Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Muddy Waters - The Anthology: 1947-1972 (2001)

Muddy Waters - The Anthology: 1947-1972
MCA 2001

1-01. Gypsy Woman
1-02. I Can't Be Satisfied
1-03. I Feel Like Going Home
1-04. Train Fare Home Blues
1-05. Mean Red Spider
1-06. Standin Here Tremblin
1-07. You Gonna Need My Help
1-08. Little Geneva
1-09. Rollin' & Tumblin' Part 1
1-10. Rollin' Stone
1-11. Walkin' Blues
1-12. Louisiana Blues
1-13. Long Distance Call
1-14. Honey Bee
1-15. Country Boy
1-16. She Moves Me
1-17. Still A Fool
1-18. Stuff You Gotta Watch
1-19. Who's Gonna Be Your Sweet Man When I'm Gone?
1-20. Standin' Around Cryin
1-21. Baby Please Don't Go
1-22. Hoochie Coochie Man
1-23. I Just Want To Make Love To You
1-24. I'm Ready
1-25. Young Fashioned Ways
1-26. I Want To Be Loved

2-01. My Eyes (Keep Me In Trouble)
2-02. Mannish Boy
2-03. Sugar Sweet
2-04. Trouble No More
2-05. Forty Days And Forty Nights
2-06. Just To Be With You
2-07. Don't Go No Farther
2-08. Diamonds At Your Feet
2-09. I Love The Life I Live, I Live The Life I Love
2-10. Got My Mojo Working
2-11. Rock Me
2-12. Look What You've Done
2-13. She's Nineteen Years Old
2-14. Close To You
2-15. Walking Thru The Park
2-16. Take The Bitter With The Sweet
2-17. I Feel So Good (Live)
2-18. You Shook Me
2-19. My Home Is In The Delta
2-20. Good Morning Little School Girl
2-21. The Same Thing
2-22. You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had
2-23. All Aboard (Fathers & Sons)
2-24. Can't Get No Grindin

There have been countless collections of Muddy Waters' classic Chess material released over the years, but Chess began to whittle down the domestic catalog toward the late '90s. The triple-disc Chess box remained in print, but they added two single-disc collections that each covered a specific period in Waters' career at Chess. Then, in 2001, MCA/Chess released The Anthology, a double-disc set that essentially contained much of those two single-disc collections, with several extra tracks, remastering and new liner notes. This still didn't correct the lack of a concise, single-disc overview with all the hits -- something that Muddy, Chuck Berry, and Howlin' Wolf all desperately need -- but if you're going to be buying two discs to get the full Muddy Waters story, you should get this instead of two separate discs, since it's simply easier. Besides this, even if it does contain a bunch of familiar material, it also contains some of the greatest music of the 20th century, and if you're not going to get the box but still want a comprehensive Muddy set, this is it. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

Muddy Waters - Guitar, Vocals
Little Walter - Harmonica
Junior Wells - Harmonica
Otis Spann - Piano
Buddy Guy - Guitar
Willie Dixon - Bass
Sunnyland Slim - Piano
Luther Tucker - Guitar
Phil Upchurch - Bass
Fred Below - Drums
Francis Clay - Drums
Sam Lay - Drums
Elgin Evans - Drums
Leroy Foster - Guitar
Pat Hare - Guitar
Jimmy Rogers - Guitar
Earl Hooker - Guitar
Clifton James - Drums
Fred Robinson - Guitar
Lafayette Leake - Piano
Jeffrey Carp - Harmonica
Andrew Stephenson - Bass
James Cotton - Harmonica
A.C. Reed - Tenor Saxophone

Charlie Wilson - Just Charlie (2010)

Charlie Wilson - Just Charlie
R&B | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVERS | 282MB | 38:38
JIVE 2010

01. My Girl Is A Dime
02. You Are
03. I Wanna Be Your Man
04. Never Got Enough
05. Once And Forever
06. Life Of The Party
07. I Can't Let Go
08. Crying For You
09. Where Would I Be
10. Lotto

On Charlie Wilson‘s 2010 release, Just Charlie, the former Gap Band singer sticks with the high-quality “grown folks” R&B material that put his previous two albums in the Top Ten of Billboard 200 album chart. Besides whittling the number of special guests down from three to one, casual fans will have problems telling this one from his previous release, but these ten smooth cuts go down easy and give no sign the formula has stopped working. “My Girl is a Dime” is filled with enough pride and passion, “Lotto” feels like it’s delivered from the center of the romance winner’s circle, and Charlie’s cover of Zapp’s slow funk favorite “I Wanna Be Your Man” is highly desirable and well inspired as it turns into a duet with Fantasia. “You Are” is the grand romance ballad and key track, while everything else is as comfortable, coolly sexy, and warm as fans desire. Maybe the album naming scheme -- Charlie, Last Name Wilson, Uncle Charlie, Just Charlie -- could be reconsidered, but otherwise, this is Wilson the way you want him. ~ David Jeffries, All Music Guide

Charlie Wilson - Vocals
Marlon McClain - Guitar
Insomniax - Musician
 Erick Walls - Guitar
Fantasia - Vocals
Wayne Wallace - Trombone
Curt Ingram - French Horn
Peter Escovedo - Percussion
Brinson Poythress - Guitar
Mary Fettig - Alto Saxophone
Lance Tolbert - Bass, Keyboards
Wirlie Morris - Bass, Keyboards
Louis Fasman - Flugelhorn, Trumpet

Monday, July 14, 2014

Booker T - Sound The Alarm (2013)

Booker T - Sound The Alarm
SOUL | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 362MB | 47:32
STAX 2013

01. Sound the Alarm
02. All Over the Place
03. Fun
04. Broken Heart
05. Feel Good
06. Gently
07. Austin City Blues
08. Can't Wait
09. 66 Impala
10. Watch You Sleeping
11. Your Love Is No Love
12. Father Son Blues

Booker T. Jones has certainly put his mark on modern pop music. As part of the legendary group Booker T. & the MG's, Memphis' first integrated band, and the house band at Stax Records in the 1960s, he pretty much was in at the ground floor of the invention of soul, backing classic soul hits by Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, and many others, as well as generating iconic instrumental hits from the era like "Green Onions," "Time Is Tight," and numerous others with the MG's. Jones left Stax as the 1970s hit and the label was essentially falling apart, and he's drifted from label to label ever since, his legacy secure as the dominant Hammond B-3 organ player of his generation (apart from Jimmy Smith, of course). Sound the Alarm is Jones' tenth solo album since leaving Stax, and it returns him to the label, now owned by Concord Records, a dozen years and change into the 21st century. Homecomings are nice, and it makes for a nice press hook for this outing, but anyone expecting some vintage-styled Memphis soul here is going to be disappointed, because there isn't much of it. Jones, who wrote or co-wrote every song on the album, has brought in several guests to help him out, and while it isn't exactly a duets album, it's pretty close, and the focus is hardly on Jones and his playing. There are a couple of nice urban R&B love ballads like "Broken Heart," which features Jay James on vocals, and "Your Love Is No Love," done with the group Vintage Trouble and spotlighting Ty Taylor on vocals, but most of the other tracks with lead vocals have little real impact or presence. The best tracks here by far are the handful of instrumentals, including the soul-jazz-like "Feel Good," the funky and bluesy "Austin City Blues" with Gary Clark, Jr. on guitar, and the set closer, "Father Son Blues," which features Ted Jones on guitar. There's nothing wrong with trying to get a more contemporary sound and feel (the album was co-produced by Jones and brothers Bobby Ross and Issiah "IZ" Avila), of course, but when you're Booker T. Jones, maybe you shouldn't worry about that. After all, the funky soul groove template that Jones helped create in Memphis some 40-plus years ago never really goes out of style. One wishes there were more of that here. ~ Steve Leggett, All Music Guide

