Sunday, 26 April 2009

Yngwie Malmsteen - Angels of love 2009

Genre: Guitar virtuoso
Format: Wv + cue + log + test
Released: 2009
Label: Rising Force

01. Forever One
02. Like an Angel
03. Crying
04. Brothers
05. Memories
06. Save Our Love
07. Ocean Sonata
08. Miracle of Life
09. Sorrow
10. Prelude to April

Yngwie’s core fans will be pleased anyway, even if lightning arpeggios are rarely seen (don’t bet...) in this compilation CD. The Swedish virtuoso’s rivals will have another arrow in their quiver, not to forget, even if now it’s not the time for accusing the man of infinite shredding. Who’s left then? Well, fans willing to taste alternate versions of the originals plus fans of mild music is a case study,. After listening to "Angels Of Love" for a dozen of times in a row (gazing at the attractive lady in the cover frequently, to recapture the muse tendered) it’s no wonder I’d take a glimpse again shortly.

What’s the scenario here: the ’neoclassical’ shredder compiled this album with (nearly) acoustic versions of some of his ballads all these years. Using acoustic guitars - with a slice of electricity scattered for some climax to be uncapped - and keys arrangements, Yngwie lets his inner self loose in service of the resulting equilibrium and tranquillity. Some of the songlist does not fly away from the original versions, mainly due to the inflexible composing pattern while enough songs do gain a fair new-fangled point in terms of letting loose ’parallel’ emotions once buried under the nonstop virtuosity of this mentor.

I think (did not count, it’s a general impression) the takes recorded here do not - in a whole - depict 100% of the duration of the originals; let’s just say that each tune here carries the main theme (or a set of themes) correlating to the preliminary composition. In addition, I cannot recall any existent song named "Ocean Sonata" in Malmsteen’s so far catalogue, not being a die-hard follower though...Anyway, some last notion obtained is that - due to his performance or the new arrangements or whatever - the final upshot approaches more the Uli Jon Roth blend rather than the Ritchie Blackmore pen (if only these two choices ever existed in Yngwie’s mind, haha).

Sum it up? Yeap, this is the road the Swedish maestro walks on the last quarter of a century. Nothing new in terms of style, still listening to this album while driving in the countryside, seeing beautiful landscapes, reading on a winter’s night or just sitting by the fire is some kind of a nice companion soundtrack. "Angels Of Love" is perfect as a present too, let’s propose.

On second thought: if Yngwie Malmsteen also wanted to deliver a certain message to his critics, he possibly did it...
Reviewed by Grigoris

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

David Sanborn - Here & Gone 2008

Genre: jazz, smooth-jazz
Format: Flac + cue + log
Released: 2008
Label: Decca U.S.

01. St. Louis Blues
02. Brother Ray (Feat. Derek Trucks)
03. I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town (Feat. Eric Clapton)
04. Basin Street Blues
05. Stoney Lonesome
06. I Believe To My Soul (Feat. Joss Stone)
07. What Will I Tell My Heart?
08. Please Send Me Someone To Love
09. I've Got News For You (Feat. Sam Moore)

It would not be hard to accuse Here and Gone of being commercially contrived. The disk features a 'prominent musician' playing duets with other prominent musicians. This is not exactly a new formula, but considering that the 'prominent musician' in question is David Sanborn—and that he duets with the likes of Eric Clapton, Derek Trucks, and Wallace Roney—interest must be piqued at least a little.

Say the name Dave Sanborn, and the late baby boomer listener will immediately identify him with the wailing R&B alto saxophone that closed every Saturday Night Live episode in the late '70s. His slightly off-center embouchure and distinctive alto sound has made him a sought after soloist for his entire career.

On Here and Gone, Sanborn is grounded by the rhythm section of bassist Christian McBride, drummer Steve Gadd, and guitarist Russell Malone with keyboard support from Gil Goldstein and Ricky Peterson—not too shabby at all. Add a horn section that includes Lou Marini, Lew Soloff, and Howard Johnson and decent performances can only be expected and that is what is delivered.

Disk highlights include retro-spars with trumpeter Wallace Roney on "St. Louis Blues" and trumpeter Lew Soloff on "Basin Street Blues." After that swing through Satch-land, Sanborn tips his hat to Ray Charles, goining forces with two of today's finest guitar players; slide guitar ace Derek Trucks for a Southern tasty "Brother Ray," and Eric Clapton for "I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town." Both guitarists ply their distinctive wares abundantly. Trucks extends the language of the late Duane Allman, while Clapton plays tastefully understated, allowing his unique blues singing to do the talking.

