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My Flame Burns Blue [Includes Bonus CD]
Charles Mingus, Elvis Costello, Dave Bartholomew
My Flame Burns Blue [Includes Bonus CD]
Genres: Alternative Rock, World Music, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Classical
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #2

Elvis Costello's My Flame Burns Blue is a live album with the legendary Metropole Orkest, a 52-piece jazz orchestra from the Netherlands, recorded in concert at The Hague. A bonus disc offers a 45-minute suite from Il Sogn...  more »


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Elvis Costello's My Flame Burns Blue is a live album with the legendary Metropole Orkest, a 52-piece jazz orchestra from the Netherlands, recorded in concert at The Hague. A bonus disc offers a 45-minute suite from Il Sogno, Costello's first full-length orchestral work. The album alternates between imaginatively reinvented Costello favorites like "Almost Blue," "Clubland," and "Watching the Detectives" (arranged "in the style of a 1950s television theme"), Costello compositions seeing release for the first time on a Costello album, and unexpected collaborations. "This recording captures a very joyful evening at the North Sea Jazz Festival and collects together songs and arrangements that have been developed over the last decade," writes Costello in his detailed liner notes.For the opening track, "Hora Decubitus," Costello was invited by Charles Mingus's widow, Sue, to contribute lyrics to the jazzman's compositions. This song was completed in the immediate aftermath of September 11. "I could offer nothing more than a simple affirmation of life and rejection of vengeance," writes Costello. For the title track, Costello also wrote lyrics for Billy Strayhorn's final composition, "Blood Count."Other highlights seeing release on a Costello album for the first time include "Speak Darkly, My Angel" and "Upon a Veil of Midnight Blue," which was written for and recorded by West Coast bluesman Charles Brown as "I Wonder How She Knows."Il Sogno was originally commissioned by the Italian Dance Company, Aterbaletto, for their adaptation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Following its premiere in Bologna with the Orchestra del Teatro Communale, the ballet was staged throughout Italy, Germany, France and Russia. Il Sogno was subsequently recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. The recording was released in September 2004 by Deutsche Grammophon and stayed at the top of Billboard's Contemporary Classical Charts for fourteen weeks.Il Sogno received rave reviews upon its release. Mark Swed at The Los Angeles Times declared "Costello's sound is surprisingly fresh. His melodies are memorable. The sudden swings into jazz prove pure delight... [The performance is] bursting with life." The Boston Globe's Richard Dyer proclaimed "You'd have to go back to George Gershwin to find a composer-performer undertaking a project as ambitious as Il Sogno... It is full of character and storytelling, and the orchestration is skillful, unusual, and colorful." More Elvis
Il Sogno, with the London Symphony Orchestra/Michael Tilson Thomas
The Juliet Letters, with the Brodsky Quartet
Painted from Memory, with Burt Bacharach
Imperial Bedroom, with the Attractions
King of America
The Very Best of Elvis Costello

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CD Reviews

Costello Takes On Jazz
Thomas Magnum | NJ, USA | 02/28/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"My Flame Burns Blue is a live recording by Elvis Costello where he is backed by the jazz orchestra Metropole Orkest. The album consists of a reworking of several of his well-known songs, some his more recent material, songs he wrote for others that he never recorded and some instrumental jazz songs that he has written new lyrics for. The album sounds like it could be an experiment gone wrong, but it is yet another triumph by Mr. Costello. He is a true musical chameleon who can jump in between various musical styles with ease. The album really works due to the great interaction between Mr. Costello and the band. He doesn't treat them merely as a backing band, but allows the musicians to standout in their own right."
I can't get this darn thing off my CD player!!
J. A. Buss | Kansas, USA | 03/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"First off, let me premise by saying I wasn't that big of an Elvis Costello fan to begin with. I didn't really stick around after the first couple of albums. I mainly got this one after finding out Bill Frissel plays on three of the tracks.

All I can say is that I was blown away by this disc. I don't think I've ever heard a better-quality live recording. The music is amazing. If you even remotely dabble in Jazz, swing, or big-band, you will find something here you love. "Almost Blue" and "Veil of Midnight Blue" are so incredibly tender, while "Clubland" and "Watching the Detectives" are so electric, you can't not get up and shake it. The biggest gem for me had to be "Speak Darkly, My Angel". It doesn't get much better than this."
All that jazz with Elvis
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 04/21/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"An exceptional live recording of Elvis Costello collaborating with Metropole Orkest this fushion of "rock 'n' jazz" (as Costello describes it)is a magical fun album. The album opens with the B-side "Almost Ideal Ideas" an also ran for one of Costello's albums that always sounded a bit awkward cast as a rock tune. Here the unusual cadence and melody fit snugly with the jazz rhythms of the Metropole Orkest. Costello recasts some of his classic rock songs such as "Clubland", "Almost Blue" and his perrienial "Watching the Detectives" mixing in a couple of new compositions including the surreal "Episode of Blonde" and revisits his classic ballad written with Burt Bacharach for their album collaboration.

The performances are, for the most part, inspired as are the arrangements done with Metropole Orkest an unusual jazz band that incorporates strings into their unique sound. Frequently Costello cohort and Attraction Steve Niever plays piano and melodica on the recording as well. Costello is in fine voice throughout the recording.

As a bonus the first edition includes an extra CD with excerpts from Costello's "Ballet After Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream". If you enjoy contemporary orchestral music you'll enjoy this generous 45 minute excerpt conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas and played by the London Symphony Orchestra. If Costello elects to leave rock he also has a potential career composing film soundtracks as the music creates a number of visuals in your head as you listen to it.

All in all a great success proving that Costello continues his restless urge to keep trying new things and have fun. We usually benefit from the process as well."