Helene Blum & Harald Haugaard – Julerosen (2016)

FrontCover1A new discovery for me:

Helene Blum (born 1979) is a Danish singer and musician who specializes in folk music. Since 2005, when she won the Danish Music Awards Folk prize for her album En sød og liflig klang, she has performed widely in Denmark, North America and Germany, frequently appearing with her husband Harald Haugaard.

Born in 1979 in Gelsted on the Danish island of Funen, Helene Blum was the first singer to graduate from the folk music department at the Carl Nielsen Academy of Music in Odense when she received her diploma in 2004.[1] Together with her husband, the fiddler Harald Haugaard, she has given over 700 performances in Denmark, Germany and North America. Composing most of her songs herself, she combines folk, pop and chanson.

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Singing soprano, Blum has also performed in the ballet Medea at the Schleswig-Holsteinische Landestheater in Flensburg and in the opera Konsuma in Odense. The composer, Rasmus Zwicki, wrote a special part for her.[6] She went on to perform in the Helene Blum & Harald Haugaard Quintet, singing and playing the violin. The other players are Kristine Elise Pedersen (cello), Mattias Perez (guitar), and Sune Rahbek (percussion). In 2017, the Helene Blum and Harald Haugaard Band also included Mikkel Grue (guitar) and Mathæus Bech (bass). Now averaging a hundred concerts a year, they have performed together in Germany, the United States, Austria, Norway, Canada, Japan and Denmark.

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The Daily Telegraph included her Men med åbne øjne as one of the best folk music albums of 2013. Calling the album “an unexpected treat”, the critic Martin Chilton praised Blum’s “haunting voice”, even if nearly all the lyrics were in Danish.

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Harald Haugaard (born 23 February 1975) is a Danish violinist and composer raised on the island of Funen in Denmark. He is best known as a folk musician, having collaborated with musician Morten Alfred Høirup in the duo Haugaard & Høirup, and with folk singer Helene Blum. Together, they perform as the Helene Blum & Harald Haugaard Band.

Haugaard studied general music education at the Funen Music Conservatory in 1998. There, he was a lecturer of folk music education from 2000-2005. He also taught at the Norwegian Music College, the Vestjysk Music Conservatory, Ollerup Efterskole, and the Royal College of Music, Stockholm. In 2000, he played violin on the second studio album of the folktronica band Sorten Muld, entitled “III”.


Together with Morten Alfred Høirup, he formed the duo Haugaard & Høirup in 1998. This act received numerous nominations and awards, winning the title of “Danish Folk Art Artist of the Year” and “Danish People’s Composer of the Year” at the 2004 Danish Music Awards.[3] He released his fourth solo album Den Femte Søster in 2011. This album earned Haugaard the “Instrumentalist of the Year” award, and the album, “The Danish People’s Album of the Year” in 2012. He was also nominated for “Composer of the Year”.


In 2009 he released a solo album entitled Burning Fields. Released by Pile House Records, it received five out of six stars by the music magazine GAFFA. I 2011 he released Den Femte Søster, which GAFFA gave four out of six stars.


In 2012 he joined the folk art festival BALTICA as artistic director with his youth ensemble. He also was an artistic director and teacher at the South Danish Folk Music School from 2012-2016.

Haugaard founded and directs two summer schools: Haugaard’s International Fiddle School and Haugaard’s West Denmark Fiddle School (in 2008 and 2015, respectively).

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Haugaard collaborated with the folksinger Helene Blum, and toured with her through their act Helene Blum & Harald Haugaard Band. In 2015, they were nominated for “Singer/Musician of the Year” at the Danish Folk Music Awards. (wikipedia)

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And here´s their christmas album:

Atmospheric Christmas concert drawing from the richness of Nordic music.

By placing traditions in an exciting, modern context, singer Helene Blum and violinist Harald Haugaard are among Denmark’s most popular artists. They move between folk, classical, jazz and balladry with delight and confident ease. Whether melancholy songs or exuberant Scandinavian dances, purely acoustic or interwoven with electronic sounds – their music has grace, power, poetry and soul. Haugaard’s grandiose playing on the fiddle and Blum’s sensitive singing are deeply touching. Live, they take the audience by storm with their natural style. Their album “Julerosen”, in German “Christrose”, is about an atmospheric Christmas concert that takes you on a wintry journey through the north: to icy-cold Karelia, where hope sounds from deep flute notes; to Swedish songs of St. Staffan steering his horses through snow-covered forests; to the streets of Copenhagen, where a little girl sells her sulphur woods. Blum and Haugaard have invited some of the best artists from past concerts – Timo Alakotila (piano), Tapani Varis (double bass, overtone flutes), Leo Svensson (cello), Mikkel Grue (guitars) and Sune Rahbek (percussion) – to form a brilliant seven-piece ensemble. The musicians from Finland, Sweden and Denmark are in a class of their own, and so “Julerosen” draws on the whole wealth of Nordic music. (press release)


Helene Blum & Harald Haugaard come from Denmark and the duo has released a new CD for Christmas. Contemplation, tranquillity and cheerfulness are attributes associated with Christmas and this is also true of the album, Julerosen (Christ Rose), by Blum and Haugaard. To record the silver disc, the two Danes got support from other musicians and you can hear that in the variety of instruments. Violin, piano, double bass, flutes, guitars, mandolin, percussion belong to the instrumental line-up, as do cello, dobro, clarinet, flugelhorn and nykkelharpa. Not all instruments are always used at the same time. In Hjemlige jul, for example, only the cello and Helene Blum’s singing can be heard.

A lot of effort has been put into the booklet. Besides a nice introduction to the Christmas season and a poem (in Danish) by Helene Blum, there is information about all the songs. In addition, there is a recipe for a Rye stollen and other interesting facts.


The coincidental timing of listening to the album for the first time couldn’t have been better. I was once again on the road at night by car, about 300 km through northern Germany. The first snow had fallen and I slid the CD into the player as I drove off. The first piece, Julerosen, started to play and there it was, the Christmas mood. And to say it right away, the whole time until I was back home, I enjoyed the music.

On the silver disc, besides studio recordings, four live recordings, Et lidet barn så lysteligt, Fålen, Maria gennem torne går and Polskor are burned. All great songs, all of which have something wonderful about them. The first three are quiet, contemplative works and Polskor is a happy, danceable instrumental. In Maria gennem torne går, I especially like the alternating playing of dobro and clarinet in the instrumental part of the song. Great cinema! The piece originally comes from Germany and is known here as Maria durch ein Dornwald ging.


