Best Singer of the Day (And beyond): Mary Afi Usuah

I was on a spaghetti western kick today, looking for recommendation of the best Western and Spaghetti Western soundtracks, and by fits and starts I found myself getting completely sidetracked. I followed one of those offshoots to an album called 20 BEST CLASSICS EVER : FEMALE VOICES IN ITALIAN SOUNDTRACKS.

It was okay, peppered with songs from a varied assortment, from Sophia Loren to Grace Jones. I found it largely unexceptional save for one song called COWARD by a singer I had never heard of before.

The arrangement was exciting and unconventional, and her voice, sultry, supple, and seminal. Full of power, and gradiations, and range, and the breadth of the human experience. I found the lyrics wanting, but her voice,… she sang like a star looking to tell you what beauty it had seen, before exploding.

This unknown singer’s name was Mary Afi Usuah, a Nigerian sonstress rising out of that tumultuous age of civil and colonial revolutions. Musicians of the age knew her, knew her power of voice and spirit, and she backed up some of the best of the period from Led Zeppelin to Duke Ellington, however larger public recognition eluded her as the Nigerian/London/Rome and Naples trained Usuah, released only two album’s during her 13 year touring career.

I’m listening to that 1975 debut Album now, EKPENYONG ABASI. Largely in Nigerian, there are also songs in English. The album, beyond her beautiful voice, has some masterful playing/rhythms.

The debut is followed up by her 1978 album AFRICAN WOMAN. Both have thankully finally been reissued in CD and Vinyl after having been forgotten for decades. The great Mary Afi Usuah died before seeing these re-releases, but thankfully her music and her name is out there for a new generation to love and be inspired by. Snap these up while available.

Highly Recommended!!

Ekpenyong Abasi CD

African Woman

Beyond these two albums Ms Usuah has some fantastic singles sung in italian. She is only listed as Mary Afi for these releases. Well worth hunting them up on Amazon Music or Spotify.

Amazon DEALS OF THE DAY! Best Soundtrack of 2016!?!

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THE HATEFUL EIGHT Soundtrack by Ennio Morricone – Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight Soundtrack

Quentin Tarantino’s eighth movie THE HATEFUL EIGHT, I saw just this previous December in its extended road show version. I saw it at a sumptuous venue, surrounded by real cinephiles, and quite liked the movie. I thought it had flaws, because while not a prude by any measure, I did think Quentin went a bit heavy on the profanity button.

Sometimes excess is not verisimilitude, being true to the framework of your film, sometimes it is just excess, and gets in the way of your film.

At some point it becomes like a kid who has just learned to curse, and says it all the time as if there is a maturity in that, when just the opposite is the truth. Over use of profanity is the mark of a juvenile aesthetic. I thought the movie was great, I loved the process and loved the ending and loved the visuals, the only detraction was… that juvenile aesthetic of Tarantino’s.

So it’s a movie I really liked, and want to call a great movie, but a great movie should also be re-watchable, and I’m uncertain how many times I would want to re-watch this. Portions of it sure. But to sit down and rewatch the whole thing? Revisit it, like I do with THE SEARCHERS or TOMBSTONE  or ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST… Not so much. That’s where the juvenile aesthetic works against a film, and works against Tarantino. These slight misgivings aside, It is still a solid B+ of a movie.

However one thing that I was not not conflicted on was Ennio Morricone’s score. Upon hearing this in the theater, I new I loved it and wanted to purchase the soundtrack when available. And I’m not a soundtrack guy, I buy sporadically, and seldom consider buying the score while watching a movie. So that tells you what type of impression this score made on me.

Today I received the Third Man Records stunning 2 LP Pressing of THE HATEFUL EIGHT. Wow! This may just be the collectible of the year!

It takes me back to the thrill I got of getting Records or Laser Discs, back in the day. That larger than life, elaborate and beautiful album cover, filled with extras, such as a booklet with liner notes, posters, photographs.

For around $30 while supplies last , it is a steal!

Morricone purportedly came out of retirement to do this score for Tarantino, and I’m glad he did, because he creates a score for the ages, to stand up to his decades of stunning, influential, and cinema shaping…. scores.

Now while the music is excellent, the pressing is also slightly hampered by Tarantino’s decision to add dialogue to the album. I would have preferred this album without Tarantino’s additions of dialog, and let this just be the music. However the dialogue tracks are easily skipped on CD. Not so easily skipped on the LP,  but the 2 album LP, is a collector’s dream, sporting a beautiful fold out gate fold cover,, and enough extras to make it worth any purchasers time to own both the CD and the LP.

Pick up both at the links below while in stock:

Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight Soundtrack

Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight CD

 

CD of the Day : Cyril Scott Lotus Land – Complete Piano Music, Vol. 5


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CD of the Day : Cyril Scott Lotus Land – Complete Piano Music, Vol. 5


“As a Cyril Scott fan, and concert pianist, I was just made aware of this album collection only last week. The renditions are great, and this is truly a momental undertaking to record Cyril Scott’s complete piano oeuvre. I am expanding my knowledge of his great genius.” –JR Spencer @ Amazon.com

“love the idea of receiving music that the world has not yet welcomed, but should have a long time ago! This complete collection is phenomminal and Leslie De Ath does an astound interpretation of Scott’s music. Thank you so very much for having this recording!!” — Clifton J. Warren @ Amazon.com

Order your copy here:

Cyril Scott: Lotus Land:, Complete Piano Music, Vol. 5

CD of the Day : Ivo Pogorelich plays Ravel’s Gaspard De La Nuit & Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata Klaviersonate No. 6


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    CD of the Day Ivo Pogorelich plays Ravel’s Gaspard De La Nuit & Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata Klaviersonate No. 6 a Deutsche Grammophon Pressing!