Booker T - Hammond, Bass, Piano, Vocals
Richard Danielson - Drums
Gordon Campbell - Drums
Raphael Saadiq - Guitar
Nate Watts - Bass
Nalle Colt - Guitar
Rick Barrio - Bass
Leon Silva - Saxophone
Rashawn Ross - Trumpet
Wesley Smith - Saxophone
Kevin Williams - Trombone

Friday, July 11, 2014

Buddy Guy - Rhythm & Blues (2013)

Buddy Guy - Rhythm & Blues
BLUES | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVERS | 591MB | 80:41
RCA 2013

01. Best in Town
02. Justifyin'
03. I Go by Feel
04. Messin' with the Kid
05. What's Up with That Woman
06. One Day Away
07. Well I Done Got Over It
08. What You Gonna Do About Me
09. The Devil's Daughter
10. Whiskey Ghost
11. Rhythm Inner Groove

01. Meet Me in Chicago
02. Too Damn Bad
03. Evil Twin
04. I Could Die Happy
05. Never Gonna Change
06. All That Makes Me Happy Is the Blues
07. My Mama Loved Me
08. Jr.) Blues Don't Care
09. I Came Up Hard
10. Poison Ivy

A great open secret of the last act of Buddy Guy's career is that nearly every album he's made in the new millennium is a concept album of sorts, ranging from the gnarled modern Delta blues of Sweet Tea and the acoustic Blues Singer to the pseudo-autobiography of 2010's Living Proof. Rhythm & Blues trumps them all in size and concept: it's a double-disc set divided into one disc of "Rhythm" (aka soul) and one disc of "Blues" (aka blues of the Chicago variety). Several stars come out to help Guy along, top-lined by three-fifths of Aerosmith on "Evil Twin" and Kid Rock on, naturally, "Messin' with the Kid." The former arrives on "Blues" and the latter on "Rhythm," which suggests how fluid the lines are between the two discs. But it's also generally true that the "Rhythm" disc is big, bold, and brassy in a way Buddy rarely is; often, it's much closer to the late, great Bobby "Blue" Bland, albeit a hyper-charged, over-scaled version of soul-blues. Guy has rarely attempted this kind of horn-driven, soulful blues and it's fun to hear him tackle such sounds as he wrestles the rhythms while spitting out gonzo, gnarly guitar runs. Better still, he finds a place to settle down within the slinky grooves of "I Go By Feel" and the Keith Urban duet "One Day Away," which are not only the two greatest surprises in tone, but also the two songs that sink their hooks in deep. That's not always the case here, at least for the originals, particularly on the "Blues" disc which either trades in pastiche ("Meet Me in Chicago," "All That Makes Me Happy Is the Blues") or function as simple showcases for Guy's guitar. If this package can sometimes feel a little too pat, put the blame on producer Tom Hambridge, who also helmed Skin Deep and Living Proof and now has a track record of pushing Guy just enough to form a narrative but not enough to break him out of the box. Buddy himself remains a bit of a live wire, his voice sounding younger than Steven Tyler's and his guitar continuing to be a muscled monster that steamrollers everything surrounding it. That continued potency is reason enough to give Rhythm & Blues a spin. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


Buddy Guy - Stratocaster, Guitar, Vocals
Rob McNelley - Slide Guitar
Michael Rhodes - Bass
Tommy Macdonald - Bass
Tom Hambridge - Drums
Beth Hart - Vocals
Joe Perry - Guitar
Kid Rock - Vocals
Charles Rose - Trombone
Steven Tyler - Vocals
David Grissom - Guitar
Steven Herrman - Trumpet
Gary Clark - Guitar, Vocals
Keith Urban - Guitar, Vocals
Jim Horn - Baritone Saxophone
Reese Wynans - Hammond, Wurlitzer
Harvey Thompson - Tenor Saxophone
Kevin McKendree - Hammond, Wurlitzer

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Sandra St. Victor - Mack Diva Saves The World (1996)

Sandra St. Victor - Mack Diva Saves The World
SOUL+FUNK | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 447MB | 60:05
Warner Brothers 1996

01. Intro Skit
02. Mack Diva
03. Chocolate
04. Rise
05. Don't Bring Me Down
06. Knocked Up And Locked Down
07. MPH!
08. MPH!
09. Since You Been Gone
10. Come Over
11. Wet
12. Lonely In A Crowded Room
13. Can't Live Without You

With her debut album Mack Diva Saves the World, Sandra St. Victor covers the same ground that she did with the Family Stand -- her former bandmate V. Jeffrey Smith even appears on three tracks -- but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. St. Victor has a smooth, powerful voice that can enliven even the mediocre tracks, which there are a handful of here. However, there are more than enough songs that cross classic soul with hip-hop sensibilities, and those are the cuts that make Mack Diva Saves the World an album worth returning to. ~ Leo Stanley, All Music Guide

Sandra St. Victor - Vocals
V. Jeffrey Smith - Keyboards
Charles Alexander - Flute
Bob Robinson - Keyboards
Robert Palmer - Guitar
Booker King - Bass
Joe Belmaati - Bass
Freddie Cash - Bass
Michael Ciro - Guitar
Tim Kelly - Keyboards
Tue Roh - Fender Rhodes
William Duvall - Guitar
Fred King - Fender Rhodes
Howard McCrary - Keyboards
Mark Batson - Guitar, Organ, Piano

Monday, July 07, 2014

Abbey Lincoln - Abbey Sings Abbey (2007)

Abbey Lincoln - Abbey Sings Abbey
VOCAL | FLAC | CUE | LOG | 300DPI | 369MB | 59:42
Verve 2007

01. Blue Monk            
02. Throw It Away        
03. And It's Supposed to Be Love    
04. Should've Been    
05. The World Is Falling Down         
06. Bird Alone    
07. Down Here Below        
08. TheMusic Is the Magic    
09. Learning How to Listen    
10. The Merry Dancer    
11. Love Has Gone Away   
12. Being Me

Vocalist Abbey Lincoln's voice is the sound of the earth yearning for your soul. She is lust turned to wisdom. She is diva turned to soothsayer. In her mid-seventies at the time of this recording, Lincoln is the embodiment of a life lived as a performer and lover and now a storyteller through song. Abbey Sings Abbey finds the songstress revisiting a number of her own compositions from past albums. And while she remains a pre-eminent jazz singer, here she has surrounded herself with an eclectic and organic small group that imbues these tracks with a soft country-blues meets klezmer sound that rubs elegantly against Lincoln's burnished vocals. This is a beautifully raw and intimate album full of lament and the faint perfume of romance. As she sings on "Should've Been," "It's the sound of sorry/Looking yonder with regret. Sorry 'cause of what you got/And what you didn't get." These are enigmatic torch songs and playful blues, dark elegies and poignant ballads all featuring Lincoln's own devastatingly precise lyrics and melodies that hint at not just death and regret, but also a lingering passion for life. ~ Matt Collar, All Music Guide

Abbey Lincoln - Vocals
Shawn Pelton - Drums
Dave Eggar - Cello
Scott Colley - Bass
Gil Goldstein - Accordion
Larry Campbell - Guitar, Mandolin

