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TONY BENNETT, Isn’t It Romantic?--Culled from Bennett’s own Improv label catalogue, Isn’t It Romantic features ten selections from two exceptional summit meetings with pianist Bill Evans (captured on the albums Together Again and the majestic Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album, from 1977 and ’75, respectively) that found both artists at their sensitive, empathetic best. However magical those Bennett-Evans moments, the other five trio and quartet recordings here are special in their own right as well. Yes, it is indeed romantic, as chronicled by a master of the art.
RAY CHARLES, Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles—Five discs, 106 songs, the A and B sides of 53 singles; eleven chart topping songs; multiple Grammy winners, attractively packaged and succinctly but thoroughly annotated by the redoubtable Billy Vera. Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles ranks with the finest box sets ever released, not only for its thoroughness but, more important, for the portrait it offers in one place of one of the great artists in American history creating, evolving and challenging himself based solely on his belief that good music, however it was presented on disc, would meet public approval.
STEADY ROLLIN’ BOB MARGOLIN with MIKE SPONZA BAND, Blues Around the World—A banshee wail of slide guitar explodes out of the left side of the speaker about a split second into Blues Around the World, returns again near the midway point and is further augmented by a blood curdling howl as the band stomps and roars its way through “Lost Again,” a blistering chronicle of a man whose life is deconstructing at every turn. Welcome to the latest, hard-boiled chapter in the ongoing saga of Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin, blues guitarist par excellence who has traveled far musically, spiritually and every other way since breaking in with Muddy Waters’s band back in the ‘70s.
MUD MORGANFIELD, Son Of the Seventh Son--Born in Chicago on September 27, 1954, Larry Williams, aka Mud Morganfield, is the eldest son of McKinley Morganfield, aka Muddy Waters, and he’s doing a good job of making up for lost time on this, the followup to his 2008 studio debut, Fall Waters Fall.