Some highlights from the latest Afterglow survey of new and recent releases:
Singer Roseanna Vitro Adds Randy Newman To Her Great American Songbook Shelf
These days artists are turning more and more to music written in the past few decades, while still performing songs written by Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, the Gershwin brothers, and other masters from the golden age of the Great American Songbook. One post-1960 songwriter whose work has gained a great deal of respect is Randy Newman, who may be known best to many for his 1970s hit "Short People," but who's written a wealth of other songs such as "I Think It's Going to Rain Today," "Baltimore," "Sail Away," and "I Love L.A.," building a reputation for narrative, characters, and often caustic satire in his lyrics. Newman's also written music for a number of Hollywood films, including Toy Story and Robert Redford's baseball epic The Natural. Singer Roseanna Vitro has just put out an entire CD of Newman tunes, featuring arrangements by herself, pianist Mark Soskin, and violinist Sara Caswell.
Peyroux Sings Dylan and Robert Johnson
Singer Madeleine Peyroux has a new CD out that continues her focus on writing more of her own music, but which also includes some interpretations of other songwriters as well--two iconic figures in American music in this case, Bob Dylan and legendary bluesman Robert Johnson. Peyroux is another modern singer who defies easy categorization; her style and musical choices seem to converge in a blend of jazz, folk, blues and pop. She has a lyrically and seductively meditative intonation, one that's often been compared to Billie Holiday's, as well as Holiday's tendency to lay back behind the beat, and she spent some of her youth in Paris, singing in the streets, which put a special burnish on her modern-troubador credibility. On her new CD Standing On The Rooftop she does a haunting version of Robert Johnson's classic "Love in Vain," very different from the well-known cover by the Rolling Stones, and she also takes on Bob Dylan's "I Threw It All Away."
Pat Metheny Revisits The Pop Music Of His Youth
Pat Metheny's new CD What's It All About features pop hits from the 1960s and 70s that the guitarist enjoyed listening to while he was growing up. Metheny performs all of the songs solo on a baritone guitar, which has longer scale lengths that let the musician tune it to a lower range. (It's an instrument frequently heard on spaghetti-western soundtracks of the 1960s.) Metheny had already recorded an album of his own compositions on baritone guitar back in 2003, One Quiet Night, which won the guitarist a Grammy. Like the recordings he did for that album, this new CD was worked out late at night in his New York City home. We'll hear his take on a 1960s radio pop staple.
Other artists featured on the program include trumpeter Terrell Stafford and his recent tribute to composer and arranger Billy Strayhorn, singer Sachal Vasandani's cover of a song written by the late Amy Winehouse, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, and singer Judy Wexler.