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Archive for November 21st, 2013

As If She Never Said Goodbye: Barbra Streisand Goes “Back to Brooklyn”

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Barbra - Back to Brooklyn1969’s lavish Academy Award-winning film Hello, Dolly! found Barbra Streisand’s Dolly Levi returning to the Harmonia Gardens restaurant where she was serenaded with Jerry Herman’s famous title tune: “It’s so nice to have you back where you belong…!”  Some 43 years later, the same sentiments were applicable when Streisand – as herself, natch – took the stage at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for two sold-out homecoming concerts.  On Tuesday, Columbia Records will release Back to Brooklyn, available in both CD and CD/DVD packages, to commemorate the event.  With a number of songs never previously performed by the superstar in concert, Back to Brooklyn draws on last year’s acclaimed from-the-vaults compilation Release Me as well as other Streisand staples and rarities.

Reviewing Release Me here at The Second Disc, we wrote, “On Saturday evening, October 13, Barbra Joan Streisand triumphantly concluded a two-night engagement at Brooklyn, New York’s brand-new Barclays Center.  The two evenings marked her first public performances in the borough of her birth since she dropped the ‘a’ from Barbara and followed the call of superstardom, first to Manhattan and then to Hollywood.  Streisand recalled to the audience of 19,000 that her last time singing in Brooklyn was on a stoop!  Still, she serenaded the community with special, lighthearted lyrics set to Cole Porter’s ‘You’re the Top’ and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye,’ relishing her hometown comeback.  More serious than all the talk of knishes and bialys, however, was Streisand’s deeply emotional performance of a song introduced in the 1967 Broadway musical Hallelujah, Baby!

‘Being Good Isn’t Good Enough’ was written by Funny Girl composer Jule Styne, with lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and it translated a central point of Arthur Laurents’ provocative book into song.  (Laurents, of course, was another close associate of Streisand’s, having directed her Broadway debut in I Can Get It for You Wholesale.  He would later pen The Way We Were for the star.)  In the musical, a young black woman harbors dreams of stardom, cognizant that she must be more than superlative to overcome the obstacles society has placed due to the color of her skin.  Though Streisand wouldn’t compare her own journey to that of the character in the musical, she found resonance in the lyric, as an artist famously branded as a ‘perfectionist’ and as a performer for whom being simply good is altogether insufficient.”

What will you find on this new live album?  Hit the jump to find out!  Plus: pre-order links and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 21, 2013 at 14:17

Posted in Barbra Streisand, DVD, News

Jazz It Up with New Verve Records Box Set

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Verve The Sound of America Box SetMore than half a century after visionary music impresario Norman Granz founded his third and arguably most successful label, Verve Records, the label will be celebrated in style next month with a new book and a five-disc box set, The Sound of America: The Singles Collection.

Granz had previously come to prominence in the jazz world a decade before, when he organized a diverse jam session of a concert at Los Angeles’ Philharmonic Auditorium in 1944. This regular session turned into a full-fledged concert tour, and “Jazz At The Philharmonic” became one of the biggest national platforms for jazz musicians (both black and white) in North America. Recordings of the shows were licensed to Mercury Records, then in turn to two of Granz’s own labels, Clef and Norgran.

But it was Verve, founded in 1956, that enjoyed the greatest success, largely thanks to two factors: the rise of the 12″ long-playing record album, and Granz signing his biggest client as a manager to the label. Ella Fitzgerald, who’d been wooed to Verve from Decca, made some of the greatest recordings in jazz history during her years there, starting with her legendary Songbook series, which found her interpreting the catalogues of Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Duke Ellington, George & Ira Gershwin and many more.

From there, Verve was, at one time or another, home to a who’s who of jazz luminaries, including pianist Oscar Peterson, trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, organist Jimmy Smith, saxophonist Stan Getz, guitarist Wes Montgomery and even vocalists like Bing Crosby and Mel Tormé. Today, the Verve label still exists as a home for new and catalogue jazz; current acts include operatic tenor Andrea Bocelli and jazz vocalist Diana Krall.

The Sound of America: The Singles Collection features 100 tracks – not only sides from the Verve years, but a handful of pre-Verve jazz singles on Clef and Norgran – over five discs, “over 20 of which have been out of print for years.” All the discs are contained in their own individual slipcases, packaged in a box with a lift-off lid alongside a 48-page book of liner notes. The box hits stores December 10, just over a month after the publication of Verve Records: The Sound of America, an exhaustive written history of the label from producer/researcher Richard Havers.

The full track list and order links for the box set are after the jump.

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