What you're about to read is a collection of pointers to some of the music I've discovered on the iTunes Music Store, music I like enough that I want to share it. If you're an iPod owner and an iTunes fan (and if you aren't, what are you doing here?), maybe you'll find something new. Click on any of the CD covers to bounce over to the store and sample a few tracks. And then maybe stop by my other blog for a few well chosen words (and maybe a random snark or two).RSS feed
All the music (502)
  Alternative (67)
   Audiobook (10)
    Blues (3)
     Children's Music (5)
      Classical (28)
       Comedy (10)
        Country (21)

  Dance (4)
   Easy Listening (2)
    Electronic (13)
     Folk (27)
      French Pop (1)
       German Folk (1)
        German Pop (1)

  Hip-Hop/Rap (2)
   Holiday (5)
    Jazz (35)
     Latin (4)
      New Age (8)
       Podcast (5)
        Pop (72)

  R&B/Soul (4)
   Reggae (4)
    Rock (105)
     Soundtrack (32)
      Spoken Word (1)
       Vocal (15)
        World (15)

Have some music to recommend? I can always use a few pointers. Use the comments link at the bottom of the page.
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Fri, 14 Sep 2007

The New Bossa Nova / Luciana Souza
The New Bossa Nova Victoria Hart's new album asks the musical question, Whatever Happened to Romance?. My reply would be that it traded in your overproduced version for the silky Brazilian sounds of Luciana Souza. And that's just fine with me.
[ Category: Jazz | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 03 Sep 2007

Easy / Grant Green
If you're in America, I hope you're enjoying Labor Day by not working too hard. (If you're anywhere else, I guess it's just another manic Monday.) I mention this because I didn't expect to work this hard to find something to write about. Turns out there's not much to inspire out of this past week's iTunes offerings. I guess the late summer blahs attack the music business along with everything else.

Which makes Easy a seasonal poster child of sorts. It's so safe and unimaginative that even my parents would like it, assuming of course they were still listening to Musak music. Me, I'm looking forward to autumn and the chance to escape those blahs.

(It occurs to me that if I were awake enough, I could have written this review in one word. And that word, in case you haven't already guessed, would be blah. I mean, it's not like I'm being paid by the word here. Or at all for that matter.)

[ Category: Jazz | Add a comment | Link ]

Mon, 23 Jul 2007

String Theory / The Catrin Finch Band
I make it a rule not to review the same artist twice on this here blog, but if I can't violate my own rules, what's the point of having them? Besides, I last mentioned Catrin Finch two and a half years ago; surely there's a statute of limitations at work here. And as my final defense, that was Catrin as solo artist. Here she's part of a fourteen piece band. That should let me off the hook.

So much for the defense. (Defensive, am I?) Now to the album at hand. String Theory is jazz, which usually doesn't involve any harps. It's a dancing bear kind of album, the impressive thing about a dancing bear not being that it dances well, but that it dances at all. Adding a harp, even one as good as hers, to Puttin' On The Ritz can't make me forget what Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle did to it. Fly Me (AKA Come Fly With Me) isn't really any different with a few more strings, although I grant that Misty isn't half bad. (Clearly, Jessica Walter terrorizing Clint Eastwood didn't scar me the way Mel Brooks did.) But Hang 'Em High? That's just creepy, with or without the harp. Then again, that was the point.

String Theory
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Fri, 29 Jun 2007

Happening / Brenda Earle
I may have mentioned my enthusiasm for musical theatre a time or two before. Happening doesn't belong to that genre, although my first reaction was that it well could. There's something theatrical about these songs, both in their composition and their arrangement; they tell a story or set a mood in exactly the way some of my Broadway favorites do. Most of the songs here are original, which makes me wonder if their specialness comes more from their creation or their performance, or if the two are inseparable.

One not-original track is a memorable version of Every Little Thing (He) Does Is Magic. And if she can't quite equal Shawn Colvin's breathtaking cover, well, second place isn't too shabby either.

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Wed, 13 Jun 2007

Inner Shape / Roman Ott
Inner Shape This post is about an album called Inner Shape. But Inner Shape isn't just the name of the album; it's the name of the band. Roman Ott isn't the name of the band; that's just the name of one of the band members. Clear?

Sorry; I was just channeling Arlo Guthrie. But back to the band. Inner Shape is a quartet of young German jazz musicians. Who do a credible job of sounding both more mature and not particularly Teutonic. Although they do leave me wondering just what's so funny about Leo.

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Fri, 08 Jun 2007

Hiromi's Sonic Bloom: Time Control / Hiromi Uehara
Hiromi's Sonic Bloom: Time Control Time Control is a little bit New Age, a little bit jazz. Or maybe it's a lot of both; I can't quite decide. But however you categorize her, Hiromi's keyboard technique has to be heard to be believed. A definite Wow. Maybe even two.
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Mon, 28 May 2007

WOW It's...The Lounge-O-Leers / The Lounge-O-Leers
You'll forgive me, I hope, if I indulge my baser musical instincts every now and then. This is one of those times, as I admit that there's something so wonderfully silly about a group that will mash Britney Spears and Henry Mancini, or throw Fastball's The Way into a blender with Bésame Mucho and hope for the best. This is low art at best, and most enjoyable in small doses. But it's still art. It is, isn't it? WOW It's...The Lounge-O-Leers
[ Category: Jazz | 1 comment | Link ]

Mon, 16 Apr 2007

He Had a Hat / Jeff Lorber
There's this joke, you see. About a camper who falls out of a boat and is drowning. And the counselor jumps in and rescues him. Takes the kid up to his parents, expecting a reward or at least a "thanks for saving my child from death". And the mother says, "He had a hat".

