Ramin Down South (Music Thoughts: The Road To Find Out – South, Ramin Karimloo)

51QiuzCI-DL._SS500Ramin Karimloo is best known for his leading man roles on Broadway, but he really stands out singing in the Country/Bluegrass vein.  In ‘The Road To Find Out: South,” he shows that prowess. This album is part of a four EP set. (West, North, East..) where he sings both a mixture of showtunes and his own compositions in his own style. In this compilation, South, I focus on the show songs: ‘Old Man River’ is sung almost in a plain non-tenor style, and you almost feel like this is a new song, with non of theatricality of the song.  And in ‘Eidelweiss,’ we go from the mountains of Austria to Smoky Mountains of the South – and it’s magnificent.  I wish I could say more about the self-penned songs. They sound nice, but, honestly, did not really speak to me.

Window Waves (Music Thoughts: Waving Through A Window Remixes)

dear-evan-hansen-waving-through-a-window-remixesI cannot remember a song from a Broadway show released a single from its cast album. And even more interestingly,  a mini album of three songs remixed by various DJs was released. From ‘Dear Evan Hansen,’ its most popular song ‘Waving Through A Window’ got a Tony Moran Remix, which is my favorite from three.  It’s your typical club mix – house but not too heavy, and most appealing to me, you can sing along to the lyrics. Actually even on the two other remixes, by DJLW and Ludato and Joseph Duveen, the lyrics are always present and none of these three tracks are inaccessible. So the question is: who will want these in their lives. Loyal fans of the show would (and there are a lot of  them) For others, your mileage may vary.

Somehow Somewhere (Music Thoughts: Somehow Here Again, Heather Lowder)

coverWhenever I see a theater album sung by a female, I always hold up hope. In older times that’s where I discovered shows. I would hear a song, love it, and then go to the show from where it’s from.

But even though Lowder is a great – even – fantastic singer, this album kind of fails for me. Maybe I am much too old now, but I really couldn’t enjoy this album. First, song selection. It seems too simple, simple choices, like it did not think about the songs they chose for the album. ‘The Winner Takes It All,’ I know is from ‘Mamma Mia,’ but it is from a jukebox musical and it really is a pop song. Lumping it with other theater song gives the song a big disservice. Even the other songs are so uninspired.  She loves singer’s signatures songs: Secret Love, Till there was you. It’s as if she picked every sing cliche and tried run. This just opens comparison with the original singers, and to make matters worse, she should at least change the arrangements. I mean, I don’t think anyone should sing ‘Over The Rainbow,’ full stop.

I need some food, maybe I am just hungry.

Here Comes Hiraga (Vintage, Marcia Hiraga)

FolderMarica Hiraga is a Japanese jazz singer whose name I have encountered numerous times over the years. But somehow someway I never really appreciated any of her previous albums before. They all seemed generic, though admittedly I never really gave it a real chance. So what I did was sat down and listened and paid attention to the music.

Voila! This is a delicious little (or maybe big?) album that engaged me. Even i Japanese and with an accent, this album engaged me and I felt Hiraga had total command of the lyrics as she navigated the creative arrangements. I especially loved the take on Cole Porter’s ‘So In Love’ as I felt like she was running to the one she is on love with, which I think matches the feeling of your heart beating as you think of the one you are in love with. And that’s just the highlight. Splendid performance also highlight other tracks like ‘As Time Goes By,’ and the fun ‘Golden Earrings.’

Lady Joyce (Music Thoughts: Lady Be Good, Joyce Yuille)

joyceyI was reading Joyce Yuille’s bio on her webpage and in there it says that her all-time favorite singer is Phyllis Hyman.  That made me want to pull out and listen to her new album ‘Lady Be God’ right away.’ I was curious if her ‘sound’ is similar to Hyman’s.

If only. My initial reaction? Meh, she sounds like any other young person singing jazz standards. And I don’t even know her age, and maybe what stuck with me is that she started as a model and ended up singing. I played the album and I started to really ‘hear’ it. She sings with a lot of subtlety. There’s a wonderful ‘Beautiful Love’ that’s sounds like a slow-burn Summer Afternoon. But, something’s still off, it’s still short of feeling. I blame this on…youth. I am confident, though, as she has a lot of potential. She’ll get there/

Tones of Blossoms (Music Thoughts: The Good Life, Tone Franck with Nikolaz Bentzon Trio)

dowrieBlossom Dearie is one of my favorite jazz singer of all time. A friend of mine describes her as a “jazzy librarian” as a joke and I think it is kind of apt. Her light voice, her light touch is unique and of course, you hear her sing one not and you will instantly recognize her unique style. So I am glad there have been a couple tribute albums honoring her, and I just listened to one that’s not bad.

‘The Good Life’ by Tone Franck with Nikolaj Bentzon celebrates Blossom Dearie. I have never heard of either one of them. I googled Tone Franck and there is really nothing on the internet about her. I don’t even know where she is from. Even Bentzon’s is spotty. I see he went to school in Boston but every other thing is all over the place/

Franck’s voice serves Blossom’s songs well – she doesn’t really mimic Dearie’s voice (Hello Lisa Ekdahl) but she puts her spin on them. I wish her spin was more distinct, to be honest. Arrangements by Bentzon is nice and innovative.  I have to admit that his arrangements stand out more than the vocals, and very rare that this happens to me, because most times, I am all about the voice.

Intimacy (Music Thoughts: The Intimate Side, Diane Armesto)

dssideI thought Diane Armesto album ‘The Intimate Side’ was the same title as one of June Christy’s records. Close, but Christy’s title is ‘The Intimate Miss Christy.’ And besides, the singer think Ms. Armesto is influenced by is Shirley Horn. Armesto as a singer plays around with slow jazz tempos and sings softly, at times whispering, and like Horn, plays around with silence, and pauses. I don’t dislike it, and my one reservation is that her interpretations don’t make me totally hear Horn. The album has ten tracks, but really just five songs, two versions of each: a long one, and a radio edit. Of course, I like the longer versions, as they gie the songs room to breath. Of course the radio edits make the tracks more accessible, although are there jazz stations that play songs by obscure jazz singers?