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Harry Connick Jr.: Songs I Heard

Making like a hepster Raffi in the midst of a Bourbon Street all-nighter, Harry Connick Jr., on the thoroughly oddball Songs I Heard, covers 16 seminal sing-alongs from classic kiddie flicks. From “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” to “Oompa Loompa” to “Merry Old Land of Oz,” Connick, fronting a horn-happy big band and crafting some unexpected arrangements, seriously swings … Read More “Harry Connick Jr.: Songs I Heard”

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Bruce Hornsby: Here Come the Noise Makers

Long before he was playing backstage b-ball games with backup mates the Range-and scoring hits with 1986’s “The Way It Is” and “Mandolin Rain”-the tall, hulking Bruce Hornsby was a budding jazz pianist, albeit one with sugar-coated hooks beating on the walls of his brain. As the pop years wore out and his popularity waned, … Read More “Bruce Hornsby: Here Come the Noise Makers”

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Brian Setzer Orchestra: Vavoom!

After ’80s pop star Setzer watched his 1998 tattooed-swing album The Dirty Boogie go double-platinum and win a Grammy, the former Stray Cat knew he had finally found a gig to stick with. But for the much-anticipated follow-up, Vavoom!, the 40-year-old singer-guitarist and big-bad bandleader with the inked-up arms didn’t just want to wail the … Read More “Brian Setzer Orchestra: Vavoom!”

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Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band: Swingin’ for the Fences

Hello, my name is Sean, and I am a DVD slut. No matter how lousy a certain movie might be-heck, even when I’ve already seen the piece of crap in the theater-if the DVD version includes “bonus material” (deleted scenes, director’s commentary, making-of featurettes), then there’s a good chance I’ll be pulling out the wallet. … Read More “Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band: Swingin’ for the Fences”

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Rosemary Clooney: Brazil

Flirting throughout Brazil with the puckish samba guitar of John Pizzarelli, grand dame diva Rosemary Clooney signs, stamps and sends 16 laid-back, lovely postcards from the land where “the mountains and the sea [are] bathed in a lavender light I had never seen before.” And while special guests such as Diana Krall and Paulinho da … Read More “Rosemary Clooney: Brazil”

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Squirrel Nut Zippers: Bedlam Ballroom

Although demonstrative Squirrel Nut Zippers co-leader and playfully peculiar frontman Tom Maxwell bolted for solo pastures last summer, the remaining Chapel Hill, N.C., swingers don’t sound too sad about his absence on new album Bedlam Ballroom. In fact, while the band’s first three records were certified party platters-and crucial in kick-starting the swing revival-this less-hyped … Read More “Squirrel Nut Zippers: Bedlam Ballroom”

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Lullaby Baxter Trio: Capable Egg

Born Angelina Teresa Iapolo, 29-year-old Canadian Lullaby Baxter has a smooth, smoky voice and a straight, sweet delivery. But any degree of sexiness is significantly shot when you listen to the self-penned lyrics on her debut disc, Capable Egg: Wrapped in a Willy Wonkalike whirl of New Orleans funeral marches, Space Age lounge, Tex-Mex and … Read More “Lullaby Baxter Trio: Capable Egg”

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Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers: Everybody’s Talkin’ ‘Bout Miss Thing!

Half Bettie Page (physical), half Dinah Washington (vocal), whole heartbreaker (ugh)-and voted one of the sexiest people of 1999 by Los Angeles magazine-Lavay Smith leads Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers through 16 tracks of big-band cocktail-hour cool on her sophomore effort, Everybody’s Talkin’ ‘Bout Miss Thing! Let’s take care of the cover art first: Dressed … Read More “Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers: Everybody’s Talkin’ ‘Bout Miss Thing!”

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Ingrid Lucia and the Flying Neutrinos: The Hotel Child

New Orleans chanteuse Ingrid Lucia knows what boys want, too-the decidedly sudsy doe-eyed beauty frolics in a penthouse bathtub on the cover of The Hotel Child-but she downplays her sex appeal with a cool-jerk smirk and a detached Lady Day delivery (read: no garters, no cleavage, no tropical drinks). The ragtag Flying Neutrinos, Lucia’s rhythm-and-horns … Read More “Ingrid Lucia and the Flying Neutrinos: The Hotel Child”

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Joni Mitchell: Both Sides Now

On this somewhat radical departure, pop folkstress Joni Mitchell plants herself in front of the London Symphony Orchestra and gives somber, soulful readings of 12 romantic standards made famous by such legendary vocalists as Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald. But whereas former pop queen Linda Ronstadt hammed it up a bit when she … Read More “Joni Mitchell: Both Sides Now”

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Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire: Oh! The Grandeur

Andrew Bird, a sometime session player with Squirrel Nut Zippers, prides himself on never taking music matters too seriously. With his eclectic mix of bandmates, Bowl of Fire, the classically trained violinist and lead vocalist works as many different genres-Tin Pan Alley, Latin, pop, rock ‘n’ roll-into songs with titles like “Tea and Thorazine” and … Read More “Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire: Oh! The Grandeur”

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