I've Got the World on a String / Louis Under the Stars
Verve 314 559 831-2 Jazz / Vocals
are hardly experts on the great Louis Armstrong. His voice is really
appealing and his trumpet playing evokes cliches about the archangel
Gabriel and the gates of heaven. We have lots of his early work
and always check out his non-Hello Dolly-style later work. Of course
his duets with Ella and Oscar Peterson should be in every collection.
Now we think we'll add this fine 2-CD set to our Louis must-haves.
discs have sublime mid-1950s arrangements by Russ Garcia (Frances
Faye, Margaret Whiting, Mel Torme, etc). The recording quality is
so clear you can hear Louis blooble (our own word) his lips before
playing a solo. With a few exceptions, the songs are all standards
but with Louis' authoritative vocals and Garcia's fresh arrangements,
the music is anything but stale.
us, the highlight is the strangely moving Nobody Knows the Trouble
I've Seen. Without a trace of irony, Louis sings the more traditional
Nobody knows but Jesus instead of the more secular Nobody
knows my sorrow. It's really sweet and when after he makes his
declaration and solos, it's almost like a cry for understanding.
He's accompanied by tasteful strings and the occasional strum of
a guitar. You'd have to be a pretty cold fish not to be moved.
notes are by historian Richard Sudhalter. He may know a lot about
early jazz (he wrote Lost Chords: White Musicians and Their Contribution
to Jazz 1915-1945) but he doesn't know prune pudding about 1950s
cocktail culture or even the chic of Louis' style in this period.
Coincidentally, he toots his own trumpet on Alex Pangman's new CD,
also reviewed in this issue of MrLucky.
Original Soundtrack Recording
Men with Guns
Rykodisc 10437 Soundtracks
you're like us and don't make it to the movies much these days. It
seems that by watching the advertisements on television, we've pretty
much seen the highlights of the flicker. There are exceptions and
for us, Men with Guns was one of them. Several years later,
the haunting film still lingers. As does the music. We've kept this
disc nearby since its release in 1998. Aside from evoking images from
the film, it's a great primer on Latin American musical genres of
all types. On its own, it's a cohesive program of really fine music,
but it's also a smart starting point for those who have a new curiosity
about Latin music and suspect that Ricky Martin is not the apex of
CD is a collection of short original pieces that range from New
Age-y segues to hot Salsa tidbits. They provide the framework for
the longer pieces from other sources. Ramon Ropain's Mi Cumbia
is a simple piano and drum cumbia that is so infectious, it might
just send you to the Internet to find out what else he's done. Les
Miserables Brass Band's El Dios Nunca Muerte had the same
effect. (Don't bother, there's no mention of them anywhere!)
recommend both the music and the film.
I'll Be Easy to Find
Verve 314547755-2 Vocals / Jazz
Teri Thornton sings the first lines from Somewhere in the Night
on her new album I'll Be Easy to Find, you might just breath
a sigh of relief. Here's that classic sound you've been looking
for. A great big boozy seen-it-all voice singing a strong song with
a modern big band is quite a gift. Thornton's rubber band voice
is a little over the top, but with the plethora of mediocre jazz-ettes
doing their best to be as bland as milk, we welcome the vocal acrobatics.
problem is Ms Thornton's sound is really intense and a little goes
a long way. The fault lies partly with the length of contemporary
CDs. We've said for awhile now that much more than 45 minutes is
a long time to spend with anybody.
listen in sessions, but listen. This is the way to sing jazz at
the turn of the century.
Sensation Records 769748018-2 Vocals
Alex Pangman Website
with albums we like quite a lot, we often find we play them once
and then file them away for a rainy day. A few choice platters get
to hang around the hi-fi for a few weeks and except for our Tom
Waits and Keely Smith collections, no titles get to live permanently
outside of their homes on the shelves. Well, They Say by
Alex Pangman isn't getting filed away anytime soon. This swinging
pre-Swing event just gets more enjoyable with each and every listening.
sounding the least bit condescending, Ms Pangman manages to turn
the clocks back about 70 years and make it still sound fresh. She
has an intense, sincere and familiar sound but it's not derivative
and her generous breaks to allow the boys in the band to blow makes
for a really fine outing.
band is fine and dandy, too. Our complaint is that Jeff Healy's
swinging guitar is recorded too low in the mix, as is John Ryan's
strong piano. Steve Mellor's clarinet is recorded too loud and he
has the habit of only playing "hot". We'd say he's the
Ethel Merman of the group. And hats off to drummer Steve Torrico
for his restraint and authentic period playing.
is enthusiastic, authentic, a little green and thoroughly engaging.