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4.1 out of 5 stars
231
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 2 December 2012
Who else but Bryan Ferry would have hit on the idea of re-arranging a selection of his own songs in the style of the 1920s? And who else but Bryan Ferry would have done it with such panache and such a wealth of different styles and musical textures? Ferry is renowned for his perfectionism and obsessive attention to detail, so it's no surprise that he has put this project in the capable hands of Colin Good as arranger and a selection of hand-picked jazz musicians who really know their stuff. And yet you don't have to be a jazz freak to appreciate this album, all you need is an ear for truly original and exciting music. I was so captivated that I didn't even miss Bryan's voice, which is saying something. His aim, as he has said in interviews, was to breathe new life into his music, and in this he has been spectacularly successful. If you hunger for something different, buy this record! You won't regret it.
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on 1 December 2012
One might think that taking a handful of Roxy Music classics and recrafting them for a jazz band to play in the style of Duke Ellington and others was a bonkers concept. Then if you also imagine that the sound quality will be slightly aged to provide a more traditional feel to the music then we really are thinking about fetching the straight waistcoat. But my curiosity got the better of me. I like Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry. I also like jazz. Would I like this combination? Ferry lends his name to the orchestra but does not appear. Surprisingly, this remake/remodel works. I found it better to try to forget the Roxy versions and just listen to this as a jazz album. The music is good - I particularly liked the syncopated tea dance arrangement of 'Just Like You', as well as the trumpet and clarinet-driven arrangement of 'Avalon'. 'Slave To Love' is superb and I found myself wanting to play it again and again. There is lots to enjoy on this album, particularly if you are fond of jazz. This is old-fashioned glam, but it has melody, musicianship and style - a bit like Mr Ferry. Not to everyone's taste, but I found this album entertaining and fun. Recommended.
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on 7 December 2012
Although this may not be what one would expect from Bryan Ferry, I really enjoyed this new album. He hasn't necessarily gone for the tracks you would expect, and there's more solo tracks than Roxy ones, but this just adds more interest. The tunes aren't always recognisable at the beginning of the track, and he's drawn out some interesting sub-themes to bring to the fore, but all the tunes become obvious after a while. This album should be of interest to anyone who likes jazz, and also Roxy fans who don't mind the tunes being tinkered around with, especially if by Bryan himself. i'm not a great fan of Dixieland jazz, but I loved this interpretation.
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on 19 January 2013
In case you've missed it - and for the benefit of potential one-star reviewers, some of whom, I gather, have trouble reading - this is an instrumental album featuring Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry solo material in the style of very early jazz. And what a marvellous disc it is.

The thing is, it's not a gimmick, not a joke. In fact, it's a beautifully played tribute to an era and style of music that was, and remains, radical and adventurous (like the best Roxy material, really).

A first listen can be bracing: the sound is narrow and much (but not all) of the material is hard to recognise. Amazingly, as you listen, the sound broadens out and the music starts to connect. Sort of like jumping into a cold swimming pool: a shock to the system at first, but you soon find yourself floating and revelling in the feel of the water.

Get this for the material and, once you've had the taste, I suggest grabbing the JSP Hot Fives and Sevens and Jelly Roll Morton - Complete Recorded Work, 1926-1930 boxes. Bryan, I'm sure, would consider that the sign of a job well done.
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Bryan Ferry fans will know that he often goes through crises of conscience and artistic uncertainty, periods of writer's block - he's been known to junk whole albums of new material, and opt for an album of covers, or 'readymades' as calls 'em. I am not an uncritical Roxy / Ferry fan, but given the thirty years since the last official Roxy album, any new music is welcome. 'The Jazz Age' is an undoubted joy, and a coruscating artistic success. True, Ferry's thumbprint on it comes only via his roles as producer, and composer, but his voice is nowhere to be found on this instrumental outing. But the skill of Ferry's longtime musical director, Colin Good, deserves much praise for his lustrous arrangements on 'The Jazz Age'. One of my favourites of Ferry's earlier songs, 'Just Like You', originally on 'Stranded' Stranded is here beautifully reworked into a dolorous, stylish piece that is truly moving. Similarly, 'The Bogus Man' is shorn perhaps of the sinister quality of its original recording, but works very well in this fruity incarnation. The only thing to me that hasn't transferred too well into the 'yellow cocktail music' transmutation is 'Avalon', which is a little too jaunty compared to the mellifluous, sinuous original version. Mention must also be made of Ferry's artful way in which he has remained faithful to the 'Jazz Age' he is celebrating, by rendering the album authentically in mono, coming out of the speakers like the horn on an old gramophone. One can almost imagine the soloists walking up to the microphone to play their lead parts, then stepping back into the band for the choruses like an old-school Dance Band. All in all, however, I am happy to have this added to the Ferry / Roxy items in my library, and I think I'll be playing this often to get through the cold winter nights ahead. It has real charm.
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on 1 December 2012
This is an album of 13 of Roxy's & Ferry's solo tracks done in the style of the
Duke Ellington 20's Jungle Band, & in my opinion it's the album of the year.

This is EVERYTHING Joe Jackson's lame Ellington tribute wasn't. This truly sounds like 20's Duke. If you're a 20's & early 30's jazz fan, my initial take is this is awesome! (Though I have clue what Ferry has to do with it other than being the song writer). While there are no DE songs here, stylistically it's very close; even the production values imitate 1920's recordings.

