelona”(Orange Blue Productions, 1986), “On the Live Side,”(Windham Hill, 1986) and “Too Hot to Touch,” (Windham Hill 1987). His production credits that decade included “Ever Since the World Ended” and “My Backyard” for Mose Allison and “Born 2B Blue” for Steve Miller, with whom he and son Leo also toured.

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Sidran continued to click on many levels throughout the 1990s, even expanded his efforts to include starting his own label, Go Jazz records. Early Sidran-produced Go Jazz releases included Georgie Fame’s “Cool Car Blues,” and “The Blues and Me,” Ricky Peterson’s “Smile Blue,” and Phil Upchurch’s “Whatever Happened to the Blues.”

In 1993, Sidran combined his art with his soul on “Life’s a Lesson,” a jazz-infused collection of Jewish liturgical and folk songs. In a five-decade career (so far), this Go Jazz release is one of the crowning personal and artistic achievements.

The end of the century brought another emotional highlight – the release of “Concert for Garcia Lorca,” a tribute to the martyred Spanish poet, Federico Garcia Lorca. Recorded in the courtyard of Garcia Lorca’s home, the album earned Ben another Grammy nomination (he lost to Madonna).

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Ben has maintained his steady output of high-quality work, both on his own (“Mr. P’s Shuffle,” and “Live From the Celebrity Lounge,”) and with such artists as Van Morrison and David Sanborn. In 2001 he produced two more Grammy-nominated albums, “Mose Chronicles” (Mose Allison) and “It’s Like This” (Rickie Lee Jones).

Building on the Spanish influence that infused the Garcia Lorca release, in 2002 Ben wrote and produced (along with son Leo) the bi-lingual children’s CD, “El Elefante,” winner of the Parents’ Choice Award. That year, Ben somehow found time to return to the UW as artist-in-residence, and release his critically acclaimed memoir, A Life in the Music (Taylor).

In 2003, Ben and Leo joined with Liquid 8 Records & Entertainment to create Nardis Music, a full-service label featuring enhanced CD’s of all original releases. Among its first releases was Ben’s own “Nick’s Bump” (2004). Ben and Judy Sidran continued to reside in Madison, Wisconsin. Most Monday nights, you’ll find him behind the Hammond B3 at the Café Montmarte just off the Capitol Square, joined by Leo on drums and guitar.

A life in the music, indeed. (by Stuart Levitan)

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And here´s is one ofhis exciting live albums;

Be ready for a great groove time….

It’s rare that modern jazz crooners govern so many types of keyboard instruments to the best of its ability like Ben Sidran, whether they govern an instrument beyond their voice at all. Although Sidran’s voice is his trademark: a timeless tenor storyteller with wonderful fun and insightful lyrics, which almost has the stand up comedians ability to communicate details in situations, it is Sidran’s pianistic qualities which have been extensive documented and praised, as a leader and sideman. When decided to release a live album where he just plays the Hammond B-3 organ, and with no bass player like the jazz organ masters, it is with some excitement, admiration and concerns that arises when the music starts. “Cien Noches” is the first album in his own name where Sidran plays the organ himself on all the tracks, even though that he 40 years ago played in a organ duo with organist Mevin Rhyne’s brother on drums, Ron Rhyne, in a local jazz club!

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“Cien Noches” starts with Sidrans’ scatting intro supported by funky organ licks, before he welcomes us to Madrid’s famous Cafe Central backed by a band of experienced musicians from previous albums; saxophonist Bob Rockwell, brother and drummer Leo Sidran, and for me the unknown guitarist Louka Patenaude. The album contains a number of original songs – the album continues with “Get It Yourself, a bittersweet commentary on rock and roll industry, then” Cave Dancing, an extended parable about jazz and the roots of religion. Bob Dylan classics “Gotta Serve Somebody” and “Subterranean Homesick Blues” is performed better than the original (?) Saxophonist Bob Rockwell’s “Drinkin ‘and Thinkin’ is an obvious party favorite before groove time is announced where guest singer JJ Telesso folds out into jazz scatting ala Eddie Jefferson on “Straight No Chaser”.