For the leader's part, Sanborn is in fine R&B wailing form, acknowledging his debt to the other focus of this record, Hank Crawford. Sanborn's voice instantly recognizable. He is appropriately emotive on Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love," and it is in this company that David Sanborn should be heard.
By C. Michael Bailey

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Mezzoforte - Anniversary Edition 2007

Genre: jazz - funk
Format: Flac + cue + log + test
Released: 2007
Label: Bhm

01. Surprise
02. Garden Party
03. Take off
04. Midnight Sun
05. Nightfall
06. Drive
07. High Season
08. Icebreaker
09. Prime Time
10. Journey's End
11. Day Break
12. Monkey Fields
13. Later on
14. Beyond the Horizon
15. Crystal Rain

1. Double Orange Juice
2. E.G. Blues
3. Expressway
4. Action Man
5. Roller Coaster
6. Blow
7. Fiona
8. Weather Ahead
9. Cobra
10. Early Autumn
11. Observations
12. Hard Wired
13. Summer Dream
14. Rockall
15. In a Word

MEZZOFORTE. In global pop industry terms, jazz - funksters Mezzoforte would in 1983 have seemed rather an unlikely bunch to become the pioneers of a long awaited ?breaking of the ice? for the desperately isolated musical community of Iceland. Mezzoforte indeed became the surprise hit makers of 1983 in Europe, with a single called Garden Party taken from an album fittingly titled Surprise Surprise! Due to the Anniversary Tour they present their best tracks on the new double cd compilation – personally choosen with special photos and linernotes in English. The band will be back with a new DVD in autum 2007. BHM

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Epica - The Divine Conspiracy 2007

Genre: Symphonic/Gothic Metal
Format: Flac + cue + log
Released: 2007
Label: Nuclear Blast

01. Indigo - Prologue
02. The Obsessive Devotion
03. Menace of Vanity
04. Chasing the Dragon
05. Never Enough
06. La‘petach Chatat Rovetz - The Final Embrace
07. Death of a Dream - The Embrace that Smothers Part VII
08. Living a Lie - The Embrace that Smothers Part VIII
09. Fools of Damnation - The Embrace that Smothers Part IX
10. Holy Man (Glenn Hughes Remix)
11. Beyond Belief
12. Safeguard to Paradise
13. Sancta Terra
14. The Divine Conspiracy

In a year that saw new releases by Within Temptation and Nightwish, I was rather surprised to find that Epica's new offering turned out to be my favorite female-fronted symphonic metal release of 2007. The Divine Conspiracy is far from perfect — in fact, it has some glaring problems — but when it hits the mark, it really hits the mark. If you've heard anything in this general stylistic niche, you generally know what to expect: zero subtlety, tons of bombast, lots of catchy vocal melodies and grandiose keyboards mixed in with the chugging guitars. There are a few reasons The Divine Conspiracy rises above the rest of the pack. For one thing, Epica have gotten heavier, and at this point they're much heavier than any of their better-known peers, especially in the drumming and male vocal departments. For another, Simone Simons is at the absolute top of her game, possessing maybe the best voice in this niche now that Tarja Turunen is out of the picture.

The first five songs on this album, not including two brief instrumental introductions, are almost entirely the reason that I hold it in such high esteem. There's Simons' beautiful voice, yes, but there are also some pleasant surprises. Mark Jansen's vocals vacillate between black metal howls and death metal growls, and he is surprisingly effective at both in this context (though his death growls, which are kind of in the Mikael Åkerfeldt/Dan Swanö mold, probably wouldn't cut it in a straight-up DM band). Coen Janssen's keyboards are ridiculous and over-the-top as per the norm in this genre, but the sounds he uses are fantastic — I actually wondered if there was a real orchestra performing on this album, and when I saw them live I was pleasantly surprised to see that no, all those extremely real-sounding string sections, choruses and more are all coming from the synths. Most importantly, the compositions meld black metal brutality and symph-metal bombast (and Simons' angelic voice) seamlessly, more so than any other similar band that's tried to be this heavy.

