CD reviews: Johnny Alegre, Beyonce, OPM faves

Posted at 04/06/14 6:08 PM

Johnny Alegre Affinity

Everything about this album and its music is discussed in the five-page booklet that comes with its release. It was written by Scott Yanow, a respected jazz critic who writes for the influential All-Music Guide book series and its related music website.

Let me just paraphrase the description of the two opening songs on “Stories” to put all critical doubts aside. The melody of “East Indies” introduces Johnny Alegre’s attractive and personal tone on the guitar, followed by the celebratory “Light and Joy” whose infectious upbeat melody serves as perfect orchestral introduction to this definitive reissue. There’s more, okay?

Allow me to add a few things gathered during the press brief coinciding with the release of the album. “Stories” is a compilation of previous recordings that have been diligently remastered to capture the original vision of the band on how their music should sound.

Its title refers to the "stories" of enduring friendships arising from Alegre’s collaboration with different musicians here and abroad. Once you get Johnny talking, he’ll also say something about how those friends and associates have made a good account of themselves within and without the shrinking circle of Pinoy jazz heads.

Those should be good enough reasons for you to go out, buy the CD and enjoy the bounties of its enriched re-collection.


"Life Is But A Dream"

A two-disc set, this package contains a documentary co-directed by Beyonce and features her personal life from small-town girl to global pop superstar.

The film subtitled “Season 1” delivers its first highlight showing a child Beyonce playing with her siblings. That illustration of Beyonce’s soft side quickly fades into the backburner when the film moves on to present her professional troubles with her dad, producing best-selling albums, then hooking up with and marrying rap mogul Jay-Z, and the birth of their first child.

The second disc presents Beyonce live in Atlantic City, a sort of hard-and-soft contrasting look at Beyonce onstage. As the concert footage shows, she certainly puts in a lot of hard work and heart in each of the 21 songs that make up her repertoire. It’s one hour and 15 minutes of wiggling, grinding and dancing in perfect harmony.

That’s also 75 minutes of watching one of the best-shaped bodies in the music business, scantily clad at that, wiggling and grinding to get young hormones actively pumping. There’s even a short scene where Beyonce speaks to the camera while water droplets trickle down her face followed by a quick pan to the trail of water down her body. Hot hot heat, for the fertile imagination.
Of course, these are small deviations. Beyonce’s performance sizzles every step of the way.


Various Artists
"Wicked Deluxe Edition"

The recently released deluxe edition of the acclaimed Broadway musical is a two-CD pack composed of the 2003 CD recording and a bonus CD of nine tracks, produced in 2013, of "Wicked"-related materials done by contemporary artists.

CD 1 is a reproduction of the original recording which retells in a series of songs the story of the Wizard of Oz via two conflicting characters, the Wicked Witch and Glinda the Good. Original cast soprano Kristin Chenoweth operates in diva belting mode while her counterpart alto Idina Menzel handles the softer, middle-of-the-road tunes.

CD 2, however, is a solid soft-rock affair. Country star LeAnn Rimes laces “For Good” with her trademark crossover-pop emoting, while Kerry Ellis puts a little rock and roll heart to “I’m Not Your Girl,” a track produced by former Queen guitarist Brian May. More Broadway show tunes follow, this time with a little help from the German and Japanese cast recordings.

It’s CD 2’s final cut, “Popular” by British singer-songwriter Mika, that shoots the music over the top. A happy bouncing tune, it puts a stop to calculated finesse for a little taste of goofy pop on Broadway.


Various Artists
"OPM Throwback"

Dubbed “The Best of OPM Favorites”, its four CDs are divided into one side each for the best OPM ballads, male vocalists, female singers and Pinoy bands. Renz Verano is in the company of Martin Nievera and Francis M.

Lea Salonga shares the same side as Jamie Rivera and Dina Bonnevie.

P.O.T, The Youth and Rizal Underground contribute a track each, but Introvoys and White Lies (?) have more. Hmmm. Salamat, salamat na lang musika!