recommendations: February 2008 Archives

Herbie Hancock, River, The Joni Letters (Verve). Without its cadre of vocalists, Hancock's tribute to Joni Mitchell would not have received a Grammy nomination or widespread critical attention. In varying degrees, Mitchell, Norah Jones, Tina Turner, Luciana Souza and Corinne Bailey Rae do justice to Mitchell's songs. Leonard Cohen is effective in his atmospheric delivery of her lyrics in "The Jungle Line." But if the CD contained only instrumental tracks of the quality of "Both Sides Now," "Sweet Bird," "Solitude" and "Nefertiti," it might be the best Hancock-Wayne Shorter album ever. As it is, River is one of their finest collaborations.

February 5, 2008 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

Roberta Gambarini and Hank Jones, Lush Life (55 Records). With a new collaboration of the Italian singer and the American pianist about to be released, it is past time to tell you about this one. Gambarini and Jones are all but flawless in this collection of classic songs and two jazz standards, Gigi Gryce's "Reminiscing" and Tadd Dameron's "Cool Breeze." Highlights of the duets: a spirited "Just Squeeze Me" and a gorgeous "Then I'll Be Tired Of You" that includes the seldom-heard verse. Four tracks add bassist George Mraz and drummer Willie Jones III. A slightly different US release of the CD, called You Are There, has only Gambarini and Jones duets.

February 5, 2008 1:04 AM | | Comments (0)

Stu Pletcher, The Story Of Stewart Pletcher (Jazz Oracle). Stu Pletcher is not a household name. Even in the 1920s and '30s when he played in popular bands led by Ben Pollack, Smith Ballew and Red Norvo, he was not a household name. Nonetheless, he was a splendid cornet and trumpet soloist who modeled himself after Bix Beiderbecke and yet, like Bix admirers Rex Stewart and Bobby Hackett, developed his own conception. This collection assembled from rare sources by Pletcher's son Tom gives a rounded picture of Stu Pletcher's considerable gifts as a soloist, arranger and journeyman vocalist.

February 5, 2008 1:02 AM | | Comments (0)

Benny Carter, Symphony In Riffs (Rhapsody Films). This documentary was made several years before the death in 2003 of the great saxophonist, trumpeter, clarinetist, arranger, composer and occasional vocalist. It tells Carter's story from early development as a prodigy through his crucial contribution to the development of big bands, his breakthrough as the first major black composer in Hollywood and his status as a universally acclaimed cultural figure. Burt Lancaster narrates this skillfully produced hour in which we see Carter in action as soloist, leader, teacher and avuncular role model to several generations. A coda to the new edition updates the original 1989 version and includes identification of key musicians who go unnamed in the body of the film.

February 5, 2008 1:01 AM | | Comments (0)

Gary Giddins, Weather Bird: Jazz At The Dawn Of Its Second Century (Oxford). I take my time getting through Giddins's big compilations of his columns, reviews and essays. This one was beside my bed for a couple of years. I savored it a piece at a time, enjoying insights like this about Erroll Garner: "Two things invariably keep the train on the track. First, he swings hard enough to allay reservations; if he has charge of your foot, he can get to your mind. Second, and more impressively, he improvises with a matchless lucidity that allows people who glaze over at the thought of improvisation to follow Garner's most fanciful inventions." And this, in a chapter called "How Come Jazz Isn't Dead?": "For half a century, each generation mourned anew the passing of jazz because each idealized the particular jazz of its youth." Or, as Woody Herman, surveying the crowd at a dance he was playing, told me, "These people haven't listened to anything new since high school." Giddins, as they say, gets it.

February 5, 2008 1:01 AM | | Comments (0)

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the recommendations category from February 2008.

recommendations: January 2008 is the previous archive.

recommendations: March 2008 is the next archive.

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About Last Night
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Artful Manager
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
blog riley
rock culture approximately
Rebuilding Gulf Culture after Katrina
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Art from the American Outback
Life's a Pitch
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
Mind the Gap
No genre is the new genre
Performance Monkey
David Jays on theatre and dance
Plain English
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Rockwell Matters
John Rockwell on the arts
Straight Up |
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude

Foot in Mouth
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Seeing Things
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...

Jazz Beyond Jazz
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

Out There
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Serious Popcorn
Martha Bayles on Film...

classical music
The Future of Classical Music?
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
On the Record
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Slipped Disc
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds

Jerome Weeks on Books
Quick Study
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera

Drama Queen
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
lies like truth
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world

Aesthetic Grounds
Public Art, Public Space
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Modern Art Notes
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog
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