The Animals' Christmas is the sixth solo studio album and the first Christmas album by vocalist Art Garfunkel, released in December 1985 by Columbia Records. The album was written by Jimmy Webb and features vocals by Garfunkel, Amy Grant, and Wimbledon King's College Choir. The Animals' Christmas tells the story of the Nativity of Jesus from the perspective of the animals present. The album received positive reviews, with one writer calling it "one of the best Christmas albums of the '80s."
Emma Kirkby, doyenne of the Early Music scene, here shows that she's just as comfortable in music of a more recent vintage. Amy Beach was a woman ahead of her time, performing as solo pianist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra by the age of 18. The same year (1885), she married Henry Beach and, no longer able to perform publicly (it would have gone against her social status), she instead settled down to composing. And delightful stuff it is, too, as Kirkby and friends demonstrate in this charming recital. A number of the songs add violin, cello, or both to the piano and voice combination. "Ecstasy," for instance, has a most effective violin part that is an ideal foil to the purity of Kirkby's voice. Other highlights include the Schumannesque Browning Songs and the amiable Shakespeare Songs (the last of which, "Fairy Lullaby," is irresistible). The final item here, "Elle et moi," is an upbeat little number that suits Kirkby's lithe soprano to perfection. Occasionally, in some of the more lushly textured songs, such as "A Mirage" and "Stella Viatoris," perhaps a fuller voice would have been preferable, but then sample "Chanson d'amour" (written when Beach was only 21 and with a wonderful cello part in addition to the piano) and try to imagine it being better sung. The purely instrumental items are played with unfailing sensitivity and elegance. The Romance is straight out of the salon, while the much later Piano Trio (though actually based on early material) packs plenty of emotion and variety into its 14 minutes. The recording is exemplary, as are the concise notes and texts and translations.
The sky is the limit when tenor saxophone virtuoso Doug Webb turns his attention toward the "Bright Side" on his seventh release for Posi-Tone. Everything swings steadily as Webb plays with remarkable technical precision and a manifest knowledge of his materials. His tone is robust and extraordinarily well-centered, his articulation sharp, and his command of the tenor saxophone complete. Nevertheless, he is more than a mere technician, for his artistry is also considerable and this album is a crowning achievement for an artist who is as substantial a musician as jazz has ever produced. Along with the able assistance of an all-star group of label mates – who are of course all leaders in their own right – including organist Brian Charette, guitarist Ed Cherry, drummer Steve Fidyk, and special guest trumpet sensation Joe Magnarelli, Webb has fashioned a shining diadem of melodic jewels across a wide spectrum of styles and sounds! Critical listeners and casual fanatics everywhere will shine with intense delight as Webb soars onward and upward to new heights with "Bright Side".
Just Across the River is the twelfth album by American singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb, released in June 2010 by Koch Records. The album features thirteen classic Jimmy Webb tunes performed by Webb with guest appearances by friends, collaborators, admirers, and fellow recording artists Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Glen Campbell, Michael McDonald, Mark Knopfler, J.D. Souther, Vince Gill, and Lucinda Williams.
Chicken Shack were, like Fleetwood Mac, Savoy Brown, Climax Blues Band and others, one of the early British blues bands. Formed in 1965, they had a long residency at Hamburg's famed Star Club…