Midnight Ramble, released in 1983 on Milestone, was saxophonist Hank Crawford's return to recording after a four-year break following his departure from Kudu. It was the beginning of a decades-long relationship with the prestigious jazz label. Crawford, a veteran of Ray Charles, had long been associated with soul-jazz groove-oriented music. On this date, he delivers a solid, straight-ahead session with some notable surprises. The first is that he plays not only his trademark alto saxophone, but also electric piano. Next is his rhythm section: Dr. John on piano and organ, Charles "Flip" Greene on bass, guitarist Calvin Newborn (brother of Phineas), and stone-cold soul-jazz drummer Bernard Purdie. But that isn't all. Crawford also includes five other horns: two trumpets, trombone, bass saxophone, and David "Fathead" Newman on tenor. Needless to say, Crawford's idea of "straight-ahead" still contains plenty, plenty soul. The program is solid, top to bottom; it's amiable, relaxed, and deeply rooted in the blues.
Altoist Hank Crawford teams up with pianist/organist Dr. John on this accessible and enjoyable soul-jazz outing. Crawford made quite a few CDs in this format for Milestone during the 1980s, using a funky four-piece rhythm section and a small horn section to play recent originals and a few vintage classics. Highlights of the above-average effort include "For the Love of You," "K.C. Blues" and "Trouble in Mind."
Recorded when he was 63, After Dark finds Hank Crawford excelling by sticking to what he does so well: uncomplicated, blues-drenched, gospel-minded soul-jazz. Warmth and accessibility continued to define the veteran alto saxophonist, who sounds like he's still very much in his prime on everything from "Amazing Grace" to W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues" and the standard "T'aint Nobody's Business If I Do." Crawford reminds us how appealing and sentimental a ballad player can be on "That's All," and he demonstrates that Ruby & The Romantics' early-1960s soul-pop gem "Our Day Will Come" can work quite well in a jazz setting. The saxman's noteworthy support includes producer Bob Porter (who, true to form, is smart enough to step aside and let Crawford do his thing), guitarist Melvin Sparks and drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie. It's been said that Crawford is jazz's equivalent of a charismatic soul singer like Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye or his former employer Ray Charles, and After Dark makes it very hard to disagree with that assertion.
Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas is a charming, warmly humorous - and yes, swinging - set of classic Christmas tunes. The program is familiar, from bouncy singalongs like "Jingle Bells" to slinky ballads like a downright sexy "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," but Fitzgerald treats each song with exactly as much respect as it deserves. And so Frank Loesser's "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" is wistfully romantic and Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne's "Let It Snow" is kittenishly enticing. As always, Norman Granz's production avoids the schlock that drowns some holiday sets. This is as good as jazz Christmas albums get.
Multi-talented, classically trained Shakimra has been composing, recording and performing with Indigenous Australia. Here she combines her amazing flute sounds with David Hudson's didgeridoo to produce a beautiful musical interpretation of the Great Barrier Reef.
Giovanni Battista Sammartini was undoubtedly one of most important musicians of early 18th-century Italy. The first performance of Memet took place in 1732, when the composer was just over thirty years old. The plot complies with the enlightened music’s widespread taste for the middle-eastern world, while the structure is that of a tragedy in three acts with five characters (Memet, Solimano, Irene, Zaide and Demetrio) and without choir. The quality of the music is certainly high, thanks to Sammartini’s mature and effective orchestration and to the variety of his melodic inventiveness - quite remarkable in some solo episodes - which spans from cantabile to agility passages of virtuoso difficulty. A world première recording that is a must for opera lovers.