Gizmo Guy’s often looking for the GM – good new music – to take me places, pull me out of my skin. This week the gods have been kind with offerings from Diana Krall, Galician star Carlos Nunez and anotherworldly, bossa nova treatment of the Bee Gees.
Best known here for his special guest touring slots with The Chieftains, Carlos Nunez is a master of Galician music – a type of Spanish folkloric stuff that makes very strong Celtic connections. His main instruments are bagpipes and recorder, which the man applies to sweeping and high stepping ‘airs’ far removed from this mortal coil. And did I mention Nunez is rock star handsome ? Never a negative in the show business. His new two CD set “Discover” (RCA Victor) is a career overview capturing collaborations with everyone from Los Lobos to Sinead O’Connor to Laurie Anderson. You also can catch the man live at the Sellersville Theater on Wednesday night.
Likewise taking me out of my skin - Brazilian singer Ana Gazzola with a surprising Portuguese language/samba styled “Musicas e palavaras dos Bee Gees” (Vista Del Mar/Fuel). Dare I say “How Deep is Your Love” and “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” sound even better (and certainly more exotic) when you can’t understand the words?
Diana Krall is getting out of her traditional comfort zone with “Glad Rag Doll” (Verve). The jazz chanteuse trades her concert grand for a rickety upright piano and takes on ragtime and country tunes from the’20s and ‘30s with some serious rustification by Americana producer T. Bone Burnett, and twang bark guitarist Marc Ribot. Some of this project seems a bit studied, though Krall got me good with the quiet reveries “Prairie Lullaby” and Let It Rain” – the former a Jimmie Rogers tune that mom and dad sung her as a child.
Also dwelling in the past, to great success is the all star crew gathered round the concert stage to celebrate with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on “St. Peter & 5th Street” (Rounder), marking the ensemble’s 50th anniversary. We’re talking the likes of Steve Earle, My Mourning Jacket wilh Phlily’s own King Britt, a nifty match up of Yasin Bey (aka Mos Def) Trombone Shorty and Allen Toussaint, plus lively contributions by the Del McCoury Band.
Taking us back, if not away, is the double disc Grateful Dead set “Spring 1990-So Glad You Made It” (Rhino). It’s actually culling the cream from a much bigger, limited edition box, with locked in performances and concert sound quality ias good as you’ll ever hear from the guys.
With Glen Campbell in decline from Alzheimer’s, the newly uncovered 1983 Campbell and Jimmy Webb TV studio recordings “In Session” (Fantasy) are particularly poignant. Offered in both CD and DVD forms in the package, composer/piano playing Webb recounts how he had several hits with Campbell interpretations – starting with “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” - before ever meeting the man. Also included – the likes of “Galveston,” “Wichita Lineman” and particularly pointed reads of “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” and “Macarthur Park,” both making the most of Webb’s broken romances. If only we could all prosper from such despair! BTW - Webb is co-billed with Judy Collins on December 9 at the Keswick.