ALICE BABS & DUKE ELLINGTON - SERENADE TO SWEDEN
Real Gone Music presents what is probably the rarest album in the voluminous Duke Ellington discography, his 1963 date with Swedish singer Alice Babs, Serenade to Sweden. That year, Ellington was hired by the Reprise label as an A&R man, free to sign any artist he wanted and to record them. His first choice was Babs, who, in Ellington’s words, was “the most unique artist I know…She sings opera, she sings lieder, she sings what we call jazz and blues, she sings like an instrument, she even yodels, and she can read any and all of it!” For her part, Babs (born Hildur Alice Nilson) had a hit in Sweden when was only 15 (“Swing It Teacher”), and was an iconic figure in her homeland, appearing in 14 Swedish films from 1938 to 1959. The result of this meeting of legendary musical minds was a sublime cool jazz masterpiece that, sadly, never received a proper release in the U.S. and appears to be the only Ellington album never to be reissued on CD or even digitally, having eluded even the most comprehensive compilers. Needless to say, original copies go for big Swedish krona online, and not just because it’s rare; Babs’ wordless vocals and scat singing on “The Boy in My Dreams,” “Strange Visitor,” and “Babsie” are positively Ella-worthy, and Ellington’s masterful arrangements—at times filigreed with a French horn section—provide the perfect accompaniment. We’ve added liner notes by Scott Yanow, while the album boasts remastering by Aaron Kannowski. Fascinating for any jazz fan—essential for Ellington enthusiasts! Includes: Serenade to Sweden; The Boy in My Dreams; Stoona; La De Doody Doo; Strange Visitor; Azure; Come Sunday; "C" Jam Blues; C Jam Blues; I Didn't Know About You;.Satin Doll;.Take Love Easy; Babsie; (I Want) Something to Live For; I'm Beginning to See the Light; and Untitled Lullaby.
SILVA – SILVA CANTA MARISA MONTE
A fantastic take on the music of Marisa Monte – one that takes the Brazilian singers best songs, and recasts them in a style that's beautifully soulful! Silva handles most of the instrumentation himself, along with the vocals – and the set is heavy on Fender Rhodes and other keyboards, which are used with a gentle flow over well-crafted rhythms – in a mode that's very different than some of Monte's original readings – but in a really great way! The whole thing almost feels like a Neo Soul set at times, but has more edge too – and Marisa herself guests on a reading of "Noturna" – alongside other titles that include "Ainda Lembro", "Beija Eu", "Na Estrada", "Nao Va Embora", "O Bonde Do Dom", "Pecado E Lhe Deixar De Molho", and "Infinito Particular". ~ Dusty Groove
JEFF PARKER – SLIGHT FREEDOM
Fantastic solo sounds from guitarist Jeff Parker – a set of recordings that were all done live, with no overdubs at all – but which really show a complex approach to his overall sound! Parker's almost in some of the more abstract territory here as on some of his Chicago Underground Duo recordings – but he's also maybe a bit more tuneful, while also more introspective – showing us a personal, human side of his music that's extremely moving – and which really comes as quite a surprise, compared to some of his other records. Some numbers almost have a Jim Hall-like fragility, while other points are more creatively textural – and the whole thing is really wonderful, and represents a whole new step for Parker – a musician who's already been blowing our mind for about 20 years. Titles include "Super Rich Kids", "Slight Freedom", "Mainz", and a beautiful take on "Lush Life". ~ Dusty Groove