"Harry Belafonte has always been regarded as one of music's best entertainers, as well as one of entertainment's best humanitarians. His music has touched so many lives through the years because it is so eminently listenable; one can't help but feel good about life when his songs are played.So along comes "An Evening With Harry Belafonte & Friends", a made-for-PBS concert special. When I saw the special on TV, I enjoyed it so much that I immediately began watching for this CD to come out. Fortunately, Mr. Belafonte and PBS did release the show, and repeated listens to this CD do nothing to diminish the wonderful performance that took place.Here, Mr. Belafonte collects some great musicians to drive the music. But, unlike other peformers, he does much to share the spotlight with them. This is exemplified in his stepping aside for two tracks to highlight the talented Richard Bona, who performs two hauntingly beautiful songs that fit very nicely into this set. Mr. Belafonte's vocals may not be entirely what they once were, but not much is missing here; he conveys both calm and power with his vocals as the show progresses, showing he can still deliver a quality performance. One of Mr. Belafonte's trademarks is audience participation, making a live performance of his even more enjoyable to listen to. That is highlighted in this show when he leads the audience through his classics "Matilda", "Jamaican Farewell", and "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)". All the songs in this performance fit very nicely as he moves back and forth from the up-tempo to mellow and back again. A highlight of this concert is a goregeous rendition of "Try To Remember", which he dedicated to the late Audrey Hepburn, his fellow UNICEF ambassador. He explained (in the video, but not on this accompanying CD) she always asked him to sing that song, so he does here in her memory. It is a poignant moment that precedes a powerful set of songs that close the show. There is nothing in the way of criticism or negative aspects of this CD that can be mentioned. It is quite simply a essential CD to have in your collection because it is such a wonderful musical experience that you will never grow tired of listening to. It is also a great display of Harry Belafonte's talents, proving the theory that the classics just keep getting better with age."
Turn the world around!
Matthew Shapiro | Detroit, Michigan | 03/02/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While just about anything Harry sings is golden, there was one reason--and one reason only why I bought this CD, and I'm glad I did...it was for the ONLY known (to me) recording of his landmark song "Turn The World Around".You see, I am a huge fan of the late great Jim Henson and the Muppets, and when Harry appeared on "The Muppet Show", he sang this song in a brilliant closing number, with African Mask Muppets as well as the regular group. I had been trying to find this song for ages and I'm glad he performed this song on his PBS special. (He also sang it at Mr. Henson's memorial service in 1990.)The rest of the CD is terrific (most notably the appearances by Richard Bona...whose CD's I also recommend as well as "Try To Remember" and the tour de force "Matilda"), but this song was the clincher in terms of my decision to buy it. You all should get it too, you won't regret it!"
Hearing or seeing him live is just amazing
Matthew Shapiro | 12/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With this album Mr. Belafonte once again showed that he is still the classic entertainer nowadays who (as much as I try to find somebody of equal talents) can not be topped. Very good mix between his older and recent repertoire. Arrangements are wonderful and exciting. Featuring so many talents in his band from all over the world specially to mention Richard Bona and LaTanya Hall. A lot of influences of sounds from especially Africa but also Brazil. Once again he makes place for younger, not this very well known artists, as he did already many times in the past (Nana Mouskouri, Miriam Makeba, Dianne Reeves, Letta Mbulu). This time for the very talented Mr. Richard Bona who contributes two stunning solo performances on this album. Very much I can recommend this album to anyone who loves different styles of music as this live recording features all kinds of it. So if you want to know what "Jamaica Farewell" or "Matilda" could sound nowadays and how Belafonte could sound tomorrow than just go for this wonderful album."
First class quality from a classic performer + friends.
Nigel Mc | The Chilterns | 10/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this CD about 6 months ago and must confess to an initial disappointment. First impressions can deceive. There are 13 tracks, several of which will be very familiar. The old favourites do require a degree of perseverance from the listener. You will be rewarded! Great skill has been expended on re-working old favourites such as 'Matilda' and 'Try to Remember' now has the benefit of a beautiful vocal backing.These are simply stunning performances by all the artists. Fabulous rhythm. 'Kwela (Listen to the Man) must be worth the price of the disc alone. Witness the originality and beauty of 'Eyala' and 'Eyando'The recording quality is superb with 73 minutes + of great music. Buy it!"
What Great Music, From a Master Performer
Nigel Mc | 03/07/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album is outstanding! Many of Harry's previous hits are here but they sound better than ever. This recording highlights excellent musicians and back-up singers and covers a wide range of tunes. My 5-year-old loves dancing to the new version of "Matilda" and "Kwela." If you like Belafonte at all I'm sure you'll love this album. The video of this event is wonderful as well."