Michel Camilo (Okeh)
'The Vortex Sessions'
Benjamim Taubkin and Adriano Adewale (Adventure Music)
Michel Camilo and Benjamim Taubkin prove the right hands are all that is needed to create excellent music. Camilo's "What's Up" is a solo album that cruises through 11 tunes from "Take Five" to "Love for Sale," while Taubkin is joined on "The Vortex Sessions" by percussionist Adriano Adwale." They explore -- and that is the right word -- only four songs, led by a nearly 14-minute examination of a version of a Miles Davis classic, which they call "Blue in Green in Yellow." Camilo, who has recorded in small groups and also has done "Rhapsody in Blue" with a symphony orchestra, continues to illustrate how he can do it all. He wrote seven of the 11 numbers, which include lovely ballads and nicely grooving tunes. Meanwhile, Taubkin and Adewale are a little more probing in their work. That is not to hint Camilo is shallow, but the pair take deep looks at pieces such as "Berimbau" and the Miles Davis hit while creating new works called "Samba" and "Landscapes -- Impressions of Ireland." The impressive "Blue in Green" is like a duet concerto in which the famous theme emerges and is draped in variations and configurations, but is all part of a whole. Both albums are wonderful tributes to imagination.
-- Bob Karlovits
Clare Ascani (Self-produced)
Clare Ascani has left Bellevue for the Baton Rouge area, but her album "Until" is a tribute to Pittsburgh-area musicians. It includes support work from some of the best area jazz players: pianist- arranger-producer Daniel May, bassist Paul Thompson, drummer Dave Throckmorton, guitarist Eric Susoeff and singer Carolyn Perteete. While 11 of her efforts create strong support for Ascani's voice, the album is not really a jazz outing. There are some bits of improvisation, but really the venture is one of Ascani presenting a collection of 14 songs from well-known numbers such as "Throw It Away" and "Comes Love" to a virtually unknown "Lullaby." While her singing is not in the jazz category of a Karrin Allyson, her presentation of the songs is so well done and in such a groove, it shows what this area has lost in her departure.
-- Bob Karlovits
Darius Rucker (Capitol Nashville)
At one time the voice of the multiplatinum pop act Hootie and the Blowfish, Darius Rucker has taken a more-than-credible turn to country. "True Believers," his third country album, shows that his earlier artistic success in the genre was no fluke. The set does have moments that drift toward the blandly generic, as in "Lost in You" and "I Will Love You Still." But, working again with Frank Rogers, one of Nashville's best producers, Rucker makes sure most of the music possesses strong country character while maintaining mainstream accessibility. And he continues to sing with engaging warmth and conviction, from the anthemic uplift of the title song and "Shine" to the more-downbeat territory explored in "Miss You" and "Love Without You," a heartache ballad with guest Sheryl Crow that is one of only two songs Rucker did not co-write.
-- The Philadelphia Inquirer
'Wrote a Song for Everyone'
John Fogerty (Vanguard)
Sure, it's a bald marketing ploy -- revisit your older work with a passel of younger rock and country stars. And so what if the music John Fogerty wrote and sang with Creedence Clearwater Revival (and some of his solo work) is so timelessly vibrant it doesn't need updating? The good news is the versions here live up to the legacy of one of the great canons in rock. Give credit first to Fogerty. At 68, he remains as robust as ever, as does his bayou-by-way-of-the- Bay-Area howl. Nothing is radically remade, but the best performances tweak the originals in engaging ways, whether it's bringing country elements to the fore in "Bad Moon Rising" (with the Zac Brown Band) and "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" (with Alan Jackson) or engaging in a blazing guitar duel with Brad Paisley on "Hot Rod Heart." "Proud Mary" (with Jennifer Hudson, Allen Toussaint and the Rebirth Brass Band) ends the set on a rousing note, "rolling on the river" with an infusion of Louisiana spice.
Tickets are on sale now for Fogerty's Nov. 5 concert at the Convocation Center at California University of Pennsylvania. Tickets are $49 to $100. Details: 800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com
-- The Philadelphia Inquirer
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