Feature Fridays: Jazz Samba by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd

Feature Fridays: Jazz Samba by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd

Welcome to Feature Fridays! Every week, the AU music library staff will be highlighting a different CD or artist from our collection.

This week, Music Library Coordinator Amanda Steadman will review Jazz Samba by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd.

One of my favorite albums in the library’s collection is Jazz Samba, from tenor saxophonist Stan Getz and arranger/guitarist Charlie Byrd. It was recorded right here in DC at the All Souls Unitarian Church in February 1962. I have fond memories of enjoying bossa nova like this album with my dad during road trips.

Bossa nova, meaning “new wave” or “new trend” slows down and subtly reshuffles the rhythms of traditional Brazilian dance music, like the samba. The style was virtually invented by jazz-influenced Brazilian composers Antônio Carlos Jobim and guitarist/vocalist João Gilberto. Although Getz and Byrd were not the first Americans to try bossa nova, Jazz Samba began a craze for the style in the early 1960s.

This is one of my favorite albums to listen to while working intensely. The rhythms are interesting, yet gentle and Getz and Byrd’s incredible solo work sets them off nicely.

You may be familiar with Stan Getz’s later work with João Gilberto and Astrud Gilberto, including the famous song “The Girl from Ipanema,” the sound of many an elevator on film. This album (titled Getz/Gilberto) is also available at the music library, CD 5397. Stop by the music library to check out these and other great jazz recordings!

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Feature Fridays: The Centennial Collection by Billie Holiday

Feature Fridays: The Centennial Collection by Billie Holiday

Welcome to Feature Fridays! Every week, the AU music library staff will be highlighting a different CD or artist from our collection. 

This week, Dan McCahon will review Billie Holiday’s Centennial Collection.

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This album consists of Bille Holiday’s best works. I honestly do not have many words for this album that aren’t praise. It is spectacular as every song stands on their own. Each piece is distinct with Holiday’s voice sitting atop the arrangements, delivering lyrics that are joyful and sometimes haunting.

There are 20 tracks on the CD, dissecting them all would not do them justice, as the album is a must listen and words cannot begin to illustrate Holiday’s unique and beautiful vocal quality. If I were to pick a favorite song on the album I would be hard pressed to find one. If I had to pick three however, I would pick “Strange Fruit”, “Gloomy Sunday”, and “When A Woman Loves A Man.”

“Strange Fruit” is a more well known piece for those who are not familiar with Holiday’s work, as it was sampled by Kanye West for the song “Blood on the Leaves” off of his album “Yeezus.” “Gloomy Sunday” is a slow moving ballad. I find Holiday’s voice through it to be like rolling waves as the ocean of sound in the song is diverse and ever moving. “When A Woman Loves A Man” opens with a brass riff introducing Holiday’s vocal story-telling. Every track is a wonderful treasure.

Come by the music library to browse CDs by jazz singers like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and more!

Feature Fridays: Romance & Rhythm by Ella Fitzgerald

Feature Fridays: Romance & Rhythm by Ella Fitzgerald

Welcome to Feature Fridays! Every week, the AU music library staff will be highlighting a different CD or artist from our collection. 

This Friday Emily Langlois will be reviewing Romance & Rhythm by Ella Fitzgerald.

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Ella Fitzgerald is one of the most influential female jazz singers of all time. According to the bio on her official website, she sold 40 million albums in her lifetime and was a 13-time Grammy winner. She’s known for her incredible vocal range and diversity, which allowed her to reach a broad variety of audiences all over the world.

 

Some of her most beloved works are her love songs. Her whimsical voice and soulful lyrics embody the best parts about romance: heart flutters, warm embraces, and lasting promises. Romance and Rhythm is a 4-disc collection of Ella’s famous love songs, with each CD carrying a different theme.

 

This collection evokes nostalgia on many levels. If you want to travel back to the golden era of jazz or to a time where you fell in love, this is the time machine. “I Found My Yellow Basket” is a fun track to dance around to on a sunny day, while “Someone To Watch Over Me” can make you contemplate your feelings on a deeper level. Just like the many emotions of love, Ella’s songs will take you on a journey.

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Ella Fitzgerald’s centennial celebration is ongoing through April. Stop by the music library to browse selections from Ella, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, and many more!

AU Musical Events: Spring Jazz Concert, 4/10

That’s right! AU’s formidable jazz orchestra/ensemble/band is putting on their renowned semesterly show THIS Friday! Led by the musical legend Joshua Bayer, this student/community group will bring their best in a nice (thunderstorm-ridden) spring night of jazz!

