STORY WRITTEN BY SEAN HICKEY
For Digital First Media
Diana Krall, the smoky, sultry, inventive jazz vocalist, crosses over to Pop and Rock on her latest outing as she covers some of the most-loved tunes from the past 50 years.
Just about every decade is given its due here with the 1960s being represented by the likes of The Mamas & the Papas’ “California Dreamin’” and Leon Russell’s “Superstar.” The 1970s are showcased with “Alone Again (Naturally)” from Gilbert O’Sullivan, done here with a vocal assist from Michael Bublé, Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word,” “Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels) from the late-great Jim Croce, 10 CC’s “I’m Not in Love,” and the Eagles’ “Desperado.” The relatively obscure title track — Bob Dylan’s “Wallflower” — dates from 1971, although his version didn’t appear on one of his records until decades later. She moves into the 1980s by dueting with Bryan Adams on his “Feels Like Home,” and also tackles “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” from Crowded House. A true highlight of the collection is the album’s sole previously unrecorded track – a cover of Paul McCartney’s graceful “If I Take You Home Tonight,” which was (criminally) left off his 2012 Kisses on the Bottom release and was co-produced by Krall with her mentor, the incredible Tommy LiPuma.
While producer David Foster tries to make the record a ‘strictly-Canadian’ sort of affair enlisting the vocal backings of both Bublé and Adams, his efforts never seem too forced and the results turn out to be a stunningly beautiful rendering of classic songs – interpreted by one of the best vocalists around.
Ain’t in No Hurry
It’s true that Jorma Kaukonen had been playing rootsy folk blues for years. He embraced the style soon after leaving Jefferson Airplane for the early Hot Tuna albums with longtime friend/bassist Jack Casady and through the decades the down home, rustic country blues, bluegrass and folk sounds he delivers have become a substantial part of his career.
That sound continues on this latest release which presents a potent mix of well-chosen covers (such as the Depression Era standards “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” and “Brother Can You Spare a Dime”) alongside some of Kaukonen’s gorgeous originals. And, while he does some amazing work on those classics, it’s his self-penned compositions that provide some of the most powerful moments on this record. There is so much authenticity and timeless resonance in songs like the lilting “In My Dreams,” the jaunty “The Other Side of the Mountain” and the loping title track, listeners will be constantly checking the writing credits to assure themselves it isn’t some lost classic from bygone days.
With contributions from producer Larry Campbell, longtime collaborator Barry Mitterhoff, the aforementioned Casady, and many others, Jorma Kaukonen has come full circle on Ain’t in No Hurry, and is clearly ready for as many more rides as life’s wild carousel is willing to offer.
Made in Brazil
Back in 2013, Elias channeled the spirit of jazz icon/trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker with her critically acclaimed release, I Thought About You. This time around, she is choosing to showcase the music of her Brazilian homeland. Using her charmingly soft and sultry voice and sweetly swinging keyboard talents, Elias offers a mellifluous tour of Brazil in all its dancing, swaying and breezy glory.
Backed by a core to top Brazilian musicians including composer/guitarist Roberto Menescal, she offers up a range of Brazilian tunes spanning the years from 1930s to the present, all set in contemporary jazz and pop arrangements. She sambas her way through songs by legendary Brazilian composers Antonio Carlos Jobim and Ary Barroso and two by Menescal along with a half-dozen originals. Guest artists on the release include vocalists Take 6 as well as her daughter Amanda Brecker and Brazilian R&B star Ed Motta. Seven of the album’s tracks are given additional lushness thanks to orchestral backing which was recorded at the famed Abbey Road Studios.
Made In Brazil is sure to get anyone in a samba or bossa nova mood. Simply stated, nobody does Brazilian jazz better than Eliane Elias.