Thursday, January 19, 2006

What's Playin' Here

Jules Dassin's "Night And the City" - the night, the lights, the depths and of course, London. (The bonus material - Criterion's usual A-grade job. Particularly Dassin's frank views about about his friend Elia Kazan and Dassin's blacklisting from Hollywood in the McCarthy years.) Look how Harry Fabian runs.

William Wyler's "The Good Fairy". Preston Sturges wrote the screenplay. Who else has the chops to turn a dark story into a light comedy? Why can't Criterion do a Criterion for this film?

"By George (and Ira): Red Hot on Gershwin", a cool, cool compilation of covers interpretations of the Gershwin Brothers' most well-known songs. An excuse to hear Billie, Nina, Sarah, Ella - and Janis, really. It's fun to hear vocal and instrumental interpretations of the same song in succession ("The Man I love", by Billie first and then by Miles Davis, as an example.) Guitarist Kenny Burrell playing solo on "Prelude II" and Stan Getz playing "Summertime" - now that's how jazz is meant to be played.

"Drum Hat Buddha", by Tracy Grammer and Dave Carter: A fine folk album with an occasional tendency to break into songs about wizards and ravens, which I find just a little embarassing. Other than those minor (and pardonable) crimes, the duo wrote some terrific songs.


wildflower seed said...

NOONE sings "I Loves You Porgy" better than Nina Simone (this is the live version, I presume), and ditto for Blossom Dearie on "Someone to Watch over Me". Wondering if you have heard Miles' "Porgy & Bess". I am not a big fan of his acoustic stuff, but this one's gold.

Happy listening/watching.

km said...

VB, that's the one, man. Blossom Dearie's version on the album is really terrific. But one of the revelations from this collection is Billy Stewart's 1964 version of Summertime. I love the early 60s R&B, but I had not once heard of this man. I've been wanting to check out Miles' Porgy & Bess for a while now. I've heard the album only in bits and pieces.

wildflower seed said...

Never heard of Billy Stewart before either, and I have not heard this particular compilation. I fell in love with Blossom Dearie after hearing her sing "Give Him the Ooh-La-La" on the Cole Porter Songbook. Such a cheeky tune, and she is absolutely perfect for it. There is also a 2-disc Verve compilation of Gershwin compositions ("'s Wonderful"/"'s Marvellous") in which she sings a really sweet "Love is here to stay".

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