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brunella (Scotland,UK)

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Caravana Sereia Bloom
Caravana Sereia Bloom
Price: £20.37

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It extends her boundaries: different and innovative., 9 April 2012
This review is from: Caravana Sereia Bloom (Audio CD)
"Cavana Sereia Bloom", the third album in seven years from Brazilian singer and songwriter Maria do Céu Whitaker Poças (aka Céu), sounds dramatically different than the breezy, electronically washed 21st century bossa and samba of her previous offerings.
Both earlier efforts were influenced by the electronic music of Thievery Corporation, Kruder & Dorfmeister, and even Röyksopp, as well as the classic era of jazzy bossa and samba.
Working with producer Gui Amabis, "Caravana Sereia Bloom" is a much more expansive and ambitious recording.
Born from ideas incurred during an extended road trip through her native country, from São Paulo to the nation's northeastern region, and the inspiration of the road movie "Bye Bye Brazil", it reflects -- musically -- much of what she heard in her travels, and has more in common with the ambitious, experimental spirit of the tropicalia era without being self-conscious.
While "Caravana Sereia Bloom" is easily the most stripped-down record she's cut, it is also her most contemporary.
Céu and Amabis employ programming and electronic sounds throughout; the emphasis here is on guitars, basses, drums, keyboards from synths to Wurlitzer, reeds, winds, and brass.
No two tracks seem to come from the same root universe, but all reflect the fleeting sensations of life on the road.
The funky carnivalesque jazz samba in opener "Falta de Ar" contrasts mightily with the neo-psychedelic surf guitar chicha of "Amor de Antigos".
The ska-inflected cumbia of "Asfalto e Sal", with its bass drums, flutes, and hypnotic bassline, is an album highlight.
"Contravento" is a rhythm collision of samba, lambada, and cumbia. It's among the most driving tracks here and colored beautifully by a multi-tracked tenor sax, B-3, percussion loops, drums, a taut bassline, and pulsing guitars.
"You Won't Regret It", one of three English-language tracks here, is a cover of a vintage rocksteady tune featuring gorgeously layered vocals, trumpet, flügelhorn, sampled tuba, and grand rhythmic interplay.
"Baile de Ilusão" melds 21st century brega and cumbia in a heady, sensual mix with a lovely melodic frame.
"Fffree" is an abstract, completely solo tune, on which Céu plays organ, guitar, and bass and sings a brief, airy poem about the liberating quality of rootlessness. The 13 tracks on "Caravana Sereia Bloom" reveal an artist who is pushing the envelope of MPB, and is taking no prisoners in the process. T.Jurek

Let's Go Out Tonight
Let's Go Out Tonight
Offered by MediaMerchants
Price: £7.10

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is by far his most melancholic album to date., 9 April 2012
This review is from: Let's Go Out Tonight (Audio CD)
* * * and half.

Having previously covered the likes of Ron Sexsmith, Dan Zanes, and Annie Lennox, Curtis Stigers has never been one to rely solely on the Great American Songbook classics, but "Let's Go Out Tonight", his tenth studio album, and seventh since his effortless jazz-man 'reinvention', arguably features the most eclectic selection of material in his career.
Not that it's entirely apparent on first listen. Its ten tracks may take in everything from wistful alt-country (Hayes Carll's "Chances Are"), vintage Stax soul (Eddie Floyd's "Oh, How It Rained"), and even atmospheric dream pop (the Blue Nile's title track), but their similar organic production and achingly slow tempos mean it takes some time for their charms to sink in.
A country-tinged rendition of Dinah Washington's "This Bitter Earth" provides the highlight, Stiger's eschewing his bluesy growl for an impassioned soulful delivery which recalls his early-'90s commercial heyday, while the bittersweet jazz-blues of "Everyone Loves Lovers" (the only original composition), the gentle waltz of Richard Thompson's heart-breaking "Waltzing's for Dreamers", and the suitably mournful take on Steve Earle's harrowing "Goodbye" prove that this is by far his most melancholic offering to date.
A few less sedate numbers wouldn't have gone amiss, with only the organic folk shuffle of Bob Dylan's Oscar-winning "Things Have Changed" managing to crawl beyond a snail's pace.
But while there are moments of monotony, "Let's Go Out Tonight" is still a well-crafted, if undeniably slow-burning affair, which impressively shies away from the usual familiar standards. J. O'Brien
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 9, 2013 4:43 PM GMT