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Ben Sidran is the complete musician which the quality of “Cien Noches” album proves. Those who expect an organ jazz record in the “Jimmy Smith and Joey DeFrancesco” tradition, must look elsewhere. I am charmed by Sidran’s daring approach to use a Hammond B-3 organ enormous capabilities WITH bass pedals, which piano-to-organ converts should learn of, and as he states: “Anybody who is a fan of Jimmy Smith or Groove Holmes or Larry Young or Jack McDuff knows that the bass line is everything. Not just the notes which are important too but how one uses the position of the notes within the groove to drive the music. Unlike playing in a normal trio or quartet, when you play organ you have the opportunity to set up and support the solos with complete authority using the bass groove”.

A great album for lovers of the modern crooner tradition….and the Hammond organ. (by Terje Biringvad)

Recorded live in the week of November 21, 2007 at the Café Central, Madrid(Spain)

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Personnel:
Hector Coulon (percussion)
José Luis Crespo Technical Assistance
Louka Patenaude (guitar, percussion)
Bob Rockwell (saxophone, percussion)
José Ma Rosillo Engineer, Technical Assistance
Amanda Sidran Back Cover Photo, Inside Photo
Ben Sidran (keyboards, percussion, vocals)
Leo Sidran (drums, percussion, vocals)
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Gegé Telesforo (vocals on 06.

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Tracklist:
01. Welcome To The Central (Sidran) 1.36
02. Gotta Serve Somebody (Dylan) 5.14
03. Take Me To The River (Rockwell/Sidran) 7.40
04. Drinkin’ N Thinkin’ (Rockwell) 5.04
05. A Room In The Desert (Sidran) 6.29
06. Straight No Chaser (Monk) 5.51
07. Something For You To Do (Sidran) 0.23
08. See That Rock (Sidran) 7.14
09. Subterranean Homesick Blues (Dylan)
10. Folio (Sidran) 8.58
11. Cave Dancing (Sidran) 10.37

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What a great frontcover:
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Filmed during the live recording in Madrid of Sidran’s 2008 “Cien Noches” record at the Cafe Central in Madrid, this video captures the environment and feeling in the club, and most of the first set of the final night of the two week club residency. The band features Ben Sidran on Hammond B3 and vocals, Leo Sidran on drums, Louka Patenaude on guitar and Bob Rockwell on saxophone. Inter-cut with interviews with the Sidrans about the experience. The sound is distorted at first and then improves. (Ben Sidan)

Terence Blanchard – A Tale Of God´s Will (2007)

FrontCover1A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina) is a studio album recorded in 2007 by the Terence Blanchard Quintet. The album was originally released on August 14, 2007 by Blue Note Records.

In 2008, Blanchard won a Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, and was nominated for Best Jazz Instrument Solo for his work on the song “Levees”.

Film director Spike Lee commissioned New Orleans native Terence Blanchard to compose the score for his 2006 four-hour HBO documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, to show the agony of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In 2007 Blanchard recorded “A Tale of God’s Will”, which contains parts (“The Water”, “Levees”, “Wading Through”, and “Funeral Dirge”) of the recording that were heard in Lee’s documentary. Blanchard’s mother, Wilhelmina, lost her Pontchartrain Park home in the tragedy but survived.

For the tracks “Ghost of Betsy” and “The Water”, Blanchard drew on his own experiences as a little boy when Hurricane Betsy flooded his Lower 9th Ward neighborhood in 1965. He intended “Funeral Dirge” as a dignified repast for a montage of dead bodies. Pianist Aaron Parks contributed “Ashe” as a benediction. Drummer Kendrick Scott describes his “Mantra” as a “mantra for healing and renewal.” Bassist Derrick Hodge’s lush “Over There”, written before Katrina, nonetheless fit the CD’s theme. Saxophonist Brice Winston wrote “In Time of Need” after moving with his family from New Orleans to Tucson, Arizona. (by wikipedia)

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When director Spike Lee tapped Terence Blanchard to compose the score for his 2006 documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, the agony of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was a story they both knew had to be told from a moral standpoint and with cultural credibility. Capturing the hurricane’s sorrowful consequences through music would have to take its final shape more from the attitudes of their minds, the devastation they witnessed, and from the inspiration emanating from the people they would meet during the making of documentary. On A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina), Blanchard uses every principle he has mastered as a genius jazz trumpeter to relay the impact of the destruction, the frustration, the sadness and the hope for a future. Full of his beliefs, sustained and elevated by the power of his purpose, Blanchard, accompanied by his quintet and the Northwest Sinfonia (which he conducted and co-orchestrated), delivers a powerful explanation of the emotions surging through them during this devastating experience. Opening with “Ghost of Congo Square,” an African beat drenched in Blanchard’s articulate trumpeting, handclaps, percussion and the chant “This is the tale of God’s will” — the listener is immediately informed about why things beyond their comprehension will undoubtedly happen.

