Jonathan Hill Dot EU

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Zaz Zaz Review

General Information:

Artist: Zaz
Album: Zaz
Genre(s): Folk, Jazz
Subgenres(s): Chanson, Gypsy Jazz
Released: 2010
Length: 39 minutes
Language(s): French
Label(s): Play On, Sony

Track List:

01. Les Passants
02. Je Veux
03. Le Long de la Route
04. La Fée
05. Trop Sensible
06. Prends Garde à ta Langue
07. Ni Oui Ni Non
08. Port Coton
09. J’aime à Nouveau
10. Dans Ma Rue
11. Éblouie Par la Nuit

Zaz Zaz Cover

Zaz Zaz Cover

Zaz Zaz Review

Zaz is the debut album and stage name of French singer Isabelle Geffroy. The first thing that the listener will pick up on over the course of this album is the many different directions that are taken. Starting with a series of four acoustic-driven songs, including the jaunty single Je Veux, the sound is then stripped back to a quiet acoustic guitar and even subtler harmonium to fill in the silence on Trop Sensible, the only song written solely by Zaz.

This song does have the advantage of letting her voice stand out although it is somewhat awkwardly followed by Prends Garde à Ta Langue and then Ni Oui Ni Non. The latter retains the jaunty attitude of Je Veux and the former is much the same after being moulded into a jazzy temperament that is accompanied by a brass section consisting of a trumpet, trombone and saxophone.

Aside from writing Trop Sensible herself, Zaz shares credit for five other song (Les Passants, Le Long de a Loute, Prends Garde à Ta Langue, Ni Out Ni Non and J’aime à Nouveau) while the other six were written by other composers. None of the songs on Zaz are inherently weak but it is apparent that some of the other composers have a different flair to that of Zaz.

For example, fellow French musician Raphaël Haroche is the sole composer of the piano-focused La Fée as well as the earnest Port Coton and Éblouie Par la Nuit. The latter two are more downbeat and are in the second half of the album, where this mood is more dominant, whereas the first half is livelier so when looking at the album as a whole it can come across as a bit of a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario. The theme is broken up by the cheerful J’aime à Nouveau but Zaz ultimately finishes in a very different place to where it starts.

In spite of having some uneven moment in terms of the overall mood of the album, it is highly enjoyable and the optimistic parts of it will certainly keep your attention irrespective of being able to understand the lyrics or not, some of which are positive when translated (Je Veux) whereas others tell more sombre tales (Dans Ma Rue).

Performers:

Zaz (Isabelle Geffroy): Lead Vocals (1-11)
Bruce Cherbit: Drums (1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 9), Tambourine (2)
Toby Dammit: Drums (4, 8)
Manuel Marches: Double Bass (1, 3, 9)
Antoine Reininger: Double Bass (2, 6, 7)
Mathieu Verlot: Double Bass (4, 8, 11)
Germain Guyot: Piano (1, 3, 10)
Fred Lafarge: Acoustic Guitar (1, 2, 3, 7, 9), Piano (4, 8, 11), Harmonium (5, 8)
Alban Sautour: Electric Guitar (1, 3), Programming (1)
Raphaël Haroche: Acoustic Guitar (8)

External Links:

Zaz Homepage
Zaz on Wikipedia
Zaz on Wikipedia

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Miles Davis Kind of Blue Review

Miles Davis Kind of Blue Review

Artist: Miles Davis
Album: Kind of Blue
Genre(s): Jazz
Subgenres(s): Modal Jazz
Released: 1959
Length: 46 minutes (55 minutes with bonus material)
Language(s): N/A
Label(s): Columbia Records

Track List:

01. So What
02. Freddy Freeloader
03. Blue in Green
04. All Blue
05. Flamenco Sketches
06. Flamenco Sketches (Alternative Take)

Miles Davis Kind of Blue Cover

Kind of Blue is a seminal jazz album by Miles Davis. The original release consisted of 5 songs that where improvised in the recording studio but with restrictions on what scales each musician could use to shape how they played. This influential yet unorthodox technique laid the foundations for the modal jazz subgenre and became synonymous with it.

