May 28, 2020

The Hot Sardines – Welcome Home, Bon Voyage – Eleven Records

By Kristi Kates | June 1, 2019

Playing a hot mix of traditional jazz, showy swing, and a hint of pop, The Hot Sardines recorded this impressive live collection of tracks in two sessions, one at Joe’s Pub in New York City, and the other at Koerner Hall in Toronto, Canada. But these aren’t laid-back lounge-y performances. Sure, they’d fit ina lounge, but these are octane-boosted versions, party-ready jazz takes on tunes like “Crazy Rhythm,” “Keepin’ Out of Mischief (Now),” “Lulu’s Back in Town,” and the set’s first cranking single, “Caravan.” ** ½
Henry Jackman – Pokemon Detective Pikachu Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Sony
Utilizing a variety of instrumental and arrangement approaches, Jackman — known for his excellent prior work on soundtracks for the likes of X-Men, Wreck-It Ralph,and Big Hero 6 — crafts a collection of tracks nearly as eclectic as the variety of Pokemon themselves. Coloring the backdrops for such animated characters as Psyduck, Jigglypuff, and, of course, Pikachu, you’ll hear everything from warm vintage synths to complete orchestral numbers. It’s fun and diverse, and it fits the movie well. ***

Rhiannon Giddens – There is No Other – Nonesuch
Recorded in collaboration with Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, Giddens’ latest was recorded in just five days, blending both musicians’ backgrounds to craft an interesting and diverse tracklist that brings together elements of opera, folk, jazz, baroque, and world music. While the list itself is vast, the tunes themselves are small and individual, beckoning the listener in close enough to catch all the details of tracks like the Middle-Eastern-inspired “Brown Baby” and a very individualized take on classic “Wayfaring Stranger.” ** ½

Benjamin Wallfisch – Shazam! Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Watertower
Wallfisch has met his match perfectly in Shazam!, a movie that set the stage to put together a classically formed set of superhero-worthy themes, so evocative and full of punch that you can instantly tell what type of scene each piece is meant to score. The themes, through tracks like “The Consul of Wizards,” “Them’s Street Rules,” and “Super Villain,” also suit the storyline itself, in which a teen kid can shout out one word and turn himself into a superhero. The music is just as fun as that premise would suggest. ***


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