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Earth, Wind & Fire - The Need of Love (1971)

Earth, Wind & Fire - The Need of Love
SOUL | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVER | 195MB | 31:49
Warner Brothers 1971

01. Energy
02. Beauty
03. I Can Feel It In My Bones
04. I Think About Lovin You
05. Everything Is Everything

At this point the band was Maurice and Verdine White with Wade Flemons and Sherry Scott (vocals), Don Whitehead (piano), Michael Beal (guitar), Yackov Ben Israel (percussion), Chet Washington (sax) and Alex Thomas (trombone). Like the previous record, there are some atmospheric jams ("Energy," with a spacey spoken invocation), and this time the arrangements are more sophisticated ("Everything Is Everything"; "Beauty," with spiffy vocal harmonies). On the other hand, there's nothing as invigorating as "Fan The Fire," let alone the classic songs the next incarnation of the band would soon come up with. Scott contributes one ordinary soul ballad, "I Think About Lovin' You"; the bulk of the disc is by White, Flemons and Whitehead. Produced by Joe Wissert. --David Bertrand Wilson, WARR.org

Maurice White - Drums, Kalimba, Vocals
Don Whitehead - Piano, Vocals
Oscar Brashear - Trumpet
Wade Flemons - Vocals
Sherry Scott - Vocals
Verdine White - Bass
Alexander Thomas - Trombone
Michael Beal - Guitar, Harmonica
Chet Washington - Tenor Saxophone
Yackov Ben Israel - Congas, Percussion

Friday, June 27, 2014

Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You (1967)

Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved A Man
SOUL | FLAC | CUE | LOG | CUE | PNG | 232MB | 41:26
Atlantic 1967

01. Respect
02. Drown in My Own Tears
03. I Never Loved a Man
04. Soul Serenade
05. Don't Let Me Lose This Dream
06. Baby, Baby, Baby
07. Dr. Feelgood
08. Good Times
09. Do Right Woman
10. Save Me
11. A Change Is Gonna Come
12. Respect [Stereo Version]
13. I Never Loved a Man[Stereo Version]
14. Do Right Woman [Stereo Version]

While the inclusion of "Respect" -- one of the truly seminal singles in pop history -- is in and of itself sufficient to earn I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You classic status, Aretha Franklin's Atlantic label debut is an indisputable masterpiece from start to finish. Much of the credit is due to producer Jerry Wexler, who finally unleashed the soulful intensity so long kept under wraps during her Columbia tenure; assembling a crack Muscle Shoals backing band along with an abundance of impeccable material, Wexler creates the ideal setting to allow Aretha to ascend to the throne of Queen of Soul, and she responds with the strongest performances of her career. While the brilliant title track remains the album's other best-known song, each cut on I Never Loved a Man is touched by greatness; covers of Ray Charles' "Drown in My Own Tears" and Sam Cooke's "Good Times" and "A Change Is Gonna Come" are on par with the original recordings, while Aretha's own contributions -- "Don't Let Me Lose This Dream," "Baby, Baby, Baby," "Save Me," and "Dr. Feelgood (Love Is a Serious Business)" -- are perfectly at home in such lofty company. A soul landmark. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide

Aretha Franklin - Piano, Vocals
Carolyn Franklin - Vocals
Jimmy Johnson - Guitar
Gene Chrisman - Drums
Tommy Cogbill - Bass
Chips Moman - Guitar
Dewey Oldham - Keyboards
King Curtis - Tenor Saxophone
Melvin Lastie - Cornet, Trumpet
Charles Chalmers - Tenor Saxophone
Willie Bridges - Baritone Saxophone

Manhattan Transfer - Spirit of St Louis (2000)

Manhattan Transfer - Spirit of St Louis
VOCALESE | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 368MB | 46:21
Atlantic 2000

01. Stompin at Mahogany Hall
02. The Blues Are Brewin
03. Sugar
04. A Kiss to Build a Dream On
05. Old Man Mose
06. Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?
07. Gone Fishin
08. Nothing Could Be Better
09. Blue Again
10. When You Wish upon a Star

You always look for new things from the Manhattan Transfer, and after a couple of releases that weren't too innovative, followed by a three-year gap, suddenly they come out with a really peculiar-sounding, refreshingly weird observance of the Louis Armstrong centennial. It sounds as if they had spent those three years racking their brains trying to come up with a totally different studio sound that's neither nostalgic nor modern. Which is exactly what they've done; the sound is compressed to evoke that of an ancient 78 rpm disc but not any 78 you'll ever encounter, whether by Louis or anyone. You hear all kinds of odd things bumping around in the back like loose parts in a machine, strange electronic treatments of the voices, an accordion wailing through many of the tracks, Delta blues guitar, Cajun, and rock & roll, and even more modern styles (with members of k.d. lang's band and Los Lobos's Steve Berlin joining in). The A&R guys probably would have killed to make this CD an exercise in reverent nostalgia -- "Do You Know What It Means to Miss Orleans" is the closest thing to it -- but a track like "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" with its touch of hip-hop in the rhythm, electronically limited guitar, and strings doesn't sound nostalgic in the least. "Gone Fishin'" is an affectionate, extended Alan Paul/Tim Hauser takeoff on the easygoing rapport between Armstrong and Bing Crosby on their duet version, wisely leaving the funny topical references to the original. "Nothing Could Be Hotter Than That" has some trademark Cheryl Bentyne high-wire vocalese. And to end the album, a normally warm and cozy tune like "When You Wish Upon a Star" opens and closes with a spacy electronic arrangement, with harmonies that thankfully undercut the sweetness, transforming the tune. Louis Armstrong wouldn't have recognized this "tribute," but his younger self probably would have hailed the Transfer's renewed moxie and experimental spirit. ~ Richard S. Ginell, All Music Guide

Janis Siegel - Vocals
Tim Hauser - Vocals
Alan Paul - Vocals
Corey Allen - Vocals

Abe Laboriel - Drums
Steve Berlin - Saxophone
Plas Johnson - Saxophone
Chris Bruce - Guitar
Jon Hassell - Trumpet
Greg Leisz - Guitar, Pedal Steel
Jon Clarke - Clarinet, Saxophone
Teddy Borowiecki - Accordion, Organ
Patrick Warren - Chamberlin, Marxophone

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Preservation Hall Jazz Band - That's It! (2013)

Preservation Hall Jazz Band - That's It!
Legacy 2013

01. That's It!
02. Dear Lord
03. Come with Me
04. Sugar Plum
05. Rattlin Bones
06. I Think I Love You
07. August Nights
08. Halfway Right, Halfway Wrong
09. Yellow Moon
10. The Darker it Gets
11. Emmalena's Lullaby

Preservation Hall Jazz Band's 2013 album, That's It!, is the first album of all-original material in their 50-year career. Certainly, the storied ensemble has performed original songs by its various members over the years, but the group has never released an album made up solely of new compositions. In that sense, the album fits in with Preservation Hall Jazz Band's recent creative direction that found them collaborating with artists from other genres, including 2010's Preservation: An Album to Benefit Preservation Hall & the Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program and 2011's jazz-meets-bluegrass experiment American Legacies, featuring the Del McCoury Band. Some of this newfound creativity is surely due in large part to bassist and tuba player Ben Jaffe having taken over as Preservation Hall's director, a legacy passed down to him by his parents, who co-founded the institution. Under his creative direction, Preservation Hall has flourished as a vital part of New Orleans culture. Produced by Jaffe along with My Morning Jacket's Jim James, That's It! celebrates this culture with a batch of brand-new songs that, while hewing closely to the swinging blues and gospel-oriented traditions of New Orleans jazz, never feel stodgy or revivalist. These are freewheeling, organic productions that make the most of the group's mix of older and younger musicians. Along with new songs by Jaffe, clarinetist/vocalist Charlie Gabriel, pianist Rickie Monie, and saxophonist/vocalist Clint Maedgen, the album also features songs co-written by several pop artists, including the legendary Paul Williams and Semisonic's Dan Wilson. All of which helps to make That's It! a vibrant, engaging work and one of Preservation Hall's best albums. ~ Matt Collar, All Music Guide

