Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Putumayo Presents Jazz: A CD Review

About Putumayo World Music:

Putumayo World Music was established in 1993 to introduce people to the music of the world’s cultures. The label grew out of the Putumayo clothing company, founded by Dan Storper in 1975 and sold in 1997. In the past fifteen years, the record label has become known primarily for its upbeat and melodic compilations of great international music characterized by the company’s motto: “guaranteed to make you feel good!”

Putumayo’s CD covers feature the distinctive art of Nicola Heindl, whose colorful, folkloric style represents one of the company’s goals: to connect the traditional and the contemporary. By combining appealing music and visuals with creative retail marketing, Putumayo has developed a unique brand identity, a rarity in today’s artist-based music

Putumayo is considered a pioneer and leader in developing the non-traditional market. A large portion of its target audience consists of “Cultural Creatives,” a sociological term for 50 million North Americans and millions more around the world with an interest in culture, travel and the arts. To reach these consumers, Putumayo has built a proprietary network of more than 3,000 book, gift, clothing, coffee and other specialty retailers in the US and thousands more internationally that play and sell its CDs, in addition to maintaining a strong presence in record stores.

About Jazz:

Putumayo’s Jazz features a veritable who’s who of jazz legends performing beloved standards. The 1950s was a golden age for jazz and three-quarters of this collection was recorded during this era. Many of these recordings have been remixed and remastered, providing a level of sound quality not available until recent years. A wonderful introduction to the genre and a worthy addition to any aficionado’s collection, Jazz demonstrates the enduring, universal appeal of this homegrown American musical style. The liner notes of the CD were written by noted jazz scholar and WWOZ New Orleans radio host Joel Dinerstein, whose in-depth commentary is accompanied by rare archival photos. 

Putumayo’s founder, Dan Storper, comments on his increased exposure to jazz since moving to New Orleans: “Over the past few years, I’ve heard jazz virtually seeping from the pores of this city, the birthplace of jazz. Listening to Joel Dinerstein on WWOZ reminded me of how much I still loved the songs of my parents’ generation and that selecting exceptional, relatively obscure songs by many of their favorites would help introduce many of these great artists to a new generation.”

The inimitable Nina Simone opens the collection with “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” one of her most recognizable songs. Nat King Cole’s velvet vocals and accomplished jazz piano skills are showcased on the swinging “’Deed I Do,” recorded during his early days helming The King Cole Trio. One of the most recognizable voices of the swing era, Maxine Sullivan contributes “’Taint No Use," on which she ruminates over a romance that has run its course.

Jazz piano virtuoso Oscar Peterson accompanies Louis Armstrong, inventor of the modern popular jazz vocal, who delivers a spare but upbeat solo on “I Was Doing All Right.” “Swing tenor” saxophonist Zoot Sims, who recorded more than 50 albums during his career, honors George and Ira Gershwin on an album that features many beloved standards, including “Someone to Watch Over Me." Jazz trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker, who rose to stardom on equal parts talent and charismatic edginess , sings a soft, ethereal tenor on "There Will Never Be Another You."

Pioneering jazz vocalist Anita O'Day contributes a husky-voiced rendition of “It Don’t Mean a Thing” and self-taught swing pianist Hampton Hawes follows with the gospel-infused “Sermon.” Coquettish jazz singer Blossom Dearie injects her signature wry humor and poetic phrasing into “They Say It’s Spring.” Composer, pianist and vocalist Mose Alison, whose music has been covered by Pete Townsend, Bonnie Raitt and others, contributes the classic swing valentine "Don't Get Around Much Anymore." Closing out Jazz is alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley and pianist Bill Evans’s spellbinding performance of the ballad "Waltz for Debby," followed by Lady Day herself, Billie Holiday, who delivers a sultry performance of “Lover, Come Back to Me.”

You can listen to tracks from Putumayo Presents Jazz here.

My Review:

Since beginning my career in Early Childhood Education, I have had the opportunity to listen to many of Putumayo World Music releases. They produce amazing multi-cultural music for people of all ages, but I especially love their Playground and Dreamland Series for children. During the last two years that I have been blogging, I have had the chance to work with Yann at Putumayo and introduce you to some amazing music, and today is no different. Once again Putumayo has released a great collection of music.

Putumayo Presents Jazz is a release that every Jazz music lover NEEDS to have in their home CD library. It contains some fabulous tracks of classic Jazz hits! Some I have heard before (like Someone To Watch Over Me) and some are new to me but they are all fantastic!

 My favorite tracks are Zoot Sims "Someone To Watch Over Me" (one of my fave songs from the movie, Mr. Holland's Opus), Cannonball Adderley with Bill Evans with "Waltz For Daddy" and Louis Armstrong and Oscar Peterson "I Was Doing Alright".

If you are looking for an eclectic collection of Jazz favorites, I highly recommend Putumayo Presents Jazz! You will not be disappointed!

BUY IT: You can purchase Putumayo Presents Jazz online here - it is also available at your favorite local music store

***I received a complimentary copy of this CD, courtesy of Putumayo World Music, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

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