Now to the works produced in the studio. There is another instrumental piece on the CD. It is called December Polonaise and I like it very much. A cheerful melody, with a beautiful instrumental arrangement, in which the use of the clarinet again appeals to me. There are also two violins, cello, guitar, double bass and percussion. A great song is also Julerosen. A Christmas carol as one would wish for it. Sung and played with a lot of feeling, but also very festive. Julevise 1862 is also fun to listen to and a song that manages to inspire. I could go on like this, because I like all the pieces very much and that doesn’t happen often.

There are two tracks I would like to mention. With a blink of an eye, I must confess, Sikken voldsom trængsel og alarm is my favourite song on the CD. A very beautiful, atmospheric, cheerful piece that takes you along and sticks in your ear. A Christmas song couldn’t be better!


You won’t find Kimer i Klokker on the track list. The eleventh piece on the silver disc is called that and is a bonus on the disc. Very festive and played and sung with a lot of feeling, it is a grand finale to the album. Especially the flugelhorn contributes immensely. I am still very enthusiastic.

I think you could already notice my enthusiasm for this album when reading the review. I am too! What I have here is a masterpiece of high quality and recorded with much love. Everything fits and you want to listen to the CD again and again. If you like Scandinavian music and are into Christmas, you will love this disc. Beautiful melodies paired with the clear voice of Helene Blum make the album something special. It is a mixture of a lot of fresh folk, some classical and jazz. The music enchanted me and let my thoughts drift. And the album still has one thing: a lot of soul! (Jens Peglow)


Helene Blum (vocals, violin)
Ragnhild Furebotten (violin)
Mikkel Grue (guitar)
Harald Haugaard (violin, mandolin)
Sune Rahbek (percussion)
Tapani Varis (bass)
Mikkel Boggild (guitar on 11.)
Sune Hansbaek( guitar on 06.)
Soren Mikkelson (sonics on 08.)
Kirstine Elise Pedersen (cello on 06.)
Rene Hojlund-Rasmussen (clarinet on 04.)
Erik Rydvall (nyckleharpa on 05., 10. + 11.)
Jonas Simonsson (clarinet on 02., 07.)
Torben Sminge (flugelhorn on 11.)
Leo Svensson (cello on 05. + 10.)
Rasmus Zeeberg (mandolin on 02., guitar on 06.)


01. Julerosen (Blum) 3.35
02. Et lidet barn så lysteligt (live) (Traditional/Grundtvig) 3.01
03. Hjemlige jul (Nielsen/Bonnelycke) 1.56
04. December Polonaise (Haugaard/Grue) 3.32
05. Fålen (live) (Traditional) 2.55
06. Julevise 1862 (Blum/Haugaard/Traditional) 3.20
07. Maria gennem torne går (Maria zum Dornwald ging) (live) (Traditional) 3.50
08. Sorte Stær (Blum/Haugaard/Gregersen) 4.38
09. Sikken voldsom trængsel og alarm (Traditional/Haugaard/Faber) 3.09
10. Polskor (live) (Traditional) 5.32
11. Kimer i Klokker (Rung/Haugaard/Grundtvig) 2.43



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Liner Notes

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The official website:


Christian Weidner – Every Hour Of The Light And Dark (2016)

FrontCover1Christian Weidner is a German Saxophonist and composer who has worked with internationally renowned musicians and bands. His own music projects have been released on the Munich label Pirouet since 2004.

As a musician and teacher, he pursues an integrated approach. Equally central to Weidner’s work are the consolidation of tradition, research into new methods and the dedication to authentic personal expression.

Christian Weidner was born in 1976, grew up in Kassel and discovered the alto saxophone and jazz at the age of 12. At 16 he played in the Hesse State Youth Jazz Orchestra and at 17 in the Federal (national) Youth Jazz Orchestra. At 18 he won first prize in the ‘Jugend Jazzt’ (Youth Plays Jazz) competition and began playing in a duo with Gunter Hampel, a collaboration which would continue for many years. In 1996 he began studying at the Hamburg University of Music. In 1999 he received an Erasmus scholarship to study in Stockholm and from 2000-2002 he studied at the Hanns Eisler School of Music in Berlin.

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In 1999 Weidner moved to Berlin and began working together with well-respected contemporaries of the Berlin scene, such as Eric Schaefer, Simon Stockhausen, Chris Dahlgren, Antonis Anissegos, Gebhard Ullmann, Christian Lillinger, Dejan Terzic, Ronny Graupe und Oliver Steidle.

In the following years, he also played in the Franco-German Jazz Ensemble with Albert Mangelsdorff and worked in the bands of Günter Lenz, John Schröder und Rainer Tempel as well as on projects by Henning Sieverts, Kalle Kalima und Sebastian Merk together with international greats such as Kurt Rosenwinkel, John Hollenbeck und Greg Cohen.

2004 saw the beginning of an intensive collaboration with the jazz label Pirouet Records, which resulted in the first recordings of his trio, together with Daniel Schröteler und Antonio Palesano. The trio then became a quartet and since then, three albums, widely praised by the international music press, have been released. Currently playing with him in the quartet are Achim Kaufmann, Henning Sieverts und Samuel Rohrer.

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In addition, Weidner plays in Frank Gratkowski’s experimental microtonal saxophone quartet ‘Four Alto’, in Frank Möbus’ trio ‘Der Rote Bereich’, in the harpist Kathrin Pechlof’s trio collective, in Johannes Lauer’s orchestra ‘Lauer Large’, in Norwegian Karl Ivar Refseth’s trio and in Robert Landfermann’s quintet with Elias Stemeseder, Sebastian Gille and Jim Black.

Since 2008, Weidner has worked regularly with the voice actor Christian Brückner. He composed the music to audio books by Kazuo Ishiguro and Ror Wolf and performed an E.E. Cummings programme as a duo with Brückner at the 2013 Berlin Jazz Festival.

Weidner has received numerous studio advancement prizes as well as a composition scholarship from the Berlin Senate. He has led workshops at the Colleges of Music in Dresden, Hanover und Danzig, as well as while on tour for the Goethe Institute in diverse locations in South East Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. Since 2014 he acts as external expert and member of the jury at the Bern University of the Arts as part of the Bachelor examination process.

From 2013-2018 Weidner also co-curated the Berlin concert series ‘Serious Series’.

In autumn 2015 Christian Weidner was appointed Professor of Saxophone at the State University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart. (press release)

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When it comes to so-called “free” jazz, there’s a lingering misconception among some listeners who’ve only heard Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, or late-period Coltrane – there’s the belief that “free” means “fiery,” and that all of the music, by necessity, comes out of the same white-hot barrel as Peter Brötzmann’s Machine Gun. Of course, that’s not true; while some of the genre’s best recordings are, indeed, explosive, there are just as many that evade that descriptor. In short, there are many shades of freedom. Some sound like spiraling shrapnel from a hand-grenade, and others are closer to the lazy flights of migratory birds.