As an example of the music, picture Ellington's East St Louis Toodle-oo (DE's original version, not Steely Dan's wonderful cover) with the melody from Love is The Drug. And it TOTALLY works!

Really highly recommended & a huge surprise. I don't know if a non Roxy
fan would enjoy it as much as I do, but just using my ears I don't
recognize 80% of the songs as Roxy anyways as most are so changed.
This is miles better than anything I've heard from current revivalists on the indy labels.
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on 26 November 2012
Dear, doomed F. Scott Fitzgerald found a phrase to describe the sounds that accompanied the party scenes in The Great Gatsby, his most celebrated novel. He called it "yellow cocktail music", and if you have an ounce of music in your soul then you will know exactly what he meant. And here it is, that very thing, emerging from an unexpected source to evoke the charm of a vanished but still compelling time.

Trumpets shout, trombones bray, a bass saxophone harrumphs and a banjo chinks out a steady rhythm punctuated by the ticking of woodblocks and the splash of a Chinese cymbal. Yet this is not the fictional bandleader Vladimir Tostoff's "Jazz History of the World", a lavish composition invented by Fitzgerald as the soundtrack to Jay Gatsby's lavish parties. These songs were written by Bryan Ferry fifty and more years later, initially part of the repertoire of Roxy Music but now taking a leap back in time in order to re-emerge as if they belonged to the brief, shining era that emerged out of the cruel shadow of the Great War and was cut short by the Wall Street Crash: the time that Fitzgerald himself christened the Jazz Age.

With the aid of the pianist and arranger Colin Good, his musical director for the past decade, and a group of musicians thoroughly familiar with the vocabulary and the nuances of early jazz, Ferry has reimagined some of his best known songs as if they had been written in the 1920s and covered by the bands of the day. Out of the sort of collective polyphony that characterised jazz during the years of its birth in New Orleans, the modern soloists emerge to awaken the spirits of Louis Armstrong's Hot Seven, Bix Beiderbecke's Wolverines and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Ferry's "The Bogus Man", which made its debut on 1973's For Your Pleasure, revives the jungle sounds of Duke Ellington's Cotton Club band, while the arrangement of "Don't Stop the Dance" might have come from the pen of the great Don Redman.

This performance of "Virginia Plain", Roxy's first hit single back in 1972, summons the spirit of the group of British dance-band musicians who pioneered an appreciation of jazz on this side of the Atlantic: adventurous chaps like Billy Cotton and Buddy Featherstonhaugh who combined playing a frantic kind of jazz for dancers at the Savoy Hotel or the Embassy Club with racing highly tuned automobiles at Brooklands. It's easy to imagine this piece, and its companions, being played on a gramophone in a Mayfair apartment by the characters of Michael Arlen's The Green Hat, another hit novel of the mid-Twenties, a succes de scandale in which the heroine, the sexual adventurous Iris Storm, pilots a rakish yellow Hispano-Suiza and drives men wild. Like Fitzgerald's Jordan Baker, Iris Storm is a woman with a dark secret.

Yet this is not music to be enjoyed merely as a charming period piece. The briefest exposure should be enough for a modern listener to recognise its enduring virtues and to fall under the spell of its cunning melodic interplay, glorious instrumental textures and elegant syncopations, and its variety of mood, from the blatantly euphoric to the delicately sinister. This is yesterday calling, its message loud and clear: "yellow cocktail music" lives.
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on 6 December 2012
I found myself moving my feet rythmically and involuntarily whilst I sat enjoying this brave move from Bryan Ferry which is always a good indicator of listening to great music. I saw Bryan on tv saying that the microphones used in recording "The Jazz Age" came from the 1920's, which was a very smart move because modern mics would have defeated the authenticity of recording a period piece. Lesser people would have missed that point and would have gone for an over-produced modern technical sounding recording. Speaking of which, expect bandwagon singers such as Rod Stewart and others to follow in Bryan's shadow, and copy him as they have done before from a more commercial gaining mentality. Rant over...

The clarity and expert musicianship on this CD is a joy to listen too, and it is a shame that this is not a double CD as I could listen to more like this unique recording.

Bryan introduced me to Dylan, great songs from the 30's, and now 20's style jazz. As if the innovative Roxy and solo recordings weren't enough. Carry on surprising us please.

* Readers may be interested to know that Bryan will be on Radio 2 on Boxing Day at 6pm on the "Johnnie Walker Meets Bryan Ferry" show.*
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on 26 July 2016
The most sublimely beautiful re-imagining of some classic Ferry / Roxy Music tracks as if they had been written and recorded in the golden age of Jazz. It's from a parallel universe where Roxy Music happened in the 1920's and 30's, rather than the 70's and 80's. Rarely has music been so transformed so beautifully and with such integrity. There is a wonderful documentary on the making of this album which will add to your enjoyment of it immeasurably, and that documentary has been placed on YouTube. You can view it here: [...] And no you don't need to be a fan of Jazz to love this. It's incredibly accessible, being funny, dramatic and moving by turns. Give yourself a big surprise and an even bigger treat - get this album!!!
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on 26 December 2012
This is such a lovely CD if you like 20's jazz. I saw Brian Ferry being interviewed on the BBC and he said he'd used vintage microphones to record it, so it sounds authentic. His songs are only faintly discernible in the arrangements the band are playing, but as jazz rhythms are so different to pop songs this is to be expected. It's a wonderfully relaxing CD to drive to!
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