These five songs are all almost beyond reproach in my book, with the exception of the fact that some of them are unnecessarily long by two minutes or more. This turns out to be my main criticism of the album as a whole: it's just too damn lengthy. The second half of the album tails off badly in terms of quality, to the point that "Sancta Terra" is the only song out of the last six that I listen to. It's not that these songs are actively bad, rather that they lack the hooks, melodies and memorable symphonic arrangements of the first five songs, and become just so much bombastic sonic wallpaper. Even the title track, which at 14 minutes closes out the album, is disappointing; for a closing epic I expected it to be one of the best pieces on the album, but no such luck. It starts off with suitable pomposity, all movie soundtrack drama and widescreen grandeur, but it soon loses the plot, failing to present enough ideas to justify its enormous duration.

While the same could be said of this album as a whole, the six songs that I do like are easily good enough to ensure that I think good things when I listen to this record. All the usual caveats for this kind of music apply: you absolutely have to be in the mood for extreme bombast, while at the same time accepting that a band that gives so much air time to a soprano vocalist just isn't going to be as metal as your favorite tech-death group. Still, as far as these things go, The Divine Conspiracy is one of the best albums of its kind, despite its many weaknesses, and it's certainly a massive step up from Epica's previous albums, which never really made much of an impression on me.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Chris Botti - In Boston 2009

Genre: jazz
Format: Flac + cue + log
Released: 2009
Label: Columbia

01. Ave Maria
02. When I Fall In Love
03. Seven Days (Feat. Dominic Miller & Sting)
04. Emmanuel (Feat. Lucia Micarelli)
05. I've Got You Under My Skin (Feat. Katharine Mcphee)
06. Cinema Paradiso (Feat. Yo-yo Ma)
07. Broken Vow (Feat. Josh Groban)
08. Flamenco Sketches
09. Glad To Be Unhappy (Feat. John Mayer)
10. Hallelujah
11. Smile (Feat. Steven Tyler)
12. If I Ever Lose My Faith In You (Feat. Sting)
13. Time To Say Goodbye

On Thursday, September 18 and Friday, September 19, 2008, American jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, one of the world’s top-selling instrumental artists, invited an extraordinary variety of musical artists -- including Sting, Josh Groban, Steven Tyler, Yo-Yo Ma, John Mayer, Katharine McPhee, Lucia Micarelli, and Sy Smith -- to join him on-stage with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra for a pair of once-in-a-lifetime concerts, produced by Bobby Colomby and directed by Jim Gable, at Boston’s historic Symphony Hall, one of the world’s most exquisite performance venues.

A master artist and performer, Botti, who’s sold nearly three million albums worldwide, worked closely with an unparalleled roster of the world’s greatest musicians, drawing from a wide-ranging repertoire of pop, jazz, and classical music to create a series of aesthetically rewarding performances and two-night’s worth of unforgettable concert experiences. Chris Botti In Boston, an extraordinarily luxurious film of the two-night event, captures and accentuates the warmth, excitement, chemistry and spontaneity of the shows.

The CD version of Chris Botti In Boston features Botti along with his special guests and core band -- Billy Childs (piano), Billy Kilson (drums), Mark Whitfield (guitar), and Robert Hurst (bass) -- performing definitive versions of "Ave Maria," "When I Fall In Love," "Seven Days," "Emmanuel," "I’ve Got You Under My Skin," "Cinema Paradiso," "Broken Vow," "Flamenco Sketches," "Glad To Be Unhappy," "Hallelujah," "Smile," "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You," and "Time To Say Goodbye."

The full-concert DVD and Blu-ray configurations of Chris Botti In Boston include the bonus performances of "Caruso," "The Look of Love," "Cryin’," "Indian Summer," and "Shape of My Heart" in addition to an exclusive behind-the-scenes documentary chronicling the making-of-the-concert as well as a deeply resonant performance of "Fragile" unavailable anywhere else. In addition, the Blu-ray configuration features Dolby TrueHD audio providing master quality, high-resolution, 7.1 surround sound.

Following its exclusive televised premiere during PBS’s March Pledge Drive, Chris Botti In Boston Columbia Records will release the concert extravaganza in three configurations -- CD, a CD/DVD package and a Blu-ray edition -- on Tuesday, March 31.

Chris Botti In Boston is a visionary expansion of, and worthy successor to, the artist’s first PBS pledge drive special, Chris Botti Live with Orchestra & Special Guests. First aired on PBS during March Pledge Week 2006, Botti’s first special became a perennial pledge drive favorite nationwide while a DVD of that show has achieved RIAA platinum status.

