Wednesday, Aug 15, 2018
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WEEKENDER I SOUNDS

Post Malone crafts a winning sound

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    Post Malone performs in Nashville.

    Getty Images

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    'Last Man Standing,' by Willie Nelson

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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    'Beerbongs & Bentleys,' by Post Malone

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    'Music from Man of La Mancha,' by Eliane Elias

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Post Malone performs in Nashville.

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BEERBONGS & BENTLEYS

Post Malone (Republic)

The Dallas rapping singer (or singing rapper) who made his bones with the swaggering 2015 hit “White Iverson,” has come a long way since lyricizing about the famed 76er. Each track and album since has benefitted from rugged guitar lines, trap-ish rhythms, woozy melodies, and that warble-rap of Malone’s, with this winter’s “rockstar” defining his intentions and repositioning rap-rock beyond its ‘90s heyday and the lame likes of Limp Bizkit.

Sonically lighter and more playful than its earlier model, Malone’s vision of the rap-rock ethos is weirdly whiny and disillusioned, like a proud drunk guy at night’s end who won’t leave the bar, but can’t go home. Take “rich & sad,” where our egotistical hero is so disgusted with his moneyed, romantic lot in his life that he acts out in macho-moron fashion. “It was only lust/​I was living life/​how could I have known?” Malone rope-a-dopes dumbly through a tale of love-em-and-leave-em emo-hop. Luckily, Malone doesn’t linger on the morose or the malignant, and instead rhapsodizes thoughtfully and sensitively about heartache on the acoustic guitar-driven, Beatles-ish “stay” and the delectably odd and contagiously melodic “otherside.” With that brightness and goofiness, Post Malone crafts a winning, multigenre-dabbling, hip hop-infused sound for his retinue of honky tonk losers and cash-carrying wise guys. 

— A.D. AMOROSI, Philadelphia Inquirer

 

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'Last Man Standing,' by Willie Nelson

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LAST MAN STANDING

Willie Nelson (Legacy)

Does a lifetime of smoking weed produce chronic bad breath by the time you’re a few days short of 85?

Most of us will never know, but Willie Nelson suggests it does in one of the warm, quiet songs on his mortality-tinged Last Man Standing CD.

Willie’s been joking about death for a while now — better to keep it at bay, perhaps — and the wisdom he offers on this one is memorable: “Bad breath is better than no breath at all.”

A more serious approach colors the title song, which opens this 11-song collection, co-written with longtime producer Buddy Cannon.

“I don’t want to be the last man standing,” he opens the CD, lamenting the loss of so many of his closest friends. Then there’s a pause — considering the alternative, as the old chestnut goes — before adding, “Well, then maybe I do.”

That sets the tone. For longtime fans, who have enjoyed Willie for decades, it forces a painful acknowledgement that the end may be near.

Later he muses on reincarnation, saying he might come back as a preacher or an eagle. And he expresses his desire to continue living this way: “Heaven is closed and hell’s overcrowded so I think I’ll stay where I am.”

He vows to do better the next time around.

Perhaps the strongest tune is the final one — “Very Far to Crawl” — which deals with heartbreak, not aging, on bluesy terms.

A couple of the tunes sound lifeless and soppy, but there’s plenty to enjoy.

This is not a big, loud eye-catching CD likely to recruit new fans. It’s more like the latest addition to a long-running saga, another burst of creativity from a towering American artist who can’t seem to stop writing, singing, and playing guitar.

— GREGORY KATZ, Associated Press

 

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'Music from Man of La Mancha,' by Eliane Elias

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MUSIC FROM MAN OF LA MANCHA

Eliane Elias (Concord Jazz)

Don’t make the mistake I did and set this album aside, erroneously thinking there can’t be that much interest in the soundtrack of a 54-year-old musical.  Man, I wish this disc had a different name. 

First, I learned there is a lot of interest in the soundtrack of a 54-year-old musical. Music from Man of LaMancha debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Traditional Jazz Chart last month. More importantly, though, it’s far from a simple remake of the collection of more pop-oriented songs associated with the Broadway hit by this name when it debuted in 1964 or the movie by that name that came out in 1972. 

It’s a very hot, Latin-tinged, and incredible all-instrumental jazz rendition filled with passion and fury, with different tempos, harmony, and soloing. It’s led by Grammy-winning Brazilian Eliane Elias on piano. She is accompanied by bassist Eddie Gomez and one of my favorite jazz drummers, Jack DeJohnette, on some tracks, with another pairing featuring Elias with Marc Johnson on bass, Satoshi Takeishi on drums, and Manolo Badrena on percussion. 

This is an outstanding, nine-track collection of jazz songs. 

Elias defines herself as a piano virtuoso, with some solos that defy conventional thinking. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that her performance occurred back in 1995, but was never released because of contractual issues. This is Elias’ 26th album in a distinguished career that has included tributes to icons such as Chet Baker and Bill Evans, but it’s also the first time she ever put her own mark on a specific set of songs from a Broadway musical. 

The idea came from the late Mitch Leigh, who composed the original Broadway production. Leigh met Elias at her New York apartment with a proposal to have her arrange, perform, and record a new album of songs from the show. Elias embraced the idea. Her version of the soundtrack is distinctive and brilliant.

— TOM HENRY, The Blade

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