Spotlight: Jazz Vocalists--Some New Recordings

straightnochaserThe Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern  by Tony Bennett and Bill Charlap (2015)

Tony Bennett and pianist Charlap give the gold medal treatment to some lesser known songs by Jerome Kern such as "Yesterdays" and "I'm Old Fashioned." Bennett's voice has aged, but he still has a way with a song and he allows Charlap to occasionally take center stage. A piano and the great Bennett is all it takes to deliver.

macfarlane2No One Ever Tells You by Seth MacFarlane (2015)
MacFarlane's love for Sinatra comes across in his delivery of these standards. MacFarlane's style is perhaps too idolizing of Sinatra. His rendition of "Only the Lonely" seems modeled exactly to Sinatra's phrasing. But MacFarlane, although not revolutionary, sings with a smooth, articulate voice that lands pleasantly on the ear.

foronetoloveFor One to Love by Cecile McLorin Salvant (2015)

Salvant delivers a mixture of original songs and standards with a definite jazz style. She makes the standards her own while still honoring the music and understanding the lyric. In this outing, besides her original compositions, Salvant sings some musical hits including "The Stepsister's Lament" from Cinderella and "Something's Coming" from West Side Story.

Rare Bird Alert by Steve Martin (2011)

rarebirdAlthough this isn’t a new album, it’s possible that many people haven’t heart of it. And since it’s one of my favorites, I felt an obligation to shine a light on it. Rare Bird Alert is a modern bluegrass album by Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. What’s that you ask, “Steve Martin of SNL and Pink Panther fame?” Why yes. For fans of Martin, this is good news, since his comedic chops do shine through here, but true bluegrass enthusiasts shouldn’t overlook this album.

Rare Bird Alert includes purely instrumental songs like “The Great Remember,” soothing and meandering, and “Northern Island,” featuring banjo-picking at lightning speed. On some tracks Martin takes the lead on vocals, and on others the Rangers get the honor. Paul McCartney and the Dixie Chicks make guest appearances.

I love the range of this album, its humor, and the contrasts created. The hilarious break-up song “Jubilation Day” is lively, and although funny, is also a bona fide bluegrass song, a musical treat. Mellow songs like “More Bad Weather On the Way,” always makes me feel like I’m rowing along a river on a sunny day, and “Women Like To Slow Dance” is actually a fast-paced song fit for dancing a jig! While most of the songs are not comedy-album material, the nonsensical “King Tut” is the most likely to make you laugh out loud. “Born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia…”
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Dave Koz & Friends: The 25th of December by Dave Koz (2014)

davekozDave Koz is a pro at playing the saxophone. Fans of jazz will love the special holiday CD. Dave Koz & Friends: The 25th of December includes 12 great songs, all with a jazzy twist. It's really fun to listen to in the car on the way to work!

Give Up (10th Anniversary Edition) by The Postal Service (2013)

One of my favorite albums Give Up by The Postal Service has been re-released as a tenth anniversary set. There are only two unearthed songs on the album, but they are fantastic.

The rest of the album serves as reminder of how great Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello are together. Touring for the first time ever this summer, I hope to finally see them live.

http://youtu.be/0wrsZog8qXg
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Gossamer by Passion Pit (2012)

A fabulous and fun album, Gossamer is guaranteed to get you on feet. Despite the upbeat tempo the lyrics tackle some bleak topics such alcoholism, immigration, and suicide.  This is the second album for the electro-pop group, Passion Pit, and it is a wonderful mix of the highs and lows of life. Here is a clip of one of my favorite tracks “Take a Walk.”

httpv://youtu.be/dZX6Q-Bj_xg

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Blunderbuss by Jack White (2012)

If you're a fan of the minimalist tunes of The White Stripes, Blunderbuss by Jack White will have many tunes to please you. Don't miss the song "Love Interruption."

For more on Jack White (half of The White Stripes duo), visit his website.

httpv://youtu.be/iErNRBTPbEc

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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King [original motion picture soundtrack] (2003)

Another great soundtrack by Howard Shore! The music is very suspenseful and I am usually able to imagine what scenes are playing during each song. I enjoyed listening to this CD when I was in the middle of writing my short story. It gives me a lot of energy and it's very entertaining.

My favorite song from The Return of the King is probably "The Grey Havens." It's the last song during the film, and I think it was a great way to end it.

If you missed last month's review of The Two Towers soundtrack, read it now.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers [original motion picture soundtrack] (2002)

I love listening to soundtracks from different films, and The Lord of the Rings movies have some of the best soundtracks. My favorite from The Two Towers is probably "Evenstar." I can listen to it all the time.

Check back next month for my thoughts on The Return of the King soundtrack.

Did you know? You can see what soundtracks we've added to the collection recently.

httpv://youtu.be/im5CIpMFo4Q

Sorry for Party Rocking by LMFAO (2011)

Redfoo & Sky Blu are no doubt very talented entertainers! Sorry For Party Rocking gets the party started and the party never ends as long you keep this CD in! LMFAO spawned very successful singles from this album including "Party Rock Anthem" and "Sexy and I Know it." The band is touring this summer -- check them out!

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Boys & Girls by Alabama Shakes (2012)

One of the most talked about the albums of the year, the debut Boys and Girls by the Alabama Shakes does not disappoint. On this powerful soul record, Brittany Howard's vocals are reminiscent of Janis Joplin and Otis Redding.

After hearing the band interviewed on the radio program Sound Opinions, I was struck by the band’s story and how they struggled to get this record made. The song “Hold On” has an infectious rhythm and will get you dancing no matter where you are.
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Making Mirrors by Gotye (2012)

The Australian singer Gotye covers a lot of ground from psych-rock to soul in his latest album Making Mirrors. However, the songs that stand out are reminiscent of ‘80s pop, especially the hit “Somebody That I Used to Know.” This is a fun and different album that everyone should listen to this year.

Check out reviews from NPR and Pitchfork.

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The Entertainer by Donny Osmond

The Entertainer by Donny Osmond (2010)
He still has a great voice. I liked him best in Joseph. Find out more about Donny by visiting his website.

Did you know Donny & Marie will be in town during December for Christmas in Chicago? It's part of Broadway in Chicago.
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Hard Rock Treasures

Hard Rock Treasures (2005)
Hard Rock Treasures is the history of Hard Rock Cafes and how they obtain memorabilia of rock groups. Entertaining and educational! Showed lots of old rockers! Fun!

Don Bernstine hosts the documentary. Learn more at the Hard Rock blog. Visit Hard Rock's YouTube Channel for glimpses of treasures and so much more.

Light and Gold by Eric Whitacre

Light and Gold by Eric Whitacre (2010)
A very complex collection of choral compositions. Modern in style, yet traditional in voice.

Check out reviews from British newspapers The Guardian and The Independent. Read an interview with the YouTube sensation and artist in The Telegraph. For more on Eric Whitacre and the Virtual Choir, visit his website.

Whokill by tUnE-yArDs

Whokill by tUnE-yArDs (2011)
A funky blend of Afro-Pop, R&B, and acoustic come together in this album by the percussionist and singer Merrill Garbus. This offbeat record where Garbus layers and loops her voice is a feel good album that will have you dancing for hours. For those of you who love Afro-pop artists like Zap Mama, this album is a must listen!

Check out an interview with Garbus and a review of the album in Pitchfork. For more about the group, visit their record label 4AD.

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