Monday, November 21, 2011

Etta's Swan Song, Murray's Cuban Ensemble - Bob Stewart

For over a half a century, Etta James has been a musical force and a major hit-maker, earning numerous accolades including six Grammy Awards, among them the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, a Best Jazz Vocal Performance and two Hall of Fame Awards. She has crossed all musical genres and styles and has been cited as a major influence by a wide range of singers from Janis Joplin to Irma Thomas. Her new CD -- "The Dreamer" -- not only marks her first album in five years but it also will be her final studio recording before she retires. As Etta remarks, "I wish to thank all my fans who have shown me love and support over all these years. I love you all."

Over the course of four decades, composer and bandleader David Murray has created a body of work remarkable for its magnitude, importance, and breadth. He's been a part of more than 150 albums, been honored with a Grammy Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and co-founded iconic bands such as the World Saxophone Quartet. His newest project -- "David Murray Cuban Ensemble Plays Nat King Cole en Espanol" -- is based on two recordings, from 1958 and 1962, which found Cole singing melodies from Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Brazil and Argentina accompanied by ensembles of Cuban and Mexican musicians. To play his new arrangements, Murray assembled some of the best Cuban musicians to form his 10-piece ensemble. The result, jazz journalist Gary Giddens proclaims, "is one of Murray's most purely pleasurable albums...a sensational tour de force and high spot in his massive discography."

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