Pop/Art Song/Folk

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The Jazz Related Pop/Art Song/Folk genre is for artists who perform pop jazz music, for instance; George Benson, Bob James, David Sanborn and Wes Montgomery. This genre also includes jazz influenced art song performers such as Tuomi and Robert Wyatt, as well as jazz influenced folk performers such as Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell.

pop/art song/folk top albums

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

MILTON NASCIMENTO Clube da Esquina Album Cover Clube da Esquina
MILTON NASCIMENTO
4.80 | 6 ratings
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ROBERT WYATT Rock Bottom Album Cover Rock Bottom
ROBERT WYATT
4.42 | 29 ratings
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STEVE WINWOOD Roll With It Album Cover Roll With It
STEVE WINWOOD
4.62 | 7 ratings
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STING The Soul Cages Album Cover The Soul Cages
STING
4.48 | 12 ratings
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JONI MITCHELL Joni Mitchell (aka Song to a Seagull) Album Cover Joni Mitchell (aka Song to a Seagull)
JONI MITCHELL
4.48 | 3 ratings
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PAUL SIMON Still Crazy After All These Years Album Cover Still Crazy After All These Years
PAUL SIMON
4.46 | 3 ratings
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CHICAGO Stone of Sisyphus Album Cover Stone of Sisyphus
CHICAGO
4.35 | 4 ratings
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DONALD FAGEN The Nightfly Album Cover The Nightfly
DONALD FAGEN
4.10 | 11 ratings
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CHICAGO Chicago VII Album Cover Chicago VII
CHICAGO
4.11 | 8 ratings
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GEORGE BENSON Give Me the Night Album Cover Give Me the Night
GEORGE BENSON
4.33 | 3 ratings
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ROBERT WYATT Old Rottenhat Album Cover Old Rottenhat
ROBERT WYATT
4.09 | 7 ratings
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PAUL SIMON Graceland Album Cover Graceland
PAUL SIMON
4.10 | 5 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy JMA!

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pop/art song/folk Music Reviews

EERO KOIVISTOINEN Johanna Iivanainen Ja Eero Koivistoisen Yhtye : Suomalainen

Album · 2003 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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Matti P
This is the first of three albums bringing together the legendary Finnish saxophonist Eero Koivistoinen (b. 1946) and vocalist Johanna Iivanainen (b. 1976). She actually would deserve a JMA entry of her own, even though as a versatile musician she's not restricted to the jazz genre: she's equally at home in the lyrics-oriented vocal music and jazzy pop, plus gospel and children's music. I found her albums roughly two decades ago, well before she became more widely known from the Finnish reality TV show SuomiLOVE where people surprise their loved ones with intimate live performances of songs dear to them. She's got a beautiful, crystal clear voice that sounds very warm-hearted and sincere.

There are ten songs on this album. The arrangements are by Koivistoinen, as well as some of the compositions, but the emphasis is on the cover performances of fairly well known Finnish songs from oldies (from the 40's or so) to a rock classic. Koivistoinen's band features seasoned jazz musicians such as pianist Seppo Kantonen (who has worked with Pekka Pohjola), guitarist Teemu Viinikainen, etc. Everyone involved does great work within Koivistoinen's top notch arranging skills. The stylistic spectre of the original songs is very wide, but this album is a thoroughly coherent and original work of jazz.

Without dealing with the entire set in detail, here's a few words for chosen tracks. The title song is Koivistoinen's composition to Jorma Etto's ironic poem depicting the stubborn, non-urban Finnish mentality. 'Tahdon rakastella sinua' (= I want to make love to you) is originally an early 80's energetic rock song written by Ari Taskinen for the punk rocker Pelle Miljoona. This elegant, slow-tempo version is full of sensuality perfectly fitting the lyrics. 'Sinua, sinua rakastan' is one of the best known 60's songs of the legendary vocal music composer Kaj Chydenius, with lyrics of Aulikki Oksanen.

This set has a bigger emphasis on songs more familiar to the older Finnish genarations (e.g. 'Pieni sydän', 'Rempallaan' and 'Kotkan ruusu'), compared to the albums Lennosta Kii! (2007) and Kaupungin Valot (2009) that feature slightly more pop/rock songs, but still Suomalainen is more or less as satisfying.

