New this week in the Rhino Room at iTunes:
Miroslav Vitouš, Magical Shepherd: Bassist Miroslav Vitouš may not be a household name outside of houses where jazz fans reside, but between his work as a solo artist and as a founding member of Weather Report, the man is unquestionably a musical legend. Released in 1976, this album finds Vitouš working with Jack DeJohnette, James Gadson, Herbie Hancock, and Onike, and while it might not be the strongest of his solo endeavors, it nonetheless has moments of – you guessed it – magic. (Seriously, though, the title track and “New York City” are pretty great.)
It’s an album that dances on the sand – you know, just like that river twisting through a dusty land – and when it shines, it really shows you all it can, but it’ll shine twice as brightly for you if you pick up the two-CD deluxe edition, which you can find in stores right now.
Not that anyone really needs an additional excuse to own a copy of Rio, given that it features such classic Duran Duran tracks as the title track, “Hungry Like the Wolf,” and “Save a Prayer,” but this expanded version of the album includes the original nine tracks, album remixes of “Rio,” “Lonely In Your Nightmare,” “Hungry Like the Wolf,” and “Hold Back the Rain,” carnival remixes of “My Own Way,” “New Religion,” and “Hold Back the Rain,” the Manchester Square demos of “Last Chance on the Stairway,” “My Own Way,” “New Religion,” and “Like an Angel,” and more. All told, there are 27 songs on the set, plus the second disc closes with Simon Le Bon’s 1982 Christmas message. If that doesn’t warm the hearts of you diehard Durannies, we can’t imagine what will.
Picking a favorite Foreigner album from the initial Lou Gramm era of the band is for many a choice along the lines of picking your favorite child: they all have their merits, but no matter which one you choose, someone’s going to look down their nose at you for your selection. On the other hand, the unselected albums aren’t likely to scream “I hate you” and run off sobbing, so at least they aren’t likely to be left with the permanent emotional scars that your children will, but…oh, sorry, where were we? Oh, well, let’s just forget the analogy and make with the announcement: we’ve just released Foreigner’s 4 album on 180-gram vinyl.
Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel, the duo from Versailles, France otherwise known as Air, have been delivering their ever-evolving blend of dance, electronica, prog-rock, and psychedelia since 1995, when they released their debut single, “Modular Mix,” and they’ve built a tremendous fanbase with their subsequent efforts over the course of the last two decades. If you’re one of their many fans, then this is a good week for you…so good, in fact, that the goodness actually carries over into next week as well.
Let’s start with the most awesome news first: today marks the release of The Virgin Suicides – 15th Anniversary –The Limited Edition Super Deluxe Box Set, a mammoth affair which would seem to argue that the soundtrack to Sofia Coppola’s first feature film is far more important on the pop culture landscape than the film itself...or not. (We figured we’d better throw in the “or not” just in case: Ms. Coppola is pretty well connected in the entertainment business, you know.) Either way, though, there’s no question that we’re taking this album very, very seriously, indeed, as you can see by what’s included:
June 11 has not been a good day for those who get depressed by celebrity obituaries: in the past 24 hours, word has broken about the deaths of noted movie producer Robert Chartoff (Rocky, Raging Bull), horror icon and all-around awesome actor Christopher Lee, Oscar-nominated actor Ron Moody (Oliver!), and wresting legend Dusty “The American Dream” Rhodes. For jazz fans, however, none of the aforementioned losses are likely to hit anywhere as hard as the one they’re reeling from right now: alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman has died from cardiac arrest at the age of 85.
Born March 30, 1930 in Fort Worth, Texas, Randolph Denard Ornette Coleman effectively set the stage for his entire career while he was attending I.M. Terrell High School, where he was a member of the school band until he was thrown out for improvising during a performance of John Philip Sousa’s “The Washington Post.” Fast-forward to 1960, and Coleman is earning praise for his latest album, Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation. We don’t know for sure if Coleman ever donated anything to his high school’s band department later in life, but if he did, we’d like to think that he wrote “thanks for nothing” on the check’s memo line and mailed it in with a photo of himself grinning and holding the Pulitzer Prize he won in 2007 for his album Sound Grammar.