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The two-minute trumpet-based “Ghost of Betsy”(about Hurricane Betsy) and the plaintive “Ghost of 1927,” a tune reincarnating another flood that ravaged New Orleans and sketched out by saxophonist Brice Winston and drummer Kendrick Scott, complete a trilogy of brief ghost interludes interspersed throughout the recording to imply warnings from the past. Blanchard depicts “Levees” as perpetually in flux: the calm before the storm as captured by the string arrangement; the interlude which decries a breakdown in the security of the Crescent City, shifting, changing, crashing from the strength of thousands of waves, blown by all the winds that passed and losing their old forms in the backwaters of time. His horn registers the aftermath of the destruction — wailing, grieving and weeping. This song is absolutely amazing. Pianist Aaron Parks plays the unforgettable melody on “Wading Through” “The Water,” and mournful “Funeral Dirge” form the remaining nucleus of the material from the documentary. Songs written by four members of Blanchard’s quintet serve to offer their own perspective of the tragedy, yet all of the music flows seamlessly to create a brilliant, inspired requiem.

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The music is potent, tragic, and adept featuring full orchestral plunges and Blanchard’s stellar trumpet emerging to involve you the way he’s involved. “Dear Mom,” Blanchard’s heartfelt tribute to his mother who lost her home in the tragedy but thankfully survived with her life, closes the recording. The imagery of sadness and frustration is deeply prevalent but Blanchard builds in accents and hopeful rhythmic nuance to give the listener time to catch his breath, leave behind certain memories, and to realize the promise of a brighter future. The music here will leave you in a melancholy, contemplative mood and definitely in awe of the talented musicians, composers, and arrangers who told A Tale of God’s Will. This CD was nominated in 2007 for a Grammy award as Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, and Blanchard’s improvisation on “Levees” was nominated for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo. (by Paula Edelstein)

BackCoverPersonnel:
Terence Blanchard (trumpet)
Zac Harmon (tabla)
Derrick Hodge (bass)
Aaron Parks (piano)
Kendrick Scott (drums, percussion)
Brice Winston (saxophone)

TerenceBlanchard03Tracklist:
01. Ghost Of Congo Square (Blanchard/Hodge/Scott) 3.05
02. Levees (Blanchard) 8.11
03. Wading Through (Blanchard) 6.29
04. Ashé (Parks) 8.19
05. In Time Of Need (Winston) 7.54
06. Ghost Of Betsy (Blanchard) 2.09
07. The Water (Blanchard) 4.10
08. Mantra Intro (Scott) 3.22
09. Mantra (Scott) 9.52
10. Over There (Hodge) 7.46
11. Ghost Of 1927 (Blanchard) 1.40
12. Funeral Dirge (Blanchard) 5.55
13. Dear Mom (Blanchard) 3.39

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Babe Ruth – Que Pasa (2007)

FrontCover1Returning after a break of 33 years, you could be forgiven that Babe Ruth would be out of touch with music. You would be wrong. This marks a fantastic return to performing for Babe Ruth, an album that moves through countless genres to create something truly unique. There is still enough to mark this out as a Babe Ruth record, the ease with which they move from genre to genre is astounding. It may have been a long wait, but it was worth it. (Promo text)

But…

“Que Pasa” is the 6th full-length studio album by UK rock/hard rock act Babe Ruth. The album was released through Revolver Records in 2007. That´s 31 years after their last album release “Kid’s Stuff (1976)”. Drummer Ed Spevok is the only remaining member in the lineup from that album, but the four other members in the “Que Pasa” lineup are not strangers to fans of the band. It´s the four original members from the debut album “First Base (1972)” who have reunited. So in addition to Ed Spevok we have Jenny Haan on vocals, Alan Shacklock on guitars, Dave Punshon on keyboards and Dave Hewitt on bass. With a lineup like that I initially had high expectations to the quality of the music…

…the album soon turns into quite the disappointment though. The execution of the music is professional enough but I think the tracks on the album lack power and bite. Jenny Haan doesn´t quite sound like her own rock mama self anymore either and that´s a big minus in my book. To be honest she sounds a bit tired and worn.

