Smokey Robinson’s music is not haunted or helmed in by gospel pieties, blues grievances, or social conflicts, but, instead, his music is the music of the open, questing spirit, the sensitive heart, the sensual body: a modern man, liberated, loving, and thoughtful.
I do not know the language, or languages, in which Vieux Farka Toure’s songs are written so I cannot discuss their meaning: I can only suggest something of what they sound like and their effect on one listener. This is music of many delicate notes, notes like softly splashing rain, refreshment for a dry season.
Transcendence is not what Rux’s music offers: instead, in a world with spirits and no gods, one feels as if one has a companion for one’s journey, someone to share the struggles—and some of the pleasures—with.
Love, instinct, doubt, and the wonder of nature: all part of life, all objects of contemplation—do not deny them, do not simplify them, advises Werner. On “Don’t Explain It Away,” Werner’s singing is well modulated, with a nuance that is the exact opposite of what one expects of a rhetorical inclination or tone; and although the album does not sound explicitly rhetorical it is rhetorical.
What is music for? That is a question one rarely asks out loud and yet it is a question that every piece of music must answer. After first hearing the album <A Place Where Love Can Grow, I thought of it as creative, intelligent, consistent, and interesting…
The Connick song “Ash Wednesday” has more of a sense of adventure than one imagines a religious observance to have, but that may be the atmosphere of the city, and the nature of the album Chanson du Vieux Carré, on which Connick plays piano throughout, an album that has charm and solidity and more of a cinematic quality than most of the other jazz recordings I have listened to in the last year.
Koko Taylor is the Queen of Chicago blues; and as there are apparently no worthier aspirants to the throne, though she is not as famous as Bessie Smith was or as B.B. King is, Taylor is the de facto Queen of all the blues. Koko Taylor’s career spans a half-century.
The Avant Gershwin collection’s “Porgy and Bess Medley” is another tour de force. Between a mother’s humbling instructions and a lover’s deceptive attention, a “woman is a sometime thing.” (How Austin manages singing that and not sounding misogynist or self-incriminating is fascinating.)
Joe Sample is right: Randy Crawford has immense control of her voice. I hardly can imagine a singer able to produce a more pure vocal line. “All Night Long,” written by Curtis Lewis, and sung by Aretha Franklin in her early days, is about a man who haunts a woman’s dreams, though she does not know him well: on Feeling Good, it is bluesy, passionate.