Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bryan Ferry Time Travels To The Jazz Age

Bryan Ferry Orchestra 
The Jazz Age 
Produced by Bryan Ferry
and Rhett Davies
BMG Music
Five Scoops of Bosco

Reviewed By Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco

It's an interesting exercise, if you are a music fan, to think about how your favorite artist's music would have been if they were creating music in a different era.

A few years ago, Chicago came out with an album of Big Band Music.  They seemed to be a natural for it and the music was quite good.

But the difference between that endeavor and Bryan Ferry's latest The Jazz Era (which hits US stores this Tuesday) is that Chicago was playing other's music.

In this album, Ferry, the singer for Roxy Music who has gone on to have a stellar solo career, re-imagines his solo and Roxy Music hits in the style of  a 1920's Jazz Band.

The thirteen songs were chosen from eleven albums from his first Roxy Music album in 1972 up until his 2010 Olympia album.

Actually the genesis for The Jazz Age lie in Ferry's 1999 album As Time Goes By.  In that album he recorded jazz and pop songs from the 1930's.

Five of the eight performers on that album are present here including Trumpeter Enrico Tomasso.

The Jazz Age is more 1920's, meant to evoke Louie Armstrong , Count Basie and the mass popularity of Jazz.

The songs re-interpreted on the album are "Do The Strand", "Love Is the Drug",  "Don’t Stop The Dance", "Just Like You", "Avalon", "The Bogus Man", "Slave to Love", "This Is Tomorrow", "The Only Face", "I Thought", "Reason Or Rhyme", "Virginia Plain", and "This Island Earth"

Colin Good, who arranged the album (working with Ferry and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra), is a British composer and arranger known for his work in theater and television, as well as with a 1930s-style orchestra known as Vile Bodies.

The result of the collaboration captures the originality that has always been a part of Ferry's music and the romance of the vintage sound from a bygone era.

My Favorite is the re-interpretation of "Love Is The Drug" which sounds a bit like the old Cab Calloway song "Minnie The Moocher".

"Avalon" surprisingly leads with a rhythmic strut in the New Orleans style.  "Reason or Rhyme" has a feel of a Boozy Speakeasy swing.

Warmly recorded in the old monotone recording method and wonderfully performed, The Jazz Age works on many levels.

If you don't know the songs, the music stands on it's own, and if you do, it's fun to listen to these songs in a new context.

The only downside of the album is that it is all instrumental, so we do not get to hear Ferry's voice.

It would have been interesting to hear him sing some of these songs in a 1920's Jazz Style.

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