Christian Weidner is one of those artists who sticks to the cooler, calmer side of the free jazz spectrum. His compositions are, well, composed, and they always seem to maintain a certain reserve, an equable demeanor that lends itself well to the late hours. On this, his latest album, Weidner returns with the trusty group that helped him deliver the enchanting Dream Boogie: Achim Kaufmann on piano, Henning Sieverts on bass, and Samuel Rohrer on drums. Dream Boogie was a stellar effort, with pieces that ranged from the architectural elegance of ECM, to pieces that wandered down more unpredictable paths.

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After one or two listens, there might not seem to be much to distinguish Every Hour of the Light and Dark from the previous album; both exist in a world of dreams, and the compositions themselves mirror this fact – sometimes, they glide along with a sensible, transparent beauty. Other times, they come to us in fractals, shards of melody that skip and stutter and swirl. Like the duo of Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp, Kaufmann and Weidner have a certain simpatico when they play together, and they tackle all this stylistic variation with astounding proficiency.

Though this newest album shares many attributes with the 2012 outing, I would say that it’s a refinement of what made the last one so compelling. It’s even more ethereal, and it strikes me as (yet again) an album that is practically made for nocturnal musings. “Tethys” is lovely, yet slippery, with Kaufmann’s notes sometimes clustering, sometimes cascading, but never spoiling the listener with a straightforward progression. In many ways, the crystalline delicacy of his playing on this piece recalls Debussy’s compositions – impressionistic tonal swaths that are near-spectral in their lightness. The title track develops in more direct ways, but still maintains a heart of inscrutability; Weidner is endlessly expressive here, but he is also laconic – each note arises as if it were the last drop of water squeezed from a damp towel. This terse approach is shared by the rhythm section: Henning Sieverts plays with great economy, not often taking solos or busying up the compositions with undue complexities. Likewise, Samuel Rohrer has a soft touch – he plays just what is necessary to maintain the foundation of Weidner’s shadowy sound-world.

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As its title implies, “Weightless” is a sparse affair, and its success owes perhaps more to the vacuum between the notes than to the notes themselves. Although it stretches to seven minutes, it never loses its enchanting quality – like being stranded in the depths of space, watching the Earth move from marble-to-pea-to-speck, it’s enchantment of a somber sort, but enchantment nonetheless. “Dance Fantasm” is a quick antidote to the solemnity, injecting the album with a burst of primal energy. It’s only a burst, however, being soon replaced by the elegiac wails of Weidner’s alto on “In Memoriam.” In this piece, the other players are slow to appear, giving Weidner and Kaufmann an opportunity to show just how deep-seated that aforementioned simpatico truly is. When Sieverts and Rohrer do arrive, it’s not to tie a rhythm to Weidner and Kaufmann’s productions, but to accent them with sibilant splashes (in Rohrer’s case) and leaden lumps (in Sieverts’). The final piece, “As Long as Now,” finds the album closing in much the same way that it began – somberly.

Weidner’s compositions are pleasant, and they never veer off into the harsh, uncompromising landscapes that many other albums lumped under the “free jazz” label tend to do. For that reason, Every Hour of the Light and Dark might strike some listeners as overly safe. While my first couple of listens seemed to be leading me to that same opinion, it was with a few more that I started to see the complexities buried in these compositions – yes, they are (for the most part) calm, but there is a knotty, mystifying heart in the center of this album. As with any exceptional recording, it is in the untying of those tangled threads that we receive the greatest sense of fulfillment. (by Derek Stone)


Achim Kaufmann (piano)
Samuel Rohrer (drums)
Henning Sieverts (bass)
Christian Weidner (saxophone)


01. Tethys 5.01
02. Every Hour Of The Light And Dark 6.31
03. Fuzzy Membership 4.33
04. Weightless 7.07
05. Dance Fantasm 1.51
06. In Memoriam 8,12
07. Fairy Tales Friends 5.48
08. As Long As Now 4.29

Music: Christian Weidner



The official website:







“Weidner is a musician with a very developed and finely focused artistic vision; an owner of a rare original voice.” (Dan MacCleaghan, All About Jazz)

Michael Patrick Kelly – Ruah (2016)

FrontCover1Best known as the third youngest member of the eccentric, award-winning, traditional German/Irish band the Kelly Family (also known as “the Kellys”), Michael Patrick Kelly (* December 5, 1977 in Dublin), who also goes by the name Paddy Kelly, was born in Dublin, Ireland on December, 5, 1977 to American teacher Daniel Jerome Kelly and American dancer Barbara Ann Kelly.

Kelly spent his formative years busking and performing with his multi-generational family troupe throughout Europe and the United States.

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By the time the mid-’90s rolled around, the Kelly Family had become an international tour de force, and the multi-talented “Paddy” had become a bit of a teen idol. Overwhelmed by the media attention and overall stresses of public life, Kelly quit the family business in 2004 (after issuing his debut solo album In Exile the year prior) and spent six years in a monastery in France, where he sought to gain some personal perspective after a largely nomadic early life. In 2010 he decided to return to writing and recording music, and in 2015 he issued his second solo outing, Human, via Sony Music. Ruah, Kelly’s third album, appeared in September 2016, followed quickly in June 2017 by iD. (James Christopher Monger)

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And here´s  very special album by Michael Patrick Kelly:

Last year, Michael Patrick Kelly finally stepped out of his family’s shadow. “Human” was well received and showed the artist as a mature songwriter. Only one year later, the Irishman presents the spiritual album “Ruah” (Hebrew for ‘spirit’). Kelly lived in seclusion for six years in a Catholic monastery in the north of France. The longplayer offers insights into this religiously influenced time.

The title track with the accompanying “Prologue” is well chosen as an introduction: With mythical sounds and flowing rhythms, Kelly sings to the Holy Spirit to take him to higher things. The following single, “I Have Called You”, drips with restraint and tenderness, telling of the Lord’s unconditional love.


Almost every song title is about religion and spirituality. The touching ballad “Don’t Judas Me” is of course about betrayal. In “Abba! Father!” Kelly loudly calls on the Lord, ‘Abba’ being from Aramaic and meaning Jesus’ personal address to his Father and Creator. “Agape” is a Christian term and stands for divine love – in this song Michael Patrick thanks God and pledges his allegiance to Him. In the chorus, however, the campfire atmosphere of the Kelly Family sparkles through a little.

Nevertheless: So far, Michael’s religion lesson is not particularly rousing, rather bland: Kelly never breaks out of his soft singer/songwriterism. Fortunately, the fellow believer has three more interesting pieces in his luggage.


For example, “Seinn Aililiú”, sung entirely in Gaelic. Kelly’s echoing vocals, an Italo-Western guitar and spherical synths create an Elysian atmosphere. When the drums and choir start in the chorus, goose bumps are the order of the day. Even associations with the theme of the Fanatasy video game “ICO” come to mind.