Ben Jaffe - String Bass, Tuba
Mark Braud - Trumpet
Joe Lastie - Drums
Rickie Monie - Piano
Ronell Johnson - Piano, Tuba
Freddie Lonzo - Trombone, Vocals
Clint Maedgen - Saxophone, Vocals
Charlie Gabriel - Clarinet, Saxophone

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Muddy Waters - Electric Mud (1968)

Muddy Waters - Electric Mud
BLUES | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVERS | 261MB | 36:57
Cadet 1968

1. I Just Want to Make Love to You
2. (I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man 
3. Let's Spend the Night Together
4. She's Alright 
5. Mannish Boy  
6. Herbert Harper's Free Press News 
7. Tom Cat 
8. The Same Thing

In an attempt to make Muddy more sellable to his newly found white audience, Chess lumbered him with Hendrix-influenced psychedelic blues arrangements for Electric Mud. Commercially, actually, the results weren't bad; Marshall Chess claims it sold between 150,000 and 200,000 copies. Musically, it was as ill-advised as putting Dustin Hoffman into a Star Wars epic. Guitarists Pete Cosey and Phil Upchurch are very talented players, but Muddy's brand of down-home electric blues suffered greatly at the hands of extended fuzzy solos. Muddy and band overhaul classics like "I Just Want to Make Love to You" and "Hoochie Coochie Man," and do a ludicrous cover of "Let's Spend the Night Together"; wah-wah guitars and occasional wailing soprano sax bounce around like loose basketballs. It's a classically wrongheaded, crass update of the blues for a modern audience. The 1996 CD reissue adds interesting historical liner notes. ~ Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide

Muddy Waters - Guitar, Vocals
Phil Upchurch - Guitar
Pete Cosey - Guitar
Charles Stepney - Organ
Roland Faulkner - Guitar
Morris Jennings - Drums
Louis Satterfield - Bass
Gene Barge - Tenor Saxophone

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Robert Cray - Cookin in Mobile (2010)

Robert Cray - Cookin in Mobile
BLUES | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 486MB | 75:04
Vanguard 2010

01. Our Last Time       
02. Anytime       
03. Love 2009       
04. Right Next Door       
05. Chicken In the Kitchen       
06. Sitting On Top of the World       
07. One In the Middle       
08. Lotta Lovin’       
09. Smoking Gun       
10. I Can't Fail       
11. That's What Keeps Me Rockin       
12. Time Makes Two

Robert Cray is a dependable, professional performer who has been criticized for being too reserved on-stage. He loosens his tie on this set though, recorded at a single show in February 2010. The veteran frontman tears into his staccato guitar solos with gusto here, extending the tunes and singing with a rawness often lacking in his studio work. His band also pushes harder, especially longtime keyboardist/songwriter Jim Pugh, whose featured solos match Cray's own intensity and are spotlighted throughout. This is soul-bluesman Cray's third live release in four years (2010's Authorized Bootleg dated back to a 1987 show), but the only one that includes a full concert DVD -- adding two more cuts, "Phone Booth" and "Twenty" -- along with the audio. He has only recorded one studio disc in that time, four selections from which are reprised. Only a few songs will be familiar to anyone but hardcore fans, including spirited workouts on '80s hits "Smoking Gun" and "Right Next Door," along with "Our Last Time," the latter two already included on 2006's Live from Across the Pond. Two other tracks also appear on that previous double concert CD, which raises the question of why, with as many albums as Cray has accumulated, he couldn't dig back and find different material. A cover of "Sitting on Top of the World" is dirtier than you'd expect, and in general the sweat flows when the guitarist pushes his R&B deeper into the blues as his band grinds into a groove often absent from his more polished catalog. He pulls out guitar effects that creatively double-track his solo on "Lotta Lovin'," another ballad that sounds far more heartbroken and personal here than on 2003's Time Will Tell, where it first appeared. Cray's vocal howls and grunts as he tears into tight, energized guitar solos show that he's been captured on an inspired night, even on "Smoking Gun," a tune he's been playing nightly for over two decades. It makes for a surprisingly tough and uncompromising performance that shows Robert Cray in a different light than many would have expected based solely on his impressive if somewhat similar-sounding and often sterile albums. ~ Hal Horowitz, All Music Guide

Robert Cray - Guitar, Vocals
Jim Pugh - Keyboards
Tony Braunagel - Drums
Richard Cousins - Bass

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Biz Markie - Diabolical: Biz's Greatest Hits (2009)

Biz Markie - Diabolical: Biz's Greatest Hits
HIP HOP | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 311MB | 48:03
Cold Chillin 2009

01. Make The Music With Your Mouth Biz   
02. Nobody Beats The Biz   
03. Biz Is Goin Off   
04. Vapors   
05. Just A Friend   
06. I Hear Music   
07. Spring Again   
08. What Come Around Goes Around   
09. I'm The Biz Markie   
10. Let Me Turn You On

]Diabolical: The Biz's Greatest Hits boils Biz Markie's run as one of the golden age of rap's unsung heroes down to the ten most essential tracks Biz recorded. The big hit "Just a Friend" is the song casual hip-hop fans will know, but listeners will also find a bunch of hilarious and funky tracks featuring Biz's rubbery flow and witty production work. Any hip-hop collection without "Nobody Beats the Biz," "Vapors," or "Make the Music with Your Mouth Biz" is severely lacking and can be remedied by picking up this collection -- or the 12-song collection Ultimate Diabolical that was released in 2007. Either one will do. ~ Tim Sendra, All Music Guide

Biz Markie - Vocals, Mixing
Marley Marl - Mixing
TJ Swann - Vocals
Cutmaster Cool V - Mixing

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Terminator X - Valley of the Jeep Beets (1991)

Terminator X - Valley of the Jeep Beets
HIP HOP | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 352MB | 46:48
Columbia 1991

01. Vendetta...the Big Getback
02. Buck Whylin
03. Homey Don't Play Dat
04. Juvenile Delinquintz
05. The Blues
06. Back to the Scene of the Bass
07. Can't Take My Style
08. Wanna be Dancin
09. DJ is the Selector
10. Run That Go-Power Thang
11. No Further
12. High Priest of Turbulence
13. Ain't Got Nuttin

