Boasting an enthralling voice many have regarded as reminiscent of Billie Holiday's, Madeleine Peyroux burst onto the music scene eight years ago with the extremely successful release of Dreamland. Championed by major publications such as The New York Times and Time Magazine, Peyroux was immediately recognized as a remarkably talented singer with a promising future. With the release of her long awaited follow-up album Careless Love, Peyroux's potential as an artist is truly realized. Her smoky voice and knowing delivery make each song her own, whether she's singing vintage tunes by W.C. Handy and Hank Williams, or contemporary songs by Leonard Cohen and Elliott Smith. Producer Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Shawn Colvin) weaves strands of acoustic blues, country ballads, classic jazz, torch songs and pop into a vibrant fabric that is both timeless and thoroughly up to date, with Peyroux's arresting vocals always front and center. When Madeleine Peyroux's debut, Dreamland, was released in 1996, its success threw her for a loop. She's taken eight years to create this follow-up, and, at age 30, she brings a confidence and resilience to this dozen-song set. She's able to move seamlessly between songs by writers as diverse as Elliott Smith and W.C. Handy, whose title track was popularized by Bessie Smith. Though American-born, Peyroux absorbed the language and culture of France growing up in Paris with her French-teacher mother. On her debut, she covered Edith Piaf, and this time out she wraps herself around "J'ai Deux Amours," which Josephine Baker sang to the Allied troops during World War II. --David Greenberger
Manufacturer: MCA Records
Brand: NBCUniversal Store
Track Listings: 1. Act Won...Things Fall Apart 2. Table of Contents, Pts. 1-2 3. The Next Movement (ft. DJ Jazzy Jeff) 4. Step Into The Realm 5. Spark 6. Dynamite! 7. Without a Doubt 8. Ain't Sayin' Nothin' New 9. Double Trouble 10. Act Too...The Love Of My Life 11. 100% Dundee 12. Diedre Vs. Dice 13. Adrenaline 14. 3rd Act: ? Vs. Scratch 2...Electric Boogaloo 15. You Got Me 16. You Don't See Us 17. Return To Innocence Lost 18. Act Fore...The End? Very few hip-hop groups make it to their fourth full-length recording, and perhaps only the Roots have made it to that level while still ascending. Although lyrical and musical vision is sorely lacking from most hip-hop (as Puff and Master P have proved, vision isn't necessary to bum-rush the mainstream goldmine), such qualities are cornerstones of the Roots' music. Their second recording, 1995's Do You Want More?!!!??!, and its follow-up, 1996's Illadelph Halflife, intelligently linked hip-hop to its musical forebears funk and jazz, and their lyrics provided unique, postnationalist hip-hop critiques. On Things Fall Apart (named for the Chinua Achebe novel) the sextet takes on a more somber tone, but at no cost to their musical innovations. "If we had to depend on black people to eat, we'd starve to death," says Denzel Washington, sampled from Mo' Better Blues, at the outset of the recording. It's not self-pity--rather, the group frequently returns to the theme of how many African Americans confuse uniformity with unity. Musically, the group is at its best with guests like Mos Def and Talib Kweli from Black Star contributing some old-school fun and technique to "Double Trouble." Erykah Badu's supple vocals on "You Got Me" are offset by innovative percussion, including an organically developed jungle beat. At a point when most rappers are running on fumes, the Roots are synthesizing new ideas. --Martin Johnson
Manufacturer: Concord Records
The finest '60s cuts by these Latin-pop legends. Their hit versions of Mas Que Nada; Night and Day; The Look of Love; Scarborough Fair , and The Fool on the Hill join Like a Lover; So Many Stars , and more! A bridge between bossa nova and 1960s pop, Sergio Mendes' music was easy listening, vaguely psychedelic pop, light jazz, and bossa nova all rolled into one. Mendes and Brasil '66 (which featured Mendes on keyboards and a revolving cast of two female vocalists, bass, guitar, drums and percussion) had a number of hits from the mid-'60s to the early-1970s that are included here. Getting his professional start playing and arranging for Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto, Mendes typically filled out his proper albums with updated versions of popular songs written by the Brazilian masters as well as some of his own tunes Â his tunes "Look Around" and "So Many Stars" are included. But this collection really surveys his interpretations of pop tunes of the day, some of which were never hits for Mendes. The small combo's light touch and rich vocal harmonies make for pleasant if kitschy covers of hits like the Beatles' "Fool On The Hill" and "Day Tripper," Burt Bacharach's "The Look Of Love," and others. Â --Tad Hendrickson
