Monday, June 30, 2008

Sharon Isbin in the Amazon

I have a new (probably temporary) couple of favorite lie-in-the-pool-and-float (or swim gently) music (with the way the weather has been in Southern California -- another week of triple-digits in Lake Elsewhere -- Jen and I have been spending time there). Some years ago guitarist Sharon Isbin made a CD called "Journey to the Amazon." Naturally, it's Brazilian music -- samba and samba-like -- with intricate guitar passages executed with fleet-fingered accuracy by the estimable Ms. Isbin (I have another CD of her doing the Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez with the NY Phil and it's superb too. Some dances, some slower and more contemplative songs, all delightful, some guitar solos, some with soprano sax or flute, some with exotic jungle-like percussion. Relaxing and stimulating at the same time -- but then I've always liked Brazilian music.

Manhattan Transfer has a CD called "Symphony Sessions," with a respectably-sized orchestra -- but the attraction as always with them are the close jazz harmonies sung note-perfect but with that infectious swing that makes it all sound as if they made it up on the spot (I know they didn't; I've sung numerous jazz arrangements and it takes a lot of work to make it sound spontaneous). Now when people ask me my favorite version of "Route 66" (it actually came up in our office a few weeks ago) I say it's the Manhattan Transfer version -- no disrespect to the real "King." "Down in Birdland" and "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square are especially fine also.

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