For hardcore Public Enemy fans, the release of Terminator X's debut solo album, Terminator X & the Valley of the Jeep Beets, in 1991 was a major event. Terminator X, of course, is best-known for his work as Public Enemy's DJ; his cutting and scratching added a lot to five-star albums like Fear of a Black Planet and It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, and he has a well-deserved reputation for being one of hip-hop's most creative turntable manipulators. When you're talking about great hip-hop DJs, Terminator's name deserves to be mentioned along with the likes of Grandmaster Flash, Jam Master Jay, Cut Creator, and the seminal Kool DJ Herc. Not surprisingly, Public Enemy's influence is quite strong on this album, and yet Terminator X & the Valley of the Jeep Beets is hardly a carbon copy of PE's releases. Public Enemy leader Chuck D has a cameo on "Buck Whylin'," but ultimately this album is about Terminator's skills as a DJ/producer. Various rappers are featured -- including Juvenile Delinquintz, Andreas 13, the Interrogators, and the controversial Sister Souljah -- and the album detours into R&B singing when Section 8 is employed on "No Further." Overall, the raps are decent without being remarkable; most of the rapping isn't on a par with what Chuck D and Flavor Flav gave us on PE gems like "Fight the Power" and "Don't Believe the Hype." Terminator's turntable skills are what, more than anything, make this CD worth the price of admission. Even if a particular rap is merely adequate, Terminator maintains one's attention with his consistently imaginative deejaying. Not perfect but generally enjoyable, Terminator X & the Valley of the Jeep Beets is worth checking out if you're an admirer of his work with Public Enemy. ~ Alex Henderson, All Music Guide

Terminator X
Sister Souljah
Andreas 13
Chuck D
Spacey B
Section 8
Groovy Loo
Bonnie N Clyde
Juvenlie Delinquintz

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Bobby Jones - Comin Back Hard (2009)

Bobby Jones - Comin Back Hard
Featuring The Mannish Boys
BLUES | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVERS | 276MB | 41:40
Delta Groove 2009

01. She's the One   
02. Two Headed Woman
03. I Must Be Crazy
04. Come in out of the Rain   
05. Get It Over Baby   
06. I Don't Know   
07. Tired of Your Jive
08. Cry for Me Baby   
09. Three Handed Woman
10. Mystery Train
11. How Long Will It Last

Since singing with the legendary group the Aces, Louisiana native Bobby Jones has since been a virtual unknown nationally up until 2007, though he's been fairly active in his second home of Chicago. When he was "discovered" languishing in obscurity by Leon Blue and the Delta Grooves label, they finally offered him an opportunity to record. It's a good thing that everyone gets to hear what a fine, skilled, and strong vocalist he is. The richness of his solid, soul-sending voice is, in many ways, beyond compare, both in a retro and contemporary vein. Frankly, there are few singers who can match what he is putting down on this, his way-overdue debut as a leader. Backed by the rising star blues band the Mannish Boys and accompanied by a treasure trove of all-stars, Jones slashes his way through a set of blues classics, current-day funky tunes, two originals from bandmembers, and two from Ike Turner. Classic tracks include Junior Parker's rocker "Mystery Train" with vocalist Finis Tasby and harmonica by Randy Chortkoff on the side, the lesser-known Hank Ballard sub-hit "She's the One," and Johnnie Pate's great swing shuffle "Tired of Your Jive" done in the tough and disgusted B.B. King tradition. George Allen wrote "I Don't Know," while Jones slows the pace alongside the boogie piano of Fred Kaplan, and takes Mel London's "Cry for Me Baby" out for an upbeat spin, extolling his virtues. Jones is so superlative and commanding here, he carries all of these songs no matter the backup group of soloists, but he really shines on Willie Dixon's "Two Headed Woman," a shuffle with the twangy guitar of the Mannish Boys' Paris Slim, and tears up the swinger "Three Handed Woman" (right-handed, left-handed, and underhanded) with help from harmonica player Lynwood Slim and a keen eye for what goes down on the sly. Kid Ramos plays excellent lead guitar on five tracks, and Junior Watson joins in on two more. This is a great party album, easily apropo for your next get together, as it was for all of the great blues musicians who convened for the love of Bobby Jones, to create a treasure finally uncovered, shined up, and proudly placed on display. ~ Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide

Bobby Jones - Vocals
Richard Innes - Drums
Kid Ramos - Guitar
Tom Leavey - Bass
Finis Tasby - Vocals
Junior Watson - Guitar
Lynwood Slim - Harmonica
Ronnie James Weber - Bass
Fred Kapla - Piano, Organ
Franck Goldwasser - Guitar
Randy Chortkoff - Harmonica
David Woodford - Tenor Saxophone

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Ohio Players - Fire

Ohio Players - Fire
FUNK | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 253MB | 36:37
Polygram 1974

1. Fire
2. Together
3. Runnin From The Devil
4. I Want To Be Free
5. Smoke
6. It's All Over
7. What The Hell
8. Together / Feelings

The title track is perhaps their most recognizable song: a heavy guitar riff, and simple, ominous lyrics (both the song and the album went to #1). A concept album focused on hellfire and the Devil, it manages to be quite entertaining: "Smoke" is a witty meditation on nicotine addiction, and "What The Hell" is angry and brutally uncompromising. The brief instrumental "Together/Feelings" ends things on a more positive note. Again, though, the ballads are uninteresting and overlong ("I Want To Be Free," "It's All Over"). --David Bertrand Wilson, WARR.org

James Diamond Williams - Drums, Timbales, Congas, Vocals
Clarence Satch Satchell - Saxophone, Flute
Mervin Pierce - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Marshall Rock Jones - Bass
Leroy Sugar Bonner - Guitar, Vocals
Ralph Pee Wee Middlebrooks - Trumpet, Trombone
Billy Beck - Piano, Hammond, Fender, Clavinet, ARP

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Rene Marie - Vertigo (2001)

Rene Marie - Vertigo
VOCAL | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 418MB | 66:59

01. Them There Eyes
02. Surrey With The Fringe On Top
03. I'd Rather Talk About You
04. Don't Look At Me Like That
05. I Only Have Eyes For You
06. It's All Right With Me
07. Vertigo
08. Detour Ahead
09. Moon Ray
10. Dixie, Strange Fruit
11. Blackbird

Rene Marie's second CD for MaxJazz is, for the most part, a very enjoyable CD. This extremely gifted singer has a very appealing voice and is a talented arranger as well. Her playful arrangement of "Them There Eyes," with bassist Robert Hurst and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, is very refreshing, with some fine scat singing, too. Her unusually deliberate and rather sexy take of "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top" adds pianist Mulgrew Miller and also has some fine scat singing, too. Her Latin chart for "I Only Have Eyes for You" proves catchy, with some tasty guitar playing from John Hart. "It's All Right With Me" is slowed to a snail's pace with Chris Potter's noodling bass clarinet and Hurst's brooding bass backing her powerful vocal. "Vertigo," another Marie original, is easily the most exciting piece on the session. The only occasion when she follows anything resembling an expected path is her lush treatment of the ballad "Detour Ahead" in a memorable duet with Miller. There are some weak spots. The original "Don't Look at Me Like That" is monotonous filler; while the Beatles' "Blackbird" is drastically rewritten with a tedious vamp that gives the song a somewhat ominous sound, but it grows tiresome quickly. The medley of "Dixie" (a song reviled by most African-Americans) and "Strange Fruit" (with its dramatic description of lynching) invites controversy. She sings "Dixie" a cappella with a possible touch of sarcasm, then the band is added for the shift into the piece that was first put on the map by Billie Holiday, introduced with almost a funeral march-like cadence. Somehow Rene Marie's lovely voice seems inappropriate for this song, as she doesn't reflect the anguish of its lyrics very consistently. Even with these reservations, this is a highly recommended CD. ~ Ken Dryden, All Music Guide

Rene Marie - Vocals
Jeff Tain Watts - Drums
Mulgrew Miller - Piano
Robert Hurst - Bass
John Hart - Guitar
Jeremy Pelt - Trumpet
Jeff Haynes - Percussion
Chris Potter - Saxophone, Clarinet

