To buy any of these titles e-mail or call him at 202-364-1919

Beautiful Standards by Dylan

CD CoverReading that Dylan would do a whole album of American Standards, many associated with Frank Sinatra, I wasn’t sure how Shadows in the Night (Columbia, $12.98) would sound. But now that I’ve heard it, I’m completely won over. Dylan’s voice is soft and tender (yet with a little grit of a 73-year old), and the big-band arrangements are reduced to his 5-piece band with 2 subtle, swing guitars, a very evocative pedal steel guitar, plucked and bowed bass, and brushed drums (there are three songs with subtle, low–end trombones and French horns). The arrangements transform these songs to something new. Dylan chose all ballads, mostly songs of love, loss, longing and regret. “I’m a Fool to Want You,” “Full Moon and Empty Arms,” “What’ll I Do,” “That Lucky Old Sun,” even “Autumn Leaves” are given loving, yearning treatments—even a few notes that he reaches for add to the feeling. Highly recommended.

Mr. Dylan gave a very in-depth interview filled with musical insights to AARP magazine, and it’s worth a read.


Raffle for CDs: Bessie Jones & Red Garland Trio

CD Cover CD Cover

Bessie Jones with the Georgia Sea Island Singers, Get in Union (Tompkins Square Records, 2 CDs, $24.98) – Folklorist Alan Lomax (2015 is his centennial) first went to record the Spiritual Singers Society in the Georgia Sea Island of St. Simon in 1935 with Zora Neale Hurston and Mary Elizabeth Barnicle. When he returned in 1959, the Singers had a powerful new member—singer Bessie Jones, whose knowledge of spirituals, work, and play songs was encyclopedic. The group (now renamed the Georgia Sea Island Singers) made new recordings in 1959 and 1966, and toured at festivals and made appearances at the Newport Folk Festival (1963) and the Poor People’s March on Wahsington (1968). Bessie Jones won a National Heritage Fellowship for her work preserving and passing on the tradition. She died at age 82 in 1984. Hear some of her powerful songs in this 2-CD collection, with a great booklet included.

Red Garland Trio, Swingin’ on the Korner (Elemental, 2 CDs, $24.98) – Pianist Red Garland joined Miles Davis first famous quintet in 1955, which recorded a series of albums on the Prestige label. Garland was with Miles until 1958, had a solo career, but also spent time in Dallas, away from the major jazz centers. Swingin’ on the Korner is two full sets of Red, recorded live at the Keystone Korner in San Francisco on December 6 -10, 1977. This live date With Leroy Vinnegar on bass and “Philly” Joe Jones on drums (who was also in that classic quintet with Miles). A great booklet includes reminiscences by writer Nat Hentoff and Ira Gitler, Keystone Korner owner Todd Barkan, Prestige producer Don Schlitten, pianist Benny Green and drummer Kenny Washington, and a 1979 Texas Monthly profile written by Doug Ramsey.

If you’d like to win either CD, please email , with either BESSIE or RED in the subject field.


New & Recent

CD Cover CD Cover CD CoverCD CoverCD Cover

Justin Townes Earle, Absent Fathers (Vagrant Records, $11.98) – I put Justin Townes Earle’s Single Mothers on my Best of 2014 list. Absent Fathers was recorded at the same sessions, and arrives just a few months later. More great songs, often of the heartbreak variety, and played with a great, stripped-down trio, with beautiful, melancholy pedal-steel playing by Paul Niehaus. Pick up both!

Lone Bellow, Then Came the Morning (Descendant, $12.98) – The group’s second album, even better than their debut.
Diana Krall, Wallflower (Verve, $13.98) – Covers of ’70s and ’80s songs with orchestra

Concerts: Alexander Melnikov & Cyrille Aimée

Pianist Alexander Melnikov has made fine recordings of Shostakovich, Beethoven, and Brahms (solo, and in duets and trios). His latest is Hindemith: Sonatas for… (Harmonia Mundi, $18.98), which has a few of the many sonatas Paul Hindemith wrote for a variety of instruments between 1935 and 1948. Mr. Melnikov duets with violin, cello, trumpet, trombone, and althorn. A superb recording of little known Hindemith.

NOTE: Mr. Melnikov will play Schubert, Brahms, and Shostakovich in a solo recital at the Phillips Collection, on Sunday, February 8 (originally scheduled as a duet with Isabelle Faust, who had to cancel).

Jazz singer Cyrille Aimée released one of my favorite CDs of last year, It’s a Good Day (Mack Avenue Records, $13.98). Ms Aimée has a light voice, and is especially good on up-tempo swing numbers, with hints of Django-era hot jazz.

NOTE: Cyrille Aimée will play the Strathmore Mansion this Sunday, February 8.