Then the eulogy “Ô Prends Mon Âme”, performed in French, which means something like ‘Oh, take my soul’. Kelly sings velvety soft and unagitated, guitar and glockenspiel sound gently in the background, his breathed vocals captivate the listener for almost four minutes.


Kelly even sings the closing track “Salve Regina” in Latin. A conciliatory, dreamy arrangement with guitar and piano as well as the singer’s good voice end his very personal religion lesson.

You have to give Kelly credit for the fact that with “Ruah” he has recorded neither an overcandid nor a ‘children’s Bible weekend tralala’ album. The record spreads intimacy and melodiousness – as far as one can get involved with the religious theme. (Johannes Jimeno)


Lars Ehrhardt (guitar on 02.)

Christian Heidenbauer (guitar on 02., 04., 05., 06., 07., 08.)

Michael Patrick Kelly (vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion)
Niels Lorenz (bass)
Tim Lorenz (drums)
Leo Pearson (pedal steel-guitar on 02., 06. percussion 0n 04.)
Nils Ruzicka (piano on 03., 05.)
Christoph Van Hal (flugelhorn on 04, 08., 09. vibraphone on 04., trombone on 08, )
Dondieu Divin (piano on 11.)
Jack Gourlay (guitar on 05., 07., 10.)
Simon Kluth (violin on 08. + 10., viola on 10.)
Dirk Schulz (guitar on 11.)
Richard Rainey – Nils Ruzicka
background vocals:
Lars Peter – Laura Bellon – Sebastian Cuthbert – Paul Habsburg
Cois Cladaigh Chamber Choir (on 06. + 10.)
Emmanuel School Of Mission Altötting, Gebetshaus Augsburg (background vocals on 07.)
The Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Martin Pospieszalski & Prof. Wojciech Rajski (on 08.)


01. Prologue (Kelly) 1.02
02. Ruah (Kelly) 3.49
03. I Have Called You (Kelly) 3.52
04. Walk The Line (Kelly) 4.05
05. Don’t Judas Me (Kelly) 3.42
06. Seinn Aililiú (Traditional) 4.39
07. Abba! Father! (Kelly) 5.20
08. Holy (Kelly) 6.38
09. Ô Prends Mon Âme (Cohen/Arnera) 3.42
10. Agape (Kelly) 4.42
11. Salve Regina (Latin) (Kelly/v.Reichenau) 4.09




The official website:

Christmas 2021 (13): New York Jazz Lounge – Merry Christmas (2016)


And here´s another fine Christmas Jazz Lounge album, recorded ny unknown studio musicians … but it´s a real nice album:

Man….this was a great find! I’ve listened to this every day while out shopping or sitting at my desk working from home….i draw the curtains back and watch the snow fall , sip hot coffee, and listen to this album. Really great performance (Beatnik Records)

My mum always puts this music on in the kitchen while cooking. I could honestly repeat it of by heart by now (by vonne sas

This entry is dedicated to all these unknown studio musicians who give us so much joy !

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a bunch of unknown studio musicians

Christmas Jazz Lounge01Tracklist:
01. Frosty The Snow Man 4.19
02. A Holly Jolly Christmas 5.23
03. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer 4.03
04. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas 4.42
05. Here Comes Santa Claus 3.25
06. Home For The Holidays 5.12
07. I Saw Mom Kissing Santa Claus 4.22
08. I’ll Be Home For Christmas 5.35
09. White Christmas 4.22
10. Jingle Bells 3.17
11. Last Christmas 5.16
12. Deck The Halls 3.15
13. Let It Snow 4.24
14. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town 4.00
15. Silent Night 3.45

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Christmas 2021 (10): Kurt Elling – The Beautiful Day; Kurt Elling Sings Christmas (2016)

FrontCover1And here is a very special Christmas album:

Kurt Elling (born November 2, 1967) is an American jazz singer and songwriter.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, and raised in Rockford, Elling became interested in music through his father, who was Kapellmeister at a Lutheran church. He sang in choirs and played musical instruments. He encountered jazz while a student at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota. After college, he enrolled in the University of Chicago Divinity School, but he left one credit short of a degree to pursue a career as a jazz vocalist.

Elling began to perform around Chicago, scat singing and improvising his lyrics. He recorded a demo in the early 1990s and was signed by Blue Note. He has been nominated for ten Grammy Awards, winning Best Vocal Jazz Album for Dedicated to You (2009) and Secrets Are the Best Stories (2021). Elling often leads the Down Beat magazine Critics’ Poll. He had a longtime collaboration with pianist Laurence Hobgood, leading a quartet that toured throughout the world. (wikipedia)


A poetic and lyrical holiday-themed album, vocalist Kurt Elling’s The Beautiful Day is much more than a seasonal production. The album follows up his eclectic 2015 album, Passion World, and arrives on the heels of his collaboration with saxophonist Branford Marsalis, 2016’s Upward Spiral. Here, Elling applies his urbane sensibilities and warm baritone to a set of thoughtfully curated traditional songs reworked in his own sophisticated, harmonically rich fashion. However, as his first ever holiday-themed effort, Elling chose to sidestep the usual cull of Christmas songs and instead picked pieces that are lesser known, or more subtle in tone. The result is a production that is as literate and full of new discoveries as his previous studio albums. Helping Elling achieve this is an adept ensemble of longtime and more recent associates including guitarist John McLean, pianist Stuart Mindeman, bassist Clark Sommers, and drummer Kendrick Scott, as well as saxophonist Jim Gailloreto, trumpeter Tito Carrillo, cellist Jill Kaeding, and percussionist Kalyan Pathak. Working as statement of purpose, Elling kicks things off with a soaring version of Leslie Bricusse’s “Sing a Christmas Carol,” from the 1970 musical film Scrooge.


Elling transforms the classical-leaning choral number into a flowing, contemporary jazz anthem, coyly amending the intro with a quick medley of well-known holiday themes. He then shifts gears, offering the first of three recurring interludes based on the classic “Good King Wenceslas” carol. Atmospheric and centered on Elling’s wordless vocalizations, the “Wenceslaus” interludes ground the album in a palette of winter-toned calm. Elsewhere, Elling offers a haunting, crystalline reading of the traditional “We Three Kings,” smiles his way through a New Orleans second-line take of “Little Drummer Boy,” and applies his longstanding knack for setting spoken word to music with “The Michigan Farm,” which features his evocative lyrics framed by composer Edvard Grieg’s “Cradle Song, Op. 41/1.” While artful complexity is one of Elling’s distinctive traits, he is also an adroit crooner, as evidenced here by his soulfully buoyant take on Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” and his heartfelt performance of Dan Fogelberg’s “Same Old Lang Syne.” Also adding to the tender emotion of the album is Elling’s daughter, Luiza Elling, who duets with her father on the title track. Ultimately, with The Beautiful Day, Elling has crafted an album that evokes the holiday spirit in all of its wondrous complexity. (by Matt Collar)


Tito Carrillo (trumpet)
Kurt Elling (vocals, percussion)
Jill Kaeding (cello)
John McLean (guitar)
Kalyan Pathak (percussion)
Stuart Mindeman (keyboards)
Kendrick Scott (drums)
Clark Sommers (bass)
Luiza Elling (vocals on 14.)

