Since First I Saw Your Face Featuring James Taylor, vocal
Olha Maria (Amparo) Featuring Joshua Bell, violin
Ma Mère LʼOye (Mother Goose Suite)
Adagio in G Minor Featuring Chris Botti, trumpet
Duetto: Scherzano sul tuo volto Featuring Renée Fleming, soprano and Chris Botti, trumpet
AMPARO: Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin with special guest stars; Joshua Bell, Chris Botti, Renee Fleming and James Taylor. Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin are two legendary musicians primarily known for their work in jazz but a... more »lso known by a broader musical community in classical crossover, film scores, instrumental and adult music. Recognized both as composers and players, they are artists with strong name recognition. AMPARO has them together again after eight years for a sequel to their Two Worlds album. Like Two Worlds; AMPARO brings music from different areas together. In AMPARO's case music from South America, classical, vocal and jazz. Ultimately, it continues to celebrate their love of music in all its forms. A romantic and rhythmic mix of timeless melodies from Classical and South American music.« less
AMPARO: Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin with special guest stars; Joshua Bell, Chris Botti, Renee Fleming and James Taylor. Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin are two legendary musicians primarily known for their work in jazz but also known by a broader musical community in classical crossover, film scores, instrumental and adult music. Recognized both as composers and players, they are artists with strong name recognition. AMPARO has them together again after eight years for a sequel to their Two Worlds album. Like Two Worlds; AMPARO brings music from different areas together. In AMPARO's case music from South America, classical, vocal and jazz. Ultimately, it continues to celebrate their love of music in all its forms. A romantic and rhythmic mix of timeless melodies from Classical and South American music.
"In this album jazz players Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin are joined by various musical guests. These include singer James Taylor, jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, and a couple of friends from western classical art music, the violinist Joshua Bell, with Renee Fleming adding her own special touches.
At first uneasy glance, this disc looks like one of those cross-over repertoire efforts, geared up by the marketing department as much as by the musicians involved. But wait, do not dismiss the slightly odd mix out of hand.
Inspired by western classical art music, Ritenour-Grusin-and-company offer up their takes on famous melodies most listeners who go to classical concerts will probably recognize. Faure's Pavane gets turned into a floating melismatic vocalise - think Villa Lobos Bachianas Brasilieras maybe? - with Renee Fleming deftly avoiding the temptations to make it too operatic or too arch. You may or may not be all that vocally convinced by Ms. Fleming's oblique momentary slides into something closer to Ella Fitzgerald than to Renata Tebaldi. Then later Ms Fleming reappears, all gussied up in something way closer to a baroque duet with Chris Botti on trumpet. But hey, it is really all in good fun. The western classical composers in France were actually more musically interested in jazz than not. (You have already checked out Ravel, Gershwin, Copland?) So when a Satie Gymopedie pops up later in the disc, the listener is not going to be all surprised. And even from the earliest polyphonists, folk and popular musical influences were cross-fertilizing western art music, else why would Pierre de la Rue, Josquin Desprez, and Okeghem have all weaved L'homme arme into their masses?
The fusion of James Taylor's folk-country homespun directness at first note sounds outlandish, a stretch too far, but by the end of the cut, the superficial shock is gone, and all that lingers in the air is a surprising amount of suprisingly unhackneyed musical enjoyment. Yes, fun, plus. Renee Flemings jazzily set baroque duo has similar impact - at first outlandish, then all too quickly settled and transformed into music artfully less than solemn art.
Textures vary quite a bit, now leaning towards more elaborate larger ensemble settings with a halo of strings at least suggestive of western classical orchestral origins, now dropping back to something like a jazz quintet augmented or not in passing, with plenty of flexible open space for the guests to breathe a bit.
Is this disc an example of path-breaking jazz to turn the jazz planet all topsy-turvy? I think not. Yet many listeneres will still hear something way more than the simplest, blandest background musical soundtrack to a mellow evening, I am willing to bet.
Cuddle up with somebody you like, even if that is only yourself at the moment. Open a special bottle of this or that or the other thing. Sips, not gulps. You have been taking yourself or somebody else or some problem of life or work, way too seriously of late, no? This album may gently help you let go of all those silly attitudes, silly pressures, silly solemnities. Just ease out of being so strictly self-important."
Classical Gem From Jazz Duo
Philip R. Heath | DFW | 09/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Amparo is somewhat of a classical sampler from Dave Grusin and Lee Ritenour - primarily known as jazz artists. Those expecting something more along the lines of the jazz work that these two are known for may be disappointed. I say "may" because Amparo is a very well done classical CD, and it is a good opportunity for people to branch out and try something new. Another thing of note for those familiar with the artists is that this CD is much more heavily slanted toward Dave Grusin than Lee Ritenour. Grusin did all of the arrangements for Amparo. I don't mean to imply that this is a bad thing, but I merely offer it as information.
Amparo starts off with the first three tracks making up Grusin's Three Latin Dances. These are each very well done with Grusin's lower register piano creating a very tense feel against the violin. It is against this backdrop that Ritenour adds some well played classical guitar. This trio of songs is simple yet striking.
Ritenour's lone original song on Amparo is Echos. It is really the only piece where Ritenour's guitar play receives a lot of prominence, and he shows himself to be more than capable. It would have been interesting to get more exposure to Ritenour on Amparo, but for whatever reason they did not take the CD in that direction.
