Swing Out Sister – Private View

I could listen to Corinne Drewery all day.  In fact, I’ve been doing a little of that, looping the Swing Out Sister “Private View” (Ais, Soundcloud) tracks all the way to Tokyo – mostly while asleep.

So if there’s such a thing as sleep-learning – well, I got that lesson more than once across the Pacific.

Still one of my favorite bands from the eighties, even though I thought Clare Teal trumped “Breakout” on her 2007 release, “Paradisi Carousel,”  Ms. Drewry and partner Andy Connell still walk that tight line between jazz, pop and dance with aplomb, even 25 years after “Breakout” broke out.

The duo have been a bigger name in Japan than the US, or even perhaps their native UK; this release touches on some new versions of old SoS releases, including Barbara Acklin’s “Am I The Same Girl,” which adds lyrics to the 1968 hit by Young-Holt Unlimited, “Soulful Strut,” and “Notgonnachange,” from the 1992 SoS album, “Get In Touch With Yourself.”

And yet another remake of “Breakout,” this time as a ballad.  There must be a half-dozen versions of this song in my library – which might be irritating if it didn’t have such a doggone catchy hook.  I don’t think there can be enough of this song.

Too pop for jazz, too jazz for pop?  Such is the way it goes for this particular sound.  Good thing I stopped listening to the radio for music years ago.  Swing out Sister can always be in heavy rotation on the ‘pod.

Very highly recommended, this one.  Nice to see that Corrine and Andy haven’t lost the touch, as indescribable as it is.

I got mine via Soundcloud, but I’m still unclear exactly how to obtain this album without paying an exorbitant import price.  It’s not at iTunes, nor available as a download at Amazon – at least not in the US store.  Poke around the band’s Facebook page, or at their webpage for a good listen to recent music, including some downloadable tracks from this album, which should be in greater release this next week – some sites point to an October 9 release date.

“Twilight World” is another of my favorites from this group.  But I couldn’t find a clean video, so we’ll settle (!) for this one from Slovakian TV – a performance of “Surrender,” also from that first 1986 CD, “It’s Better To Travel,” which had a 25th anniversary re-release last year.



Leave a Comment

Filed under Free Music Download, Reviews

Amanda Brecker – Blossom

Wherever I go, it seems I end up looking for the record store.  New, used – vinyl or CDs.  Doesn’t matter.  Narita is a treat – female vocalists seem to get a lot of love generally in Asia, but especially in Japan.

Talented women, underexposed in North America take up a lot of rack space there.  Canada’s Sophie Milman is one of those – so is Halie Loren, whose albums release in Japan before her native US.

I also roll the dice and pick up artists unfamiliar to me.  Amanda Brecker‘s “Blossom” was released in Japan (Universal Classics and Jazz) last May.  It will be her first US release, but it’s not available (Emarcy/Pgd) until February of next year.

Ms. Brecker is the daughter of Brazilian superstar Eliane Elias and trumpeter Randy Brecker, so musical talent is right there, in the genes.  Featuring the songs of James Taylor and Carole King – it’s billed as a 40th anniversary celebration of Ms. King’s legendary “Tapestry” album.

Two of the musicians – Russ Kunkel on drums and Lee Sklar on bass, played on those original “Tapestry” sessions.  Veteran piano guy Larry Goldings is also in the band for this one, produced by Jesse Harris, who wrote Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why.”

From jazz roots, Ms. Brecker’s voice is surprisingly and sweetly folk-sounding, bordering on country, especially on Taylor’s “Something In The Way He Moves.”

This one is recommended, and worth a look when it comes off import prices in the US – in February. (Ms. Brecker’s Website)

Speaking of Halie Loren – Japan gave me a chance to catch up since I first heard her work.  I liked her a lot in 2008.  She’s even better, now.  And she still doesn’t get enough notice in the US.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Reviews

Cristina Morrison – I Love

If there are two kinds of people in the world – those who get it, and those who don’t – it’s always a pleasure to interact with people who do.  It’s possible to pursue a passion only for art’s sake.  But unless it gets into the marketplace, you’re only amusing yourself.

Cristina Morrison – I Love (Baronesa)
Released – May, 2012

This is a strong debut from singer-songwriter-actress Cristina Morrison, who has polished a half-dozen original tracks and three classics to a luster, with the help of some excellent New York session players.

“Summer In New York” is one of those originals I swear I’ve heard before – it’s that classic-sounding.  Distinctly Latin lyrics from Ms. Morrison, with lines like “You pierce through my pores,” only add to the heat of this outstanding opener.

The three standards add well to the new material.  They include “What A Difference A Day Makes,” first written in the 30s by María Grever as “Cuando Vuelva A Tu Lado,” along with Brooks Bowman’s “East Of The Sun” and Billie Holiday’s “Fine And Mellow.”

But if it’s Ms. Morrison who is front and center – with a rich and inviting alto – it’s the guys in the band who put the frame around it.  Bonus points for the artwork and packaging for this fine piece of art – from just about any way one looks at it.

I’ll look to hear more from Ms. Morrison.  Hope it’s soon.

This disc is highly recommended.

WebsiteFacebook (Fan Page) – Twitter

Leave a Comment

Filed under Reviews

Connie Evingson – Sweet Happy Life

I keep saying that one of these days, I intend to travel to Minneapolis-St. Paul, maybe to take in a baseball game at their new ballpark, but also to get a chance to listen live to some of the great vocalists who live and work there – so many in one metropolitan area.

Connie Evingson – Sweet Happy Life
(Minnehaha Music)

Released – July 10, 2012

Tracks from Connie Evingson’s previous albums are peppered all through my ‘pod playlists.  There’s no mix that can’t use a little cool, and Ms. Evingson never fails to deliver on that score.  This is her ninth album, a tribute to Norman Gimbel, whose vast repertoire as a lyricist includes everything from the English Lyrics to iconic Brazilian tunes such as “Girl From Ipanema” and “Summer Samba,” to pop classics like “Sway,” “Canadian Sunset,” and “Killing Me Softly.”

Ms. Evingson and the array of Minnealpolis-St. Paul musicians involved in this production are at the top of their game, with Ms. Evingson alternately sultry and sassy – running the Gimbel catalog from the big hits to the side streets, such as the title track, or “Take Me To Aruanda,” recorded by Astrud Gilberto in 1965, and largely ignored since.

On why an album of Gimbel classics, Ms. Evingson says he’s “…a very intelligent and observant guy, and I think he was able to see – and feel – what each song called for, no matter what the genre or era.”  She says, “I was astounded at the number of great tunes for which he’d written lyrics.  I was curious that his work was so familiar, but his name wasn’t.”

The album includes a Gimbel creation never before recorded – “Adventure,” lyrics to a Jobim melody titled “Olha Maria,” from a 1970 movie, “The Adventurers,” based on a Harold Robbins novel.

Ms. Evingson is one of several top-notch vocalists who work in the Twin Cities – as for how that happens, she points to a Minnesota tradition of choral music, and “…a strong, vibrant arts scene…with a supportive and sophisticated jazz audience.”

Sophisticated.  That’s one word to describe this disc.  Three words?  Very highly recommended.

WebsiteFacebook (Fan Page) – Twitter

From Glasgow – one performer who has my attention is Lizzie Nightingale, whose EP, “Tiny Teardrops,” has that kind of anthemic sound that I’ve come to associate with UK pop.  Her earnest and insistent sound – coupled with smart lyrics – makes for a good listen.  In the US, individual tracks are available at the iTunes store – my favorite is “Sparkle.”  Here’s the video.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Reviews