Revisit André Rieu’s spectacular midsummer night concerts in the Vrijthof square by watching this fabulous DVD. With unique, spectacular light shows and unforgettable performances by our soloists Suzan, Carmen and Carla and the Platinum Tenors! And last but not least, a guest appearance from our very own, the one and only Benny Neyman from Maastricht!
Most jazz fans know Johnny Hartman from the famous album he recorded with John Coltrane in the early '60s. However, the singer had an illustrious career prior to that, recording for a variety of labels including Bethlehem, which released this album for the first time in 1956, six years before the Coltrane session. Of all Hartman's earlier albums, Songs from the Heart is the best place to start. It features the crooner fronting a small band, which gives the proceedings a more intimate ambience than Hartman's forays as a big-band singer (with Dizzy Gillespie, among others). The small ensemble suits Hartman's romantic melancholia perfectly; the album is like one long sob. His smoky baritone fits the mood, and the band follows in suit with some tender but evocative stylings. Considering pianist Ralph Sharon has backed up Tony Bennett for decades, it's not surprising to find in his early work an elegant smoothness. Consisting mostly of standards like "Ain't Misbehavin'," "I Fall in Love Too Easily," and "I'll Remember April," this is the perfect album for pouring a good stiff drink and drowning one's sorrows (especially on a cold winter night). A stand-out track is "Down in the Depths," where Hartman gets carried away, and apparently so does the band: the tangling between bassist Jay Cave and Sharon is the most exciting moment on the album.
It does not take very long to realize that this is a nicely put together record. The singing is intense in somewhat of a Springsteen/David Eugene Edwards (Woven Hand) manner, but unique from them. The surrounding instrumentation weaves in and out in a folk rock manner at times and works as a full throttle rock band at others. The Singer-Songwriter category does not quite do justice to the songs. I would say rock fans will like this more than people wanting straight folk, but it has a good general appeal to both the crowds seeking lighter thoughtful material and those that want a good rock beat. The music is rather universal and what is truly interesting is that the California duo behind this band has historically done so much better in Europe than in the US. While I often can understand why some great European born music may not translate as well in the US (and vice versa), I have never understood why several great US bands (Wipers, 16 Horsepower) do so much better in Europe. Add this band to that list, as US listeners need to join in. I believe this album of eleven original songs comes with a bonus CD containing a full live set. (David Hintz)