Friday, November 27, 2009

The leaves of Autumn

Saxophonist Bob Brechtel is a household name in modern jazz, but his latest album will surely raise a lot of eyebrows. In what comes dangerously close to looking like a Kenny G project, he recorded 16 songs loosely arranged around the theme of autumn, supported by the Bronx Quartet, and featuring a number of guest vocalists. Some songs work very well, and none better than the album's opener, Autumn leaves sung in the original French version by Madeleine Peyroux (the album's closer is an instrumental version of this classic). Not all guests are as famous as she is, but some are well worth hearing. In particular Matt Robbins, who takes care of great versions of U2's October, and Justin Hayward's Forever autumn. The most surreal track is without doubt Sean Connery's parlando rendition of the Guns 'n' Roses anthem November Rain, although paradoxically this features some of the most beautiful saxophone playing on the album. The absolute highlight is the cover of Earth, Wind and Fire's September. Unsupported by a singer, Brechtel showcases his perfect technique and feeling in a 16 minutes delight, full of improvisations that keep the listener spellbound. An essential disc.

The idea of this little game is to create an album cover for an imaginary artist/group, as well as an imaginary review, following these instructions:

[1] The artist/group: go to the wiki random page generator. The first random Wikipedia article obtained this way is the name of the band or performer. In this case, I ended up with Bob Brechtel.
[2] The title: go to the random quotations site. The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of the album. The random quote that came up was by John Muir: Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, Luxembourg Gardens, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were HighTower Text 50 yellow and Cooper Black 60 Gold Metallic, respectively.

Note: this is a variation on the "Debut album game" that has been making its rounds around bulletin boards and blogs for some time now - the original version called for a random Flickr Explore photograph to be used as the cover. I have been trying to find out who had the original idea, but so far no success.