I Hear A Symphony By The Supremes

June 28, 2016


The Supremes were riding one of the hot steaks in American music history. They had released five number one singles in a row. That streak came to a quick halt when “Back In My Arms Again” only reached number 11.

Life was about to return to normal when on September 22, 1965, “I Hear A Symphony” entered the Top 100 at number 39. On November, 20, 1965, it reached number one for the first of two weeks and all was right with the world..

Getz/Gilberto ’76: Moments In Time By Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto

June 23, 2016


Stan Getz, (1927-1991), is revered as one of the premier saxophone players in American Jazz history. He is best remembered as an adherent of the bebop and cool jazz movements but for a few years during the mid-1960’s he helped fuse American jazz with Brazilian bossa nova. His two albums with guitarist/vocalist Joao Gilberto helped establish a new art form. Their first release, 1964’s Getz/Gilberto won six Grammy Awards and was one of the best-selling jazz albums of the 1960’s.

During May of 1976 Getz managed to convince the elusive Gilberto to perform with him in a series of concerts at the legendary Keystone Jazz Club in San Francisco. During the club’s 11 year existence owner Todd Barkan recorded thousands of hours of music by a who’s-who of jazz musicians. Now those tapes are gradually being remastered and released. The latest is Getz/Gilberto ’76.

The duo is backed by Getz’s trio of pianist Joanne Brackeen, bassist Clint Houston, and drummer Billy Hart. The sound is excellent considering the haphazard recording process. A 32 page booklet fills in the history of the music and club.

Today bossa nova may seem a bit dated and quaint and outside what is normally considered classic jazz but it was a major style in South America and remains relevant down to the present day.

The concerts would begin and end with Getz’s quartet but in between Gilberto would sit in with the foursome. The 13 tracks represent one version of every song they performed together. “Aguas de Branco e Preto,” “Joao Marcelo,” “E Preciso Perdoar,” and “Samba da Minha Terra” may not be household names to today’s fans of jazz music but they are a good introduction to the bossa nova style and sound.

Gilberto is a laid back guitarist and eccentric vocalist. Getz provides the foundation for the sound with his sax improvisations.

In many ways Getz/Gilberto ’76 is a niche release but it contains some of the more creative playing of the era. If you want jazz with a different twist, this is a release for you.

Infinite Chill: The Remix Sessions By Lawson Rollins

June 23, 2016


I have always had a soft spot for jazz guitarists and so I was very interested when I heard that Lawson Rollins had issued an album of reimagined songs from some of his solo albums.

Infinite Chill contains ten songs that have undergone a transformation. His guitar expertise has been moved back a bit and the 16 musicians who contributed to the project create an atmosphere that allows him more leeway of when to step-forward and when to lay back. It is his first album when the onus of carrying the music is shared.

Several female vocalists are on hand, including the great Flora Purim. A brass section changes the depth and textures of many of the tracks.

Lawson has taken a chance here as producer/remixer Shahim Shahida has moved the sound outside of a pure jazz approach into electronica. It adds up to the most unique release of Lawson’s career

The Acoustic Roots And Blues of Duke Robillard By Duke Robillard

June 23, 2016


Duke Robillard’s career as one of America’s preeminent blues guitarists is near the five decade mark and so it is a long overdue and welcome surprise that he has issued an acoustic album.

The Acoustic Blues & Roots Of Duke Robillard is an affair of the heart as he reaches back into American music history for many of the songs that had a profound influence on his development as a musician. Country, early blues tunes, and Americana all make appearances in this varied but ultimately satisfying release.

He reaches back to one of the master songwriters of the 19th century for the album’s first track. Stephen Foster’s “My Old Kentucky Home” is reworked into a delicate and distinct modern translation and sets the tone for what will follow.

A couple of country icons provide material for two of the better tracks. Jimmie Rodger’s “Jimmie’s Texas Blues” and Hank Williams “Let’s Turn Back The Years” provide fodder for his exploration of the connections of early country music and the blues. The Williams tune was one of the simplest of his career and Robillard wisely remains loyal to the original intent.

Every so often Maria Muldaur reappears on the music scene and here she provides the vocal for the 1920’s Christmas song “Santa Claus Blues.” While it first appeared on a blues Christmas compilation album, it now finds a permanent home.

A number of his own compositions are interspersed among the cover songs. “I Miss My Baby In My Arms,” I’m Gonna Buy Me A Dog (To Take The Place Of You),” and “Backyard Paradise” provide a nice counterpoint to the rest of the material, yet do not feel out of place.

Through it all Robillard plays a variety of stringed instruments. The liner notes wisely let him explain each tune and what instruments are being used.

The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard brings a lot of eternal music into the 21st century. One of the better and more focused releases of his career.