Miles Davis collaborated with other high profile musicians from the era, some of whom he had worked with before or where longstanding bandmates. This included Julian “Cannonball” Adderley (alto saxophone), Paul Chambers (double bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums), John Coltrane (tenor saxophone) and Bill Evens on piano for all tracks except Freddie Freeloader, on which the role was taken up by Wynton Kelly.

In contrast to the frantic bebop sound that Miles Davis is also known for, Kind of Blue is a laidback recording despite the nature of modal jazz. The structure of the songs becomes a hindrance as the entire album sounds like one long piece due to the structure making everything flow as subtly as it does. Most of the instruments only play small pieces before another one jumps in to do something else. Eventually it feels like trying to answer the question “at what point does the mouth of a river end and the ocean begin?”

There are some noticeable recording problems on Kind of Blue. The trumpet bursts with hissing feedback during the build-up on So What and instruments only come through one speaker (saxophone and piano on the left and drums and bass on the right). This feedback issue only seems to be at the start of So What whereas stereo sound is abused throughout Kind of Blue.

The spontaneous approach Miles Davis selected (apparently only hours before going into the studio) along with the emphasis on music theory pushes Kind of Blue into a corner in terms of who the album will appeal to. It is most likely going to be jazz enthusiasts or those with a working knowledge of music theory. The latter of which is required to “get” the music as the theory behind it (which was first written about by pianist George Russell in 1953) is in fact the focal point and the reason for it being regarded as a cornerstone of jazz music. For the rest of us it is the equivalent of throwing buckets of paint at a wall and expecting to pick out well defined shapes and patterns.

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The Atomic Fireballs Torch This Place Review

The Atomic Fireballs Torch This Place Review

Artist: The Atomic Fireballs
Album: Torch This Place
Genre(s): Jazz
Subgenres(s): Swing Jazz
Released: 1999
Length: 39 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Atlantic Records, Lava Records

Track List:

01. Man With the Hex
02. Mata Hari
03. Swing Sweet Pussycat
04. Caviar & Chitlins
05. Lover Lies
06. Spanish Fly
07. Pango Pango
08. Hit by a Brick
09. Calypso King
10. Drink Drank Drunk
11. Flowers in the Sand
12. Starve a Fever

Atomic Fireballs Torch This Place Cover

Torch This Place is the first major label album and last ever release by The Atomic Fireballs. Finding initial success on the Vans Warped Tour in 1998, the band released Torch This Place the following year but unfortunately they never followed it up and subsequently faded into obscurity before they could make a name for themselves, much like the short lived swing revival scene.

While best described as a swing revival act, The Atomic Fireballs effortlessly match the powerhouse performance style of bands associated with the punk scene, which is something that cannot be said for most swing revival acts. This, along with John Buckley’s distinct throaty singing voice, makes The Atomic Fireballs stand apart from their contemporaries.

Their sound is not centred on a single instrument and instead opts for letting them interplay with each other to create a layered and rich listening experience that is easiest to recognise on Mata Hari and Flowers in the Sand. The brass section consists of a trumpet, trombone and a tenor saxophone that steals the show more often than not. Drummer Geoff Kinde provides a good number of short and sharp fills between his powerful and rhythmic percussive thumps.

The double bass and piano make louder contributions the quieter numbers Lover Lies, Hit By a Brick and Starve a Fever but can still be heard well enough on most of the other songs. The guitar on the other hand is by far the quietest instrument on the album and it is hard to hear it outside of Mata Hari and Spanish Fly.

The Atomic Fireballs are often over looked due to their short career but their ability to write swing jazz songs with punk-like energy makes Torch This Place a unique and electrifying album that is definitely worth your attention.