Monday, July 31, 2017

New music: 'Frank Sinatra Collection,' Chris Fullerton, GospelbeacH, John Williams & Simone Pedroni

A mix of old and new treasures play out via several legendary television specials featuring many of the greatest singers of the 20th century, a collaboration between composer John Williams and classical pianist Simone Pedroni, and two new albums featuring outstanding emerging artists.  

Title: The Frank Sinatra Collection; The Timex Shows Vol. 1 & Vol. 2
You might like if you enjoy: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Lena Horne, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald
Tell me more: The four hour-long episodes that play out across volumes 1 and 2 of "The Frank Sinatra Collection" are true time machines. Volume 1 features two episodes of the Sinatra series, including the first episode broadcast on Oct. 19, 1959 and featuring guests Dean Martin, Bing Crosby and Mitzi Gaynor. The second episode (broadcast in late 1959) is highlighted by several appearances by legendary singer Ella Fitzgerald, including the beautiful "There's a Lull in My Life." 

Kicking off the second volume is an early 1960 episode titled "To The Ladies" featuring Sinatra joined by guests Lena Horne, Mary Costa, Juliet Prowse and former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The final episode serves as a tribute to Elvis Presley, with Sinatra and a cast of notables welcoming home Presley when he returned from his U.S. Army service in March 1960. But that episode also features Ol' Blue Eyes delivering a stirring live version of "Witchcraft" while Sammy Davis Jr. sings "Come On Bess" from "Porgy and Bess"; the show comes to a dramatic close with several performances featuring the King of Rock and Roll including Sinatra and Presley joining forces for a medley "Witchcraft" and "Love Me Tender." The comedy and music across the two discs is top-rate, and the episodes really serve as a time machine for the style of musical variety programming that graced the airwaves in television's formative years. Information:

Artist: Chris Fullerton
Title: Epilepsy Blues (Eight 30 Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Corb Lund, Michael Ubaldini, Townes Van Zandt
Tell me more: Austin-based singer-songwriter Chris Fullerton is the rare modern-day artist able to tap into the traditional sounds personified by Hank Williams and Hank Snow while delivering wry and insightful lyrics that capture life's myriad of of challenges and joys in the here and now. The title of Fullerton's new album Epilepsy Blues is not merely a clever phrase; Fullerton has epilepsy and that reality informs many of the songs on the 10-song disc. "Bad Winds" is delivered with minimal accompaniment, Fullerton's deep baritone deciphering the pain of dark places; the title track chronicles the struggles of his condition, including enduring epileptic seizures as he sings: "The first time's bad but the second time it's worse / the third time's sad and the fourth time it just hurts / but it's all downhill from there, it don't get no worse." Elsewhere the magic of life plays out in sharp contrast to the bad times. The sparse "Float On Up & See" is as beautiful and affecting as any love song released in memory, and the acoustic ballad "Come On In" is almost equal to that master stroke with its quiet power. Information:

Artist: GospelbeacH
Title: Another Summer of Love
You might like if you enjoy: Dawes, Simon and Garfunkel, Tom Petty, Beachwood Sparks
Tell me more: While it has been 50 years since the original Summer of Love enraptured the world in 1967, the Brent Rademaker-fronted troupe GospelbeacH conjures up that mythical season on its aptly-titled disc Another Summer of Love. With a shimmering sound that recalls the Laurel Canyon sound of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Rademaker's pleasing voice and acoustic guitar is adorned with lush arrangements that make for folk rock that is melodic and ambitious. The breezy "In the Desert," driving "California Fantasy," alt country-spirited "You're Already Home" and "The City Limits," and Byrds-meets-Tom Petty gem "(I Wanna See U) All the Time" featuring Jason Soda's 12-string guitar textures. Other musicians whose notable contributions help create the beautiful soundscape that helps define Another Summer of Love include keyboardist Jonny Niemann, drummers Derek Brown and George Sluppick, bassist Ben Reddell, backup singers Miranda Lee Richards and Pearl Charles. Information:

Artists: John Williams, composer; Simone Pedroni, piano
Title: John Williams: Themes and Transcriptions for Piano (Varèse Sarabande Records)
You might like if you enjoy: John Williams, Simone Pedroni
Tell me more: Composer John Williams and famed classical pianist Simone Pedroni have joined forces for one of the more interesting and successful collaborations in memory. Williams and Pedroni each transcribed about half of the pieces included on John Williams: Themes and Transcriptions for Piano, with Williams' own piano suites from his "Lincoln" and "The Book Thief" among the highlights. All of the piano-only arrangements dazzle thanks to Pedroni's incredible talents at the Steinway Concert Grand piano. Fans of Williams' enduring "Star Wars" and "Harry Potter"-related scores, as well as his soundtrack for "Schindler's List" and others will find this a dynamic listening experience allowing Williams' timeless compositions to be rediscovered. Information:

Robert Kinsler

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