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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JOE JACKSON Night and Day Album Cover Night and Day
JOE JACKSON
4.50 | 3 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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TOM WAITS Blue Valentine Album Cover Blue Valentine
TOM WAITS
4.33 | 3 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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Time And Again
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ELIANE ELIAS
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Positively 4th Street
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RORY BLOCK
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Baby I’m A Fool
EP
MELODY GARDOT
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Sayonara Meu Amor
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MELODY GARDOT
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Path of a Tear
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JO HARROP
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Shoot For The Moon
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DAVINA AND THE VAGABONDS
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Nothing
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LOUIS COLE
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Phoenix
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GRÉGORY PRIVAT
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The Supreme Collection
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BECCA STEVENS
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Mystical
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REZA KHAN
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Let's Walk
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MADELEINE PEYROUX
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Shadow
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LIZZ WRIGHT
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Sun Without The Heat
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LEYLA MCCALLA
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Run Your Race
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KANDACE SPRINGS
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Visions
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NORAH JONES
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Turn It Up
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MICHAEL KAESHAMMER
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Here
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CYRILLE AIMÉE
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pop/art song/folk Music Reviews

OLLI AHVENLAHTI Vesa-Matti Loiri/ Kahlil Gibran/ Olli Ahvenlahti: Seitsemän Kertaa

Album · 1990 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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Matti P
During the 1980's, the Finnish jazz pianist and composer Olli Ahvenlahti became a familiar face to a wide domestic public as "Puppe", the kindly smiling, piano-playing sideman of Vesa-Matti Loiri's humorous musical performances in his comedic weekly TV show. Loiri (1945-2022) was a legendary Finnish actor/vocalist, best known for his humorous roles despite doing also serious ones. However, most of those TV viewers are hardly aware that the same partnership made two artistically 'serious' albums of poetry-based Vocal Jazz. Lasihelmipeli (1985) is based on Hermann Hesse's poems, and this album uses the poems of the Lebanon-born "prophet" Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931). Admittedly they are primarily seen as part of Loiri's discography, but IMHO well worth adding under Ahvenlahti's JMA page since Loiri is not in the database. All compositions and arrangements are naturally by Ahvenlahti who also plays the keyboards.

Sad to say that these albums are far less known than Loiri's series of (non-jazz) albums based on Eino Leino's poetry. But understandably so, since jazz is not very popular as a genre, and Leino is much closer to Finns' hearts than Hesse or Gibran. By the way, Loiri's third poetry-based jazz album Uuno Kailas (1995), which was a collaboration with the new generation jazz stars Jukka Perko and Severi Pyysalo, gained even commercial success (at least for a jazz album).

The piano oriented music here is elegantly flowing and sonically rather light and airy jazz chanson that deliberately puts the emphasis on the meaningful lyrics. This also leads to a certain amount of repetition of the verses which may get slightly frustrating if you want to listen to the album primarily as jazz music. But Loiri is such a powerful interpreter – technically he has always strongly divided opinions as a singer -- that the listener simply cannot ignore the words. For the same reason, non-Finnish speakers won't be fully able to absorb these albums.

My favourites are the opening title track (= Seven times) for its effective combination of strong melodies and lyrics counting the seven times when the protagonist has despised his soul, the beautifully airy 'Sinä olet vapaa' (= You are free), the slow and peaceful 'Minulle sanotaan' (= I am told), and the emotionally dramatic final song in which a dying man adresses his words to a vulture circling around him. Musically the weakest song is undoubtedly the humorous 'Viisas koira' (= Wise dog) in which cats and dogs argue over religious details.

All in all, like the Hesse album, this would deserve a wider recognition among the Finnish poetry-based music.

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.

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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