Time Together
Time Together
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £13.24

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully polished without being overly slick, breezy, beautiful., 14 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Time Together (Audio CD)
The American jazz singer/songwriter Michael Franks is an artist most jazz fans feel strongly about one way or another. His unique, romantic poet-cum-laid-back hipster approach to jazz signing is breezy, light, and languid. It's also uniquely his own, though deeply influenced by Brazilian jazz, bossa, and samba.
"Time Together", his first recording of new material in five years -- and his debut for Shanachie -- is unlikely to change anyone's opinion of him, but that doesn't mean this is a rote recording.
"Time Together" is an airy, groove-ridden summer travelog that ranges from St. Tropez and New York to Paris, France, and Egypt; it journeys through the nostalgic past and finds space in the present moment, with cleverly notated, languorous, ironic observations about life.
Franks split the production and arranging duties between Charles Blenzig, Gil Goldstein, Chuck Loeb, Scott Petito, and Mark Egan. The rest of the international cast on this polished 11-song set includes old friends and new faces David Spinozza, Mike Mainieri, David Mann, Eric Marienthal, Till Brönner, Carmrn Cuesta (Chuck Loeb's wife), Alex Spiagin, Jerry Marotta, Billy Kilson, Romero Lubambo, and backing vocalist Veronica Nunn.
"Time Together" is wonderfully polished without being overly slick.
The set opens with "Now That the Summer's Here", a samba-inspired paean to laziness with excellent solos by Bronner's trumpet and Marienthal's alto. The arrangement by Loeb includes a perfectly balanced meld of acoustic and electric guitars, with the harmony chorus between Franks and Carmen Cuesta adding an essentially restrained yet celebratory tone.
"One Day in St. Tropez" is one Franks' finest reminiscence songs. Goldstein's acoustic piano, Greg Cohen's bass, and Lubambo's acoustic guitar evoke classic bossa while the singer details in exotically rich, nostalgically romantic lyrics a 1963 hitchhiking excursion through Southern France.
"Mice" is a humorous, metaphorically hip irony, illustrated beautifully by Manieri's vibes, Petito's bass, and Spinozza's guitar with a backing vocal from Beth Neilsen-Chapman.
"Samba Blue," another of thew album's finer tracks, offers the tale of a long-ago love affair in Paris, without a hint of cloying or regret, thanks to Franks fine lyric and melody, and a jaunty Loeb arrangement featuring a beautiful alto solo by Marienthal.
"My Heart Said Wow" is a straight-ahead duet with Nunn, boasting a fine trumpet solo by Spiagin's trumpet.
"Feathers from an Angel's Wing", the longest and perhaps most beautiful track here is, fittingly, also the closer.
Arranged by Egan, whose fretless bass introduces it, Loeb's guitars, Clifford Carter's keys, and Joe Bonadio's drums illustrate it elegantly.
The singer's use of Zen wisdom in the modern jazz lyric and melody, underscores everything fine and right in Franks' art from Art of Tea to the present day.
While his framework may be contemporary, his execution is timeless, making "Time Together" Franks' most consistent, graceful collection of songs in the 21st century. T.Jurek
My favourite tracks: "Now That Summer's Here", "One Day In St Tropez", "Samba Blue", and "Feathers from an Angel's Wing".
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 5, 2011 3:57 PM BST

Across The World
Across The World
Price: £11.31

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant summerey grooves., 13 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Across The World (Audio CD)
The British jazz-funk combo Shakatak formed in London in 1980.
Originally comprising keyboardists Bill Sharpe and Nigel Wright, guitarist Keith Winter, bassist Steve Underwood and drummer Roger Odell, the group quickly scored an underground hit with its debut single "Steppin'", cracking the British Top 50 the following year with the singles "Livin' in the UK" and "Brazilian Dawn".
After a number of successful top-twenty singles in the UK, the band went on to score unprecedented international success with the release of the classic "Night Birds", and the title track has now become a standard in the popular music repertoire.
Along with this successful recording career, Shakatak had firmly established themselves as a vibrant live act, combining astute musicianship with a sense of fun that communicated strongly with world-wide audiences.
Fans of the smooth Fusion of Shakatak will love this set of languid grooves with standouts like the mellow tunes "So High" and "Waterfalls".
"Love Holds The Key" has more of an eighties style Jazz Funk groove.
"Chance of A Lifetime" and Smile" are typical Shakatak vocal cuts.
In short, "Across The World" is a pleasant sets of summer time grooves.
Peronnel: Jill Seward (lead vocals), Bill Sharpe (keys), Keith Winter (guitar), George Anderson (bass) and Roger Odell (drums).

