|Geisha Girl / Janice Grace||Janice Grace||7:51|
|Geisha Girl / Janice Grace||Janice Grace||3:37|
|Geisha Girl / Janice Grace||Janice Grace||6:21|
|Geisha Girl / Janice Grace||Janice Grace||6:44|
|Geisha Girl / Janice Grace||Janice Grace||5:04|
|Geisha Girl / Janice Grace||Janice Grace||6:26|
Bridget St. John has a small legion of fans willing to do battle for their hero, but to most she sounds like a pleasant, secondary British folk-rock artist of the early 1970s. Those impressions won't be changed by this, her third album, mixing low-key originals with covers of songs by Bob Dylan and Buddy Holly, as well as one of her most popular tracks, an interpretation of the traditional folk tune "Lazarus." Simply put, St. John doesn't come within bow-and-arrow range of Sandy Denny or Maddy Prior. She favors a low, slightly husky delivery that sometimes brings to mind what Marianne Faithfull might have sounded like in the late '70s had Faithfull's voice lowered naturally, instead of being ravaged. Reserve can be effective, but it sounds like St. John would need to be roasted over an open flame before her temperature rose.
[The album was reissued on CD in 1995, with the addition of eight bonus tracks from a live performance in 1972.]
The Easy Riders Jazz Band started recording its distinctive interpretations of classic New Orleans jazz back in 1962. The group recorded fairly regularly between that year and 1966, and then went on hiatus for more than 25 years before again appearing on record, still with its original Jazz Crusade label. The Easy Riders continue to be headed by trombonist Big Bill Bissonnette and original pianist Bill Sinclair is also hanging in. Sammy Rimington, who came on board in 1964, is still wailing away with his exuberant New Orleans-style clarinet. In addition to the new members, this album has a guest: trumpeter and vocalist Gregg Stafford. New members and guests notwithstanding, the band hasn't changed its inventive, enthusiastic response to the music and the way it's played, both of which are so unique to the Crescent City sound.The play list primarily consists of familiar pieces from the traditional jazz repertoire, with a couple of non-traditional jazz ringers thrown in like "Caldonia" and "What a Wonderful World." These two tunes feature Stafford's gravelly voice, so perhaps they were on the agenda to accommodate him. In addition to these, the program is filled with other gems.
The fortuitous selection of the Kid Ory arrangement of "Aunt Hagar's Blues" makes this one of the preeminent tracks on the CD.
Among other things, it has some well-placed shouts by Paul Boehmke. Kid Ory's "Savoy Blues," one of the classic tunes that has attracted clarinet players over the years, is a fine vehicle for Rimington. He gets help from Stafford, but it's mainly his show.
The highly syncopated "Climax Rag" is something one would be sure to hear in a Bourbon Street bar during the street's heyday as the wellhead of jazz. But the album really comes together in W.C. Handy's "Yellow Dog Blues," where the group is in ensemble (or as close to ensemble as traditional jazz ever gets) for more than 6 minutes; as individual performers, they let it all hang out for a rousing version of one of the favorite tunes of this jazz genre.It's good to have this group back in the studio once more, even though the Easy Riders have to go to Connecticut to record New Orleans music.
British composer Patrick Hawes (born in 1958) seems to inhabit an aesthetic niche similar to that of John Rutter; his range encompasses both "serious" choral composition and a more pop-influenced style -- a kind of "classical lite" that seems targeted at crossover audiences -- and this album includes examples of both. At one end of the spectrum, Song of Songs, six settings from the Song of Solomon, bring Karl Jenkins to mind, facile and sentimental, but relentlessly pretty, geared to appeal to fans of pop music that has a mildly classical flavor. They are scored for chorus and soprano soloist, with occasional other soloists, accompanied by strings. The choral parts are straightforward enough to put them within the range of many church choirs, an audience for whom they seem intended, but the solo part is so outrageously high that it is unlikely it could be managed by an amateur performer. Even Elin Manahan Thomas, who has a light, pleasing voice, is sometimes reduced to squeaking, trying to negotiate Hawes' unrealistic demands. On the other hand, When Israel Was a Child and O Lord Our Governor, for chorus and organ, and the lovely a cappella Vauday Part Songs, are substantial works, disciplined and richly imagined. Overall, the performances of Manahan, the other soloists, Hawes' own choral ensemble Conventus, organist Roger Sayer, and the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by the composer, make as strong as possible a case for the music. The sound is present and clean.