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Twentysomething [Special Edition]
Twentysomething [Special Edition]
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.50

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jazz is too big for the box, 28 Nov. 2006
Never mind 'Is it jazz or is it pop?' Those of us who love jazz have been wasting our breath along these lines for longer than I've been alive. Does it work as music? Of course it does, and that's all that matters. I've just acquired some of the bossa nova recordings Stan Getz made with Astrud Gilberto, Luis Bonfa et al and I've no doubt the same sterile debate took place at the time about whether this could be proper jazz if it was so popular. Forget your categories, use your ears. If you do, you'll find that it's immediately obvious that Cullum is serious about jazz. His choice of material alone proves it. Devil Moon and Kick Out Of You might be obvious marks, but you can hardly say the same of But For Now or Blame It On My Youth which require a lot of conviction to sing with a straight face. As for Singing In The Rain, don't talk to me about respect for the material. It's a song by a third-rate songwriter turned producer that we only remember because of what Gene Kelly did with it. The liberties Cullum takes with the song definitely improve it.

And of course he's a good pianist, who doesn't show off as much as he could on this album (check out Catching Tales for real inventiveness). The solo on Kick Out Of You gives some idea though, as it's almost an exhibition of jazz piano styles from Monk to Shearing to Evans and probably a few I haven't noticed, as well as his own quite unpredictable moves. There's also some very surprising stuff on High And Dry. Pop song it may be, but I think McCoy Tyner would appreciate this performance.

And what's wrong with his voice? He doesn't sound like Sinatra or Joe Williams, but why should he? He does sound English, even on standards, which is a hard thing to pull off and something to be encouraged if jazz is a really universal music, which it is. His voice doesn't have a lot of weight, but his range is pretty good and he can sustain some very high notes. Try singing along with Everlasting Love or High and Dry and you'll soon find your limitations. The truth is that many jazz aficionados of the more traditional kind are uncomfortable about vocalists in the first place as they tend to become popular, but I like to see a talented instrumentalist put vocals at centre stage.

And furthermore, it's not just about Jamie. What about Geoff Gascoyne and his marvellous arrangements? Gascoyne and Cullum have surely steeped themselves in West Coast and small group jazz of the late 50s, Gerry Mulligan, Shelley Manne, Charles Mingus, Gil Evans - witness Devil Moon and especially Can't We Be Friends. What's not serious about that, considering that that whole side of jazz was unfairly neglected for about thirty years?

OK, I rest my case. Buy this if you want to hear jazz reaching a mass audience with absolutely no compromise, and perhaps you won't have to spend the next twenty years explaining what jazz is to people who've never heard any, like we all have for the last twenty. You know it makes sense.

Despite Our Differences
Despite Our Differences
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £14.51

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Because of their differences, 31 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Despite Our Differences (Audio CD)
My late wife got me interested in the Indigo Girls but I haven't heard any of their stuff since Nomads Indians Saints, which is of course brilliant. I was apprehensive about buying this album in case it was a disappointment, but I needn't have been. I've listened to it over and over and it just gets better.

Although they harmonise together superbly, Amy's and Emily's songs are quite different, and that's their strength. There seems to be a tendency for people to be a bit sniffy about Amy's material, but for me Three County Highway and Dirt and Dead Ends stand comparison with anything you like. That takes nothing away from Emily, whose style I have always loved. Show me another duo who write independently, with such different voices, yet are in such obvious sympathy with each other. There's no-one like these two and I love this album.

Halliburton Boardroom Massacre
Halliburton Boardroom Massacre
Offered by thebookcommunity
Price: £20.30

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tonic, 10 Oct. 2006
I saw Dave Rovics at the Crawley Folk Festival in summer, loved his songs and was amazed by his nerve. For an American to be this radical in public takes my breath away and gives me faith in the future. I listen to this all the time, cry, get angry and laugh. (Humour as well. Listen to 'Operation Iraqi Liberation' or 'Drink of the Death Squads' and imagine Tom Lehrer was a Marxist...)

Out There
Out There
Price: £12.02

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 14 Sept. 2006
This review is from: Out There (Audio CD)
I heard Eleanor for the first time at the Crawley Folk Festival this year and was bowled over by her awesome musicianship and songwriting. I have been waiting for the release of this album and it surpasses my expectations. It's folk I suppose but with a hatful of other things thrown in, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who's interested in this territory.

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