“In addition to [Ivo Pogorelich’s] Schumann, I have also enjoyed his Scarlatti, Bach, Haydn, and Beethoven, and only wish that he would record more Scriabin, for which he has a special affinity. Yet, of all his recordings, it is to this recording of Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit that I have returned most over the years, and even after repeated listening, I am still utterly transfixed by it. Simply put, it contains some of the most riveting and imaginative piano playing that I have ever heard–and my piano listening goes as far back as De Pachmann in the early 1900s.” –MR Simpson @ Amazon.com

“Out of the over 100 available recordings of Ravel’s Gaspard de le nuit this must be one of the finest. If this was Ravel’s idea of a bad dream I’ll take it. It easily ranks with the most beautiful music I know… I love this recording. Very highly recommended. –David Thierry @ Amazon.com

“This original release has now been re-issued under DG’s ‘Original’ series, with the Chopin No. 2 Concerto added. I for one would want to stick to this ‘original’ version, since both works contained in this CD represent Ivo Pogorelich’s finest performances.” Abert @ Amazon.com

“If I could take only one Pogorelich CD to a desert island, it would be this one. Sound quality is excellent.” — Hank Drake @ Amazon.com

Get your copy here:

Chopin: Piano Sonata / Ravel: Gaspard de la nuit / Prokofiev: Piano Sonata

THIS WEEKEND’S Recommended MUSIC! THE HEAVY!


Music so good, that mp3s and Itunes do them a disservice. Music that deserves buying on CD and listening all the way through.

thehousethatdirtbuilt

The House That Dirt Built
– Was introduced to this band THE HEAVY because of the awesomely addictive song they did for the great opening credits of the TV show STRIKE BACK.

Based on that one song, I bought this album. And I am glad I did, it is a great, addictive item. How good is it? It is so good that I bought their other two albums (available at the links below) without listening to a single song. That is how heavy… THE HEAVY is!

gloriousdead
The Glorious Dead

greatvengeance
Great Vengeance & Furious Fire

“I was listening to Michelle Myers Saturday broadcast on KEXP a few weeks back and she played an infectious cut from their follow up album “The House That Dirt Built”. Usually music needs some time to grow on me but the song SHORT CHANGE HERO cut deep with an intoxicating groove that sent me on an instant quest to search them out.

… This is hands down one of the five best CD’s I have purchased this year rivaling their sophomore “The House That Dirt Built”. Do yourself a favor. If you purchase no other music in the next year get one (or both) of The Heavy’s releases.”

—Amazon Review JSG

Music Deal of the Day! RICH VS ROACH

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It is such a joy being able to continually discover new things and great things and sublime things. 56 years after its recording it is a joy to for the first time hear this preeminent 1986 pressing of these preeminent Jazz drummers (avoid the later 2012 issue that for no sane reason reorganizes the order of the songs).

This is a fantastic CD that is far better than the original LP for 4 crucial reasons. Alternative takes to 4 of the songs, and two of those takes are essential gamechangers.

Namely the first two songs of the album, SING, SING, SING and THE CASBAH set the memorable impressions of the album, and in the original takes Buddy Rich provides the better more impressive performance. His levels are louder, his playing is pure manic brilliance, in contrast Max Roach ‘s performance while nuanced suffers from levels that are muted, and his playing while strong, seems a bit hesitant and halting.

Compare this to the alternate takes, released on this album, and here is the Max Roach, the genius, allowed off the leash. It’s a beautiful and haunting staccato rhythm he builds in the unused alternative takes, that turns this album, particularly those two songs, from a clear victory for Buddy Rich, as has been stated, to an impossible to call draw, between two of the best drummers in the business.

The reason for using the skewed take? Well this was largely a Buddy Rich financed Album, and it was 1959, and you were still playing to a nation that was largely still in the shadow of Jim Crow.

Whatever the reason, thanks to the 1986 cd and the alternate takes you can finally appreciate both of the legendary drummers at the top of their game.

Grade: A+! Highest Rscommendation!

This 1986 CD is almost sold out on Amazon, I strongly urge any lovers of great music, great stereo recordings, and great Jazz to pick up multiple copies of this CD, because without a doubt it makes a great gift and friends with taste will ‘borrow’ it.

And yes you could listen to this on MP3 via Itunes, but you could also listen to it with cotton stuffed in your ears.🙂 .

MP3s are a great way to sample a bunch of music quickly and determine what you love and want to buy. But once determined, the MP3 format is not the format to buy it in. You need full uncompressed audio.

You need a well mastered CD, and RICH VS ROACH happens to be one of the best.

Get your CD here:Rich Versus Roach

This also happens to be one of the great stereo recordings, so it deserves to be heard with headphones on a great portable player. The one I personally use and recommend is :

Sylvania 9-Inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD/CD/MP3 Player with 5 Hour Built-In Rechargeable Battery, USB/SD Card Reader, AC/DC Adapter

Enjoy!