Hello from the road again, where I seem to have more time at two in the morning to really listen to music than I’ve been finding at home lately. Jet lag does that to you, I suppose.
My son (the musician) says profound things all the time. Well, profound to me, anyway. One of the things he said when we were listening to something together was something like – “…you can do great covers of classic material all you want. But if you’re going to be remembered, you’ve got to write good stuff, too.”
Something like that.
Renée Yoxon/Mark Ferguson –
Here We Go Again Released – December 2012
A couple of years ago, I wrote of a young Canadaian artist, Renée Yoxon, and a debut album backed by a single guitar; mostly covers, with a pair of original tunes I called “hand crafted.” I called her audacious, and said I’d look forward to more of her work – both as a singer and songwriter.
She’s back, with a bigger backing combo, and this time – a dozen originals. The theme, according to Ms. Yoxon, is love, “…and loss, and love again.” Is experience the reason this sophomore outing suffers no slump? Perhaps. Of love and loss, Ms. Yoxon writes, “I am lucky to have so much of both in my life.”
Such is the stuff that makes art.
But first, the band. Pianist Mark Ferguson writes and produces with Ms. Yoxon, joined by René Gely (that lone guitar player from the first album), Jeff Asselin on drums, and Craig Pedersen on trumpet; Joel Kerr on bass and Frank Lozano on tenor sax. They’re stars by not trying to be stars; and it’s clear (to me, anyway) they’re just as taken with Ms. Yoxon as she with them.
A comparison with a young Susannah McCorkle isn’t out of the question for me. There’s that same caress of a lyric; sensitivity, with a wistfulness that sells the material with a conviction that can’t be conjured up without the experience. With this album, Ms. Yoxon demonstrates talent as a singer, composer and lyricist worthy of recognition far beyond her native Ottawa.
My favorite of the dozen is “Have We Been In Love Before,” which manages at once to be both playful and wistful:
Have we been in love before? | My heart aches when our eyes meet. You’re a stranger but I can’t speak. | Have we been in love before?
You don’t do this kind of work without the experience. I think it’s called paying dues.
I’m back in Myanmar this week, eleven and a half hours out of whack, with connectivity that’s so, so slow. I mentioned Susannah McCorkle up there, and thought it only fitting to also mention the biography, “Haunted Heart,” written by Linda Dahl. I’d recommend that book, if you’re a fan.
Also perhaps, to close with a clip that includes Ms. McCorkle. Hope you can see this better than I could – streaming video is sort of out of the question here.
It was used over the closing credits of Jerry Seinfeld’s movie, “The Comedian.” Headed back home this weekend, perhaps with some more time to write of the things to which I listen.
Patty Andrews – in the center of the photo – the last surviving Andrews Sister, died today at the age of 94. Together, the sisters sold more than 80 million records, starting with the 1937 hit, “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen,” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” which peaked at #15 in 1941, and was covered by Bette Midler, who took it to #8 in 1973.
The Associated Press quotes Ms. Midler today – “This is the last of the trio, and I hope the trumpets ushering (Patty) into heaven with her sisters are playing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”
The sisters entertained soldiers during World War Two, and performed with some of the biggest acts of the day, perhaps none more memorable (to me) than the turns with Bing Crosby – “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby” in 1944, “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive” in 1945, and “South America, Take It Away” in 1946
Bigger than all of that, though, was the song the sisters took to #1 for ten weeks in 1945, “Rum And Coca-Cola.”
But there isn’t a version of that on YouTube. So, from the 1941 Abbott and Costello film, “Buck Privates,” here’s “Bugle Boy.”
I haven’t listened to much over-the-air radio for the past ten years, and even Internet radio is starting to bore me (I’m not talking about you, Martini In The Morning.)
So I’ve set up my own streaming jukebox – from a shelf on the workbench, I can listen to my own growing list of tunes, complete with news on the hour. (Link opens an audio file.)
So – new look for the new year – for each review, I’ll be listing which tracks get added to the personal streaming station – to which I’m able to listen anywhere in the world my travels take me, or at least anywhere with a connection.
Jackie Ryan – Listen Here (Open Art) Released – January 22, 2013
An eclectic collection of tunes, at turns bluesy, then gospel, then straight-ahead jazz, this one is more like a showcase Jackie Ryan’s many talents.
And they’re all top-notch.
Ms. Ryan’s career started in the blues and gospel genres, and she’s clearly most at home there in this offering. The opening lines to “Accentuate The Positive” ring with the authority of someone who’s spent more than a little time attending church fundamentally, and it’s one of my favorites from this disc.
She’s picked up some great west-coast backing musicians along the way, led by John Clayton on bass and his son, Gerald, on piano. Gilbert Castellanos is on trumpet, Graham Dechter on guitar, Obed Calvaire on drums and Rickey Woodard on saxophone. Nice thing about the group is that while everyone gets their share of the solos, they never go on too long, and they’re always in support of Ms. Ryan.
Ms. Ryan gets it. She’s blessed with a powerful voice and a unique style that defies comparisons to any other singer. In a varied collection such as this, one is bound to have favorites, but they’re all representative of a woman who’s at the top of her game.
Favorites added to the playlist - “The Gypsy In My Soul,” along with “Accentuate The Positive” and “How Little We Know (How Little It Matters).”
I’m still bumming over Patti Page’s death. And while “Tennessee Waltz” was never a favorite of mine, it was far and away her biggest hit, #1 on the Billboard Magazine Pop Singles chart for 13 weeks in 1950.
From that era, then – here is a remarkably well-preserved video of Ms. Page performing her biggest hit.