DIANNE REEVES Bridges

Album · 1999 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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Matti P
American DIANNE REEVES (b. 1956) is one the most respected jazz vocalists of her generation. She has a large discography and this one seems not to be regarded among her finest albums. The All Music Guide review says "Reeves is such a talented and warm singer that many jazz fans wish that she would stick to performing jazz. Reeves, here, mostly performs music that is folk and pop oriented, sincere renditions that actually have very little improvisation." Well, I'm not bothered at all by the material's pop orientation, quite the contrary actually. Moreover, I do hear plenty of jazz in the elegant arrangements, so that IMHO the AllMusic's 2½ stars seem unfair.

First a cover of Peter Gabriel's 1986 song 'In Your Eyes'. Since there was an underlying jazzy flavour in the original composition already, this version feels very natural even if it wasn't highly innovative. 'I Remember' (Patsy Moore /Stephen Sondheim) wasn't familiar to me but I immediately like this calm version featuring a bright piano solo. There's beautiful acoustic guitar, too. Leonard Cohen's much covered 'Suzanne' works as faultlessly here. The drumming is very dynamic. The whole band is excellent in mixing electric rock elements and acoustic jazz nuances, comparable to the early jazz-oriented groups in STING's solo career (for example Bring On the Night live album).

'Goodbye' is another Patsy Moore song, a slow-tempo and delicate ballad with a folky sincerity. Dianne's vocals are truly beautiful here. 'Bridges' is, if I'm not mistaken, the album's only original composition, equally delicate and heartfelt. The piano is lovely, and definitely jazz, in despite of Allmusic's criticism. Joni Mitchell's classic 'River' suits perfectly for Dianne Reeves. The jazzy arrangement has nice little details such as marimba.

The rest of the album has five songs not familiar to me. 'Olokun' is a fascinating and nearly sacral-sounding vocalise, and 'Mista' adds rootsy blues to the pallette (being my least fave). The final track 'Make Someone Happy' is an old standard and the only song that the AllMusic review admits to be proper jazz. Take my word, this album is much better and not lacking jazz at all, a shame really if someone doesn't like it for its pop orientation.

TOM WAITS The Heart Of Saturday Night

Album · 1974 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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CounterClockWorld
Tom Waits sophomore album is a personal favorite of mine, like the debut album its really accessible for Tom Waits standards unlike the debut record this is waaaay more jazzy then folksy, sonically and lyrically this reminds me of STEELY DAN aesthetically this album feels like your in the heart of downtown New York, its very lively compared to CLOSING TIME, CL feels more like your in a bar if that makes sense. My favorite track here is probably Drunk On The Moon, I always interpreted it as a sequel to FRANK SANATRAS Fly Me To The Moon. The songwriting is excellent although I prefer other albums writing wise but overall this is a fantastic album

SUSIE ARIOLI Christmas Dreaming

Album · 2010 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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Matti P
The Canadian singer SUSIE ARIOLI (b. 1963) is a new acquaintance for me, and, as usual, unreviewed here. I chose this holiday album to write about, without trying to widen the perspective towards her whole recording career that started in 2000.

Arioli's take on Christmas music is unconventionally down-to-earth and intimate, in fact often pretty rootsy and bluesy. She's accompanied by guitars, mandolin, bass and snare drum. No keyboards in sight. The acoustically oriented soundscape is relaxed, serene and fresh, not sentimental or sugary.

The track list also avoids the clichéd path, the usual dominance of well known Christmas songs. Especially on her early albums Arioli seems to have an orientation towards the Great American Songbook. So it's inevitable that there are some holiday standards such as 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' and'Winter Wonderland', and I presume also the majority of the songs I'm not so familiar with have been composed several decades ago. The simple and sincere bluesy approach nevertheless further helps that one won't have an ovedose of Christmas sweetness or the heavily overplayed tunes when listening to this highly personal holiday album featuring some happy surprise choices.

Arioli's version of the Disney classic 'When You Wish Upon a Star' is really charming in its slow and lazy intimacy. She has a little bit of JULIE LONDON in her vocal delivery. 'La Peregrinacíon' is a wonderful rare choice, originating from "Misa Criolla" by Ariel Ramirez. Arioli's Spanish is faultless. The 12-song set ends with a pretty Latin-language take on Schubert's 'Ave Maria' with a ripped-down guitar backing. I've got a funny association of the Angelo Badalamenti/ Julee Cruise/ David Lynch partnership.

