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MUSIC: 25 JANUARY 2016

CD REVIEW | By ANDREW TUCKER

You might need to buy this

Various artists, Jazz and ’80s ... The NYC Series | 3CD boxed set | PMB Music MBB9320

Sometimes great versions are not so much “covers” but in fact are “uncovering” great songs.

You and I and everyone know good music. Duke Ellington, when asked by a reporter about his tastes in music, evidenced a wide eclectic interest in saying: “There are two types of music. Good music and bad music. And I prefer good music.”

Whilst some folks are boxed up and only like one type of music those whose hearts and ears are open to the joys of life resort to thinking (hopefully never saying) “I know what I like when I hear it.”

I find that those really into the joys of music become almost evangelical when they hear something wonderful. They wish they had the money to buy 10 copies at least and send them all out as a gift to those they love. Hopefully none of you insults the artists, the musicians, the studios or the poor old record company (often small hand-to-mouth affairs in these days of independents) by burning copies and distributing them.  It is a temptation I do understand. But please don’t do it.

So to the CD at hand. After decades of listening to thousands of albums I thought I had given up the passion ... the addiction to forever seeking out the good stuff, stuff worth every dollar of its price, keepers for a collection. However a loss had seen music relegated and silence or the sound of birds and trees became a preference.

So how come the tentative comeback in raving on about a great CD to buy.

Those who enjoy Japan will know and respect the Japanese love of jazz. There all the restaurants (maybe not all the counter lunchbars) play cool jazz all the time. It’s wonderful. I even went to a vegetarian restaurant called Monks – which of course played nothing but Thelonious Monk. Brilliant.

Anyway I was in our local town and went to a tiny Korean restaurant. Plain, simple, tasty fresh food … no glop or bain-marie stuff here.

There was nice cool jazz in the background, or so I thought. Soft male vocals and cruisy light tender tones. It was good. Then slowly it dawned on me … we were listening to a version of The Cure’s Boys Don’t Cry!

I am a huge fan of The Cure or I’m certain I wouldn’t have picked it so quickly, if at all. It made me delighted. It was cool, it was refreshing, it valued the lyrics and it amused me. Then blow me, the next track hit the spot as well ... a jazz version of The Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams Are Made of This.

We continued our excellent meal and the album continued ... track after track with different cool versions by different groups of great pop songs.

I was intrigued and since I liked every track I’d heard (about 10) I wanted to buy the album. Language difficulties meant that whilst I could see they were playing it via the internet I could not seem to see a proper label, title or catalogue number.

All I had was a title. Home and the next day I started trying to find it to buy it. Make sure you note the strangeness of the English used in the title. You don’t want to get confused with other mere mortal type stuff.

After checking around overseas distributors (high prices and higher freight … these days who can afford Amazon?) I suggest you do two things.

Go to the record label web site (www.pmbmusic.com) to get the easiest handle on what albums of this type are on offer. Then buy local. I ordered through Angus & Robertson Australia.

Okay, so what does this 3CD set offer?

The artists. Well, you are unlikely to have heard of the artists. As far as I can make out they are South American, maybe Argentinian. The CD is made in Mexico. Those doing the versions include The Coltrane Quartet, Karen Souza, Jamie Lancaster (his version of The Cure is a wow), The Stellar Starlight Trio, The Jazzystics, 48th Street Collective ... and so on. They are all good and I’d look out for any future careers.

The songs. The 36 tracks interpreted include New Year’s Day (U2), Tainted Love (Soft Cell), Holding Back the Years (Simply Red), Bette Davis Eyes (Kim Carnes), Don’t You Want Me (Human League) and True (Spandau Ballet).

The vocals. The artists sound in the vein of Sade, Everything But The Girl, Chet Baker, Astrud Gilbert, Stan Getz, Blossom Deary ... all samba, bossa nova and offering lilting breathy late night cool.

The music. Musically lots of cool piano and drum brushes but with tracks also featuring Kenny-Burrell-type jazz guitar, tasty sax and some trumpet.

This 3CD set succeeds on every level. As background music that is cool, even tempered, intelligent, and fit for the best restaurants and dinner at home with friends. As great chill music that has you relaxed, eyes closed, and leaves you refreshed. As intriguing fun … you will find yourself constantly checking the credits as to what track you are listening to, who had the hit, and trying to measure the version to the original in your memory banks. As great jazz … many of the greats of jazz relied upon taking ‘standards’ and re-interpreting them. This is just like that.

This CD comes in various versions ... a single CD, a double CD and this one. I’m glad I bought it — a three CD set.

You might need to buy this.  I did.

Rated 9

PS: I have now just ordered  another CD from this record label, called Bossa ’n’ Stones … yep you guessed it ... cool bossa nova versions of the Rolling Stones stuff. Magic.