Saturday, January 31, 2015

From Pop to Jazz: Men Sing the Classics

Boz Scaggs photo boz_scaggs_zps7bd3cac4.jpg Rick Astley photo Rick-Astley_zps98fc0361.jpg
George Michael photo George-Michael002_zpsb06787e0.jpg Bryan Ferry photo Bryan_Ferry_zpsbf122b4b.jpg
Clockwise: Boz Scaggs, Rick Astley, Bryan Ferry, and George Michael.

I love having my Saturday night Jazz session, but I must admit to sometimes being unsure if I could offer up anything new. While coming up with nothing for this week, an idea popped into my mind that I quite liked. What if I could post songs from some of my favorite singers from the 1970s and 1980s? After all, many went on to release Jazz discs. And I know exactly where I'd like to start. When I hear the name Boz Scaggs mentioned, I definitely go back to my high school years, when everyone was listening to his music. "It's Over" and "Low Down" were bit hits in 1976, and his amazing "Lido Shuffle" was huge in 1977. When I heard he made an album of Jazz music, I must admit I was intrigued. It seemed to me his voice would be great with the material, and his musicality made for it. To hear him take on a song written by George and Ira Gershwin in 1928 for the Broadway musical 'Funny Face', it is something special. To prove my point, this is Boz Scaggs singing "How Long Has This Been Going On".

"How Long Has This Been Going On" can be found on the album 'But Beautiful: Jazz Standards Volume 1', released by Boz in 2003. You can purchase the album from iTunes and Amazon. Next up, we have one of my favorite artists from the 1980s, Rick Astley. I loved his music back in the day, when he was controlling the charts with hits like "Never Gonna Give You Up" in 1987, along with "Together Forever" and "She Wants To Dance With Me" in 1988. After many years on top of the charts around the world, Astley stepped away from the music business in 1993. About a decade later, he made a comeback, first with Pop, but also with an album of Jazz songs. One of the tracks on the album is "These Foolish Things", a great song with lyrics by Eric Maschwitz and music by Jack Strachey in 1936. This is Rick Astley singing "These Foolish Things".

"These Foolish Things" can be found on the album, 'Portrait', release in October of 2005. Unfortunately, you can't purchase the album as a digital download from iTunes and Amazon in the United States. But you can order it as an import CD on Amazon. Few people managed to rule the charts over the course of a couple of decades quite like the amazing George Michael. From his time with Wham!, with the worldwide hit "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" that reached #1 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and just about anywhere else that had music charts in 1984, to his solo career starting in 1987, Michael is still making music with that gorgeous voice of his. I love that he covered "My Baby Just Cares For Me", a jazz standard written by Walter Donaldson with lyrics by Gus Kahn for the 1930 film version of 'Whoopee!'. He takes it on with a light and sexy feel, and I just love it. This is George Michael with "My Baby Just Cares For Me".

"My Baby Just Cares For Me" can be found on George's 1999 release, 'Songs From The Last Century'. You can purchase the album from iTunes and Amazon. Finally, I thought I would end the post with another of my favorites from the 1970s, Bryan Ferry. I first got to know his music through the band Roxy Music, which had hits like "Love Is The Drug" in 1975, and "More Than This" in 1982. The band was the darling of the critics, both in his native UK, as well as in the US. And I loved them, too. Ferry managed to be the odd bird who somehow balanced being the creative force behind Roxy Music, as well as having a solo career. As a solo artist, Ferry explored a lot of music, classic and original. I chose his cover of "Love Me Or Leave Me", the second song here written by Walter Donaldson and the lyrics by Gus Kahn. This one was written for the 1928 Broadway show 'Whoopee!', the show that was the basis for the 1930 movie. I enjoyed this live performance by Bryan Ferry of the wonderful song "Love Me Or Leave Me".

"Love Me Or Leave Me" can be found on 'As Time Goes By', released in 1999. You can purchase the album from iTunes and Amazon. So there it is, a quartet of men who had songs on the charts a few decades ago, all of whom were part of the soundtrack of my youth. They all went on to dabble in Jazz, and do a pretty good job at it.

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