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While the tracks as such are well composed they lack what made the early albums by the band so enjoyable and that´s attitude. There are 14 tracks on the album which are way too many when the music isn´t that interesting. My mind simply wanders several times during the album´s playing time. To call this a hard rock release is probably a bit misleading too as it leans more towards commercial pop/rock music than sweaty hard rock. There´s even some rather atrocious rap vocals featured on the album.

All in all “Que Pasa” is a big disappointment and a rather weak comeback album by Babe Ruth. As the sound production is of relatively high quality, the songwriting compositionally acceptable (but uninspired) and the musicianship on an acceptable level too I´ll give “Que Pasa” a 2 star (40%) rating, but it´s not an album I´ll put on for my own personal enjoyment. (by Umur)

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Personnel:
Janita (Jenny) Haan (vocals)
David Hewitt (bass)
Dave Punshon (piano)
Alan Shacklock (guitar, keyboards, programming)
Ed Spevock (drums, percussion)
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DJ Kidsmeal (turntables)
Kim Shacklock (saxophone, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. 4 Dear Life 6.46
02. Que Pasa 5.04
03. The Sun, Moon & Stars 5.18
04. Mother Tongue (Pt 1) 2.19
05. Apache 1.48
06. Mother Tongue (Pt 2) 4.35
07. Doncha Wanna Dance 5.28
08. Break For The Border 5.34
09. Killer Smile 5,47
10. 4 Letter Word 5.32
11. The Blues 7.35
12. The Mexican Millennium (Pt 1) 3.04
13. Santa Ana 2.10
14. The Mexican Millennium (Pt 2) 0.36

All songs written by Alan Shacklock
except 05. which was written by Jerry Lordan

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Colbie Caillat – Coco (2007)

FrontCover1Coco is the debut studio album by American singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat. The album was released on July 17, 2007 in the United States, debuting at number six on the US Billboard 200, selling 51,000 copies in its first week. It also became Caillat’s best-selling album to date, selling 2,100,000 copies in the United States and over 3,000,000 copies around the world. Caillat supported the album with the Coco World Tour, as well as four singles. The lead single “Bubbly” was a huge international hit, while the following two singles “Realize” and “The Little Things” were minor hits. The final single, titled “Somethin’ Special”, was released on July 29, 2008 to support the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. It was later mixed and titled “Somethin’ Special (Beijing Olympic Mix)”.

Caillat met producer Mikal Blue, who hired her to sing on techno songs used at fashion shows. Caillat began playing the acoustic guitar at the age of 19 and Blue helped her record her first song. She auditioned for American Idol but was rejected at the pre-audition stage and was unable to sing for the judges. The second time she auditioned for the show, she sang her own original song “Bubbly” and was rejected once again. However, Caillat expressed gratitude at the judges’ decision, saying “I was shy. I was nervous. I didn’t look the greatest.

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I wasn’t ready for it yet. I was glad, when I auditioned, that they said no.” The popularity of Caillat’s MySpace profile led her to become the number-one unsigned singer in her genre for four consecutive months.[6] Her father also produced her demo songs, and was involved in production of later albums. Coco was produced by Mikal Blue, with additional production by Caillat, her father Ken Caillat and Jason Reeves.

The album was titled “Coco” because Coco was Caillat’s nickname given to her when she was a young child. The album’s artwork was a still from Caillat’s music video for the album’s lead single “Bubbly”, released on May 15, 2007. There are differences between the artwork for the standard and deluxe editions. The standard artwork shows the photo with a brown frame, while the deluxe artwork shows the photo without the frame but with blue waves and the words “DELUXE EDITION” on top. Also, a little yellow flower drawn next to the album title wasn’t shown on the deluxe artwork.

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Coco was released on July 10, 2007 in Australia and Asia and a week later in North America. Its deluxe edition was released on September 3, 2008 in Japan and November 11, 2008 worldwide. The album was certified 2× Platinum by the RIAA with shipments to U.S. retailers of 2,000,000 units. The album’s first single, a smash hit, was “Bubbly”, followed by a second single, “Realize”, and the third, “The Little Things”, which became the final single from the album in the United States. The deluxe edition song, “Somethin’ Special (Beijing Olympic Mix)”, was released as a fourth single on July 29, to give support to the American athletes participating in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. The song also appeared on the AT&T Team USA Soundtrack.

