2008 Father's Day Gift Guide
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2008, Volume 15, #6
Written by John Metzger
Wed June 11, 2008, 06:30 AM CDT
Dad doesn’t need another tie. He already has a closet full of them. Nor does he need a new wallet, razor, golf club, hedge trimmer, or "This Dad Does Diapers" T-shirt. Seriously, what dear, old dad needs the most is some new music to play while he’s lying on the beach or firing up the grill. Here are a few worthwhile suggestions that stray at least a little way off the beaten path:
Justin Roberts - Pop Fly
When children, particularly young ones, choose gifts for their parents, their selections sometimes can be a little narcissistic. Fortunately, Justin Roberts’ albums aren’t just for kids; they’re also for families. His latest set Pop Fly is chock-full of ridiculously infectious tunes that are perfect for the summer barbecue season. Roberts’ odes to grandma’s home cookin’ (From Scratch), baseball (Pop Fly), and the coolest caretakers in the neighborhood (Stay-at-Home Dad) will melt even the hardest of hearts.
Purchase: Barnes & Noble
B.B. King - Live / Albert Collins - Live at Montreux: 1992
Both B.B. King and Albert Collins are legends in the blues and rock worlds. Although King is, perhaps, the better known of the two artists, Collins’ influence stretches just as far. Earlier this year, concert sets from Collins and King were introduced in CD and DVD formats, each of which provides a nifty introduction to their respective canons. Looking at these packages in sequence also yields insight into how their approaches to playing the blues differ. Collins’ collection (Live at Montreux 1992) undeniably is the feistier, more anguished outing, while King’s collection (Live) feels like a joyous celebration.
Purchase Live: Barnes & Noble
Purchase Live at Montreux: Barnes & Noble
Toumast - Ishumar
The nations of Western Africa are proving to have remarkably fertile music scenes, and the sounds that are emerging are far more accessible than many initially might expect. When he folded John Lee Hooker’s brand of blues into the styles of his homeland, Ali Farka Toure lit a veritable bonfire of creativity that has continued to evolve and grow at an increasingly rapid pace. Toumast is the latest outfit from the region to cross the Atlantic. The group’s debut Ishumar follows in the footsteps of Tinariwen’s successful sojourn Aman Iman in that it bends Toure’s influence in a variety of new directions.
Purchase: Barnes & Noble
Various Artists - In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2
It is a delicate balancing act to create a successful tribute set. On the one hand, it’s necessary to provide some frame of reference to the original material; on the other hand, the performances shouldn’t be reduced to rote regurgitation. More often than not, In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2 finds this middle ground. Seconds, as performed by Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, may retain the familiar melody of U2’s original recording, but the vocals, guitars, and percussion transform its insistent beat into a sunny-day spectacle. On the more adventurous side, Vieux Farka Toure completely reinvents Bullet the Blue Sky by lending the tune a haunting, hypnotic air. As an added bonus, some of the proceeds from the record will be donated to The Global Fund.
Purchase: Barnes & Noble
Rudy Van Gelder Remasters / Orrin Keepnews Collection
Over the past few years, Concord Records has been doing a wonderful job not only of restoring a wide array of historical and classic jazz outings but also of returning them to the marketplace. The Rudy Van Gelder Remasters series debuted in early 2006, and it emphasizes albums — including the Miles Davis Quintet’s Cookin’, Pat Martino’s El Hombre, and the Red Garland Quintet’s Soul Junction — that were engineered by its namesake for the Prestige label in the 1950s and early 1960s. Van Gelder took great care in remastering the material, and the albums have never sounded better. This past spring, Concord issued its eighth batch of releases under the Rudy Van Gelder Remasters moniker — including Miles Davis’ Bags’ Groove and John Coltrane’s Settin’ the Pace, and Sonny Rollins’ Plays for Bird. This brings the number of titles in the series to 40.
Considering the success of the Rudy Van Gelder Remasters series, it wasn’t surprising when Concord debuted the Keepnews Collection last year. The new series focuses upon the recordings that Orrin Keepnews produced for the Riverside label in the 1960s. In some cases, albums that long have been forgotten — such as Joe Henderson’s Power to the People — are given another chance to shine. In other cases, career-making endeavors — such as Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington — simply are afforded the crisp clarity they always have deserved. With the recent release of the Coleman Hawkins’ The Hawk Flies High, McCoy Tyner’s Fly with the Wind, and Nat Adderley’s Work Song, there now are 26 outings to investigate and enjoy.
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