Arif Mardin's second solo effort assembles a veritable who's who of funk and jazz greats, but Journey is no ego-stroking vanity project. A richly cinematic fusion suite appointed with all the texture and detail one would expect from a producer of Mardin's stature, it effortlessly melds the street-smart groove of blaxploitation-era soul with the cerebral expansiveness of jazz. Despite a roster of heavy-hitters including vibist Gary Burton, saxophonists Joe Farrell and Seldon Powell, flutist Hubert Laws, pianist Richard Tee, and drummers Steve Gadd and Bernard Purdie, Journey never buckles under the collective weight of its talent – Mardin's production yields an end result greater than the sum of the music's individual parts, forging a tight, cohesive sound more suggestive of a veteran studio crew than a collection of all-star soloists.
Average White Band are widely and rightly regarded as one of the best ever soul and funk bands. Although probably best known for their global hit, the US #1 single ‘Pick Up The Pieces’, this extensive anthology delves back into their musical history, from the early sessions in 1971, right up to the most recent studio album released this millennium. ‘All The Pieces…’ features the band’s entire catalogue of recorded material on a 19CD box set, which includes all of the original studio albums (and ‘spoilers’ ‘Put It Where You Want It’ and ‘Volume VIII’) in mini-vinyl replica wallets, alternate versions and selected mixes, in this 172-track collection…
Chaka Khan - Original Album Series (2010 EU issue 5-CD album set comprising of the best selling and critically acclaimed album releases 'Chaka', 'Chaka Khan', 'I Feel For You', 'Naughty' and 'What Cha' Gonna Do For Me?'; each album is housed in a Mini LP-style card picture sleeve with the complete set presented in a sealed card slipcase).
Although the music of Norah Jones continues to blend pop, soul, folk, and country with a seasoning of jazz, her third album for Blue Note is the first where she's written (or collaborated on) all the material. Beneath the smooth surface lie darker strains on the album-opening "Wish I Could" (about a boyfriend lost to war), intimations of mortality in "The Sun Doesn't Like You," and the post-election horrors of "My Dear Country." The last seems to channel the inspiration of Brecht/Weill, while the equally bleak "Sinkin' Soon" is set to a jaunty Dixieland rag. Throughout, Jones's vocal intimacy and melodic warmth remain as disarmingly understated as ever. The soulful "Thinking of You," the countryish "Wake Me Up," and the syncopated "Be My Somebody" reflect the captivating style of her previous work. Although too much in the same midtempo mode becomes a dreamy lull, cut by cut, Jones's voice is irresistible.