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According to one of the pictures on Caillat’s MySpace page, it was assumed that her song “Battle” would have been the fourth and final single from Coco. Because of her collaboration with Jason Mraz, “Lucky”, being released as a single and with the release of her second album, it is assumed that the single and music video were canceled and all promotion was then focused on “Lucky” and her second album Breakthrough.

Coco was also promoted with two tours: Coco Summer Tour in 2007 and Coco World Tour in 2008.

“Bubbly” was released as the lead single from the album on May 15, 2007 in United States. It remains Caillat’s biggest hit in the US to date, and her only single to reach the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100. The single’s music video, directed by Liz Friedlander, aired on MTV, VH1 and CMT. A still from the music video was used as the cover for the album. The video/single was also featured in the hit PlayStation 2 karaoke game SingStar Pop Vol 2 released in late September 2008 in the United States. It was also featured in SingStar Hottest Hits in PAL regions.

Singles
“Realize” was officially released in January 2008 as the second single from the album, peaking at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming her second Top 20 hit in the U.S. The song is musically similar to “Bubbly”, as it is an acoustic folk-pop song, where Caillat sings of having feelings for a best friend. Caillat and her backup band performed “Realize” as the featured musical performance that closed the May 23, 2008 broadcast of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
“The Little Things” was released as the third single in Germany on March 7, 2008 and in United States in October 2008. The single did not chart well in the US, and was her weakest charting single from the album, peaking at number seven on US Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100. In 2008, she recorded a French translated version of this song.
“Somethin’ Special” was released as the fourth and final single from the album on July 29, 2008. The song was included only in the deluxe edition. It was released to give support to the American athletes participating in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. The song also was included on the AT&T Team USA Soundtrack. (by wikipedia)

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Sweetness rules on Colbie Caillat’s debut, Coco, which is perhaps only appropriate for an album bearing that name. The record doesn’t play like a toasty mug of chocolate on a winter’s day, though; it’s a sugary lemonade on a breezy summer afternoon. It’s light and comforting, a familiar blend of sunny pop and singer/songwriter tropes that flirt with cliché but never sound hackneyed — a lighter, brighter spin on Norah Jones that sounds like an ideal soundtrack to a few hours in a cozy coffeehouse or a montage on Grey’s Anatomy, whatever comes first.

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If that gives the impression that Caillat is a little calculated — and if her music-biz heritage (her dad co-produced Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and Tusk) gives the sense that she may have had a silver spoon, and if her celebrated MySpace popularity is also initially suspect — then as an album Coco shows no crassness or coldness: it flows easily and, yes, sweetly, filled with gently ingratiating melodies and delivered with warmth and a casual charisma that proves to be quite endearing by the end of the record. Caillat doesn’t attempt anything approaching a major statement — the album is filled with songs about love and life — but that’s her appeal: she sings about simple, everyday things in an unassuming manner, letting her melodies and girl-next-door charm carry the day, and they do so winningly on this nicely mellow debut. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Michael Baker (drums)
Stevie Blacke (cello, viola, violin)
Mikal Blue (bass, guitar, keyboards, synthesizer)
Colbie Caillat (vocals, guitar)
Jaco Caraco (guitar)
Brian Carr (keyboards)
Luis Conte (percussion)
Tim Fagan (guitar)
Cecil “Censi” Francis (steel-drums)
Victor Indrizzo (drums)
Mark Levang (piano)
Dave Marotta (bass, guitar)
Jason Reeves (guitar, piano, ukulele, backgroun vocals)
Yukihide Takiyama (bass, guitar)
Annaliese Wolverton (background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Oxygen (Caillat/Reeves) 3.51
02. The Little Things (Caillat/Reeves) 3.46
03. One Fine Wire (Blue/Caillat/Reeves) 3.38
04. Bubbly (Caillat/Reeves) 3.17
05. Feelings Show (Blue/Caillat/Reeves) 3.10
06. Midnight Bottle (Caillat/Reeves) 3.42
07. Realize (Blue/Caillat/Reeves) 4.05
08. Battle (Blue/Caillat) 4.04
09. Tailor Made (Caillat/Reeves) 4.30
10. Magic (Caillat/Reeves) 3.25
11. Tied Down (Caillat/Reeves) 3.08
12. Capri (Caillat) 3.01

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