About Chris Botti

Trumpeter Chris Botti is a gifted instrumentalist, a talented composer, and a charismatic performer who--since the release of his first solo album in 1995--has created a series of recordings which have made him one of the world’s top-selling instrumental artists. Drawing from the worlds of pop, jazz, classical and other genres, Botti created his own signature sound, transforming the world of contemporary jazz while simultaneously finding success in the pop music sphere. Praised for the warmth and complexity of his tone and musical ideas, Botti combines a soulful ambience with naturally flowing improvisation. He has earned both critical acclaim and mainstream appreciation for a succession of best-selling albums including When I Fall In Love (2004, 1 Top Jazz Album, 37 Billboard Top 200), To Love Again: The Duets (2005, 1 Top Jazz Album, 18 Billboard Top 200), and Chris Botti Live with Orchestra & Special Guests (2006, 2 Top Jazz Album).

Botti’s association with Sting--who appeared with the trumpeter on To Love Again and When I Fall In Love--dates back to 1999, when the Chris joined the music legend's band as featured soloist on the "Brand New Day" tour, which lasted two years.

In the studio and on stage, Chris Botti has worked with such leading singer-songwriter/composers as Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell as well as renowned film composer John Barry, among others; as a sideman, he has appeared on dozens of albums, compilations and soundtracks.

In addition to receiving an RIAA gold-certification for When I Fall in Love in 2004 and To Love Again (both produced by Bobby Colomby) in 2005, "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" (with vocals by Sting) earned a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals.

Released in 2007, Italia, Chris Botti’s most recent studio album, links the worlds of jazz and pop and classical music in a suite of songs and music inspired by the romance of Italy. Featuring duets with Andrea Bocelli, Paula Cole, Dean Martin, Italia is rapidly approaching the RIAA gold record sales mark.

One of the world's most popular concert attractions, Chris Botti maintains one of the busiest touring schedules monitored by the industry. Performing more than 250 concerts this past year, Chris’s 2008 concert itinerary included concerts at the Hollywood Bowl and New York’s Carnegie Hall.
MySpace Music

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Konstantin Tzekov - Verticals 1995

Genre: Instrumental music / Progressive
Format: Flac + cue + log
Released: 1995
Label: -

Born on December 24, 1952. At 7 he started studying the piano with the famous pedagogue Lidiya Kouteva who considered him an undeniable discovery with bright talent. In 1972 he graduated her piano class in the Musical School in Sofia and in 1978 graduated the Academy of Music, the piano class of Prof. Lily Atanassova. An essential contribution to his musical education and professional
growth have his studies in harmony and composition with the great Bulgarian musician Stephan Trayanov. Both then and now Konstantin Tsekov is a brilliant pianist. His possibilities for magnificent piano career did not tempt him in the genre, which would later become his destiny. Three factors played a decisive part in this: his friendship with Alexander Bakharov and Rouen Boyadjiev; the music of "Yes" , "Genesis", Gino Vaneli and his firm decision his profession to become his hobby, and his hobby to become a profession....

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Fourplay - Energy (2008)

Genre: Smooth-jazz
Format: Flac + cue + log
Released: 2008
Label: Heads Up

01. Fortune Teller
02. The Whistler
03. Ultralight
04. Cape Town
05. The Yes Club
06. Prelude For Lovers
07. Look Both Ways
08. Argentina
09. Comfort Zone
10. Sebastian

Energy: a word that means power or force. It's appropriate that Energy is also the title of Fourplay's debut with Heads Up.

Fourplay, a double entendre, is the quartet of Bob James, Nathan East, Harvey Mason and Larry Carlton. Each, an individual band leader or session sideman in his own right, the four spend part of their time as a supergroup. Collectively, they've appeared on numerous recordings and gained widespread appeal. Among their associations are Tom Scott & The L.A. Express, Crusaders, Steely Dan, Mike Post, David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, Kirk Whalum, Maynard Ferguson and George Duke. The band mixes contemporary jazz with a variety of other styles, including blues, R&B, and African music.

"Fortune Teller" is a lively piece that showcases Fourplay's cohesion as a group, while also displaying individuality, with solos by James on piano and Carlton on guitar. East on bass and Mason on drums work skillfully in the background.

East brings in several members of his family for "Cape Town," a vocal tribute to his grandparents, who did missionary work in South Africa. The song was co-written by East, his brother, Marcel East, and cousin, Alan Dones. Marcel also provides additional instruments. Three other members of the family provide background vocals. New sensation, singer Esperanza Spalding, complements the band nicely on the Hilary James composition, "Prelude for Lovers."

