Pop superstar Natasha Bedingfield wasn't the only artist bringing a "Pocketful of Sunshine" to the musical landscape in 2008. Thanks to veteran contemporary jazz saxman Warren Hill's equal penchant for colorful vocals, his vibrant and romantic singalong "Sunshine" is an early highlight on his compelling, melodically and groovingly irresistible Koch Records debut, La Dolce Vita. Hill is so optimistic that even when the clouds come, they pour out a graceful soprano ballad full of balmy acoustic guitar harmony and "Warm Rain." Like a lot of artists in his genre who have been around since NAC became "smooth jazz," Hill's a survivor, heading to smaller labels when the majors jumped ship and always finding a comfortable home to funk around in…
In the '80s, Windham Hill Records had a reputation for being a new age label. Windham Hill was the home of major new age artists like Liz Story and George Winston; arguably, the company was to new age what Fania was to salsa, Blue Note was to jazz, and Def Jam was to rap; in other words, it wasn't the only player but was definitely a major player. However, not every instrumentalist who recorded for Windham Hill in the '80s provided new age. Post-bop/fusion keyboardist Billy Childs was never new age, and electric bassist Michael Manring was equally jazz-oriented. Unusual Weather, his first Windham Hill release, isn't straight-ahead bop – Manring isn't pretending to be Ray Brown or Paul Chambers. It is, however, a fusion/pop-jazz effort that often underscores Manring's appreciation of the late Jaco Pastorius.
This is by far the best album this Louisiana blues/swamp-rocker has come up with to date. Benoit is playing with basically a three-piece, with Doug Therrien on bass and Allyn Robinson on drums. The rest of the sound is filled in by various guests, some exceedingly strong Louisiana players. Therein lives both the problem and the strength of this disc — the sound is a bit thin when there's no guest taking up some space. Only on the slow burner "Heart of Stone" and "Gone Too Long" does the basic band fill up the airwaves. The music is good, but without that fourth player, it doesn't have enough density. When there is another player, the sound is as gritty and raw as they come — Cajun-based blues with a swampy sensuality. Benoit's singing and guitar playing have taken giant steps forward and are up there with the best.
Pure and simple genius from trumpeter Charlie Shavers – a player with a sweet tone and a fluid groove – stepping out here with great accompaniment from pianist Ray Bryant! The CD brings together work from the albums Charlie Digs Paree and Charlie Digs Dixie – both originally recorded for MGM Records in the late 50s, and done in a clean, uncluttered style that really brought a strong focus to Shaver's solos, but also gave some excellent rhythmic support from Bryant – working here at the height of his early powers, in a mode that's clearly relaxed enough to get with the spirit of each different session.
Silent Hill Sounds Box is a collection of the Silent Hill game soundtracks featuring 8 CDs, a DVD with trailers as well as an artbook. 7 of the audio discs included are soundtracks of main Silent Hill games starting with Silent Hill and ending with Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. The last CD includes unreleased music from Silent Hill 1-4, and The Arcade.