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Kaplan's Korner

October 31, 2018

Macy, Casey and Charlie Brown

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MACY GRAY, STRIPPED

I saw Macy Gray live in San Jose at the Usual nightclub in 2001, about two weeks after she won the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “I Try.”

Macy Gray showed up at that little club with a 10-piece band and rocked the freaking house like you cannot believe. One of the best shows, ever. Unforgettable.

So imagine my joy when I found Macy Gray’s Stripped on Chesky Records at one of the high end audio shows. I think it was at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in 2016.

Stripped consists of acoustic versions of her major songs. The instruments are Macy on vocals, Ari Hoenig on drums, Daryl Johns on bass, Russell Malone on guitar and Wallace Roney on trumpet.

I shelled out the required amount and have been enjoying that record ever since. It’s a great recording and has been in consistent rotation here at RCN World HQ for two years.my casey abrams problem

Casey Abrams, Put A Spell On You, is another wonderful-sounding Chesky Records release. Casey Abrams was the 6th place contestant on the 10th season of American Idol. For some reason this record pissed me off at first listen. I went into a full Clint Eastwood in Grand Torino “Get the hell off of my lawn,” bitter old man. It was the picture on the back cover. Three young men with full heads of hair and tons of energy talent and humor. I didn’t want to buy it.

My problem was, how does a young man sing with such authority? Casey sings like he’s lived beyond his years. He doesn’t fit into the “Kids these days don’t know nothing” box. Casey on bass vocals and 12-string guitar. Taylor Tesler on guitar and Jacob Scesney on sax and percussion. Casey’s version of “Nature Boy” is my fave. It’s a great song and he does justice to it — as does the band. And the song before it, “Let’s Make Out,” should be considered seriously as we head into this holiday season.

2019 Blues Calendar

John Tefteller’s World’s Rar-est Records is out with its new 2019 Blues Calendar with the FREE CD of classic blues songs, one for each month of the year. These are beautiful super rare and classic recordings with original artwork and rare photographs. This is the calendar every record collector should be hanging up for next year.

And lo, it’s christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas is my favorite Christmas album of all time. Get yours if you don’t have it. New for 2018 is an exclusive Best Buy bundle with Concord Music on Vince Guaraldi – A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Culture Factory USA reissued the CD in aS red CD mini-LP (with cardboard packaging). Concord Music reissued the LP in green vinyl.

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Bob James’ Espresso

Back with his first solo venture in 12 years is jazz piano legend Bob James. His new LP entitled Espresso on the evosound label, is both a throwback to his contemporary jazz roots and a nod to the soft funk jazz of the ’70s.

The album opens with a funky “Topside” then takes the listener on a journey from contemporary jazz to a Latin rhythm then a dreamy orchestral work and back to funk jazz. All the while switching and combining Electric piano, synthesizer and
acoustic piano.

One of the highlights is “Submarine” a kind of sequel to his 1974 classic, “Nautilus” which is one of the most sampled songs in history. Some of the artists that sampled from “Nautilus’ are Jay Z, Tupac, 9th Wonder, and A Tribe Called Quest to Slick Rick, Danny Brown, Wu Tang Clan, Mary J Blige and many others. Here James uses Hip Hop beats sampling over himself giving a fresh take to his classic.

There is the fresh reworking of the classic “Mr. Magic” which James had arranged and conducted for Grover Washington Jr. in 1975. Another standout is “Bulgogi“, a kind of bop, minor-key blues with hard driving drums
and bass.

James is joined by bassist Michael Palazzolo and the respected veteran drummer Billy Kilson , both where inspiration for this project after a stint with James at the Blue Note in New York.

The LP which is what was reviewed, is all original material (with digital adding two standards). It is very well recorded with full bodied sound and plenty of dynamics. Mastered by Kevin Grey and pressed on 180g HQ .






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