Al Jarreau, Look to the Rainbow

A classic late 70s album of Al Jarreau at his scat singing best, before he went commercial. Check out the track, "Could You Believe."

More info, Listen to samples

Tania Libertad, 20 De Coleccion

Peruvian Tania Libertad was born in Zaña but raised in the coastal town of Chiclayo where she began singing romantic ballads at the age of five. She became a local star a decade later while studying fishing engineering in Lima. Tania Libertad started making passionate bolero records after moving to Mexico in 1977, paying tribute to Latin legend José Alfredo Jiménez on Canta a J.A. Jiménez. She also teamed up with talented composer Armando Manzanero on Libertad de Manzanero and set music to La Vida Ese Parentesis, a book of poems by Mario Benedetti. ~ Drago Bonacich, All Music Guide
More info, Listen to Samples

Eartha Kitt, Purr-fect

Referring to herself as "a sophisticated cotton picker" who was drawn to being a dancer/singer/actress "by circumstance," Eartha Kitt is the sly sophisticate's sophisticate. Or is that sophisti-cat? Adopting (revealing?) the guise of a sex kitten with class (not merely for Batman), Kitt repeatedly reinvented herself, combating an impoverished childhood, prejudice, and political attacks. Her signature vibrato and astounding stage presence etched her place as a performance legend -- a vamp, a diva, a showstopper.

Purr-fect is her first U.S. greatest hits collection, offering 22 gems spanning her "RCA period" from 1952-57. The Kitt camp bristles with multilingual romps through jaded but mostly humorous cosmopolitan circumstances. Sung in Turkish with clever interjections, "Uska Dara (A Turkish Tale)" was the unexpected 1953 exotic success that launched Kitt's recording career (and defeated what Kitt saw as her label’s own attempt to release a clinker and thus quickly dump an artist whose potential they overestimated). Claiming to be "Just An Old Fashioned Girl" in one sultry breath, you hear what's really going on when Kitt admits "I Want To Be Evil" (with the infamous "spitting tacks" line). Kitt could get away with saying "Harry S. Truman plays bop for me..." in "Monotonous," from Leonard Stillman's New Faces of 1952 (of which Kitt was one).

Orson Welles famously remarked that Kitt was “the most exciting woman in the world,” and listeners will be inclined to agree. Currently, Kitt is active today with movie roles, Old Navy TV ads, a US tour, and -- at 72-ish -- an exercise video! This kitty has at least nine lives. -Stacy Meyn
More info, Listen to samples

Tuck & Patti, Tears of Joy essential recording
While unaccompanied jazz guitar can quickly become tedious, Tuck Andress funk-inspired, footloose approach was immediately arresting. Add Patti Cathcart's soul-inflected vocal to the mix, and the result is a disc that very quickly became something of a classic in modern jazz vocal records. While many jazz discs can boast fine musicianship, few have this much personality. Few could take two songs from the Bob Dorough canon ("I've Got Just About Everything" and "Better Than Anything") and make them their own. But that is the secret of this disc--the winning combination of instrumental chops and a personal, individual stamp on the tunes themselves. --Skip Heller
More info, Listen to samples

Abbey Lincoln & Stan Getz, You Gotta Pay the Band

CMJ New Music Report Exclusive Review - At a time when she believes "the world is falling down" (the title of her glorious 1990 debut for PolyGram), Abbey Lincoln has truly found herself and is standing tall where she belongs - at the pinnacle, among the few truly great jazz divas. She has sung under many names - from Anna Maria Woolridge to Gaby Lee and Abbey Lincoln to Aminata Moseka. She has adopted several professional stances - from `50s supper-club sex bomb to `60s civil-rights activist/avant-garde jazz singer to `90s role model/jazz great, all the while managing a parallel career as an actress (most recently in Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues). But one thing she has always been is a "social secretary," at once an observer and participant in the affairs of her own psyche and its relation to the struggles of African-Americans and their great, enduring contribution to world culture, the music we call jazz. After a decade or more of what she terms "comfortable obscurity," Lincoln, now 61, is enjoying her greatest commercial prosperity at a time, propitiously and not coincidentally, when she's at the peak of her expressive powers, her "instrument," she says, having "widened and deepened [credit to vocal coach David Collier] so much that singing is never a struggle." And, now, thanks to her first two majorlabel recordings, a triumphant Lincoln Center Classical Jazz concert last summer and Gene Davis' film documentary on her life, Lincoln's beautiful spirit stands out in bold relief: Her semisweet, albeit sometimes flat, voice melds words and music with rhythmic elan, and her singular phraseology is all the more effective because her composing and arranging skills (she penned five of the tunes on You Gotta Pay The Band and arranged all 10) have grown propitiously again, proportionate with her physical abilites. This good-karma confluence is abetted by her magnificent choice of accompanists: tenorman Stan Getz (heard on his penultimate session), pianist Hank Jones, bassist Charlie Haden (a returnee from The World Is Falling Down), drummer Mark Johnson and (on two cuts) viola player Maxine Roach. The programming options are manifold, among them the autobiographical "Bird Alone" (no connection to Charlie Parker), her lyricized version of the Freddie Hubbard tune "Up Jumped Spring," the inspirational "When I'm Called Home " and the incredible "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?," on which she takes what for most singers would be a hoary, anachronistic standard and invests it with timeless majesty (much as she did with "Ten Cents A Dance" on Frank Morgan's A Lovesome Thing for Antilles earlier this year)."I work toward being all one, Lincoln told CMJ. "There are many sides to my personality, but they all live in this house." And a mighty inviting edifice it is.
More info


home | quotes | music | recipes | weblog | book reviews