Disc reviews - The Buffalo News
print logo

JAZZ Sonny Rollins, “Holding the Stage: Road Shows Volume 4” (Doxy/Okeh) At first glance, you might be forgiven for any involuntary OMG reactions, you might have. Sonny Rollins may be 85 and still performing, but the idea of the octogenarian Rollins putting out a fourth volume of “Road Show” live recordings is indeed close to stupefying. What has to be understoo…

Now is the time when Kendrick Lamar is supposed to go soft, to start caring more about his brand than his band, to disappear up his own ego. High-profile success at the Grammys, accolades from some of the greatest living musicians, the top slot in critic’s 2015 best-of lists around the globe, all based on that rarest of rare beasts – an album that is both artistic mast…

Willie Nelson, “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin” (Legacy) Bless Willie Nelson, he does like to do this sort of thing from time to time. If Ray Charles could make masterpieces by sojourning into Country and Western repertoire, why should Willie deprive himself of singing classics in the great American songbook? But that doesn’t completely explain what’s go…

Whatever you think of the guy, you’ve gotta give Kanye West some credit – he sure knows how to grab himself some publicity. Mere mortals tend to launch their latest albums via television appearances, media interviews, maybe an exclusive deal with a big-box retailer, or if they’re part of the pop elite, a televised ad campaign and partnership with some major corporat…

Dr. Lonnie Smith, "Evolution" (Blue Note) Sadly, the publicity people at Blue Note are under the impression that Dr. Lonnie Smith -- 73-year old Red-Turbanned organ maestro--is a "native of Detroit" rather than the Lackawanna-born stalwart who developed his "foot-tapping grooves" and "sophisticated harmonic voicings" in Buffalo clubs in bands with his brothers. Never mind…

John Lunn, "Downton Abbey: The Ultimate Collection," featuring musical highlights from all six seasons (Carnival Master/Universal-2-discs) Now that "Downton Abbey" is out of business and the Dowager Countess of Grantham can no longer treat hungry and masochistic Americans on PBS to the weekly British joys of upper -class snobbery and xenophobia, there is no reason why the…

The secret to great pop vocalizing lies in the ability of the singer to inhabit the song. Think Frank Sinatra singing “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” Jeff Buckley caressing “Hallelujah,” Sam Cooke owning “A Change is Gonna Come,” Ray Charles breathing his own life into “Georgia On My Mind,” Janis Joplin pouring a lifetime’s worth of sorrows into…

PopJanet JacksonUnbreakable[Rhythm Nation/BMG]2 and 1/2Janet Jackson did her best work in the 80s, when she teamed with producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis to create the sturdy and self-affirming pop/R&B collections “Control” and “Rhythm Nation 1814.” She spent much of the time following those two career-defining releases seemingly adrift, still immensely popular, bu…

MetalIron MaidenThe Book of Souls[BMG]4 starsHow does a band revered by millions for its ability to marry heavy metal to progressive rock ambition and punk rock urgency keep the creative well from running dry as it hits middle age? By upping the ante on that ambition, apparently.“The Book of Souls” is Iron Maiden’s 16th studio album, and also its longest, clocking in…

Hip-HopDrake & FutureWhat A Time to Be Alive[Cash Money]1 starWhen word leaked that Drake and Future would be teaming for a mix tape, the internet broke. Ok, it didn’t really break. But people – some people, anyway – pretty much freaked out. And they freaked out all over social media. They shouldn’t have. “What A Time to Be Alive” is a snooze-fest of a collecti…

Ryan Adams' track-by-track interpretation of Taylor Swift’s most recent album, “1989” is supposed to offer proof positive that Swift is a great songwriter. Why? Because Adams is clever and creative, and look, he’s a great songwriter and record-maker himself, and he likes Taylor Swift, too. I always knew she was so much more than just a high school diarist who lear…

ClassicalYo-Yo Ma, celloKathryn Stott, pianoSongs From the Arc of Life[Sony Classical]3.5 starsThe premise of this disc is irresistible. “A life is an arc of experience, from beginning to end and all the notes in between,” the jacket purrs. “‘Songs From the Arc of Life’ is a musical journey ... a window into our universal adventure through life and time.”Actual…

JazzDave Douglas QuintetBrazen Heart[Greenleaf]∆∆øWhen you know that Dave Douglas has been hanging out with Wayne Shorter a lot recently, your excitement and expectation for this disc rises considerably. In the publicity notes, Douglas says, “Wayne has said some things that are really profound and it’s really influenced the way I think about writing for this band …

Miley Cyrus is a train-wreck. Thank god.As the first of her generation of pop stars whose entrée into the music world came via teen/tween television shows to fully turn her back on conventional mainstream pop music, Cyrus is a true maverick. Love her or hate her, she’s clearly broken the mold – more than Justin Timberlake was willing to, more than Britney Spears could…

FunkRock Candy Funk Party, Groove Is King (J&R Adventures) This incredibly funky outfit may have started as a simple side-project for its most famous member, blues-rock wunderkind Joe Bonamassa, but Rock Candy Funk Party has developed into so much more. Debut effort “We Want Groove” found Bonamassa, producer/drummer Tal Bergman, guitarist Ron DeJesus, bassist Mike Mer…