Lonnie Holley, OH ME OH MY (Jagjaguwar, $15.98) - Lonnie Holley is a renowned artist—a sculptor, bricoleur, and maker of environments—originally from Alabama. His works have been featured in two exhilarating exhibits at the National Gallery of Art in the last few years: Outliers and American Vanguard Art (2018), and the current Called to Create: Black Artists of the American South, now at the NGA through March 26.
He is also a unique musical performer: laying down stream-of-consciousness stories, personal history, and pensive philosophizing, backed by his meditative electric keyboards. Oh Me Oh My showcases his songs, with subtle production (by Jacknife Lee), and a few soft choral contributions by Moor Mother, Michael Stipe, and Sharon Van Etten.
NOTE: Lonnie Holley will play at the National Gallery of Art tomorrow afternoon, Friday, March 10.
While there, see his artwork as well!
Ali Farka Touré, VOYAGEUR (World Circuit, $15.98) – Ali Farka Touré (1939 – 2006) from Mali was the guitar pioneer of West Africa, synthesizing a range of regional influences, and who also made those connections to their American offshoots, primarily John Lee Hooker. Ali Farka Touré’s unmistakable style influenced a whole range of guitarists; he could also sing in the Bambara, Songhay, Fula, and Tamasheq languages, among others.
Voyageur presents unreleased material from various stages of his career, and features Malian songstress Oumou Sangaré on three tracks.
Van Morrison, MOVING ON SKIFFLE (Virgin, 2 CDs, $21.98) – Any English or Irish musician growing up in the 1950s heard skiffle: the hard driving acoustic “re-imagining” of American blues, rockabilly, R & B, and old-time country, complete with washboards and tub-basses. Even the Beatles started as a skiffle band.
Van Morrison fills Moving On Skiffle with 23 great American songs he heard as a youngster. He leads off with Elizabeth Cotton’s “Freight Train.” Other songs include “Worried Man Blues,” “Cotton Fields,” “Greenback Dollar,” This Loving Light of Mine,” “In The Evening When The Sun Goes Down,” as well as two Hank Williams classics.
Kenny Barron, THE SOURCE (Artwork, $17.98) – NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron’s first solo album in forty years. The pianist plays tunes by Thelonious Monk (“Well You Needn’t” and “Teo”), Billy Strayhorn (“Daydreams”), as well as Ellington and Strayhorn’s “Isfahan,” and tunes by Barron himself (“What If,” “Sunshowers,” and “Phantoms”).
Composer, arranger, producer, pianist, and one-of-a-kind songwriter Burt Bacharach died a couple of weeks ago at age 94. His classic songs (with lyrics by Hal David) were all chart toppers in the 1960s and 1970s. Dionne Warwick was the greatest interpreter of Bacharach’s complex tunes, and there were also memorable performances by Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon, Cilla Black, Jerry Butler, Gene Pitney, and Luther Vandross.
Two releases to try:
Dionne Warwick, HER CLASSIC SONGS VOLUME 1 (Curb, $17.98) – Ten stupendous Bacharach/David songs delivered by their greatest interpreter: “Walk On By,” “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “Message to Michael,” “(Theme from) Valley of the Dolls,” “Alfie,” “Trains and Boats and Planes,” “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” “Promises, Promises,” “A House is Not a Home,” and “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me.”
THE SONGS OF BACHARACH & COSTELLO (Ume, 2 CDs, $21.98) – In the late 1990s, Bacharach collaborated with Elvis Costello, first on the song, “God Give Me Strength” for the film, Grace of My Heart, then an album, Painted from Memory. The newly-released compilation brings together the full range of their work.
SCHUBERT: SCHWANENGESANG (Decca, $14.98) – Tenor Mark Padmore and pianist Mitsuko Uchida
Seong-Jin Cho, THE HANDEL PROJECT: Handel & Brahms (Deutsche Grammophon, $14.98) – Pianist Seong-Jin Chos chooses four of Handel’s harpsichord Suites (Nos. 2, 5, 7, 8) with Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24 by Brahms.