The band, including a VERY TALENTED drummer (me), will play through a set full of classic swing and bop tunes, spiced up with a couple of latin and funk numbers, and one student arrangement of a Joe Sample piece. Also playing will be the Frederick Community College Jazz Ensemble, and possibly a combo comprised of AU students as well!

Formally titled the “AU Jazz Orchestra Spring Swing Fling” (what a mouthful!), the event will be at 8pm in the Abramson Family Recital Hall. Tickets are $5 for students and community members, $10 for the general public.

Here’s the facebook event, and you can buy tickets here. Hope to see you there!

Sweet New Arrivals: Shadow & Simon

As you saw yesterday, we just procured a large batch of new CDs. I’d like to take this time to highlight two personal favorites. These two CDs are very different from each other but both are tremendously important to the development of popular music. Each represents both a perfection of style and a watershed moment, shaping the sound of their respective genres while representing the best each had to offer.

 

DJ Shadow – Endtroducing….. (1996)

As far as sample-based hip hop production goes, it’s hard to top this album. While other great albums preceding it made use of extensive, creative sampling (Paul’s Boutique, Three Feet High & Rising, It Takes A Nation Of Millions…, etc.), their producers used the samples to create a backdrop for the featured rapper. Endtroducing….. features no rapper, and relies on scores of samples to provide a thematic narrative. DJ Shadow’s creative chopping of drum breaks, sampled rap lyrics, atmospheric pieces and movie dialogue keeps the album interesting throughout.

What truly stands out about Endtroducing….., however, is its compositional ambition. The songs stretch out into epic, jazzy expanses, often far longer than a traditional hip hop record. In fact, this album was such a jump from the traditional use of samples and breaks that it led to the new genre of “trip hop,” sort of a bridge between ambient music, psychedelia and jazz, anchored by rap beats. On this album the line was forever blurred between hip hop grooves and avant-garde musical exploration, and we can thank it for a wealth of creative hip hop that has since followed.

 

Paul Simon – Graceland (1986)

Ah, Graceland. The sight of it in our “new CDs” pile gives me an intense feeling of joy, as this is one of the best pop albums I’ve ever heard and (probably) that was ever made. Suffering from a failing marriage and a commercial slump in the early 1980s, singer-songwriter Paul Simon was inspired by a cassette of South African music and went to the apartheid-stricken country to record with some of the musicians there. After this trip he returned to New York City and wandered the streets, composing an incredible set of soul-searching, heart bearing, romantic but realistic lyrics. These lyrics rest among Simon’s best, often surrealistic, fantastical or futuristic, but all managing to hit upon beautiful understatements on the trials and tribulations of interpersonal relationships. They form a uniquely American point of view that meshes strangely well with the African musical background.

And what a background it is! Unstoppable percussion grooves and liquid bass lines anchor exuberantly twinkling guitar runs, conjuring a dreamlike state. Often the vocalists of South African a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo sweep in, a tapestry of vocal timbre. These elements, previously unintroduced to American pop music, took Simon’s stellar set of lyrics to the next level, and paired with the occasional electronic drum kit and saxophone were able to create a pop sound that had never before been reached. Graceland truly represents the amazing possibilities of blending international pop styles, and it is a high watermark in pop musical history that has yet to be equaled- it’s hard to imagine such perfect chemistry occurring again.

Did I sell these well? Come check them out and see if they’re worth my hype. Or don’t, and I’ll keep listening to them during my shifts, it’s okay.

A Bunch of New CDs!

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Hello, hello, happy Thursday evening, hope it doesn’t find you too thirsty! Guess what, we’ve got a bunch of new CDs for you to check out for the weekend, all kinds of genres! I’ll be covering a couple of them in further detail tomorrow, but for now here’s a list.

NEW CDs

Jean Grae – The Attack of the Attacking Things – CD 1960

The Slits – Cut – CD 8287

Paul Simon – Graceland – CD 2365

DJ Shadow – Endtroducing – CD 2435

Aaliyah – One in a Million – CD 4473

Soli Chamber Ensemble – Música, Por Un Tiempo – CD 2504

Fort Worth Opera – With Blood, With Ink – CD 2270

Delfeayo Marsalis – The Last Southern Gentleman – CD 2273

The President’s Own United States Marine Band – Be Glad Then, America – CD 2100

Mason Bates – Stereo is King – CD 8288

Massilia Sound System – Massilia – CD 2097