The remainder of Amparo comes from various classical pieces from the last 400 years. From the haunting 19th Century Gabriel Faure piece Pavane, Op. 50 to Scherzano sul tuo volto (a selection from Handel's Opera Rinaldo) featuring soprano Renee Fleming and Chris Botti on trumpet, Grusin, Ritenour, and company come through with very clean and beautiful performances. The highlight among these for me was the Baroque piece from Tomaso Albinoni, Adagio in G Minor (also featuring Chris Botti). Botti carries the melody throughout the selection with excellent piano and string support from Grusin and Ritenour.
You may be wondering how James Taylor fits in with these selections, but surprisingly this actually works quite well. He provides the vocals on the one song with English lyrics, Since First I Saw Your Face, the oldest selection on Amparo dating back to 1607 by English composer Thomas Ford. It is a simple folk sounding love song that presents Taylor in a way that most will have never heard him. Taylor shows that talented musicians are not bound to a single genre.
Overall this is a wonderful, eclectic collection of classical music that emphasizes piano and guitar. The guest performers bring their 'A' game to help Grusin and Ritenour create a pleasant classical music CD that should be accessible to a broad audience.
Download this: Adagio in G Minor"
Feels like shuffle play, could have been so much better.
Two kids mom | NM United States | 09/05/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
While I was listening to this cd my husband was reading the paper. Suddenly he turned to me and said "Will you please take the cd player off shuffle play? It is driving me nuts".
That sums up this recording. The transitions are jarring and it feels overproduced. The music lurches from the sort of thing you hear when shopping at an upscale mall to full blown opera then to Renaissance fair music and the intensity changes too quickly. I kept feeling like I needed to adjust the volume on the player.
I must own a dozen CDs and DVDs by Renee Fleming and this music did not do her justice. If you hear her (and see her) for example in La Traviata you will notice her voice has a depth that is not captured on this album. Here she often sounds reedy and shrill.
I did enjoy Track 10 "Adagio in G Minor" with Chris Botti, although this would not be my favorite rendition of the piece.
Some of the pieces individually would make great background music for home produced videos (when you want something in the background to tie things together but not so stirring that it overshadows the video).
With the people they had to work with I expected more. Perhaps they simply tried to cover too many bases. "
Classical Music for the Starbucks Generation
Robert Szarka | Norwich, CT USA | 09/01/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a film score for daily life, Amparo is more than serviceable. The musicians are top-notch and their performances are recorded and mixed with the kind of clarity that sounds natural despite being wholly unnatural. The compositions themselves strike a balance between being easily ignored and rewarding closer listening that give them staying power past that first spin in the CD player. In short, superb "shopping music".
So perhaps it's no surprise that my favorite track is "Since First I Saw Your Face", which features pop singer James Taylor. His beautiful, yet under-trained, voice gives the performance a human quality lacking on the rest of the album. Who knew Taylor had such potential as a secular John Michael Talbot?"
Nice smooth eclectic mixture of jazz/classical with South Am
Bond... James Bond | Denver, CO | 09/02/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After listening to this CD from start to finish many times now, I will admit that it has grown on me from my initial intent on giving it either a 2-star or 3-star rating. But it does remind me more of a (now defunct label) Windham Hill compilation of different artists than a unified set of songs put out by one artist/composer. Whether you like this kind of heterogeneous mixture or whether you prefer better flow from track to track or whether you prefer livelier compositions is, I suppose, a personal preference. But this is NOT "easy listening elevator music" and this is NOT some amorphous blob of New Age relaxation music. It does straddle the line between jazz, classical, and folk nicely, and does have a slower, quieter mood to it. I would not consider this to be happy stomping party music, but it would play well as background music while hosting a dinner party. Nor would I consider this to be great road trip music to drive to the beach with, or to drive up to the ski slopes with a carload of skiers and snowboarders. Most of tracks have a more contemplative emotion to them, sometimes with a bit of sad melancholy feel to them.
I like the first 6 tracks, especially the appropriately-named track 1 "Tango en Parque Central", the stylized track 5 of "English Folk Song Suite", and the track 6 "Since First I Saw Your Face" featuring James Taylor on vocals. James sings the lyrics almost like a Celtic ballad and it is not the usual J.T. song that most people are accustomed to, but I still like it. Track 8, "Ma Mère LOye (Mother Goose Suite)", sounds too much like the backing soundtrack to a vintage suspense movie for its entire duration. This track 8 and track 10, "Adagio in G Minor" are, by far, my least favorite. "Adagio in G Minor" sounds very sad, like the soundtrack to a funeral procession. While track 4, "Pavane, Op. 50", also feels heavy with melancholy, it does not seem to drag on as much as "Adagio in G Minor", perhaps because it has vocal accompaniment. But sandwiched between the two so-so tracks 8 and 10 is another one of my favorite tracks: track 9, "Echos", sparkles and shimmers in its interplay between piano and guitar. Although track 11, "Duetto: Scherzano sul tuo volto", is not one of my favorites, it is not bad, partly because I do like Renee Fleming's voice and have some of her other recordings and partly because the melody livens things up after hearing the slow and sad track 10.
As with other slow instrumentals, I do not know how well each of these tracks will sound when played as 30-second music samples. Some tracks, like "English Folk Song Suite", "Since First I Saw Your Face", and "Echos" will still sound tasty as a short sample snippet, while other tracks may sound like they are going nowhere until you take the time to hear a track in its entirety."