This 1956 recording was Bob Dorough's debut, an introduction to one of the most unusual talents in jazz. He's a gifted songwriter and a fine pianist, but most of all, he's a unique lyricist and singer, rattling off hyperkinetic vocalese in an almost chirping, high-pitched voice that somehow retains hints of an Arkansas drawl and a conversational intimacy. He's as distinctive on Hoagy Carmichael's beautiful "Baltimore Oriole" as he is on the bop fanfares like Dizzy Gillespie's "Ow!" and Charlie Parker's "Yardbird Suite," with his own memorable lyrics. His boppish piano playing–with all the virtues of crisp articulation and an acute sense of time–is an oddly conventional complement to the vocals, and there are good contributions by Warren Fitzgerald on trumpet and Jack Hitchcock on vibes. Devil May Care's title tune has recently received fine covers by more conventional singers like Diana Krall and Claire Martin, but it's much more distinctive here. While Dorough has influenced generations of jazz singers, from Mose Allison to Kurt Elling, there's nothing quite like the original.
Nothing if not prolific (this is Popa Chubby's sixth set of original material in six years), the New York City-based guitarist nonetheless scores with fresh, often inspired material on this outing, Stealing the Devil's Guitar. He has already shown he can push past the rather strict boundaries of blues-rock by gradually infusing hip-hop, Latin, Southern swamp, and even reggae influences, and continues to do so throughout 12 new songs, along with a cover of Jessie Mae Hemphill's "In This World." Chubby loves to ride a chunky riff and he serves up a tasty selection of them here. The instrumental "Kinda Dicey" is a perfect example; it's a tough, sticky, funky groove, ideal for Chubby's licks. Same with the strutting "Smuggler's Blues," a story of the titular character who is both desperate and determined, with a smoking guitar solo that mirrors its narrator's intensity to get his job done.
Due likely to his other careers as a pop artist, producer, classical composer, actor, and fashion model, Ryuichi Sakamoto the film scorer has averaged less than one film a year since his delightfully melodic debut, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence in 1983. But the Academy Award winner (The Last Emperor) has clearly eschewed quantity for quality, and his often-chilling music for Love Is the Devil (the first feature by vidoegrapher John Maybury–a disturbing portrait of artist Francis Bacon and his dark, obsessive relationship with his model/lover, George Dyer) is no exception. Sakamoto has long resisted composing mere musical narration for his film assignments; here he gets inside the characters by using the diverse palette and electronic techniques gleaned from his often cutting-edge pop work. This masterful melange of samples, treated piano, electronics, and white noise plays like a modern horror masterpiece, an eerie techno-concerto that owes more to Sakamoto's days as a student of electronic music and the avant-garde than to his sunny turn as leader of the Yellow Magic Orchestra. Think Bernard Herrmann displaced by an ocean and half-a-century of technology.