Contrary to what its title suggests, The O'Jays in Philadelphia isn't a live album. Rather, the title of this studio date refers to the beginning of their association with Philly's R&B scene and producers/songwriters Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff. What they didn't know in 1969 was just how long and fruitful that association would end up being. This album wasn't the major hit that Back Stabbers would be, but not for lack of strong material. From "One Night Affair" to "Let Me in Your World," this superb album is quintessential Philly soul. While Eddie Levert's gospel-influenced belting is as gritty as anything that came from Stax Records, the production is as notably sleek. A few years later, Gamble & Huff would produce a longer, heavily syncopated version of "Affair" for Jerry Butler that some soul historians exalt as the first disco single.
'The Godfather of Soul.' 'The Hardest Working Man in Show Business.' 'Mr. Dynamite.' 'Soul Brother Number One.' For more than 50 years, these and other honorifics have described American music icon James Brown.
The soundtrack to Woody Allen's 2011 Oscar-nominated romantic comedy Midnight in Paris features a variety of jazz tunes and popular songs that are all generally associated with the film's 1920s Paris setting. While Allen actually transports his movie's main character back to the '20s, most of the music here was recorded by contemporary artists who play in an old-school style. To these ends, we get such roiling and urbane Gypsy jazz tracks as Swing 41's "Je Suis Seul Ce Soir," Original Paris Swing's "Recado," and even several Cole Porter vocal numbers by Conal Fowkes – who appears as Porter in the film. Also featured are jaunty classic jazz cuts like Josephine Baker's conga dance number "La Conga Blicoti" and, of course, Sydney Bechet's "Si Tu Vois Ma Mère," which opens the film. Swooning and romantic in tone with a breezy, swinging jazz vibe throughout, the Midnight in Paris soundtrack is a must-have souvenir for traditional jazz lovers and any fan of the film.
Música Callada (Music of Silence) is a very special work, one of the most beautiful and elusive in the entire piano repertoire. It is extremely difficult to perform. On the one hand, there’s the temptation to stretch each piece out hypnotically, if monotonously, while quicker speeds preserve the music’s melodic essence at the expense of much of its atmosphere and harmonic richness. For although much of the music is indeed quiet, and none of it moves quickly, it is all meaningful. Mompou himself found the perfect balance between incident and repose, and of all the pianists since, Jenny Lin arguably comes closest to doing the same, only in much better sound. It’s not so much that her tempos match Mompou’s own (she’s actually not copying him–it would hardly be possible in a work containing 28 individual pieces), but rather that her phrasing and sense of timing let the music breathe and sing with its own special poetry. To take just one example, consider the sadness that Lin finds in the fourth piece, “Afflitto e penoso”, by allowing the piece’s harmonic color time to speak simply and eloquently.
The duo known as Hapa got a perfect start to their career with their self-titled first album. Here are the pretty vocal harmonies and lush, twanging guitar sound everyone expects from Hawaiian music; here also is extraordinary instrumental prowess and a pair of singers who are impressive individual talents. The Hapa album is in fact a tour de force of harmonies, both vocal and instrumental. Even when joined for a guitar trio with guest artist Steven Stills, the style of each performer and voice of each instrument is distinct and fits perfectly into an interlocking composition. Those who appreciate Hawaiian music must have Hapa in their collection.