Year Of The Wolf
Year Of The Wolf
Price: £5.99

9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Retro pop gems for your summer!, 13 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Year Of The Wolf (Audio CD)
Much has happened for Nerina Pallot between 2009's independently released and well received "The Graduate", ranging from the birth of her son, Wolfgang (the "Wolf" of the title), to high profile writing jobs on albums by Kylie Minogue and Diana Vickers.
But the most surprising event of all is her signing to a subsidiary of former label Polydor for this fourth studio album.
With a return to the majors comes an increased budget, and with it Duffy's favoured knob-twiddler, Bernard Butler on production duties. What they've produced is an album that seems slightly out of time - even down to the album retro looking album cover.
Lead single "Put Your Hands" up is a brilliant piece of summery pop, with swelling strings and serves notice of the new sonic direction that the album takes.
The upbeat "Butterfly" (which you might recognise as the music from the recent Jersey tourism advert) is the album's standout chorus and secret weapon - I've lost count of the number of mornings I've woken with the "start no fires" refrain buzzing around my brain.
There are a good selection of ballads too.
"Grace", a song which has been around in Pallot's live repertoire for five years or more, finally finds itself committed to record. A haunting affair, written for a family member, it tries to console the subject, optimistic despite the gloom.
"This Will Be Our Year" (a refugee from 2009's "Junebug" EP) finds itself transformed from a piano and vocals ballad into a langorous brass-tinged affair.
"If I Lost You Now" is given poignancy and a second meaning by the knowledge that she was pregnant as she sang but still stands on its own as a love song.
There are more soaring strings on the sumptuous "All Bets Are Off", transformed from the acoustic version she's performed live into a sweeping waltz, dripping with heartbreak. It's the best break-up song you'll hear this year.
The issue in places is with Butler's approach - never use one instrument where two will do. There are also some odd choices, particularly the seemingly unconnected harp solo at the end of 'All Bets Are Off', and the harmonica on "Grace" just seems superfluous.
Ultimately, whether "The Year Of The Wolf" floats your boat is likely to have as much to do with how you feel about Bernard Butler's sound and approach to production as it does Pallot's songwriting and vocals. They're still there, but the production is actually quite a radical departure.
Mentally add or subtract two points from the score depending on your disposition towards The Butler Sound.
It would have been easy for Pallot to take the Cathy Dennis approach and become a songwriter-for-hire, especially given the quality of the songs on show here.
It's to her credit that she hoarded a cupboard full of gems for herself. Themusicfix

Price: £17.65

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beauty, honesty and energy!, 16 May 2011
This review is from: Gladwell (Audio CD)
The Julian Lage Group is one of the best up-and-coming ensembles in improvised music today.
Fronted by guitarist Lage--with tenor saxophonist Dan Blake, cellist Aristides Rivas, bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Tupac Mantilla--the group is tight, eclectic and smokin'.
From the opening strains to the final chorus of Gladwell, this quintet commands your attention with great compositions, improvisation, wit and interplay. Lage composed most of the songs on this 12-tune set, and the opener, "233 Butler", is a perfect example of his composing chops.
It's a big, propulsive improv vehicle for his very fine guitar work and Mantilla's overdubbed percussion solo, which includes everything from whispered vocals to brush effects to clinking and shattered glass.
It's a genre-bending tune that's equal parts folk song and world music.
The leader's compositions are gloriously diverse.
His debut record, "Sounding Point", was certainly impressive.
But there's a beauty, honesty and energy to "Gladwell" that makes you say Julian Lage has arrived.
Be it the lovely "Margaret", the fantastically rhythmic "However", the adrenaline-charged "Telegram" or any of the other wonderful songs on the album, Lage has a distinct voice as a guitarist and composer.
Gladwell is a joy.
F. Alkier.