01. Sing A Christmas Carol (Bricusse) 4.34
02. Wenceslaus (Image I) (Traditional) 1.28
03. Star Of Wonder (Roche) 2.04
04. We Three Kings (Hopkins/Amos) 6.34
05. Christmas Children (Bricusse) 4.32
06. Wenceslaus (Image II) (Traditional) 0.53
07. Some Children See Him (Burt/Hutson) 7.13
08. Little Drummer Boy (Simeone/Onorati/Davis) 2.47
09. Wenceslaus (Image III) (Traditional) 1.29
10. The Michigan Farm (Cradle Song, Op. 41/1) (Grieg) 3.03
11. The Snow Is Deep On The Ground / Snowfall (Ammons/Thornhill/Hollenbeck/Patchen) 6.36
12. Same Old Lang Syne (Fogelberg) 6.19
13. This Christmas (Hathaway/McKinnor) 4.33
14. The Beautiful Day (Bricusse) 2.28



Zoot Money – The Book of Life … I’ve Read It (2016)

FrontCover1George Bruno “Zoot” Money (born 17 July 1942 in Bournemouth, Dorset) is an English vocalist, keyboardist and bandleader. He is best known for his playing of the Hammond organ and association with his Big Roll Band. Inspired by Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Charles, he was drawn to rock and roll music and became a leading light in the vibrant music scene of Bournemouth and Soho during the 1960s. He took his stage name ‘Zoot’ from Zoot Sims after seeing him in concert.

Money has been associated with The Animals, Eric Burdon, Steve Marriott, Kevin Coyne, Kevin Ayers, Humble Pie, Alexis Korner, Snowy White, Mick Taylor, Spencer Davis, Vivian Stanshall, Geno Washington, Brian Friel, the Hard Travelers, Widowmaker and Alan Price. He is also known as a bit part and character actor. (wikipedia)

And here´s  his album from 2016:

The legend lives!
Overproduced but still wonderful. Female backing vocals and a bit too much guitar. But the Hammond organ is still in there. The legendary British club-scene band leader who played with Andy Summers in the Flamingo Club in 1968 … and Klook’s Kleek … and all those other wonderful gigs. I can’t be rational about this album. I just love it. Makes me want to jump on a plane and hear him at the Bull’s Head in Barnes. It would be 5000 miles but, why not. (Charles Platt)


The Bournemouth born veteran and long-time Fulham fellow used to have the best Sixties R&B troup of the Sixties with his Big Roll Band, according to one Georgie Fame – while Zoot insists Georgie’s Blue Flames were first in line. Still touring at age 74, one would have expected a moderately paced album, a swinging, feelgood collection. Instead, the man with a CV from Dantalian’s Chariot to The Animals proceeds to grab the young power trio Danze Macabre and lays down a cooking blues rock melange with a wailing Hammond and funky piano – in front of a Nouveaux Cream backing – never better than in “Liberty” and the “Jack Tat Blues”.


Energy orgies without senior citizen insurance: The lovely Nell Montague-Rendall complements Money’s raspy lead vocals congenially with her heartfelt Gospel touch, and the burning Owers brothers Mark & Steve, both accomplished guitarists, supply the axe work and overdub bass & drums so proficiently that you’d swear you got a sextet here. Some respite from the lively attacks comes via the ballad written by Zoot’s Manfreds-tour buddy Mike d’Abo (from his album PASSION DRIVEN) and Money’s own blues “Wouldn’t You Just Know It”. The encore: The team offers Zoot’s chart zoomer “Mr Operator” as a 21st century remake. Big Roll, relentless & reliable. (Ulrich Twelker)

Listen to the hard rocking Zoot Money … and … he´s still alive ad well !!!


Zoot Money (keyboards, vocals)
Mark Owers (guitar, keyboards, background vocals)
Steve Owers (bass, drums, background vocals)
Nell Montague-Rendall (background vocals)


01. Mr Money (S.Owers/M.Owers/Money) 3.51
02. Still Alive (S.Owers/M.Owers/Money) 3.39
03. Sunny Skies (d´Abo) 3.59
04. Liberty (M.Owers) 3.02
05. Jack Tar Blues (S.Owers/M.Owers/Money) 5.05
06. It Could Be That Way (S.Owers/M.Owers/Money) 3.39
07. Wouldn’t You Just Know It (S.Owers/M.Owers/Money) 5.39
08. If Age Brings Wisdom (S.Owers/M.Owers/Money) 2.30
09. Big Time Operator (Re Visited) (Colton/Smith) 3.00




The Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome (2016)

FrontCover1Blue & Lonesome is a cover album by the Rolling Stones—their 23rd British and 25th American studio album—released on 2 December 2016. It is the band’s first album to feature only cover songs, and their first studio release since 2005’s A Bigger Bang, with its eleven-year gap being the longest between two albums from the band. Despite the short time length of just around 43 minutes, the album was released as a double LP. “Just Your Fool”, a Buddy Johnson cover (though the Rolling Stones version is based on Little Walter’s arrangement) was released as the first single from the album on 6 October. The name of the album is from a song which Little Walter wrote, “Blue and Lonesome”.

Though there had been an eleven-year gap between albums, the Rolling Stones kept the same basic production and musician team as A Bigger Bang. Joining vocalist Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards as producers was Don Was, who had been working with the group for most of the prior two decades. In the studio were band members Ronnie Wood (guitar) and Charlie Watts (drums), alongside contract players Darryl Jones (bass), Chuck Leavell (keyboards) and Matt Clifford (multi-instrumentalist). Eric Clapton contributed guitar on two tracks and drummer Jim Keltner plays percussion on another.

Rolling Stones01

Recorded over a marathon three-day session in December, 2015 the album was released a year later to robust sales; reaching number one on the album charts in the UK and over a dozen other countries, and number four in the US. It was certified gold or platinum in several countries. The first Stones album of the streaming media age, many of the songs from the album charted on several top-40 digital music charts, and the lead single “Just Your Fool” was a top-40 hit on several airplay and genre-specific charts. The album received high critical praise, receiving four- and five-star ratings from many top music journalism outlets, and accolades from jazz and blues publications. The album was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 2018, the band’s first Grammy in 23 years.

