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Letters 06-20-2016

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4Play: Bryan Ferry, Fourplay, Nu Shooz Orchestra, Dwight Twilley

Ross Boissoneau - November 22nd, 2010
Bryan Ferry – Olympia - Astralwerks
The bad news is this was originally going to be the first new Roxy Music album since 1982’s Avalon. The good news is that despite the fact it isn’t, it’s Ferry’s best in a while. And it still has contributions from original Roxy members Andy Mackay, Phil Manzanera, and Brian Eno, as well as latter-day Roxy contributors Neil Hubbard and Andy Newmark, as well as Marcus Miller, Flea, Nile Rogers and many others. The music is a bit more strident than Roxy’s swan song, but Ferry is still as suave as ever.





Fourplay – Touch the Sky - Heads Up
Traverse City’s own Bob James has been making beautiful music with his Fourplay compatriots Harvey Mason and Nathan East for almost 20 years. This recording marks the debut of guitarist Chuck Loeb, who replaces longtime fretmaster Larry Carlton. The longtime contemporary jazz veteran fits right in. His presence is felt most clearly on his own compositions. Loeb goes acoustic on drummer Mason’s “More Than a Dream.” Guest vocalists Ruben Studdard and Anita Baker are welcome but hardly necessary, as East delivers the goods with aplomb vocally as easily as he holds down the bass chair.




Nu Shooz Orchestra – Pandora’s Box - Nu Shooz Music
If the fab funk of “I Can’t Wait” was a 20-something’s call to the dance floor, this is a sophisticated adult version. Vibes, cellos, woodwinds, all surround Valerie Day’s beautiful voice. That voice is as elastic as ever, and her husband John Smith has written a passel of lush new pop songs. Yes, there’s even a new, grow-up “I Can’t Wait,” but while it fits comfortably alongside the new tunes, it doesn’t dominate them. That’s quite a trick, yet it doesn’t feel tricky at all. Just like a new offering from someone we’d missed without realizing it.




Dwight Twilley – Green Blimp - Big Oak Records
Everyone who remembers “Girls,” raise your hand. The MTV favorite should have been much more than just a moderate hit in the mid-80s. Twilley’s power pop has toughened a bit in the intervening years, and if Green Blimp isn’t chock full of hits, it’s certainly more than just a pleasant listen. Here he’s helped out by original Dwight Twilley Band guitarist Bill Pitcock IV, and gets some vocal assistance from Susan Cowsill. While he’s not nostalgic, Twilley is certainly comfortable writing and singing songs that would be fit easily in any decade from the 70s to today.

 
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