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Hidden Gems
Hidden Gems
Offered by FLASH
Price: 5.75

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dedicated fans should be happy !, 18 April 2012
This review is from: Hidden Gems (Audio CD)
Three of the 15 songs on this Luther Vandross compilation qualify as hidden.
Out of those three, one was released on the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino Presents: Hero [DVD] [2004] (1992), another was pulled from the soundtrack to Money Train [DVD] [1996] (1995), and the third track was a bonus cut on the Japanese edition of Luther Vandross (2001).
They are not quite gems, but dedicated fans should be happy to have them in one spot.
Out of the remaining dozen tracks, two come from gold-selling releases and ten were issued on albums that went platinum and double platinum.
So, those are not exactly hidden or "seldom heard", as a press release was crazy enough to claim.
Hidden Gems is more like the missing fifth disc from the Love, Luther box set released in 2007.
Between the releases, only two songs overlap, and this adds depth with not much filler, though it could have been more generous with '80s cuts and not so reliant upon relatively tepid '90s material.
The liner notes, written by Vandross' longtime associate Fonzi Thornton, are a great touch. A Kellman

Love Is A Four Letter Word
Love Is A Four Letter Word
Price: 7.10

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An album steeped in '70s soul. Your summer ear candy! Enjoy!, 18 April 2012
Underneath his tongue-twisting wordplay, Jason Mraz fancies himself a loverman -- and given that his greatest success came from the sticky sentiment of "I'm Yours", who can blame him for thinking this way?
Nevertheless, he's never made a full-blown makeout record until "Love Is a Four Letter Word", an album steeped in '70s soul.
Mraz doesn't neglect his acoustic guitar nor does he abandon his showy verbal gymnastics, but apart from a cut or two -- including "BLANK", the album's first single -- they're buried underneath stacks of luxurious strings and thick, insistent grooves, touches that tie the record together with elegance.
Mr. A-Z has hinted at soul before but he's never placed music over words, a shift of emphasis that delivers great dividends.
He can still be a nasally, hyperactive twit, too eager to succumb to clever-clever puns and quips, but there's an acknowledgment that even if he can't change who he is -- witness the terribly titled "Fred D Fixer", an ode to a grandfather who lived by his hands, not his wits -- he can build upon this foundation.
If all he adds is color and flair, not some serious depth, that winds up being enough: by making alterations and affecting his pose, Mraz pushes himself into new territory, creating music that's perilously close to sounding seductive.
What holds "Love Is a Four Letter Word" from actually being seductive is that Mraz seems more lech than Lothario -- there's always a sense that he's around for nothing longer than a night.
But, as "Love Is a Four Letter Word" plays, Mraz can convince you that his pleasures are a bit more than fleeting. It may be a lie, but it sure sounds good as it's told. S. T. Erlewine

We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 19, 2012 3:43 PM BST

Omara & Chucho [CD/DVD Limited Luxury Edition]
Omara & Chucho [CD/DVD Limited Luxury Edition]
Price: 13.55

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting., 16 April 2012
This pair come on like royalty here, dipping into jazz, classical music, and Gershwin for inspiration. And they've come a long way.
Omara is best known as the mature female star with Buena Vista Social Club [1999] [DVD], but that was only the latest stage in an extraordinarily eventful career.
Born in 1930, she initially decided to follow her sister Haydee and become a dancer, and she even set up as a dance teacher for a while.
But - known as "Miss Omara Brown, the girlfriend of feeling", she soon branched out into singing, drawing on all the styles - from Argentina, Brazil, and the USA - which were pressing in on Cuba in the early 1950s.
She set up a vocal quartet with which she toured the US and shared the stage with Nat King Cole, and when the missile crisis of 1962 set off Cuba's long period of isolation, she decided to stay there and start a solo career.
She also did her bit for her country's economy, serenading those pressed into service cutting sugar-cane. Meanwhile she joined the celebrated Orquesta Aragon, with which she recorded a string of albums.
Then in the 1990s her boat came in. She recorded with Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, and Ruben Gonzalez: all gone now, but living on through their surviving collaborators.
Chucho Valdes has come via a different route, but - being named by Bill Brubeck as one of the world's five top jazz pianists, alongside Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, and Chick Corea - he brings his own stardust.
And as he and Omara launch into their own treatments of Hollywood standards and Beethoven's "Moonlight" sonata, with Omara's voice a bit threadbare but still its splendid self, the old magic works again.
M. Church.

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