Blue & Lonesome was recorded in just three days in December 2015. In April 2016, at the launch of the Rolling Stones career retrospective Exhibitionism, the band confirmed that their new album was due to be released “some time in the autumn”. Richards said the album would feature “a lot of Chicago blues”. Eric Clapton plays guitar on two tracks; he was recording his own album in the same studio as the Stones were and was asked to play on a few tracks. The album is entirely blues-based, consisting of covers of artists such as Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter.


This is the first album since Dirty Work (1986) to not feature any guitar playing from Jagger (who instead concentrates completely on vocals and harmonica), although he is pictured in the album’s booklet playing guitar during the album’s sessions. It is also the first album since It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (1974) to not feature a lead vocal from Richards. Likewise, it is also the first album since Dirty Work to release a lead single that was not a Jagger/Richards composition with “Just Your Fool”.


On 6 October 2016, the Rolling Stones changed their “tongue and lips” logo, which first appeared on their Sticky Fingers album, from red to blue.

On 8 November 2016, the Rolling Stones released a video for “Hate to See You Go”.

On 25 November 2016, the Stones released a one-track limited edition electric blue 10″ vinyl record of “Ride ‘Em on Down” (on the UMC label) on the occasion of the Record Store Day Black Friday 2016. The track is a cover of Eddie Taylor’s “Ride ‘Em on Down” originally recorded by Taylor in Chicago on 5 December 1955 for the Vee-Jay Label (and released as VJ 185).

On 1 December 2016, they released a video for “Ride ‘Em on Down”. The video features actress Kristen Stewart driving through Los Angeles in a blue 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback.

Ron Wood

During its first week the album moved 106,000 sales to debut at No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart, the second-highest opening sales week for an album in the UK in 2016. On 3 February 2017 it was certified Platinum there, for sales over 300,000 copies. It also debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 with 123,000 album-equivalent units, of which 120,000 were pure album sales. It was also the No. 2 best selling album of the week in the US. Despite strong initial sales, the album remains to this day the only Stones’ studio album without a certification in the USA. By 17 February 2017 the album had reached global sales of 2,000,000.

Blue & Lonesome was met with positive reviews from critics noted at review aggregator Metacritic. This release received a weighted average score of 82 out of 100, based on 21 reviews. Kitty Empire from The Observer called it “a labour of love”, while Alexis Petridis of The Guardian said the Stones here are “more alive than they’ve sounded for years”. Robert Christgau was less impressed in Vice, saying the album is “a sodden thing – many old rockers have recorded sharper, spunkier, wiser music”.

Mick Jagger01

The album won Album of the Year at the 2017 Jazz FM Awards. The Rolling Stones also won the Blues Artist of the Year Award at the event, held in April 2017.

On January 28, 2018, Blue & Lonesome received a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. The award was the Stones’ third Grammy of their career and their first win since the 1995 show. (by wikipedia)

Mick Jagger02

As Keith Richards tells it, the Rolling Stones’ first-ever all-blues album is the result of the band learning how to play in the unfamiliar surroundings of Mark Knopfler’s British Grove Studios. To ease into the new place, the Stones decided to knock out a version of Little Walter’s “Blue and Lonesome” and it sounded good enough that the band decided to cut a few more covers, winding up with a full album of Chicago blues in a few days. The Stones haven’t worked at such swift speed in decades — not since the early ’60s, when they were churning out two albums a year — and much of the appeal of Blue & Lonesome lies in its casualness: by being tossed off, the album highlights how the Stones play together as a band, blending instinct and skill. Blue & Lonesome isn’t a showcase for virtuoso playing — even Eric Clapton’s two smoldering solos are part of the tapestry — but rather a groove record, emphasizing feel and interplay while never losing sight of the song.

Rolling Stones02

Such commitment to song is one of the reasons Blue & Lonesome winds up as an unexpected triumph from Mick Jagger. A blues album from the Stones always seemed like a dream project for Keith Richards, who always championed the band’s blues roots, but it’s Jagger who dominates the album, playing searing harp and singing with nuance and power. Always a guarded performer — back in 1974, he scoffed at the notion of letting his feelings flood on the page — Jagger seems freed, pouring heart into the slow burners and uptempo shuffles alike. The rest of the Stones match his commitment and that’s what makes Blue & Lonesome something remarkable. Conceptually, it’s clever — if this winds up being the last Rolling Stones album, it provides a nice bookend to their 1964 debut — but it’s artistically satisfying because it’s the Rolling Stones allowing themselves to simply lay back and play for sheer enjoyment. It’s a rare thing that will likely seem all the more valuable over the years. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)


Mick Jagger (vocals, harmonica)
Keith Richards (guitar)
Charlie Watts (drums)
Ronnie Wood (guitar)
Eric Clapton (slide guitar on 06., guitar on 12.)
Matt Clifford (keyboards)
Darryl Jones (bass)
Jim Keltner (percussion on 09.)
Chuck Leavell (keyboards)


01. Just Your Fool (Walter) 2.16
02. Commit A Crime (Burnett) 3.38
03. Blue And Lonesome (Walter) 3.07
04. All Of Your Love (Sam) 4.46
05. I Gotta Go (Walter) 3.26
06. Everybody Knows About My Good Thing (Grayson/Horton) 4.31
07. Ride ‘Em On Down (Taylor) 2.49
08. Hate To See You Go (Walter) 3.21
09. Hoo Doo Blues (Hicks/West) 2.37
10. Little Rain (Abner Jr./Reed) 3.32
11. Just Like I Treat You (Dixon) 3.24
12. I Can’t Quit You Baby (Dixon) 5.13




More from The Rolling Stones:

Joe Bonamassa – British Blues Explosion Live (2018)

FrontCover1Joe Bonamassa (born May 8, 1977) is an American blues rock guitarist, singer and songwriter. He started his career at age 12, when he opened for B.B. King. In the last 13 years Bonamassa has put out 15 solo albums through his independent record label J&R Adventures, of which 11 have reached number 1 on the Billboard Blues charts. (by wikipedia)

Bonamassa has played alongside many notable blues and rock artists, and earned a Grammy Award nomination in 2013. Among guitarists, he is known for his extensive collection of vintage guitars and amplifiers

Electrifying, on British Blues Explosion Live, Bonamassa and his band made up of Michael Rhodes (bass), Reese Wynans (keyboard), Anton Fig (drums), and Russ Irwin (rhythm guitar) pay tribute to British guitar heroes Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. Giving accolade to his biggest influences, British Blues Explosion Live was recorded on July 7, 2016 at Greenwich Music Time at The Old Royal Naval College based in Greenwich, London during Bonamassa’s short but memorable tour of Britain.


