A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.
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November 13, 2013 at 1:59 PM
Is there room on your shelf (or your iPod) for another album of Yuletide songs?
It’s worth making room, if you are a fan of the ultra-cool ensemble vocal jazz purveyed by the seven-member Seattle aggregation Groove for Thought. The group releases its new holiday CD “Songs of Good Cheer” this week, and they’ll celebrate on Dec. 5 with a 7:30 p.m. concert at Kirkland Performance Center.
Groove for Thought, you may recall, made it into the finals of TV’s acapella “Sing Off” competition. They like to put their own spin on familiar tunes in distinctive vocal arrangements, so their version of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” on “Songs of Good Cheer” has a reggae feel, “Christmas Time is Here” really swings and “Carol of the Bells” recalls The Swingle Singers’ jazz baroque settings. They have instrumental backing here, but the texture of blended voices is still the main event.
The album is available on amazon.com, iTunes and at www.grooveforthought.com.
September 23, 2013 at 5:18 PM
Western Washington singers have had a generous share of airtime on television’s top vocal competitions in the past few years. With the new season of ”The Voice,” which starts Monday on NBC, the trend continues. Maybe.
In contention in the first round (and maybe beyond) is singer-songwriter Austin Jenckes, a young troubadour from rural Duvall. Part of the Seattle indie scene, Jenckes has put out several albums (including the recent “An American Story,” recorded in Nashville).
Will Jenckes’ unvarnished, heartfelt, country-folk twang wow the jaded judges? Here’s a sampling of his self-penned tunes: http://austinjenckes.bandcamp.com/
Meanwhile, after a rugged year of sinking ratings and judges’ warfare, “American Idol” is on the road auditioning singers for a 2014 season with, hopefully, better judge chemistry.
The unobjectionable country idol Keith Urban will return to the table, as will pop glamour puss Jennifer Lopez. The third, new arbiter is the wild card: Harry Connick Jr., a superior vocalist and piano whiz, a gifted actor, and a tell-it-like-it-is Idol coach in years past. And did I mention what a cut-up Harry is? Maybe he’ll bring new snap, sizzle and musical savvy to the show.
July 20, 2013 at 2:08 PM
It was a rough year for the American Idols franchise. In its 12th year, the show that launched such pop stars as Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson seemed frayed and stale, lost viewers to glitzier talent shows (e.g., “The Voice”) and looked rigged to produce a female winner (after years of triumphing boys-with-guitars including last year’s Phillip Phillips).
But that didn’t stop the eager young contestants from giving the vocal horserace their all. The top 11 finalists, including new Idol champ Candice Glover, were rewarded with a spot on the national Idols tour, which kicked off its 30-city run on Friday at Kent’s ShoWare Center. (more…)
July 16, 2013 at 2:02 PM
Sinking ratings. Heavy competition for viewers. Hissy diva judges. Meh male contestants. Cancelled tour dates.
It’s been a rough 12th season for American Idol, the dowager queen of TV singing contests. (more…)
June 7, 2013 at 4:48 PM
Jane Monheit, she of the luscious voice and easy-going stage presence, is back vocalizing at Jazz Alley this weekend. And though she’s famous for burnishing jazz standards, don’t be surprised if the 35-year old New Yorker slips a few unexpected tunes into her set from other genres.
Her new CD, “The Heart of the Matter,” mixes it up with a Buffy Sainte-Marie folkie favorite (“Until It’s Time for You to Go”), a Beatles medley (of “Golden Slumbers” and “The Long and Winding Road”) and a Randy Newman tune Sarah MacLachlan crooned for the animated film “Toy Story 2 (“When She Loved Me”).
Monheit’s eclectic song choices follows a continuing trend of woman singers,labelled as jazz artists, freely genre-hopping for material — as a way of broadening their audience, and/or just keeping things interesting for themselves.
Consider Madeleine Peyroux’s latest disc, “The Blue Room.” The guitar-strumming singer with the Billie Holiday lilt and a touch of Edith Piaf in her voice, covers some country and western classics on the album (i.e. “Take These Chains From My Heart,” “You Don’t Know Me,” ”I Can’t Stop Loving You”), inspired by the way a cross-over champ, Ray Charles, recorded them. And some of these numbers are, uncharacteristically for Peyroux, backed by strings.
Even the best singers don’t have an infinite capacity for versatility. And fans who fell for them singing in one style can feel put off, even betrayed, when they stray too far from the familiar.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if Monheit’s sets at Jazz Alley don’t stint on the kind of lush treatments of Great American Songbook ballads she’s best known for — like Hoagy Carmichael’s “I Get Along Without You Very Well,” which on “The Heart of the Matter” is tucked between Monheit’s self-penned lullaby “Night Night Stars” and that Carpenters pop hit and “Sesame Street” standby, “Sing.”
Monheit performs at Jazz Alley through Sunday. (206-441-9729 or www.jazzalley.com)
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