Black Rose (Expanded) By John David Souther

June 11, 2016


John David Souther’s, (or JD Souther if you prefer), name appears on dozens and probably hundreds of albums, usually as a songwriter. Best known for co-writing such Eagles classics as “Best Of My Love,” “New Kid In Town,” and “Heartache Tonight,” his compositions have been recorded by a variety of musicians such as Hugh Masekela,, Brooks & Dunn, Raul Malo, Trisha Yearwood, Dixie Chicks,, Bonnie Raitt, and particularly Linda Ronstadt who has recorded ten of his compositions.

His solo albums have never brought him the commercial success he has achieved as a songwriter. Nevertheless his albums are well-crafted and polished pop. He has a fine voice and while it may not be as distinctive as that of James Taylor, it is close.

Omnivore Records has now resurrected the first three releases in his solo catalogue as expanded CD editions.

Black Rose, released in 1976 was his second solo album. He had just finished a stint as part of the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band and incorporates some of their country rock influences into his smooth pop approach. He also called in a number of favors as David Crosby, Kenny Edwards, Glenn Frey, Art Garfunkel, Lowell George, Andrew Gold, Don Henley, Linda Ronstadt, and Don Henley all contribute their talents to the album.

Two songs that are now connected to Ronstadt are highlights. His “Simple Man Simple Dream” is a simple presentation of a song Ronstadt would take to another level. “Faithless Love” is a delicate song of loss that is enhanced by his laid-back vocal.

“Midnight Prowl” tells a dark tale that is emblematic of the story songs that inhabit the album. “Banging My Head Against The Moon,” “Your Turn Now,” “Baby Come Home,” and the enigmatic title song are all examples of his wonderful way with words that led to his induction into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.

The best of the seven bonus tracks is a live version of “Faithless Love” recorded when he was the opening act for the Eagles and Lowell George’s slightly weird “Cheek To Cheek.”

Black Rose is a consummate singer/songwriter album from a bygone era. It has a nice smooth pace and remains one the highlights of his career.


Second Time Around By Ian Danter

June 11, 2016


Not many rockers have a day job as a Sport Talk Radio Show in the U.K. His night job is as the drummer in the Kiss tribute band Dressed To Kill. Now Ian Danter has stepped forward to release his second album Second Time Around.

Danter does not change the course of rock music; but rather creates solid and melodic classic rock. He is a talented songwriter who explores such topics as fame, religion, and money, often from a witty view point.

It is an album of energy, riffs, and rock and roll. You may have heard this type of music before but he covers the ground well.

Last Southern Belle By Sandy Carroll

June 11, 2016


I became a fan of Sandy Carroll about five years ago with her release of Just As I Am. It continued with 2013’s Unnaturally Blonde. Now it is has been solidified with her new release Last Southern Belle.

Her new album is a personal album that explores her journey away from the expectations of trying to be a southern belle. Her lyrics are deeply influenced by her formative years growing up in the south. The themes of hope, loss, maturation, and even a little humor add up to an intimate and powerful release.

The best three tracks grew out of her return to the area of her childhood and provide a fitting end to the album. “The Boys Of Shiloh” is a poignant look at the emotions surrounding the Civil War battlefield. “Hallelujah Hill” is right out of a southern gospel revival meeting. “Water Run Deep” is a warning about the past.

Sandy Carroll is a singer/songwriter who has found her creative groove. Last Southern Belle is another link in that chain.

Ride The Tiger By Greg Lake & Geoff Downes

June 11, 2016


During 1983, Greg Lake replaced John Wetton in Asia for several concerts in Japan. This was the introduction to Asia member Geoff Downes. The duo ended up writing six songs together. “Affair Of The Heart” and “Street War” were recorded by Emerson, Lake & Palmer, while “Love Under Fire” became an Asia song. Two of the recordings simply vanished and remained unreleased. Now all six tracks plus an early demo of “Love Under Fire” have been released as an album titled Ride The Tiger.

While the press release states the material was recorded for an unreleased album. It may be that Downs and Lake were simply writing together over a period of time but now the songs have been assembled to create an album.

It is basically an album that fills in some gaps for fans of Lake, Downes, ELP, Asia, Yes, and even the Buggles. They do not create anything extraordinary plus the songs have an unfinished feel. This is most apparent when the final versions of the ELP and Asia songs are compared.

Sometimes songs and albums that have remained unissued, have been so for a reason. Ride The Tiger is basically a filler album but if you are so inclined, go ahead.

Get Off Of My Cloud By The Rolling Stones

June 2, 2016

The Rolling Stones solidified themselves as one of rock music’s most popular and important bands when “Get Off Of My Cloud” became their second number one single in the United States.

The Stones now had their own jet for travel and were headlining shows rather than just being a support act.

“Get Off Of My Cloud” reached number one on November 6, 1965 and remained on top of the music world for two weeks.