Setzer,Brian Orchestra ~ Dirty Boogie Brian Setzer has spent much of his career revving up already hot retro styles to a booming pitch. While this generally worked in his early years with the rockabilly Stray Cats, it largely fails with his swing orchestra. Louis Prima--whose "Jump Jive an' Wail" is faithfully remade here--wasn't exactly the king of subtlety himself, but even he might have covered his ears at the blare produced by the combination of Setzer's (admittedly sharp) guitar playing and a too-bright horn section. A couple of The Dirty Boogie's cuts are cute ("You're the Boss," an Elvis Presley/Ann-Margret duet, is recast for Setzer and No Doubt frontwoman Gwen Stefani), but fans of the Cherry Poppin' Daddies and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy might think twice. --Rickey Wright
New product. Never used! Recorded at the historic Olympia Theatre in Paris in November 2001, this is Diana Krall's first live album. Backed by her quicksilver combo of bassist John Clayton, drummer Jeff Hamilton, and guitarist John Pisano (on some tracks), Krall's jazz heritage comes through loud and clear on this program of standards, ballads, and bossa novas. On Peggy Lee's "I Love Being Here with You," Bob Dorough's "Devil May Care," and Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon," Krall's snappy, postbop piano playing shows off her debt to Nat "King" Cole and Jimmy Rowles. Her cool contralto vocals are illuminated by the Orchestre Symphonique Europeen, under the direction of Alan Broadbent, as well as the London Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Claus Ogerman. Krall's deep take on Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You" is a great choice for an encore, and the CD concludes with Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are" (a studio track from a film called The Guru), with tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker and bassist Christian McBride. This collection only hints at what Diana Krall has to offer in the future.--Eugene Holley Jr.
Manufacturer: Sony Legacy
De la Soul are remembered as the premier Native Tongues posse, those rappers who got low-key, self-consciously thoughtful, and jazzy in the face of gangsta's hardcore threats. But a Tribe Called Quest may have been even stronger, especially on their excellent second album, the bass-thumping, heavily jazz-sampled the Low End Theory. According to the opening "Excursions," rapper Q-Tip's old man says the disc's jazz-rap "reminded him of bebop," and Q calls himself "prominent like Shakespeare." But if Charlie Parker had ever written poetic couplets and backed them with funky-drummer and Ron Carter-on-bass grooves this irresistible, he might have been as big as the Bard and Brother James combined. -David Cantwell
2011 album from the creative force behind Family Guy, American Dad! and The Cleveland Show. Music Is Better Than Words is a crisp sounding orchestral/big band record that features MacFarlane singing some of the hidden musical gems of the `40s and `5os. Introducing this rich sound and classic integrity to a new audience, the album features duets with beloved artists Norah Jones and Sara Bareilles, and was arranged, conducted, and produced by accomplished film and television composer Joel McNeely. McFarlane's voice has been celebrated for it's perfect phrasing, richness, and consistency. He is an experienced live performer, having played to sold out audiences at London's Royal Albert Hall and New York's Carnegie Hall.
Be Good was nominated for Best Traditional R&B Performance in the 55th Annual Grammy Awards. Since his Grammy nominated solo debut Water in May 2010, Gregory Porter has rocketed from talented unknown to one of the most relevant and virtuosic vocalists on the international jazz scene today.
"Woo" is the first single from Hamilton's 4th studio album, set for a December 13th release on RCA Records. The follow-up to Hamilton's Gold-certified, critically-acclaimed 2008 release The Point of it All, the new album will feature production by industry legends and Grammy Award winning producers Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, Salaam Remi, Kelvin Wooten ("So in Love") and Hamilton, himself. With his distinctive voice and signature grit, soul and funk, Hamilton has gained a steady and loyal fan base throughout his career beginning with his 2003 platinum-certified debut album Comin' From Where I'm From, which spawned the chart-topping song, "Charlene." In 2005, the Charlotte, North Carolina native followed up with his gold-certified sophomore album Ain't Nobody Worryin' which featured the #1 hit, "Can t Let Go." The singer/songwriter/producer released The Point of it All in 2008 to critical acclaim, including USA Today's declaration that Hamilton is "one of the genre's rare singers." In 2009, Hamilton won his first Grammy Award for his collaboration on Al Green's, "You Got the Love I Need."