Lenny Williams’ new CD, Still in the Game, is a testament to his staying power. The 12-track album has a little something for everyone, from contemporary R&B to smooth jazz to down home blues. Actually, Still in the Game evolves from contemporary to old school, but still in a contemporary package, musically speaking. As with many independent albums released by legendary R&B artists, on Still in the Game the keyboard is used to replace horn arrangements, and all too often the drum program can take away from both the song and the artist. Those flaws aside, the album does grow on you as it progresses.
Honky Tonk Blues is an expanded director's cut of an American Masters television special about Hank Williams, and every minute of it illuminates Williams's importance as a seminal artist and American archetype. Produced with an understated fascination for the country legend's gifts and demons that shortened his career, played havoc with his marriages, and led to a haunting death at 29, Honky Tonk Blues builds a seamless profile from rare footage and rich interviews with (among others) Rick Bragg, Big Bill Lister (Williams's longtime opening act), Hank Williams Jr., and members of Williams's backup band, the Drifting Cowboys. Williams's story, including his mentorship in the blues by Rufus "Tee Tot" Payne, childhood loneliness, and emergence as a whole-cloth singer-songwriter "who taught people it's okay to bear your soul in everyday language," is thoroughly compelling and resonates with many American originals (e.g., Kurt Cobain) who followed him. An outstanding documentary.
It's About Time is a studio album by Hank Williams Jr. released by Nash Icon Records on January 15, 2016. The album includes re-recordings of previously released material and new songs. The album debuted at No. 2 on Top Country Albums, the highest he's reached on the chart since the release of Lone Wolf in 1990. The album also debuted at No. 15 on Billboard 200, selling 24,000 copies in its first week. It sold a further 9,000 copies in its second week. The album has sold 60,800 copies in the US as of March 2016.
Pianist and composer Paul Bley has been making records now for more than 50 years. His solo recordings encompass a great deal of his generous catalog. Bley has studied so many different aspects of jazz, and improvisational music both American and European, that these recordings always offer a revealing, no-holds-barred glimpse of where he's at as a musician at any given time. About Time, released on the Montreal label Justin Time, contains just two pieces: the 33-plus-minute title track and the Sonny Rollins tune "Pent-Up House," which lasts another ten. They reveal the entire range of Bley's considerable gifts as a pianist and improviser.
JUNO-nominated Canadian jazz quartet, Peripheral Vision launches their fourth album, More Songs About Error And Shame. "A rules-breaking quartet made up of some of the best modern players around" (CBC), Peripheral Vision extends their no-holds-barred performance aesthetic into the production concept on this album. Once again, they have teamed up with mad-scientist engineer, Jean Martin (Barnyard Records) to orchestrate a bigger sound for the record, adding layers of overdubs and studio treatments to the live-off-the-floor recordings. Peripheral Vision has always been a live show band, and the seven new Herring and Scott originals on More Songs About Error And Shame show what can be gained from years of touring, including three recent tours throughout Europe as well as many trips across Canada.