Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Last-minute gift guide for music lovers

With Christmas and Hanukkah less than a week away, here are some fantastic last-minute gift ideas for that favorite music lover in your life.

Artist: The Rolling Stones
Title: Blue & Lonesome (Interscope Records)
You might like if you enjoy: The Rolling Stones, Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon
Tell me more: While 2016 has seen more than it's fair share of loss in the music world (David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Prince, Merle Haggard, Sharon Jones and Leonard Cohen for starters), there were also several stellar returns to celebrate. Chief among those was a new Rolling Stones studio album, the aptly-pegged Blue & Lonesome, a top-flight effort recorded over a mere three days that features Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood and friends (including Eric Clapton on two of the songs) dishing out a dozen reworked classics from the likes of Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf and Willie Dixon. The slow-burning "All Of Your Love," fierce harmonica-anchored "I Gotta Go" and sassy "Everybody Knows About My Good Thing" are among the notable delights here. Information:

Artist: The Blind Boys of Alabama
Title: Go Tell It On The Mountain (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: The Blind Boys of Alabama, Mavis Staples, Solomon Burke
Tell me more: Despite the group's obvious ties with Christianity and gospel dating back to the late 1930s, the legendary Blind Boys of Alabama didn't get around to recording a Christmas album until 2003. Now, the stunning Go Tell It On the Mountain has been reissued as a deluxe edition that includes additional tracks. Among the stellar lineup of special guests who joined the Blind Boys of Alabama on the Grammy-winning Christmas album were Solomon Burke, Tom Waits, Chrissie Hynde, Mavis Staples and George Clinton. Also recently released is the group's 2005 album Atom Bomb, which includes a winning mix of gospel standards and contemporary songs including Blind Faith's "Presence of the Lord" and Norman Joel Greenbaum's 1969 classic "Spirit in the Sky." The line-up of guest musicians joining in included keyboardist Billy Preston in one of his final recorded performances. Information:

Artist: The Pretenders
Title: Alone (BMG)
You might like if you enjoy: The Pretenders, Garbage, The Black Keys
Tell me more: I somehow missed the Pretenders' return with Alone when the album was released several months ago, but after getting the disc earlier this month and catching the Pretenders in an opening stint for Stevie Nicks at the Forum in Inglewood, CA recently, I was sold on Chrissie Hynde and company's widely-praised 12-song collection produced by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach at his Easy Eye Studio in Nashville. Highlights on Alone include the yearning "Let's Get Lost," the rollicking "Holy Commotion," wistful "Never Be Together" (featuring guest guitar great Duane Eddy) and raw "I Hate Myself." Information:

Artists: Soprano Ana Maria Martinez, tenor Placido Domingo, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, others
Title: Mozart in the Jungle - Season 3 (Sony Classical)
You might like if you enjoy: the Amazon series "Mozart in the Jungle," classical music
Tell me more: Regular viewers of the Golden Globe-winning Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle are fans of the show's original blend of comedy, drama and great music. But even those who have yet to catch an episode of the series would love the soundtrack for Season 3 of "Mozart in the Jungle." The 12-track title features a mix of strong operatic and instrumental selections including the beautiful "Les Filles des Cadix" featuring soprano Ana Maria Martinez, a new recording of "Impromptu (Thomas's piece)" showcasing violinist Joshua Bell, and a new recording of the duet "La ci darem la mano" from Mozart's opera "Don Giovanni" featuring Martinez and legendary tenor Placido Domingo. Information:

Title: Hairspray Live! Original Soundtrack of the NBC Television Event (Epic Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Hairspray, Ariana Grande
Tell me more: Earlier this month, NBC-TV broadcast "Hairspray Live!," and now the official companion release "Hairspray Live! Original Soundtrack of the NBC Television Event" is available on audio CD, via streaming and digital formats. The musical's timeless story of teenage dreams is played out via colorful characters and catchy musical numbers. Among the highlights on "Hairspray Live" is the old time rock 'n' roll ensemble piece "The Nicest Kids in Town," the soulful "Run and Tell That" (featuring singer Ephraim Sykes) and the bouncy "You Can't Stop the Beat." The musical's featured singers include Ariana GrandeJennifer Hudson, Ariana Grande, Kristin Chenoweth, Martin Short and aforementioned Ephraim Sykes. Information:

Robert Kinsler

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