Sounding Point

Loose Cannons [DVD]
Loose Cannons [DVD]
Dvd ~ Riccardo Scamarcio
Offered by fat_buddha
Price: £3.99

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well shot and acted, hilarius and entertaining., 3 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Loose Cannons [DVD] (DVD)
Set in the Puglia region of Italy's deep south, the Turkish-born director's Loose Cannons is a light-hearted but considerate outing filled with unabashed passion and affection for its characters and story. Touching on themes of family, love, sexual identity, prejudice and bigotry, Ozpetek's latest fare is both heartfelt and heart-warming, dipping a comedic toe into the oft-told tale of a young man coming to terms with who he really is.
Tommaso (Riccardo Scamarcio) is the youngest child in the large and very eccentric Cantone family. His mother Stefania (Lunetta Savino), is loving and caring, but trapped by bourgeois conventions; while his father, Vincenzo (Ennio Fantastichini), has dangerously high expectations of his children and is just as trapped by his own fears and prejudices. Then there's Tommaso's aunt, the eccentric Luciana (Elena Sofia Ricci); his own sister, the frustrated and overlooked Elena; and his brother, Antonio, who works with their father at the family's pasta factory. Keeping a watchful eye over all of them, though, is the `loose cannon', Tommaso's wise and ever-compassionate grandmother.
Summoned back to the homestead from Rome, Tommaso returns for a family dinner where his father intends to hand over the family business to him and Antonio. Tommaso has other ideas though, wanting nothing to do with the business and hoping to strike out on his own as a writer. Not willing to stop there, he decides to go one better by confronting his family with the fact that he is gay.
That evening, however, his plans of revelation are thwarted by Antonio, who interrupts with an announcement of his own. Antonio's news is no less startling and results in their father suffering a heart attack at the dinner table. Not wanting to risk his father's health further, Tommaso decides to hold back on his announcement. Unfortunately, and as a result of his silence, Tommaso finds himself dragged into everything he hoped to avoid.
What ensues is warm, hilarious and in turn considerate and serious. Forced to run the family business while his father recovers, Tommaso is torn between feelings of family loyalty and those of love and affection for his partner and friends back in Rome. Adding to his confusion is the eccentric and isolated Alba, played by the disarmingly beautiful Nicole Grimaudo. Helping Tommaso come to terms with who he is and what his responsibilities are, Alba struggles herself as she finds herself falling for a man she know she can't have .
Things get even more confused when Tommaso's boyfriend, Marco, and his gay friends, arrive at the family home, running the risk of exposing Tommaso's secret before he's ready. Providing for some of the funniest moments in the film, Marco's entourage also prompt some of the more heart-warming scenes, as Tommaso struggles between what he wants to do and what he should do.
As a film, Loose Cannons is clearly an improvement for Ozpetek as a writer and as a director, with his previous offerings being lacklustre at best. His direction and writing this time round are spot-on thoughout, and finally realise his potential as a masterful and innovative filmmaker.
The same can be said about the cast, with each performance delivering exactly what the respective character warrants and deserves. All involved bring startlingly authentic turns and add the extra weight that the film asks for in a narrative this size. Of particular note are Riccardo Scarmarcio as Tommaso and Nicole Grimaudo as Alba, with their confused relationship providing some of the strongest scenes in the film. Also worth mentioning are the hilarious performances by Ennio Fantastichini as the bigoted and terrified Vincenzo, and by Elena Sofia Ricci as the eccentric Luciana; both characters serve up some of the most laugh-out-loud moments on screen.
The most memorable performance, though, comes from Crescenza Guarnieri (veteran TV actress Ilaria Occhini) as Tommaso's grandmother. It's this character, and Guarnieri's portrayal of her, on which the film hangs. Her patience, wisdom, passive understanding and love for her family and their foibles are what gives the film its heart. The `loose cannon' among a battalion of fiery and extremely volatile characters, the grandmother is the one who gives this film its purpose and gives the audience the rewards it is promised.
Although a very Italian film, its themes and subjects are universal, having been told many times over. Not that this is a hindrance - far from it, as Ozpetek squeezes worthwhile mileage from the `coming out' story. Although this is a storyline and subject on which the film focuses heavily, it is not the film's central theme. At its core, Loose Cannons is a film about following what you love; each character is confronted with their heart's most secret desires and what they really want out of life - do they follow their hearts and do what they really want? Or do they hesitate and do what tradition and family dictate?
Finding out is what makes this film fun. Michael Burgess
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 26, 2011 3:02 AM BST

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