JOAN ARMATRADINGWhat's Inside
THE ARMY OF Armatrading fans have waited patiently for this one. She's mostly forsaken the lite rock formula that weakened her music in recent years for a return to what made us love her in the first place.
She's back with articulate, soulful expressions of love crafted in contemporary folk music stirring the intellect and heart like a slow, gentle tornado of passion.
Best cuts: the bright bounce of the march-like "Shape Of A Pony," the velvety soul of "Recommend My Love" and the delicate dance her rising and falling voice does with a piano and acoustic guitar in "Merchant Of Love."
VARIOUS ARTISTSAn Anthology Of Big Band Swing 1930-1955
YEAH, A LOT of big band stuff sounds redundant and insignificant in the scheme of music history. And many of the bands merit no more historical attention than, say, Herman's Hermits or the Cars will deserve half a century from now. But Decca, at one time or another, recorded most of the best: Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson and a dozen lesser-known swing innovators. Never mind memorizing the nearly 40 band names represented--instead, concentrate on how the era's drummers and bassists consistently laid down relentless beats for the blaring horn sections and solo players. You'll hear the musical grandpas of your own record collection, rock stuff as well as jazz, and taste a time when jazz and dance music weren't as distant as Wynton Marsalis and Janet Jackson.
TONY RICE and JOHN CARLINIRiver Suite For Two Guitars
TONY RICE IS one of the hottest guitar players in the world and partly responsible for the fine, if short-lived, bluegrass/jazz fusion movement in the '80s. His wicked picking is all over this new disc, supported by the rhythm guitar of Carlini. While most of Rice's releases these days are either straight-ahead bluegrass or in the folk vein, he here returns to the moody and more complex writing he featured when jazz was a greater influence. "Nardis," a Miles Davis cut he recorded in his "spacegrass" days, is tackled again; and a Ralph Towner/Gary Burton composition is covered. Actually, it all sounds like jazz, thanks to heavyweight composing and improvising that must give some of his three-chord bluegrass fans migraines. It's all done with just two guitars and 20 fingers, folks. If we're lucky, Rice's renewed interest in the tougher stuff will bring us more albums like this one.
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