A guitar legend himself, Bonamassa’s journey began in the Empire State of New York where he was born in 1977. Born to play, at the age of 4 Bonamassa was exposed to iconic music by his father who loved British Blues Rock. Before he was a teenager, Bonamassa was already honing his craft, Rockin’ on guitar, and playing in bands. Bonamassa would go on to release 15 solo albums, 11 of which hit No. 1 on the Billboard Blues Chart, beginning with 2000’s A New Day Yesterday culminating to British Blues Explosion Live. Along the way, Bonamassa has played alongside Blues kings like Derek Trucks, Buddy Guy, and even Clapton himself.

Highly active in music, Bonamassa teamed up with Blues songstress Beth Hart and the duo have collaborated and released several albums including Black Coffee, released on January 26, 2018. Bonamassa is also the guitarist for the Hard Rock supergroup Black Country Communion playing alongside Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Jason Bonham (Son of Led Zeppelin’s late drummer John Bonham), and Derek Sherinian (Sons of Apollo, Dream Theater). Giving back, Bonamassa helps young minds to grow through music via his non-profit organization, Keeping The Blues Alive, which provides funds and resources to keep music education in schools.


Over an hour and a half of classic Blues Rock, British Blues Explosion Live is a tantalizing showcase of 14 songs which Bonamassa and company dig into with the unbridled spirit from which these tracks were originally conceived decades ago. Beginning with Jeff Beck, Bonamassa pays homage via a sonically pleasing rendition of “Beck’s Bolero-Rice Pudding” and then a vibrant “Let Me Love You, Baby” in which a subtle breakdown sees Bonamassa going crazy with Blues emotion. “Plynth (Water Down The Drain)” and “Spanish Boots” make for fine high-powered rockers giving Beck a worthy tribute.

The Guitar God Eric Clapton is saluted through covers of his solo works and one song from his most influential band Cream. Starting with the first of two selections off Clapton’s 1974 hit album, 461 Ocean Boulevard, Bonamassa’s version of “MainLine Florida” will make a listener want to put the top down and cruise down the coast. The second cover off Clapton’s aforementioned album, “Motherless Children” sees Bonamassa keeping the feel of the original and the era it represents. Next, Bonamassa takes on Cream’s “SWLABR” where he does the revolutionary band justice on the strings of his guitar. Well done, the Clapton tribute rolls on via “Little Girl,” “Pretending,” and a definitive slow Blues jam on “Double Crossing Time” where Bonamassa takes his time ripping note for note.


Climbing the highest mountain, Bonamassa fearlessly dives into the works of perhaps the greatest Rock band of all-time, Led Zeppelin. On “Tea For One-I Can’t Quit You Baby,” Bonamassa gives a slaying tribute to Jimmy Page and grooves out on “Boogie With Stu.” Magnetic, the 15 minute long “How Many More Times” is a Blues saga complete with extra effects which only add to the musical fireworks by Bonamassa and his band, executing a supreme dedication to Jimmy Page and all the members of Led Zeppelin. Closing the show, Bonamassa’s instrumental “Black Winter-Django” is stunning amongst a setlist of historic Blues tunes.

In supreme fashion, on British Blues Explosion Live, Bonamassa offers up a respectful and honorary tribute to the artists who paved the way for generations of Blues guitarists. Keeping the Blues alive, Bonamassa’s mission is to spread the word of these quintessential artists and their music in order to educate the Blues musicians of today and tomorrow.


Having said all of this, British Blues Explosion Live is the perfect way for Blues fans to rediscover this music and for new listeners to enjoy these classics for the first time with several formats to choose from, CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, and a 3 LP set. A must listen for Blues fans, CrypticRock gives British Blues Explosion Live 5 out of 5 stars. (crypticrock.com)


Joe Bonamassa (guitar, vocals)
Anton Fig (drums)
Russ Irwin (guitar, background vocals)
Michael Rhodes (bass)
Reese Wynans (keyboards)



CD 1:
01. Beck’s Bolero / Rice Pudding (Beck/Page/Hopkins/Wood/Newman) 9.01
02. Mainline Florida (Terry) 7.01
03. Boogie With Stu (Stewart/Page/Bonham/Jones/Valens/Plant) 4.17
04. Let Me Love You Baby (Dixon) 5.36
05. Plynth (Water Down The Drain) (Hopkins/Stewart/Wood) 4.05
06. Spanish Boots (Beck/Stewart/Wood) 4.04
07. Double Crossing Time (Clapton/Mayall) 7.323
08. Motherless Children (Radle/Clapton) 6.27

CD 2:
01. Swlabr (Bruce/Brown) 6.27
02. Tea For One / I Can’t Quit You Baby (Page/Plant/Dixon) 8.40
03. Little Girl (Mayall) 3.51
04. Pretending (Williams) 8.32
05. Black Winter / Django (Bonamassa) 5.59
06. How Many More Times (Page/Bonham/Jones/Plant) 15.25



Coming to me in the morning, leaving me at night.
Coming to me in the morning, leaving me alone.
You’ve got that rainbow feel,
But the rainbow has a beard.

Running to me a-cryin’, when he throws you out.
Running to me a-cryin’, on your own again.
You’ve got that pure feel,
Such good responses,
But the picture has a mustache.

You’re comin’ to me with that soulful look on your face.
Coming lookin’ like you’ve never ever done one wrong thing.

You’re comin’ to me with that soulful look on your face.
You’re comin’ lookin’ like you’ve never ever done one wrong thing.

So many fantastic colours, I feel in a wonderland.
Many fantastic colours, makes me feel so good.
You’ve got that pure feel,
Such good responses,
Got that rainbow feel,
But the rainbow has a beard


Kíla – Alive Beo (2016)

FrontCover1Kíla are an Irish folk music/world music group, originally formed in 1987 in the Irish language secondary school Coláiste Eoin in County Dublin.

The band’s first performance was upstairs in the Baggott Inn, Dublin, and was attended by three people. The original lineup for the band was Eoin Dillon (uilleann pipes), Colm Mac Con Iomaire (fiddle), Rossa Ó Snodaigh (whistle, bones), Rónán Ó Snodaigh (bodhrán), Karl Odlum (bass), and David Odlum (guitar). Colm Ó Snodaigh, the brother of Rónán and Rossa, joined the band before the first recordings were made. Rónán, Rossa, and Colm Ó Snodaigh are sons of publisher Pádraig Ó Snodaigh and artist Cliodna Cussen and are brothers of Irish TD, Aengus Ó Snodaigh. (by wikpedia)

You´ll find informations here.