Three sympathetic stars deserved.

DJANGO BATES Saluting Sgt. Pepper

Album · 2017 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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Matti P
The British jazz musician -- mainly pianist -- DJANGO BATES (b. 1960) was familiar to me in advance only from BILL BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS and SIDSEL ENDRESEN's album So I Write (1990). My first acquaintance with him as a leader certainly wasn't an ideal one, because my initial response to this reworking of THE BEATLES album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) was very negative. I patiently sat through it entirely. In the end I didn't hate listening to it, but not really enjoying it either. I kept thinking of how much better the original classic album sounds.

I'm not a dead-serious fan of Sgt. Pepper, which IMHO has some uninteresting songs too. And I have nothing against tribute albums in general, every now and then I like to borrow them from libraries or my friends, just for sheer curiosity. Sometimes they work pretty well and offer a fresh view to the familiar music, although usually they feel pretty pointless. Among the better tribute albums I've listened to, is guitarist AL DI MEOLA's instrumental set of The Beatles tunes (see my review of it).

To my surprise this run-through of the Sgt. Pepper album gained rather good reviews in music media. So why do I dislike it? Inevitably a reinterpretation of a complete album is more vulnerable to the basic problem, the balancing between faithfulness and freshness, than e.g. a Various Artists tribute compilation. Imagine another kind of a Sgt. Pepper tribute, with various vocalists, varying musical ideas and arrangements. That would be much more interesting as a starting point.

Bates was requested to arrange the 50-yr old album for the Frankfurt Radio Big Band. So, that settles much of the end product, without significant chances to sonic variety. The big band dominated by wind instruments actually partly explains my dislike. Multi-instrumentalist Bates and Stuart Hall (guitars, violin) are also accompanied by a Danish trio Eggs Laid By Tigers (a lead vocalist and a vocal-backing rhythm section). This all leads to an album interpretation that is rather faithful to the original in song forms and such, but is rooted to the soundscape of a brass/reeds-oriented big band. And that's definitely for the worse, compared to the awesome, George Martin produced hallmark of mature pop music. And as for the vocals, can't help thinking that Martin Ullits Dahl is a terribly charisma-lacking singer. He sounds like a poor version of 10cc's Eric Stewart (whom I do like, btw).

Admittedly Bates has done good arranging work, in several places also reaching rich sonic details, especially on 'Within You Without You'. After all, there is a wide variety of instruments. But still I feel that the big band form has tied his hands too much, and he's done an all too predictable and singular-sounding version of the beloved classic. At least the vocals should have been more varied and stronger. Can't give this more than two stars.

pop/art song/folk movie reviews

STING Bring On The Night

Movie · 2005 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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Slartibartfast
The concept here is a documentary of a band forming, The Blue Turtles Band, rather than a band at their peak or breaking up. Fortunately it is heavier on the music than the documentary.

The first half takes place in a French countryside chateaux and consists of presentable songs from nine days of practice sessions for what was to be their first show. Everyone in the band seems to be having a good time. The chateaux provides nice a nice backdrop to the sessions. The second half is the show itself.

Since this was Sting's first post Police effort, there's a lot of reworked Police songs mixed in with tracks from the first album. It's sort of like the Police meets jazz with Andy Summers ejected so Sting could play guitar. The band line up is primarily younger jazz musicians that already had a good reputation for work they had done before hooking up with Sting.

There are interview excerpts between the songs. One of the more interesting ones was Miles Copeland, Sting's manager and Stewart's brother going on about negotiations with the rest of the band. He was extremely dismissive of the band in relation to Sting when it came to monetary compensation. I suspect that was more about himself getting a bigger piece of the pie than a reflection on Sting, although I do recall him guest appearing on a Saturday Night Live show with Steve Marting and Steve introducing him as Stin-gy.

I originally saw this one in a theater and was really pleased to see it released being reworked with "high definition digital anamorphic picture transfer and digitally remastered surround audio." It actually does look a little sharper than I recall and I think the orginal sound was just stereo.

Artists with Pop/Art Song/Folk release(s)

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