We review the latest music releases.
Tony Bennett: Viva Duets
* * *
TONY Bennett loves his duets so much that he follows his successful Duets and Duets II albums by collaborating with Hispanic artists from the pop realm, such as Christina Aguilera and Gloria Estefan, and Latino superstars from around the world, who are less familiar to the English-speaking market. Bennett’s voice is sheer class throughout but doesn’t always blend that well with, say, the breathy R&B-inflected tenor of Romeo Santos, the gravelly Ricardo Arjona or the hammy delivery of Vincente Fernandez, who joins him on a ranchero-flavoured version of the Dean Martin hit Return To Me. However, he glides long with Estefan on the lavishly orchestrated Who Can I Turn To and is almost out-smoothed by Venezualan singer Franco De Vita on The Good Life.
We Are The Physics: Your Friend, The Atom
This Is Fake DIY, £10.99
* * *
WITH their blatant debt to the jerky New Wave sounds of Devo and The Cardiacs, taste for daft song titles (All My Friends Are J-Pegs) and quirky paeans to Croatian tennis players (Goran Ivanisevic), Glaswegian quartet We Are The Physics walk a fine line between novel and novelty. But just when the appeal of an entire album of hi-octane indie jabbering with staccato rhythms and broad accents starts to wane, they shift pace for the Bowiesque undertones of There Is No Cure and the propulsive disco punk of Dildonics. Their one attempt to play it straighter with a rousing indie anthem called Olivia Neutron Bomb doesn’t quite go out with a bang.
Paul Banks: Banks
* * *
INTERPOL frontman Paul Banks has recorded solo material before, using the pseudonym Julian Plentl, but here he casts off alternative guises to appear as himself – and is just as opaque a proposition as before. Banks has a rich baritone voice, almost an indie croon, but can verge on the whiny at times. Banks washes by divertingly enough, especially on a couple of plangent instrumentals – but that is a sign in itself that its creator lacks the personality, not to mention the songwriting chops, to give much more than a generalised impression that he is in mild straits over something or other.
Arvo Pärt: Adam’s Lament
ECM New Series, £13.99
* * * *
The major work in this album of choral pieces by Estonian Arvo Pärt is Adam’s Lament, written jointly for the cities of Instanbul and Tallinn, consecutive holders of the Cultural Capital of Europe title in 2010 and 2011. It’s as sublime and timeless as any of this composer’s music, a style illuminated in all these performances by a combination of Latvian and Estonian choirs and chamber orchestras under Tönu Kaljuste. There’s an uncharacteristic fullness about Adam’s Lament, rich and resonant in the enchanting opening bars. Other works featured, such as the reflective Salve Regina, or the enchanting Estonian Lullaby and Christmas Lullaby are more typical for their muted delicacy and triadic simplicity.
BLAIR DOUGLAS: LEANAIDH MI (I WILL FOLLOW)
* * * *
Exuberant transatlantic fusion as Gaelic musicians well and truly mix it with some of Nashville’s finest. Just occasionally you might ask, well … why? For the most part, however, it’s all rollicking good fun, as the title song suggests, its a cappella Gaelic harmonies abruptly hijacked, if smoothly, by fast-travelling banjo and drums.
Blair Douglas, an esteemed Skye accordionist and composer, has recruited such Highland stalwarts as piper Angus Mackenzie, fiddler Gordon Gunn and Gaelic singers Kathleen MacInnes and Cathie Ann MacPhee, while across the water, fiddles, banjos, dobros etc are deployed with panache by the likes of Bryan Sutton, Wanda Vick and harmonica player Charlie McCoy.
Much is taken at a fair skelp, not least Albert Lee’s Welcome to the Isle of Skye, which really lets rip, between Mackenzie’s piping and some sizzling guitar work from Brent Mason. Gentler-paced material includes Barraigh Ghrádhach (Beloved Barra) and a gracefully bluegrassed version of Douglas’s well-established Kate Martin’s Waltz.
Courtney Pine: House of Legends
* * * *
Destin-E World Records, £12.99
Saxophonist Courtney Pine follows his pan-European explorations on Europa with a return to more familiar territory in a joyous, dance-inducing celebration of his Afro-Caribbean roots. He focuses on soprano saxophone in this project, and has put together a new core band, featuring the ear-catching piano work of Mario Canonge, Nigerian bassist Miles Danso and American drummer Rod Youngs, alongside the perennial Cameron Pierre on guitar and a shifting cast of guests. The sombre opening duo with pianist Mervyn Afrika is a tribute to Stephen Lawrence, but thereafter the mood is relentlessly upbeat as the band delve into various aspects of Caribbean music – ska, calypso, merengue, mento, Zouk Love – in compositions that pay tribute to several historical figures (Samuel Sharpe, Claudia Jones, Leslie Hutchinson and Ma-Di-Ba, the Xhosa name of Nelson Mandela) as well as the peoples and culture of the Caribbean.
The Rough Guide to Undiscovered World
Rough Guides, £8.99
* * * * *
FANS of the ex-Waulk Elektrik fiddler Griselda Sanderson should listen to her appearance on this disc to see how Highland melodies can fuse across a 5,000-mile gap with African musicians of the Fula tribe. Everything here is a fusion of some sort, and almost all of it successful: this lovely CD is going straight into my car as an antidote to the drabness of traffic jams.
Traditional gamelan gets a crazy makeover thanks to the Balinese group Saratuspersen: the gongs are doing their thing, but at a brisk trot rather than in the usual hallucinatory style, while the voices have more in common with rap than with anything Eastern. Meanwhile the Chinese band Shanren treat their musical heritage with loving respect. Here they give a village song from Yunnan a steady beat and a very gentle top-dressing of studio-added sound. One or two groups on this disc are now so familiar – notably Amadou Diagne, and the Krar Collective from Ethiopia – that their inclusion here seems unnecessary but, on the whole, everything is refreshingly new. It’s good to make the acquaintance of the Polish band Chlopcy Kontra Basia, with their delicately-inflected take on folk melodies, incidentally reminding us that less is more. Zmei Trei offer a delightful Romanian village dance. One of my favourite tracks comes from the Jadid Ensemble, whose meld of ney, saz, oud, violins, guitar, and percussion makes a lovely sound. Other highlights come courtesy of Mosaic, who fuse folk music from Poland with Asian equivalents, and Monoswezi, who blend Scandinavian jazz with sounds from Zimbabwe. The most engagingly off-the-wall track comes from Pax Nindi, who put modern-jazz guitar together with the Zimbabwean mbira thumb-piano. And harmony doesn’t come more persuasive than from the Desmond and Leah Tutu Peace Choir here.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 4 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North east