Which may or may not have anything to do with the title of this album. But that's what got me to listen to it, so I thought I might as well share.

He Had a Hat
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Mon, 26 Feb 2007

All Night Wrong / Allan Holdsworth
All Night Wrong Round about 250 posts ago I mentioned how a friend and I used to attend the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, back when you had to be in the industry to get in. (I wasn't, and neither was he. But he used to be, which was good enough.) Anyway, one of the benefits of CES back then was that the CD was brand new, and something that was mostly appreciated by audiophiles. A few small music labels would exhibit at the show, or to be more precise, they'd set up shops to sell their discs at much more popular prices than you'd find in record stores, both then and now. Needless to say, we'd buy most anything we could lay our hands on, which is how I got the bulk of my early orchestral and jazz collection. It didn't much matter what the music was, you see, as long as we felt we were getting a deal.

Listening to a little of All Night Wrong I was taken back to that time, and to my accidental and not quite yet appreciated exposure to the world of jazz. Eventually I'd learn to appreciate it, even to seek it out on occasion. Not for a while, though. Although I do think I'd have enjoyed this one even before my taste developed. Besides, I never could resist a play on words.

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Wed, 17 Jan 2007

Songs to Remember / Smoma
I'm confused. Not an unusual feeling, I grant. But still. You see, a search for this album on Amazon came up empty. But not completely; a second search on Smoma found two CDs, both called Casual Lounge. The first is a two year old European import. The second is a six month old domestic release. Both have the same track list, as does this album. Which I assumed means they're all the same, or at least mostly the same, aside from their packaging and their price. And then I discovered that Smoma have a second album on the iTunes Store. Called -- wait for it -- Casual Lounge - Songs to Remember. With those same 14 tracks, albeit in a slightly different order. Confusing, that's what it is. Songs to Remember
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Fri, 29 Dec 2006

MJQ / Modern Jazz Quartet
You know what we don't hear enough of? Vibraphone, that's what we don't hear enough of. And what better way to get your Minimum Daily Requirement of vibraphone than with the exquisite playing of Milt Jackson and the very early Modern Jazz Quartet. This recording from the early 50s includes two incarnations of MJQ: both the more famous quartet and a five piece ensemble Jackson put together from three original MJQ members and a couple of new performers. All eight tracks are chock full of vibraphony goodness. MJQ
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Wed, 06 Dec 2006

Fight or Flight? / Kellylee Evans
Our story begins with a blonde chanteuse named Marilyn Scott, whose music was for me a happy accident, and which I have been enjoying ever since. My previous mention of Ms. Scott got the attention of her PR firm, which offered me her latest CD, entitled Innocent of Nothing. I accepted; I mean, free music is free music. And good free music is even better.

Anyway I listened to Innocent and found it delicious. As, sadly, did my brand new car's brand new CD player, which chose to digest the shiny disc. Embarrassed, and with a new in-car player which I have yet to feed a CD, I explained the situation to those nice PR people, who offered to send me a replacement. And so they did, along with one by the not remotely blonde but equally entrancing Ms. Evans. This time I was smart enough to rip the CDs to iTunes before risking them in my car. Although I'm not sure either one is the best car listening. Because like Marilyn Scott, Kellylee Evans demands your attention. And unfortunately, so do all the cell phone equipped doofuses (doofi?) racing madly down California's freeways. So maybe I'll save these two for times when I can give them my full attention.

Fight or Flight?
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Fri, 18 Aug 2006

Six or Seven Times / Blue Roseland Orchestra
Six or Seven Times Alas, this is another case where my ignorance is as complete after Googling as it was before I began. Blue Roseland Orchestra is German, or at least that's the impression I get both from their sound and their record label. This album is a decade old, although the tracks themselves might be older. I don't think they are; I think they're modern performances of classic jazz band music. Of course, I could be wrong. Not that it really matters. A few minutes with Blue Roseland and I'm transported to a world I've only experienced in the movies, with (at least in my imagination) sophisticated people in sophisticated clothes making sophisticated smalltalk while they sip sophisticated cocktails. Makes my life seem sort of drab by comparison.
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Wed, 17 May 2006

Treemonisha / Ophelia Ragtime Orchestra & Seim Songkor
Treemonisha Here's an interesting album, in all sorts of ways. Treemonisha was written by Scott Joplin, his attempt to dramatize the plight of black people in the form of opera. To call his efforts unappreciated is an understatement; the financing of his work almost bankrupted him, and he died without ever seeing it performed. That performance finally came a half century later, garnering Joplin a Pulitzer Prize. Of course, it might have been nice if he'd been around to enjoy it.

