Michael released "Dragonfly Summer after a three year hiatus. What a wonderful return. The opener "Coming To Life" is an upbeat tune where Michael seems like he's singing about the start of this album itself. All of the songs are winners, I sometimes wonder what the outtakes are like, given the overall quality of the songs here. "Soul Mate" not only turned me on to Jeff Lorber, but also introduced me to Eric Benet, he's singing the harmony vocal. Not only is Michael talented, but the people he surrounds himself with, wow! The title track is fun, "Monk's New Tune" is about as late night jazz as Michael gets. "I Love Lucy" is that "I Love Lucy," the only cover Michael has recorded, save for a couple Christmas songs. The song is transformed from a Cuban lounge style to a romantic Brazilian influenced love song, the orchestration is glorious. "Practice Makes Perfect" is fun, "String Of Pearls" is a beautiful song, moving at a nice tempo featuring accoustic guitar and a woodwind solo.
It remains extraordinary that Michael Franks has not broken through from his small but devoted following to a wider audience, for he is without any doubt the most complete and perceptive songwriter currently active. His songs speak of love lost, found, abandoned, imagined, destroyed, recaptured, and all shades of nuance in between. Anyone who has experienced any emotional joy or upset (ie. anyone over the age of thirty) will find the memory of the experience captured in the deliciously subtle words and music of Michael Franks. "Heart Like an Open Book", has the male narrator singing, with a naive joy that is almost painful for the cynical listener to observe, of how he and his new lover reveal themselves, one to the other, with their hearts "like an open book". Cultural and literary references feature in many of the songs (eg. "I flashed my Rhett Butler look"), and are a joy to those with whom they strike a chord, but are not obstructive to the enjoyment of the music by those oblivious to such references. This album is perhaps not as good as the earlier, utterly marvellous "Abandoned Garden", but as that was one of the finest albums of all time, this is not in any way a criticism.
Jazz singer/songwriter Michael Franks is an artist most jazz fans feel strongly about one way or another. His unique, romantic poet-cum-laid-back hipster approach to jazz signing is breezy, light, and languid. It's also uniquely his own, though deeply influenced by Brazilian jazz, bossa, and samba. Time Together, his first recording of new material in five years – and his debut for Shanachie – is unlikely to change anyone's opinion of him, but that doesn't mean this is a rote recording. Time Together is an airy, groove-ridden summer travelog that ranges from St. Tropez and New York to Paris, France, and Egypt; it journeys through the nostalgic past and finds space in the present moment, with cleverly notated, languorous, ironic observations about life. Franks split the production and arranging duties between Charles Blenzig, Gil Goldstein, Chuck Loeb, Scott Petito, and Mark Egan. The rest of the international cast on this polished 11-song set includes old friends and new faces David Spinozza, Mike Mainieri, David Mann, Eric Marienthal, Till Brönner, Alex Spiagin, Jerry Marotta, Billy Kilson, Romero Lubambo, and backing vocalist Veronica Nunn.
No chance Franks is going to change the formula now after all these years, but what a great formula it is. Michael Franks delivers another superb collection of idiosyncratic pop songs as only he can - this time out with a bit of a Brazilian flavored twist. Features Chuck Loeb (guitar, keyboards, programming), David Sancious (piano, keyboards), Jeff Lorber (keyboards, programming), Michael White (drums) and Eric Marienthal.
Michael Franks with Crossfire Live is a live jazz vocal album by Michael Franks featuring the Australian band Crossfire. It was recorded over a series of three concerts in Australia and New Zealand in September 1980; at the Capitol Theater in Sydney on the 25th, St James Tavern in Sydney on the 27th and The Town Hall in Auckland on the 29th.
One Bad Habit is a jazz vocal album by Michael Franks, released in 1980 by Warner Bros. Records. It was Franks' sixth studio album, and the first to receive significant radio play in the United States.
The Best of Michael Franks: A Backward Glance is a good 15-track collection that is equally divided between soft rock like "Popsicle Toes" and smooth jazz. Any curious listener looking for a one-stop introduction to Franks would be well served with this collection. Among the highlights are "The Lady Wants to Know," "Antonio's Song," "When the Cookie Jar Is Empty," "Tiger in the Rain," "Baseball," "Your Secret's Safe with Me," "When I Give My Love to You," "The Art of Love," "Soul Mate," and "Hourglass".
Michael Franks' first album of the '90s and his first in three years was a complete return to form and his best album since 1979's Tiger in the Rain. Meditative, lush and clearly the work of an artist intent on making personal music regardless of trends or airplay, Blue Pacific is as open and beautiful as the ocean for which it is named. The return of the production team of Tommy LiPuma and Al Schmitt doesn't hurt either, and with such veteran pros as Dean Parks, John Guerin, John Patitucci and Peter Erskine on board, how could Franks miss? With additional production and engineering support by Walter Becker and Roger Nichols, the Steely Dan connection, previously hinted at, was finally made, with great results. It's pointless to single out individual songs, since this is very much a complete, unified work. The album marked a total rebirth for Franks.
For the first time, Michael Franks made an album completely without the production team of Tommy LiPuma, Al Schmitt and Lee Hershberg, employing instead John Simon (the Band, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen). The recording boasts a large number of celebrated horn and string players, as well as jazz luminaries Ron Carter, Bucky Pizzarelli, Kenny Barron, Mike Mainieri and Flora Purim.
After the success of The Art of Tea, Michael Franks was able to more confidently move closer to the kind of music he wanted to make. Employing a more exotic Brazilian feel on Sleeping Gypsy, with lush orchestration (courtesy of veteran jazz arranger and conductor Claus Ogerman), Franks moved his acoustic guitar work to the background to create a romantic sound with no sappiness. With "Down in Brazil" and, particularly, "Antonio's Song," his ode to Antonio Carlos Jobim, Franks was doing with Brazilian music for the rock crowd in the '70s what Stan Getz did for the jazz crowd in the '60s. He again employed his witty wordplay and evocative storytelling ability on "B'wana-He No Home," a song about a time when Dan Hicks was staying at his house while Franks was away. A romantic, elegant and important album in bringing Brazilian music to a wider audience.