Elton John was the biggest pop star of the '70s, grabbing headlines and generating hits throughout the world. As it turned out, this was merely the first act in a remarkable career that kept him at the top of the charts for over 25 years. He charted a Top 40 hit single every year between 1970 and 1996, a sign that he knew how to both change with the times and mold the times to fit him. Initially marketed as a singer/songwriter, John soon revealed he could craft Beatlesque pop and pound out rockers with equal aplomb. He could dip into soul, disco, and country, as well as classic pop balladry and even progressive rock. His versatility, combined with his effortless melodic skills, dynamic charisma, and flamboyant stage shows, became his calling cards and many of his songs became contemporary pop standards.
Legendary composer, arranger, pianist, educator, and leader Harold Mabern returns with another Smoke Sessions recording, the engaging album “To Love and Be Loved”. He brings a sextet of exceptional musicians featuring the fabulous tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb of Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” fame, protean trumpet master Freddie Hendrix, and the facile double bassist Nat Reeves, with percussionist Cyro Baptista, in his only appearance, enlivening the song, “To Love and Be Loved”. Mixing up the musicians, Mabern uses quartet, quintet, and sextet sized configurations, and plus a mesmerizing solo piano performance…
Some critics might dismiss Sophie Milman as simply another pretty female singer, yet with her third CD, she continues to show an adventurous spirit, tackling standards and obscurities while also forging ahead into pop. Retaining many of the musicians from her previous release, Make Someone Happy, the upbeat alto offers a hip take of Duke Ellington's long overlooked "Take Love Easy," exuding sex appeal and backed by guitarist Rob Piltch, bassist Kieran Overs, and percussionist Mark McLean (who also arranged it), with a brief solo added on soprano sax by PJ Perry. Pianist Paul Shrofel contributed the breezy bop vehicle "That Is Love," which showcases Milman in her best light. She soars in the brisk treatment of the old chestnut "Day In, Day Out," starting in a samba setting and switching to bop, featuring alto saxophonist Wessel Warmdaddy Anderson.
Guilty: 30 Years of Randy Newman is a four-disc box set released in November 1998 that chronicles the first three decades of singer songwriter Randy Newman's musical career.