Flash forward another thirty years, to Ophelia's decision to perform, and later record, Joplin's musical tale of post-Civil War black life and women's liberation. Norway's premier ragtime orchestra (you have to love the oxymoronic way that sounds) is joined by the Seim Songkor choir. The result is kind of amazing, and certainly the best ragtime rendition of post-emancipation Southern life ever to be performed by an all-Scandinavian ensemble.

Not that there's a lot of competition on that score.

[ Category: Jazz | 1 comment | Link ]

Wed, 22 Mar 2006

Wild For You / Karrin Allyson
Wild For You I first listened to Wild For You when this blog was new. And, as much as I admired Ms. Allyson's voice, I wasn't wildly enthusiastic about the album. Applying a jazz sensibility to 70s pop songs sounds more interesting than it... er... sounds, if you know what I mean. I'm oversimplifying, but some of the jazzifying technique involves taking a song that follows the beat precisely and loosening it up, slowing down and speeding up the vocals at odd moments. I could hear myself saying "C'mon already!" with all the impatience of which I'm capable. (I bore easily.)

I still have that issue, giving it another listen a year or so later. Some tracks continue to annoy me, especially an almost glacially slow Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word. ("What have I got to do to make you love me?" "You could start by picking up the pace!") But I'm warming to the rest of the album, especially her versions of Joni Mitchell's All I Want and Roberta Flack's Feel Like Makin' Love. Maybe I'm able to focus more on style and warmth this time around, both of which are on display here. Or maybe I'm just slowing down myself.

[ Category: Jazz | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 03 Mar 2006

The Hidden Land / Béla Fleck & The Flecktones
The Hidden Land I discovered Béla Fleck by accident, thanks to a cover of Bob Dylan's classic Tangled Up In Blue he performed with Bruce Hornsby. Hornsby provided the vocals, Fleck accompanied on the banjo. You don't hear a lot of banjo in popular music, or at least I don't. Bluegrass, sure. Folk, okay. But Fleck and his band aren't so easily categorized. Jazzy some times, New Agey others, even classical on occasion. I'd call them easy listening, if that weren't such a dirty word. Okay, a dirty pair of words.
[ Category: Jazz | Add a comment | Link ]

Fri, 24 Feb 2006

Don't Take Your Time / Erin Bode
Erin Bode is a young jazz vocalist. I can't wait to hear what she'll sound like in a few years, when she (and we) can look back on this album and think about how far she's come.

The problem isn't with Erin's voice, which is sweet and pure and fine. No, the problem's her delivery. Which isn't bad; it's just kind of... uninspired. Take her cover of Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time. I'm convinced that she based it on Eva Cassidy's version. But Ms. Cassidy took the song to places Ms. Bode can't imagine; she made it her own. And I feel the same way about Here, There and Everywhere. I have an import CD on which Sissel Kyrkjebo reinvents it. Ms. Bode just sings.

It's not that Don't Take Your Time is bad or unpleasant. It just could have been so much more. And maybe one day it will be.

Don't Take Your Time
[ Category: Jazz | 1 comment | Link ]

Fri, 10 Feb 2006

Eddie Fisher & The Next One Hundred Years / Eddie Fisher
Talk about your happy accidents. When I first saw this album mentioned on the Just Added list in iTunes, I assumed it was a whole other Eddie Fisher. You know, Liz Taylor's ex. Debbie Reynolds' ex. Carrie's pop. That Eddie Fisher. And judging by the album notes at the iTMS, I'm not the only confused one. But let's be clear: this Eddie Fisher was a jazz guitarist, not a singer. And a damn fine one, as I've now discovered. Even if he never covered anything from Fiddler or married Liz or Debbie. Eddie Fisher & The Next One Hundred Years
[ Category: Jazz | 57 comments | Link ]

Fri, 20 Jan 2006

Sweet Emma and her Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Sweet Emma and her Preservation Hall Jazz Band I think I first heard Dixieland Jazz when I was not quite seventeen and making my first pilgrimage to Disneyland. It's a natural kind of music for the House of Mouse: full of energy and good cheer. And loud; did I forget to mention loud? But of course, the Disneyfied version of anything is a pale shadow compared to the original. This is an original, recorded in 1964 when the titular Sweet Emma was 52 and had been performing for forty years. And like most things in New Orleans, it's better than you'll find anywhere else.
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Mon, 16 Jan 2006

One Night With Frank / Erin Boheme
One Night With Frank One Night With Frank is a novelty number. But unlike most novelty songs, it has a lot more than that going for it.

Erin Boheme is a nineteen year old chauteuse with a Sinatra fixation. One Night includes the titles to nineteen of his songs in its lyrics. Which wouldn't be particularly noteworthy if Ms. Boheme didn't also have the perfect voice for a Sinatra tribute: warm, playful and sexy. One Night is supposed to appear on her upcoming debut album, a collection of Frank's tunes. I for one can't wait.

[ Category: Jazz | 1 comment | Link ]

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