Van Morrison - Moondance (1970)

Van Morrison - Moondance
ROCK | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 248MB | 39:14
Warner Brothers 1970

01. And It Stoned Me
02. Moondance
03. Crazy Love
04. Caravan
05. Into the Mystic
06. Come Running    
07. These Dreams of You
08. Brand New Day    
09. Everyone    
10. Glad Tidings

The yang to Astral Weeks' yin, the brilliant Moondance is every bit as much a classic as its predecessor; Van Morrison's first commercially successful solo effort, it retains the previous album's deeply spiritual thrust but transcends its bleak, cathartic intensity to instead explore themes of renewal and redemption. Light, soulful, and jazzy, Moondance opens with the sweetly nostalgic "And It Stoned Me," the song's pastoral imagery establishing the dominant lyrical motif recurring throughout the album -- virtually every track exults in natural wonder, whether it's the nocturnal magic celebrated by the title cut or the unlimited promise offered in "Brand New Day." At the heart of the record is "Caravan," an incantatory ode to the power of radio; equally stirring is the majestic "Into the Mystic," a song of such elemental beauty and grace as to stand as arguably the quintessential Morrison moment. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide

Van Morrison - Guitar, Saxophone, Tabla, Vocals
Jack Schroer - Piano, Saxophone
John Klingberg - Bass
Guy Masson - Conga
David Shaw - Clarinet
Cissy Houston - Vocals
John Platania - Guitar
Collin Tilton - Saxophone, Flute
Jeff Labes - Organ, Piano, Clavinet
Gary Mallaber - Drums, Percussion, Vibraphone

Friday, May 30, 2014

Manhattan Transfer - Vocalese (1985)

Manhattan Transfer - Vocalese
VOCAL | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 313MB | 45:33
Atlantic 1985

01. That's Killer Joe
02. Rambo
03. Airegin
04. To You
05. Meet Benny Bailey
06. Another Night in Tunisia
07. Ray's Rockhouse
08. Blee Blop Blues
09. Oh Yes, I Remember Clifford
10. Sing Joy Spring
11. Move

Many of the Manhattan Transfer's recordings up to the point of Vocalese showed off their diversity and covered a wide variety of music, including jazz. This set was quite a bit different, for it is dedicated to the vocalese of the great Jon Hendricks. The Manhattan Transfer (singers Cheryl Bentyne, Tim Hauser, Alan Paul and Janis Siegel) perform a dozen songs using Hendricks' lyrics, including "That's Killer Joe," "Rambo," "Ray's Rockhouse" and "Sing Joy Spring." Utilizing their regular band of the period (which includes guitarist Wayne Johnson), the Count Basie Orchestra (directed at the time by Thad Jones), the Four Freshmen (on "To You"), tenorman James Moody, Bobby McFerrin (guesting on "Night in Tunisia"), McCoy Tyner, Dizzy Gillespie (on "Sing Joy Spring"), altoist Richie Cole, and Hendricks himself, among many others, the Transfer give these boppish tunes definitive vocal treatments. This is one of their finest jazz recordings and a classic of its kind. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

Cheryl Bentyne - Vocals
Tim Hauser - Vocals
Janis Siegel - Vocals
Alan Paul - Vocals

Bob Ojeda - Trumpet
John Patitucci - Bass
Grady Tate - Drums
McCoy Tyner - Piano
John Robinson - Drums
Alex Blake - Bass
Ray Brown - Bass
Ron Carter - Bass
Mel Wanzo - Trombone
Snooky Young - Trumpet
Byron Stripling - Trumpet
Danny Turner - Saxophone
John Williams - Saxophone
Clarence Banks - Trombone
Marshall Royal - Saxophone
Casey Young - Synthesizer
Mike Beisner - Vocals
Sonny Cohn - Trumpet
Joe Jones - Drums
Johnny Coles - Trumpet
Richard Davis - Bass
Walter Davis - Piano
Eric Dixon - Saxophone
Charles Loper - Trombone
Bob Flanagan - Vocals
Tommy Flanagan - Piano
Dizzy Gillespie - Trumpet
Autie Goodman - Vocals
Freddie Green - Guitar
Marshall Hawkins - Bass
Rod Henley - Vocals
Dick Hindman - Piano
Kenny Hing - Saxophone
Danny House - Saxophone
Bill Hughes - Trombone
Ralph Humphrey - Drums
Dennis Wilson - Trombone
Craig Harris - Synclavier
Richie Cole - Alto Saxophone
Wayne Johnson - Banjo, Guitar
Don Roberts - Tenor Saxophone
James Moody - Tenor Saxophone
Yaron Gershovsky - Piano, Synthesizer
Bobby McFerrin - Bass, Percussion, Vocals

Onaje Allan Gumbs - Dare To Dream (1991)

Onaje Allan Gumbs - Dare To Dream
JAZZ | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 399MB | 53:31
MCA 1991

01. No Question
02. Second Thoughts
03. The Look
04. Dare To Dream
05. Don't Touch My Heart
06. Think About It (Interlude)
07. So Nice
08. For All It's Worth
09. Think About It
10. Are They Only Dreams

Dare To Dream is a tour de force of Onaje Allen Gumbs' talents as a composer, producer, arranger and keyboardist. Co-produced by V.Jeffrey Smith of The Family Stand,the opening track,"No Question," is propulsive funk in the style of The System and Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon." The mellow Sunday afternoon groove of "Second Thoughts," is led by the tenor sax of Roger Byam,the engaging interplay of drummer Buddy Williams,the shaker,tambourine and soft conga of Steve Thornton and gently,plucked bass of Oscar Carataya as Gumbs interweaves tasty piano solos and lays down warm,sustained digital piano.Co-written with Benny Russell,"The Look," is solid,midtempo jazz funk that features a unison lead line by Shunzo Ono on flugelhorn,Byam's sax and a sustained guitar figure by Jef Lee Johnson.Gumbs spices the mix with blocked acoustic piano riffs and otherworld synthesized horns and voices.Dedicated to the quest for world peace through individual happiness,the title track,"Dare To Dream," is a vocal duet between Gerri Griffin and Dennis Collins.This track is as beautiful as Gumbs's work on Phyllis Hyman's "The Answer Is You,."Other highlights are the upbeat "Don't Touch My Heart(Unless You're Serious),,"the samba-flavored "So Nice,,"the soft "For All It's Worth," and the languid "Are They Only Dreams," which features guitarist Kevin Eubanks of The Tonight Show starring Jay Leno. ~ Ed Hogan, All Music Guide

Onaje Allan Gumbs - Piano, Synthesizer
V. Jeffrey Smith - Synthesizer Bass
Jef Lee Johnson - Guitar
Roger Byam - Saxophones
Tommy Campbell - Drums
Oskar Cartaya - Bass
Dennis Collins - Vocals
Steve Moss - Percussion
Kenny Davis - Bass
Kevin Eubanks - Guitar
Gerri Griffin - Vocals
Buddy Williams - Drums
Shunzo Ohno - Flugelhorn
Steve Thornton - Percussion
Daryl Burgee - Djembe, Vibraslap
Leonard Gibbs - Djembe, Percussion

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Odetta - One Grain of Sand (1963)

Odetta - One Grain of Sand
FOLK | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVER | 206MB | 42:16
Vanguard 1963

