Philips's collection of major works that have propelled Gavin Bryars to New Music stardom is an effective overview of his music. The longest work is his Cello Concerto, handsomely played by Julian Lloyd Webber with a big, colorful tone and sustained intensity throughout its contemplative half-hour. A comparable mood pervades the bright tintinnabulating textures of the whimsically titled One Last Bar, Then Joe Can Sing. Similar as well, in their attractive serenity and suppressed sadness, are many of the other works here, prime among them the viola concerto in all but name, The North Shore, a tone painting of the rugged cliffs of northeast England. Adnan Songbook, settings of six poems by Lebanese poet Etel Adnan, are beautifully sung by soprano Valerie Anderson and delicately scored for a small ensemble. Bryars's biggest hits, The Sinking of the Titanic and Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet, have inspired him to numerous reworkings and capsuled fragments. They're represented by Titanic Lament, depicting a hymn tune dissolving into gray, watery textures, and two very different four-minute versions of Jesus' Blood, both with Tom Waits.
The always eclectic Maria Muldaur, whose previous albums have paid tribute to Shirley Temple and blues women of the '20s, takes another musical detour in this collection of songs associated with Peggy Lee. In addition to her cool, sexy, relaxed voice, Lee was arguably more talented than other vocalists from her era. As a songwriter she co-penned some of her own material, including the swinging "I'm Gonna Go Fishin'" with Duke Ellington, which features the witty double entendres that spice several other songs. Muldaur possesses a similar ability to purr ("Some Cats Know") or sizzle (an opening tour de force of "Fever" and "Black Coffee") without breaking a sweat. So this collection of 12 tracks, backed by a talented yet restrained eight-piece band, is a natural extension of her vocal strengths. The stylish, retro arrangements include vibes and big-band-styled horn charts that sound as authentic as if they were recorded in the '30s. Even though there are some finger-popping swing numbers (a zippy duet with Dan Hicks on Ted Shapiro's "Winter Weather" is especially peppy), a late-night, languid blues-jazz vibe dominates.
Once Upon A Time is the fourth studio album by Liverpool Express, released digitally and on CD via their official website. This is the first studio album since 1979, and features Roger Scott Craig, Billy Kinsley, Dave Goldberg and Kenny Parry. Eleven new songs are included, as well as a new version of "John George Ringo & Paul" - the band's creative tribute to The Beatles. The title song "Once Upon A Time" harks back to the beautiful hit "Every Man Must Have A Dream". "Sailin' Down to Rio" is the band's ode to Rio de Janeiro, a city they fell in love with during their South American tour in the late 70s. Ian Bairnson, the guitarist with The Alan Parsons Project and Pilot, makes a guest appearance, playing guitar on two tracks, "Once Upon a Time" and "Find My Way Back Home".
Connie Evingson isn't the first person to provide a vocal jazz tribute to the Beatles; over the years, everyone from Sarah Vaughan to Czech singer Peter Lipa has interpreted the John Lennon/Paul McCartney songbook. But Let It Be Jazz, the Minneapolis resident's fifth album, is among the more creatively successful..