Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Live in Stockholm
Genres: Jazz, Pop
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Similarly Requested CDs
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD has no equal and The Real Group has no peers. It is the single greatest live recording of small-group vocal jazz ever made. To give it less than 5 stars would indicate a lack of appreciation for vocal jazz, poor taste for vocal jazz, or not much knowledge/experience in listening to the genre. Folks, Manhattan Transfer cuts live and in studio, in general, are some of the most robotic and undynamic tracks out there. They have great technical skill and some complex arrangements. That's all. Listening to more than a couple songs at a sitting makes me want to fill my ears with cotton. The same can be said about New York Voices (Manhatten Transfer Lite). Hey, let's sing perfect disharmonious chords with some interesting resolutions--all with the same rhythm, phrasing, dynamics and words. Both groups are extremely monophonic, which ultimately makes for a boring listen. The *only* vocal jazz group I have ever heard that holds a candle to The Real Group is Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. They are not in the same category as The Real Group (NYV and MT aren't really in the same category as TRG either, since Real Group is completely a cappella, and save some exceptions, NYV and MT aren't). Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross are supreme soloists, with some of the greatest live-recorded scats ever put on track. Throw in Swingin' Till the Girls on their compilation CD or live CD and check out what happens 45 seconds into the track. Wow. Their small swing band musicians, who they hand-picked, play some incredible stuff. Songs like Cloudburst (which NYV tried to duplicate but couldn't) and other classics will always be associated to the LHR recordings. The group's weakness? Their dynamics and blend are not as good as The Real Group's (nor should they be). They couldn't do songs completely a cappella without losing their kick because of the nature of the group--3 people. If they had 2 more members, we'd have a different story. Even then, they wouldn't have the same sensitivity to dynamic as The Real Group does.It says something when Jon Hendricks actually WRITES the liner notes to The Real Group's "Unreal!" (Other reviewers may not be aware of this.) It also says something when he writes, "I wish I were in this group." When the best of the best expresses this kind of compliment, what does it say about the group? The scatting of TRG and LHR is not the same, nor should it be. In group vocal jazz, scatting is secondary. The primary concern of an a cappella vocal jazz group is being able to structure complex arrangements around extremely controlled group dynamic without losing pitch or rhythm without the aid of a band. Jon Hendricks realizes this, as well as most other people who are actually involved in the vocal aspect of ensemble jazz. It is the goal of an a cappella jazz group to *not* be completely tight; doing so would make the phrasing stiff. ANYONE that listened to the Real Group's first album, Debut, would realize this. The recording was basically live in-studio, and has MT's type of tightness and technical bravado. The result? A boring listen! Basically TRG put out an album of MT's skill as their debut album. What they can do now, well over 15 years later, is sublime. Now, each member of TRG sings as a soloist, with the dynamics of an ensemble. Their phrasing is much more loose. This is what makes the recording have no peers. Every cut, from Splanky to Den Lyssnande Maria is gold. What this group can do without the help of a band is unparallel. Listen to the countertenor and soprano in Strawberry Fields: they just hang notes in the air, each with their own dynamic, creating an incredible bed of sound while the alto sings the melody. Likewise, listen to how the alto, tenor, and countertenor intertwine their parts in Waltz for Debby. Listen to how they are all able to change tempo and volume together [especially when the bass is singing lyrical harmonies and not providing rhythm (e.g. When I Fall in Love and Den Lyssande)] while still remaining tight. Listen to the timbre of the bass when he IS providing rhythm. Check out the soprano's faux trumpet. Check out how the countertenor and alto's parts are intertwined. Listen to how the tenor glues the harmonies together. This stuff isn't easy to do kids. In fact, it has *never* been done before with this kind of skill up to this point."
Quality Vocal Jazz
Le Kang | Le Monde | 08/23/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is really a good album to add to your collection if you're a fan of vocal jazz. The Real Group swings well, laying out on arrangements that really capitalize on the large vocal range the quartet commands. Personally, I think their non-jazz tunes on the album are a tad gimmicky, but the straight-ahead tunes more than make up for them.Musically, the group is fairly impeccable (especially considering this is live). The soprano can be a little bit of an earful at times, but overall the the quartet balances fairly well (although I wish the bass was louder) and they swing very well together. It's great to hear fresh, new arrangements and beautiful phrasing/dynamics. The scatting leaves something to be desired, but the best scatters are always solo, not in vocal ensembles."There Will Never Be Another You" and "Night and Day" are two great standards on the album. I'd go as far as to say they're the best two tracks. The group also pulls off decent versions of Bill Evans' "Waltz for Debby" and Monk's "Round Midnight". For fans of the Basie Orchestra, they pull off a sweet version of Hefti's arrangement of "Lil' Darlin'", along with a less impressive "Splanky".For fans of Manhattan Transfer, the Real Group is (a) not as over-produced, (b) not as tight, and (c) Live on this album, so be prepared for a slightly grittier and less smooth sound. On the whole, I'd say that's a blessing as I feel like Manhattan Transfer has pretty much stagnated over time. Still, no one can beat MT (except Lambert/Hendricks/Ross of course) at Vocalese... but this album by the Real Group is as damn good as it could be without Vocalese."
Wonderful! Couldn't possibly be better!
Alexander Quinn | College Park, MD USA | 02/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These musicians are as good as they come. I bought the CD a couple weeks ago and I listen to it at least once a day. I'm afraid I'll listen to it too much and get tired of it, but I can't help it. I keep listening to it and I haven't gotten tired yet.More specifically, their arrangements are all very fresh and their dynamic contrast is as good as it gets. As close as I listen, I can't hear any mistakes. They are well arranged and rigorously rehearsed and it shows. This album is a treat. It's no wonder nobody yet (as of 2/16/02) has given any of their albums anything less than 5 stars.You'll note that their arrangement of Night and Day is a full five minutes of swing. That's probably my favorite... at least today."