01. Sail Away, Ladies
02. Moses, Moses
03. Midnight Special
04. Rambler-Gambler
05. Cotton Fields
06. Roll on, Buddy
07. Ain't No Grave
08. Special Delivery Blues
09. Rambling Round Your City
10. Boll Weevil
11. Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies
12. She Moved Through the Fair
13. Cool Water
14. One Grain of Sand

By the time the independent folk label Vanguard Records got around to releasing its sixth Odetta album, One Grain of Sand, in 1963, the singer had already decamped to RCA Victor and released her major-label debut, Sometimes I Feel Like Cryin', in 1962. But One Grain of Sand is not just a collection of outtakes assembled to fulfill a contract and take revenge on a departed artist. It finds Odetta accompanying herself as usual on acoustic guitar and joined by Bill Lee on string bass, putting her inimitable stamp on a good set of traditional folk songs along with numbers associated with Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger. She also brings in spirituals, blues, and even country on a cover of "Cool Water." But, given her distinctive vocal approach, every song from every genre becomes an Odetta song, with her contralto finding unusual depths of feeling in even the lighter fare. It might be argued that, in the early '60s, partially because of record company machinations, Odetta had a glut of LPs in release. But when even a minor one displays such quality, it's hard to complain. ~ William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide

Odetta - Vocals, Guitar
Bill Lee - String Bass

Monday, May 26, 2014

Current Events - Current Events (1989)

Current Events - Current Events
JAZZ+FUNK | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 347MB | 51:27
Verve Forecast 1989

1. Tiger Walk
2. Black Angels
3. Iberia
4. B-Boys Jammin
5. Baranquilla
6. The Cause
7. The Roll
8. May Flowers
9. Blue In Green

Pianist Darrell Grant leads a funky brand of jazz fusion musicians for a fun frolic on this 1989 one time album. Grant teamed with pianist/producer Onaje Allan Gumbs, the band attempts to play a myriad of jazz fusion styles. The short lived group has been described as a funkier version of Weather Report. Hard to find, but if you enjoy the smooth jazz of the 80's, you will be glad you did.

Darrell Grant - Electric Piano
Onaje Allan Gumbs - Piano
Kevin Clark - Drums
Fima Ephron - Bass
Mark Ledford - Scat
Ric Molina - Guitar
Ken Anderson - Saxophone
Steve Thornton - Percussion

Rene Marie - Voice of My Beautiful Country (2011)

Rene Marie - Voice of My Beautiful Country
VOCAL | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 421MB | 75:26
Motema 2011

01. Strange Meadowlark
02. O Shenandoah
03. Imagination
04. Just My Imagination
05. White Rabbit
06. Drift Away
07. John Henry
08. Angelitos Negros
09. America The Beautiful
10. Drum Battle
11. Piano Blues
12. My Country 'Tis of Thee
13. Lift Ev'Ry Voice and Sing/Star-Spangled Banner
14. America the Beautiful

The track list on René Marie's latest release reads like an iPod in random shuffle mode gone haywire: a Temptations classic is followed by a Jefferson Airplane classic, which is followed by Dobie Gray's hit "Drift Away." There's Dave Brubeck's "Strange Meadow Lark" and the American folk standards "John Henry" and "O Shenandoah," and a sensuous Latin ballad, "Angelitos Negros." The rest of the program makes for no less incongruous a list, but René Marie's gift is that she wraps each song around her dynamic, smoky, malleable, experienced voice until it feels as if she's written it. (Her next album will consist solely of her own compositions.) Marie is a latecomer to performing; now in her fifties, she's only been recording for about 15 years. Perhaps because she took so long to get started, she's had time to develop a personalized style without falling prey to outside influences. Fronting a tight, supple jazz combo, Marie is down to earth, full of surprises, and clever in her approach to a song. The Airplane's "White Rabbit" is rendered in a simultaneously dreamy and intense fashion: Marie, after building up to her first crescendo, lays back, turns things over to the pianist, waits it out till it's become frenzied, and only then returns to drive it home. A medley of Jimmy Van Heusen's "Imagination" and the Temps' "Just My Imagination" makes more sense in Marie's hands than on paper: the first is a whispery, breathy voice and sullen piano; a seamless segue and then the second song, which is soulful, free, tough, and fun. The eclecticism isn't for its own sake, though, Marie gives no impression that she's jumping all over the place to be hip. So when she closes it out with what she dubs "Voice of My Beautiful Country Suite," a six-part medley that runs the gamut from "America the Beautiful" and "My Country 'Tis of Thee" to "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" and the "Star Spangled Banner" -- with drum and bluesy piano solos tossed in -- it all still makes perfect sense. ~ Jeff Tamarkin, All Music Guide

Rene Marie - Vocals
Rodney Jordan - Bass
Kevin Bales - Piano
Quentin Baxter - Drums

Rene Marie - I Wanna Be Evil: With Love to Eartha Kitt (2013)

Rene Marie - I Wanna Be Evil
VOCAL | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 349MB | 60:08
Motema 2013

01. I'd Rather Be Burned as a Witch
02. C'est si bon
03. Oh, John
04. Let's Do It
05. Peel Me a Grape
06. My Heart Belongs to Daddy
07. I Wanna Be Evil
08. Come On-A My House
09. Santa Baby
10. Weekend

There's definitely a buzz about René Marie, I'm hearing confident predictions that she will be one of the revelations of the Guiness (Cork) and EFG (London) Jazz Festivals this winter. On the strength of listening to  this new CD I Wanna Be Evil (Motema), a studio album in which her personality, massive stage energy  and musicality come across with extraordinary vividness, it would be hard to disagree. First a fact-check. Her full name is René Marie Stevens. She was born in Warrenton, Virginia in 1955, but only started to sing professionally in 1999, around the Washington DC area. The new album, bearing the subtitle “with love to Eartha Kitt” - her website states that it's her tenth - was recorded at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Marie remembers the impact of first seeing Eartha Kitt as Catwoman in the TV series as a child: “Do you know what that does to a 10-year old girl living in the Bible Belt [..] it creates a lifelong yearning..no craving..for something else”. Others have chosen to dig up the past, dwelt on the pain, suffering, racism and abuse which Kitt and her family endured, notably in a recent biography (reviewed here), but this tribute by René Marie avoids all that, and concentrates on celebrating the sheer magnetism of a performer whom Orson Welles cast as Helen of Troy and once described as the "most exciting woman in the world". The main JALC presence on the album – and, I admit, the only name familiar to me until now – is that of JALC stalwart, larger-than-life trombonist, reigning king of the plunger mute Wycliffe Gordon. He is completely stunning, duetting with on Cole Porter's Let's Do It, where a quaint Edwardian verse about the entreaties of the bluebird ushers in a rootsy, sensual, sexual, primal, growling, snarling version in triple time of the 1928 song, in which the message eventually gets stripped down for action to a basic, re-iterated, dare one say 'earthy' “I just wanna do it.” Other players on the album are the clarinet/sax/flute of the Australian-born Adrian Cunningham. The recording catches his soft-toned clarinet beautifully. The rhythm team of Quentin Baxter (drums, percussion, washboard); Kevin Bales (piano); and Elias Bailey (bass) who work with her regularly are all impressive throughout. Other highlights include an innuendo-loaded Dave Frishberg Peel Me a Grape and a 'kittenish' (sorry these old puns keep coming) Dear John, a song which Marie describes in her liner notes a describes as having been the hardest challenge on the album. Marie has taken on the challenge to be as “fiery sensual and clever” as Eartha Kitt, and has risen to that challenge. But it should also be emphasized how innately musical Marie is, whether singing 'in' the notes, or deliberately 'out'. There is enough variety in phrasing to call this album a masterclass. If this is what René Marie can do in a studio, the live experience will be quite unforgettable. --Sebastian Scotney, London Jazz News