And hee´s their live-album from 2016:

Recorded at different locations around the world, Irish folk band Kíla brings its exciting, raw and emotionally charged music to disc with this live album. From the explosive driving beats of the concert favourite ‘An Tiománaí’ to the tender love song ‘Babymouse’, this album captures Kíla at its majestic best. (clear-spot.nl)


…The group brings an open mind to entirely their own mix of folk, world music, traditional and classic rock. Their instrumentation with pipes, flutes, bodhrán, djembé and conga’s in addition to the more regular instruments provide a special sound. And of course, also, their own, lyric texts. The eight-legged company, previously loaded with The Frames, currently consists of Rossa, Rónán & Colm Ó Snodaigh, James Mahon, Dee Armstrong, Brian Hogan, Dave Hingerty & Seanán Brennan. Some of them have also played with Dead Can Dance.


In addition to their regular work, they also release soundtracks and live albums. As the title of the new album Alive-Beo suggests, it belongs to the last category. The music is recorded in different locations. Perhaps the music is known, the energy they instantly enter, makes it different. Under the headphones, it’s sometimes rushing out as if you’re there. The songs they bring are a beautiful cross section from their discography. Also beautiful is the guest performance of the Polish singer Kayah, who is heard in an old classic of their’s, Seo Mo Leaba, Kíla knows deeply on and off the stage how to make a good impression … (subjectivism.nl)

In other words: Kila is one of Ireland’s finest, innovative, energetic and creative bands abd here´s another fantastic album.


Dee Armstrong (fiddle, vocals, dulcimer , banjo)
Seanan Brennan (guitar, mandola, banjo)
David Hingerty (drums)
Brian Hogan (bass, lap steel-guitar, guitar, percussion, background vocals)
James Mahon (uilleann pipes, flute, whistle)
Colm O’Snodaigh (flute, percussion, whistle, clarinet, saxophones, vocals)
Ronan O’Snodaigh (bodhran, vocals, glockenspiel, percussion)
Rossa Ó Snodaigh (mandolin, percussion)
Kayah (vocals on 06.)


01. Mutatu (Mahon) 4.42
02. Pota Óir (Traditional) 5.38
03. Electric Landlady (Armstrong) 4.46
04. Babymouse (Armstrong/C.Ó Snodaigh) 4.02
05. Ór Agus Airgead (Traditional) 5.20
06. Seo Mo Leaba / Am Reel (Tradtional) 10.41
07. Skinheads (Rossa Ó Snodaigh/C.Ó Snodaigh/Dillon) 6.54
08. Raise The Road (Rónán Ó Snodaigh) 3.26
09. An Tiománaí (Traditional) 4.53





Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa – Black Coffee (Limited Edition) (2018)

FrontCover1.jpgBlack Coffee is the third cover album recorded by American singer Beth Hart and blues rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa, released on January 26, 2018 on J&R Adventures and Mascot Label Group. It follows their 2013 cover album together titled Seesaw. (ny wikipedia)

Beth Hart first teamed up with guitarist Joe Bonamassa in 2011 and the partnership proved to be mutually beneficial. Hart gave the rock-edged Bonamassa some blues bona fides while the guitarist brought the vocalist to a wider audience. Plus, it was evident from their two studio albums and live set that the two had an easy chemistry: They shared a similar vernacular in Chicago blues and classic soul. The pair rely on that effortless interplay on Black Coffee, their third studio collaboration. Working with producer Kevin Shirley — a veteran of Black Crowes records who has been in the Bonamassa orbit since 2006 — the pair eschew straight traditionalism for a clean, colorful, retro vibe. Sometimes, the duo make choices that are perhaps a little too obvious — the covers of LaVern Baker’s “Saved” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Sittin’ on Top of the World” are a bit on the nose — but they also know how to kick up the intensity on these chestnuts while avoiding sounding like they’re on steroids.


Still, the highlights of Black Coffee are the originals and lesser-known songs, as they reveal that there is plenty of common ground between Hart’s testifying and Bonamassa’s shredding. Interestingly, that common ground feels formal in a way their individual solo albums don’t — respectively, Hart will delve into the personal spins on roots music while Bonamassa will indulge in blues myths — but that’s the appeal: They’re working on keeping the flame burning, and Black Coffee may be their most effective testament in that effort to date. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)


Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa’s third studio album of mostly soul and blues sticks to the formula of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” and it serves them well.

Hart, a powerful singer also capable of nuance, is a good fit with Bonamassa, a guitar whiz with a wide range of sounds. They are bonded by their shared intensity, and the well-chosen repertoire, including many lesser-known tunes, gives them 10 opportunities to realize their potential.

Etta James songs are a staple of the duo and here they take on “Damn Your Eyes,” from 1989’s “Seven Year Itch,” one of James’ multiple “comeback” albums across the years. R&B diva Lavern Baker gets two nods, “Soul on Fire” and “Saved,” while “Lullaby of the Leaves,” a ballad with a scorching Bonamassa solo a la Gary Moore, dates back to the early 1930s.

Other songs include “Joy” from Lucinda Williams, Kansas Joe McCoy’s “Why Don’t You Do Right,” and the title track, Ike & Tina Turner via Steve Marriott.


Horn arrangements from Lee Thornburg, tasteful backing vocals and excellent keyboard parts from Reese Wynans, who used to play with Stevie Ray Vaughan, all help “Black Coffee” percolate into a tasty brew.

Album closer “Addicted” is a real gem, originally released in 2007 by Austria’s Waldeck. It has elements of a James Bond theme, shades of the tango and, unsuprisingly, a certain European vibe. Hart imbues it with passion, as do the Bonamassa and Wynans solos.

The world is full of little underappreciated treasures. If Hart & Bonamassa and producer Kevin Shirley can keep finding them, there’s a bright future in the grooves for more albums like this truly fine effort. (vy Pablo Gorondi)


Joe Bonamassa (guitar)
Paulie Cerra (saxophone)
Ron Dzuibla (saxophone)
Anton Fig (drums, percussion)
Beth Hart (vocals)
Rob McNelley (guitar)
Michael Rhodes (bass)
Lee Thornburg (trumpet, trombone)
Reese Wynans (keyboards)
background vocals:
Jade Macreae – Juanita Tippins – Mahalia Barnes


01. Give It Everything You Got (Winter/LaCroix) 4.37
02. Damn Your Eyes (Wyrick/Bogard) 4.33
03. Black Coffee (I.Turner/T.Turner) 4.16
04. Lullaby Of The Leaves (Petkere/Young) 5.43
05. Why Don’t You Do Right (McCoy) 4.35
06. Saved (Leiber/Stoller) 3.50
07. Sitting On Top Of The World (Vinson/Chatmon) 3.58
08. Joy (Williams) 4.23
09. Soul On Fire (Ertegun/Wexler) 5.02
10. Addicted (Engel/Waldeck) 3.40
11. Come Rain Or Come Shine (Arlen/Mercer) 4.35