The ethereal "Look Both Ways," features Carlton's guitar much of the way. During the middle solo, James, East and Mason lay down a subtle, but effective background while Carlton shows why he's one of the most highly regarded guitarists. The song shifts gears near the end, as James' piano takes off on a high-energy solo, punctuated by East's rapid-fire bass line and Mason's adept handling of the snare, toms and cymbals. The pace returns to normal for the satisfying conclusion.
by Woodrow Wilkins

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Strunz & Farah - Wild Muse (1998)

Genre: Flamenco, Latin / World music
Format: Flac + cue + log
Released: 1998
Label: Selva

World guitar superduo Strunz & Farah released their ninth CD, entitled Wild Muse, on October 20, 1998. This studio release is graced by a long list of extraordinary musicians from Cuba, Greece, Iran, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Africa, and the U.S. The eleven tracks on this colorful and high-energy recording span the breadth of the international virtuosos’ inspirations, with influences ranging from flamenco, Afro-Latin, and jazz to Latin folk and Middle Eastern music. Included are a variety of Afro-Latin based compositions (including a salsa song) which utilize some of the finest Cuban, Puerto Rican and other Latin American talent, two Middle Eastern pieces featuring instruments such as bouzouki, darbuka, and zarb, a lush jazz-influenced piece, an intimate, romantic ballad, and more. Total Guitar Magazine calls Strunz & Farah “The planet’s most staggering guitar duo”. ~ Guitar Nine Records...

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Jean-Michel Defaye - Mozart Jazz Trio 1991

Genre: Jazz/Classical Fusion
Format: Flac + cue + log + test
Released: 1991
Label: Forlane

Friday, 3 April 2009

Deep Purple - Stormbringer 2009 (35th Anniversary Edition)

Genre: Rock
Format: Wv + cue + log + test
Released: 2009
Label: EMI

DEEP PURPLE Stormbringer (2009 issue UK '35th Anniversary Deluxe Edition' 2-disc set - Originally released in November 1974, 'Stormbringer' [featuring the Mark 3 line-up of the band that included David Coverdale on vocals and Glenn Hughes on bass] was the ninth studio album by Deep Purple, and prominently featured the soul and funk elements that were only hinted at on previous album 'Burn'. Sounding just as fresh as it did on original release, this 35th anniversary special edition comes with a crisp new remaster, and a host of collectable extras. Comprising the 14-track CD containing the remastered original album along with a clutch of tracks remixed by Glenn Hughes at Abbey Road [especially for this release], plus a Bonus Region 0 NTSC DVD including the original Quad mix of the album, presented in both 5.1 surround sound and stereo. Presented in sealed card slipcase complete with an extensive illustrated 24-page picture booklet)

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Andrea Bocelli - Amor (2006)

Genre: Pop
Format: Flac + cue + log + test
Released: 2006
Label: Sugar

01. Besame Mucho
02. Cancion Desafinada (Canzoni Stonate)
03. Solamente Una Vez
04. Somos Novios (it's impossible)
05. Jurame
06. Pero Te Extraño
07. Las Hojas Muertas (Les Feuilles Mortes)
08. Momentos
09. Me Faltas (Mi Manchi)
10. Cuando Me Enamoro (Quando M'Innamoro)
11. Porque Tu Me Acostumbraste (aka Tu me acostumbraste)
12. Amapola
13. Verano (Estate)
14. Nuestro Encuentro (Sentado a 'Beira do Caminho)

Personally, I am not a big fan of Andrea Bocelli, however, I do respect his music. I know many, many fans of his music and his voice. Granted, he does have an extremely beautiful voice, but with each new CD he has released, I hear very little difference in musical growth and exploration. Is it because he has discovered a model that works so well, or is it because that is all he can do? Questions, I may never be able to answer.

What I do like about Bocelli's Amore is the fact that he is singing several popular songs from the 1920's to the 80's. Familiar tunes, although in foreign languages, are easy to hum along with. Song's like "Can't Help Falling in Love" and "Somos Novios" (with Christina Aguilera) are among my favorite. As I said before, he has become synonymous with romantic songs, and this album is no exception. It would be a perfect accompaniment to that box of chocolate and roses you plan on buying your loved one for Valentine's day.

Along with Andrea's new album, comes a whirlwind of advertising and promoting. During the month of February alone, Bocelli will appear on the Today Show, Dateline NBC, The View, Live with Regis and Kelly, CBS Morning Show, Martha Stewart, Tony Danza, and more. He will also perform at the Olympic Closing Ceremonies on February 26, 2006 in front of a worldwide television audience of over 1 billion people.