Saturday, May 28, 2011

More raves for Sue's new one

Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters..
May 27, 2011

[Sue] Raney is an interpreter of classic popular song whose creative gift and technical skill are matched by few singers in any category. Her empathy with Alan Broadbent was on display in their last collaboration four years ago. In that instance, her accompaniment was an orchestra that Broadbent arranged and conducted. This time, the orchestra is Broadbent at the piano, providing support and full partnership. After years of mutual admiration and occasional gigs, they have come forth with the duo album their admirers yearned for. It is a collection of ballads, but that by no means indicates that it lacks rhythmic interest. These two can swing at any tempo. That gift is striking in the medium bounce of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.” “Aren’t You Glad You’re You” and “It Might As Well Be Spring” with Broadbent’s “Joy Spring” introduction. In slow tunes, Raney can break hearts and moisten eyes. She finds the pathos in “He Was Too Good To Me;” uncloying sentiment in “My Melancholy Baby;” the poetry of longing in “Skylark,” “The Bad and the Beautiful” and “Listen Here,” the inspired title song with words and music by Dave Frishberg.
When Raney enters a note, it is never by a side door. When she bends one, it is to enhance mood or feeling. Broadbent comps and solos with chord voicings that enrich not just a song’s harmonies but its meaning. Their version of “There Used to be a Ballpark” could almost make you forget Sinatra’s. This collection of 14 songs is bound to become a classic, if it reaches an audience. That could be a problem for an expensive album on the label of the Sinatra Society of Japan, which has limited distribution.

A little elaboration on the last line of the above review is called for. It is not just SSJ CDs that are "expensive. I remain shocked, at this late date, at how few U.S. record buyers (not Doug Ramsey, of course) are familiar with the traditional high prices of Japanese import CDs and, before that, LPs. These items are also comparatively pricey in their country of origin. There was a time when vinyl in Japan was so expensive that co-operative record listening groups sprung up, with alternating members deputized each week to purchase a certain title which would then be brought to the next week’s meeting and spun whilst members listened attentitively to this precious acquisition. We’re talking about a time even before the era of common home recording (i.e. copying) devices.
Some such listening clubs continue on in Japan to this day, but mostly for reasons of fraternity rather than parsimony. The groups now tend to follow a lecture format, interspersed with spun tracks. I, myself, belong to one such group, The Tokyo Vocal Jazz Appreciation Society, and have even given a talk in broken Japanese on One Shot Wonders, i.e. fine, deserving jazz singers who ended up, circa 1950s, ’60s, recording exactly ONE album and then disappearing from sight, due mainly to the oncoming tsunami of rock and roll sweeping the land. There were hundreds of them, from which I chose twelve to talk about. I think that the TVJAS has been in operation approaching forty years now.
The priceiness of these CDs has something to do with some sort of Japanese entertainment tax coupled with a law that prevents competitive pricing in that country. And at the present yen vs. $ exchange rate, the costs are even higher, eventuating in such current high prices that even an artist’s hardest core of fans find themselves reluctant to ransom their first born in order to secure said artist’s latest wares. That being said, there is a reliable Japanese vendor, CDJapan, sellingListen Here at 2667 yen, which translates to $32.43 (the lowest price I can find on the net). Shipping is not so daunting if you choose to have it sent around the cape, i.e. surface. But that can take a while…as long as (ulp) twelve weeks. OR. . .
.. . .one can wait until the first of 2012 at which point a much more budget-friendly version of Listen Here will be released in the U.S

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