Chic treats

I picked up a few good CDs today: Café de Flore – Rendez-vous à Saint-Germain des Près. (mostly French, jazz); the latest Silje Nergaard album, Nightwatch (Norwegian, jazz), Craig David’s Slicker Than Your Average (‘what’s your flava? tell me what’s your flava’, nuff said); and a tribute to Bill Evans.
[Note: From this post onwards, I may refer to a self-made term called ‘skip factor’. This means the degree to which I feel like skipping certain tracks on a CD, because they suck and are embarassing to listen to when you are entertaining guests. I will usually not purchase an album with a high skip factor. But there may be albums with a moderate skip factor which are still good, because even though the lousy tracks are really shite, the good tracks could be really wicked too. Got it? Read on…]

The French album is chic chillout cafe fare, with a decent variety of tracks and, I dare imagine, some eccentric-sounding lyrics (I can translate some phrases here and there, though my attempts may be of dubious accuracy). Well, it’s not entirely French, as there’s one Diana Krall track in it, and in another language at that. But it’s good mood music. Skip factor: Pretty low. Play on…
As for Nightwatch, Nergaard’s voice is as sweet as ever, and the style here is similar to the previous album, which may be good or bad depending on how much you like an artiste to develop. I could remember one of the new tracks she performed for us during her visit to Singapore (‘Take a Long Long Walk’), and I managed to identify it in this album, with a heavier Blues overtone. Nothing super spectacular; but generally quite pleasing. Skip factor: Low, but I might get a little bored.
Lastly I noticed an album called Portrait of Bill Evans. Evans is one of my most favourite pianists; since learning jazz piano I have identified more with him than with any other pianist, because I tend to follow his ‘less is more’ approach which was probably what Miles Davis valued him for (at least, according to the Bill Evans biography I’m reading). So I was more than intrigued by this tributary album performed by numerous other favourite musicians of mine: Bob James, Brad Mehldau (my favourite modern-day technical pianist, sometimes a little too abstract for me), Dave Grusin (I was hooked onto his Gershwin variations and what he did for the Fabulous Baker Boys but later found his technique a little too ‘smooth’). I’m a lesser fan of Herbie Hancock, but you can’t mistake his brazen style. Skip factor: Moderately low (it’s all Hancock’s fault, cos I love the other tracks).


  1. Van Heng

    I’ve got Cafe de Flore too! Bought it as a treat to bring to Michigan. We’ve both got great taste, Van 😉
    Am keen to get the Silje album. Might be good for the winter nights here. =)
    Nice music recommendations. You should certainly share your reviews more often!

  2. a l

    heh, i was at the silje showcase as well! (yeah, got the autograph, and a picture with her too, should have ambushed the pianist).
    am keen to get the french jazz cd – maybe it’ll remind me of that rainy day in tokyo i spent (er, will explain some other time :))

  3. wan hsi

    i love love love bill evans. portrait of bill evans and waltz with debby have permananent places in my playlist. you’re right about brad medhlau, sometimes a little too abstract. another fav is keith jarrett. the koln concert , bye bye blackbird, The melody at night with you, at the deer head inn..all excellent. he likes to intersperse the jazz with classical, and that shows very clearly in the koln concert. some of his albums are rather abstract, but he does belong to the hancock, corea, Garbarek generation.
    suggest you listen also to Oliver Nelson’s “Blues and the Abstract Truth”. i was blown away!

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