Rene Marie - Vocals
Kevin Bales - Piano
Elias Bailey - Bass
Wycliffe Gordon - Trombone
Etienne Charles - Trumpet, Djembe
Quentin Baxter - Drums, Percussion
 Adrian Cunningham - Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Rene Marie - Black Lace Freudian Slip (2011)

Rene Marie - Black Lace Freudian Slip
VOCAL | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 432MB | 69:05
Motema 2011

01. Black Lace Freudian Slip
02. This For Joe
03. Wishes
04. Thanks, But I Don't Dance
05. Free For Day
06. Ahn's Dream
07. Gosh, Look At The Time
08. Rim Shot
09. Fallin Off A Log
10. Deep In The Mountains
11. Serenity Prayer
12. Rufast Daliarg
13. Tired

Black Lace Freudian Slip is a rarity: a jazz-oriented vocal album that is dominated by the singer's own compositions. René Marie, who co-produced Black Lace Freudian Slip with acoustic pianist Bruce Barth (although Barth leaves all the piano playing to Kevin Bales), didn't write everything on this early-2011 recording. But she wrote most of the material, and her writing is as strong as her singing. Jazz vocalists, of course, have a long history of using other artists' songs to express themselves emotionally; Marie's far-reaching repertoire has included material by everyone from Harry Warren to Jefferson Airplane. But on Black Lace Freudian Slip, her own songs are the main focus. And she excels as a both a vocalist and a songwriter on originals that include the playful "Rim Shot," the bluesy "Tired," the contemplative "Gosh, Look at the Time," and the dark, moody "Fallin' Off a Log." Occasionally, Marie steps outside of jazz on this 69-minute CD. Marie's "Wishes," for example, is folk-rock and finds jazz musician Dexter Payne contributing some Bob Dylan-ish harmonica; the tune wouldn't be out of place on a Tracy Chapman album. Marie never claimed to be a jazz purist or a jazz snob, and "Wishes" underscores the fact that she sees the artistic value in music other than straight-ahead jazz. The jazz world is full of artists who have little or no interest in anything having to do with rock, folk, or R&B; Marie, however, clearly is not one of them. The jazz-oriented (though not jazz-exclusive) singer has kept an open mind, and that open-mindedness continues to serve her well on Black Lace Freudian Slip. ~ Alex Henderson, All Music Guide

Rene Marie - Vocals
Quentin Baxter - Drums
Kevin Bales - Bass
Bill Kopper - Guitar
Michael Croan - Vocals
Dexter Payne - Harmonica
Lionel Young - Guitar, Fiddle

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Various Artists - Soca Gold 2013

Various Artists - Soca Gold 2013
SOCA | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVERS | 517MB | 64:37
VP Music Group 2013

01. Super Blue - Fantastic Friday
02. Iwer George - Bubble
03. Denise "Saucy" Belfon - Wining Queen
04. Sass Feat. Nadia Baston - Manager
05. Bunji Garlin - Differentology
06. Ravi B - Prescription
07. Blaxx - No Getaway
08. Edwin Yearwood - Pushing It
09. Kerwin Du Bois - Backazz
10. Lil Rick & Benjai - Cyah Bother We
11. Kess - Thief A Wine
12. Rikki Jai - Ent Yuh Know
13. Drupatee & Machel Montano - Indian Gyal
14. Shal Marshall & Super Jigga Tc - We Liming
15. King Bubba - We Want Drinkz
16. Edwin Yearwood - Work That Thing
17. Lil Rick - I Like Mushself
18. Basil Yarde - Bounce Around

Dianne Reeves - Dianne Reeves (1987)

Dianne Reeves - Dianne Reeves
VOCAL | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 288MB | 43:29
Blue Note 1987

1. Sky Islands
2. I'm OK
3. Better Days
4. Harvest Time
5. Chan's Song
6. Yesterdays
7. I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good
8. That's All

An amazing moment for singer Dianne Reeves – the first in a long line of excellent records for the Blue Note label – and a wonderfully tight blend of jazz and soul, put together at a level that instantly pushed Reeves into the territory of previous giants like Phyllis Hyman and Marlena Shaw. Like both of those singers, Dianne's got roots in jazz, but also pushes towards more of an R&B vibe at times – but never in a way that's commercially aimed at the charts, especially in comparison to some of her contemporaries. There's a really rich feel to the whole album – thanks to help from George Duke, who produced and played keyboards – alongside other musicians like Herbie Hancock on keyboards, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, and Ndugu Chancler on drums. Titles include "Chan's Song (Never Said)", "I'm OK", "Sky Islands", "Harvest Time", "Yesterdays", and "Better Days". © 1996-2014, Dusty Groove, Inc.

Dianne Reeves - Vocals
Freddie Washington - Bass
Billy Childs - Piano
Paul Jackson - Guitar
Stanley Clarke - Bass
Ralph Penland - Drums
Ricky Lawson - Drums
Tony Dumas - Bass
Tony Williams - Drums
Herbie Hancock - Keyboards
Airto Moreira - Percussion
Leon Ndugu Chancler - Drums
Freddie Hubbard - Flugelhorn
Jorge Del Barrio - Synclavier
Paulinho Da Costa - Percussion
Justo Almario - Tenor Saxophone
George Duke - Synclavier, Piano

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Roberta Flack - Feel Like Makin Love (1975)

Roberta Flack - Feel Like Makin Love
VOCAL | WAVPACK | CUE | LOG | PNG | 287MB | 46:46
Atlantic 1975

01. Feelin That Glow
02. I Wanted It Too
03. I Can See The Sun In Late December
04. Some Gospel According To Matthew
05. Feel Like Makin Love
06. Mister Magic
07. Early Ev'ry Midnite
08. Old Heartbreak Top Ten
09. She's Not Blind

Capping off a string of early-'70s hits with this album's title track, Roberta Flack would soon take a sabbatical from the spotlight in 1975. And while she would return to the stage and studio, Flack never quite hit the heights of this and the handful of other MOR soul releases from the first half of the decade. Her Carole King-meets-Gladys Knight sound is particularly impressive on highlights like "Mr. Magic" and "Feelin' That Glow." Helping out with the stellar backing are such luminaries as vocalist Patti Austin, drummer Alphonze Mouzon, keyboardist Bob James, and guitarist Hugh McCracken. Maybe not as fine an album as 1971's Quiet Fire, Feel Like Making Love will still please the singer's dedicated fans. ~ Stephen Cook, All Music Guide

Roberta Flack - Vocals, Piano
Leon Pendarvis - Keyboards
Bob James - Keyboards
Hugh McCracken - Guitar
Alphonse Mouzon – Drums
Idris Muhammad - Drums
Jimmy Vass - Flute
Joe Farrell - Oboe
Gary King - Bass
Ronald Zito - Drums
Karen Sargent - Oboe
Phil Kraus - Timpani
Keith Loving - Guitar
Anthony Jackson - Bass
Ralph MacDonald - Congas
David Spinozza - Guitar
Dave Carey - Vibraphone
Richie Resnicoff - Guitar
Harry Whitaker - Keyboards
Richard Tee - Electric Piano
Arthur Jenkins - African Thumb Piano