Françoise Hardy is a pop and fashion icon celebrated as a French national treasure. With her signature breathy alto, she was one of the earliest and most definitive French participants in the yé-yé movement (a style of pop music that initially emerged from Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and Portugal before spreading to France in the early 1960s). She is one of only a few female vocalists who could or would write and perform her own material.
Not every singer who is relevant to vocal jazz is a rigid purist who completely rejects the influence of R&B, pop, and folk. There are some jazz-friendly singers who stray outside of jazz, which is what Swedish singer/songwriter Rigmor Gustafsson often does on Alone with You. Parts of this CD offer straight-ahead post-bop, while other parts are more pop-minded and/or R&B-ish and draw on influences ranging from Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro to Stevie Wonder.
Georges Delerue's score to the cult favorite Joe Versus the Volcano beautifully captures the film's complicated mélange of romance, comedy, and suspense. His melodies are light but dramatic, bursting with spontaneity and invention. The "Love Theme" that weaves its way in and out of the onscreen narrative ranks among Delerue's most passionate and memorable pieces, its epic sweep articulated by outsized orchestration. Even more impressive is the climactic "The Storm and the Rescue," a glorious eruption of trombone, strings, and timpani.
Based on Somerset Maugham's middling novel Theater, Annette Bening stars as the title character, an aging star of the London stage whose life and the melodramas she performs have come to mirror each other. Composer Mychael Danna sets those conflicts to a score that emphasizes theatrical surfaces and rigid role-playing, utilizing a finely honed classical pastiche approach with parallels to his previous period-evoking work on Vanity Fair. His cues here are rooted in the light romantic chamber music of the 19th century, though they frequently bristle with a more contemporary energy and aplomb. Offering counterpoint to Danna's dignified, oft-precious classical confections and mining the story's more sensual human dimensions are pop chestnuts from the era (The Andrews Sisters' saucy "Bei Mir Bist Du Schon" and Mills Brothers' jaunty "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries"), as well as fine contemporary takes of "They Didn't Believe Me" and Noel Coward's "Mad About the Boy" by Denzel Sinclair and Alison Jicar's elegant read of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." –Jerry McCulley.
With the help of two ex-members of Collage in the lineup (Piotr Mintay Witkowski and Krzysztof Palczewski), Mr. Gil recorded his first solo album. The songs reflect the Collage album Safe, but with more pop melodies and symphonic arrangements. Gil tried to repeat the Collage style of playing; sometimes he reaches his goal, but at other moments the result is weak. On the other hand, he hit the mark in songs like "Strange," with a soft harmony guitar; "I Don't Believe," with an Oriental-style keyboard solo; and "Alone," the highest point on the album, with melancholy lyrics and Gil's guitar style. With certain restrictions, Alone is recommended for Collage fans. The neo-prog rock admirer will undoubtedly like it.
Myke Jackson, the lead singer/songwriter/guitarist/wunderkind for Huntsville, Alabama, under-legends Felt, separates himself from their heavy, bluesy, melodic psych with this 1975 one-man-band solo album, four years after Felt’s lone self-titled effort. Alone is a breathtaking, moving album of lyrically wise and introspective - fully displayed by the included lyric sheet - Beatlesque SSW pop tugging at the soft edges of power pop. The album also offers considerably more guitar heroics than you find on such albums, all executed with taste and advanced skill by the then 21-year-old…