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Tuesday, 03 February 2009 ,  Written by Matt Fink
Al Green - Lay It Down
Though it seems to be generally true that most musicians peak creatively in their mid-to-late 20s, settle into their craft in their 30s, become stagnant in their 40s, and fade into irrelevancy shortly thereafter, soul singers are the only exception to the rule. The ultimate stylists, soul singers from Solomon Burke to Candie Payne to Sharon Jones have proven that such artists only gain gravitas and a greater depth of emotion, as if age informs their ability to wring out the desperation and ache essential to their music. But while he has aged exceptionally well, with two solid if unspectacular albums released in the past five years, Al Green has yet to create the album that fully utilizes his range as a performer and vocalist. That is, until Lay It Down.Produced by the Roots’ ?uestlove and James Poyser, Green’s third ...
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Friday, 01 February 2008 ,  Written by Scott Yanow
Jacky Terrasson - Mirror
It seems as if the French have always loved jazz, at least ever since Josephine Baker caused a sensation in the mid-1920s with her act at the Folies Bergere. Considered a haven from racism in the 1930s, France welcomed many American jazz musicians, treating them as artists, including Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins and Benny Carter, all of whom spent periods in Europe. The remarkable Belgian guitarist Django Reinhardt often played in France with French violinist Stephane Grappelli, and even under the very dangerous conditions of the Nazi occupation, some French jazz musicians were able to keep on recording and performing. After World War II, France acted as a home for pianist Bud Powell, tenor-saxophonist Don Byas and many other expatriate American musicians. At the same time, France started producing major jazz artists itself. Chief among those were the still-active Martial Solal, ...
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Tuesday, 01 January 2008 ,  Written by Scott Yanow
Terence Blanchard - A Tale of God's Will (a Requiem for Katrina)
New Orleans has been one of the United States’ most important music cities (some would say the most significant) of the past 120 years. The center of jazz before the music even had its name, the city featured such pioneers as Buddy Bolden, Freddie Keppard, Joe “King” Oliver and Louis Armstrong among its pre-1920 cornetists, and Jelly Roll Morton, one of jazz’s first major composer-arranger-pianists, was based in New Orleans during the era of its legal red light district, Storyville. Classic New Orleans jazz survived even with many of its greats moving north during 1915-30, and after some lean times during the Depression, the music made a major comeback, becoming an important tourist attraction in the 1950s and ‘60s. The city in the 1950s had an important recording industry, resulting in New Orleans R&B becoming a strong influence on the ...
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