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As a smooth jazz journalist, I sincerely support the smooth jazz genre, as I adore the sound and recognize the diligence and hard work artists and musicians place into their craft.

  sheila e ross

As an educator, I enjoy working with youth as an English teacher of eight years and see daily the strong embrace students have for music as well.

For this reason, I expose them further to the artistry.  Some students share sincere interests in musical careers so we dive deeper into the life and times of both current and late artists. Like literature, music is personal and shared from the human condition, so there is much to acquire.

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Jazz Reviews on JazzNet247 Radio Europe

Artist : Michael Franks

Album : Time Together

Year : 2011

Label : Shanachie

michael franks

Personnel :
Michael Franks : Composer & Vocals | Chuck Loeb : Guitar | Will Lee : Bass | Wolfgang Haffner : Drums | Eric Marienthal : Alto Sax | Till Broenner : Trumpet | Gil Goldstein : Piano | Romero Lubambo : Guitar | Mike Maneiri : Vibraphone | David Mann : Sax | Mark Egan : Fretless Bass | Veronica Nunn - Vocals | Carmen Cuesta : Background Vocals and others.

The first time I heard Michael Franks was his tribute song to Antonio Carlos Jobim ' Antonio's Song ' from his ' Sleeping Gypsy ' set in 1977, being a fan of bossa nova endeared me to this soft, melodic compostion by a man who is quite unique in-as-much, he could be regarded as a poet as well as a songwriter. Indeed poetry was to become a part of his education at the University High in San Diego where he grew up. His interest in poet Theodore Roethke coupled with his English studies at UCLA and later literature studies earned him a Masters Degree from the University of Oregon in 1968.

His early musical education was quite simple with a handful of guitar lessons at aged 14, but his discovery of artists such as Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz, João Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Miles Davis would sew the seeds of a recording career which would span from 1973 until present.

The album which I play most of all from him is the 2011 Shanachie released ' Time Together ' collection which has a stellar line up of wonderful musicians on his 17th album release.

The artists mentioned above compliment beautifully these crafted songs which were produced by Chuck Loeb, Gil Goldstein, Scott Petito, Charles Blenzig and Mark Egan, the use of so many creative musicians and talents results in a wonderfully balanced and creative collection of songs.

To first time listeners to Michael Franks you might be forgiven for thinking ' What's all the fuss about ? ' he is not the greatest singer, BUT once you have listened to the number of tracks by this maestro as I have you will soon realize that singing is just the tip of the iceberg and that the real message and talent is in the lyrics of his music and in the case of this album ' Time Together ', the wonderful lyrics, instrumentation and arrangements.

His way with words and poetry are always evident and what makes this album a joy to listen to is the smooth, easy listening nature of the melodies which rarely exceed 112 bpm.

To pick highlights from this album would be unkind as the whole album' is a highlight, but if I had to pick out particular favourites of mine they might be the trumpet solo on 'Summer In New York' by German trumpeter Till Broenner.

The song 'Mice' is a real tongue-in-cheek lyric about watching the little criters playing around to the beautiful vibe playing of Mike Manieri.

'Samba Blue' is more akin to many of the previous Frank's songs and this Eric Marienthal sax driven track is a delight with the contra backing vocals of the late, great Chuck Loeb's wife Carmen Cuesta, who is incidentally a wonderful vocalist in her own right.

If like me you are a fan of bossa nova as well as a lover of wonderful arrangements and musicianship, buy this CD or download it for a guaranteed hour of relaxation with your favourite tipple. Wash your stress away, or like me, put your noise cancelling headphones on to elliminate all outside interference and relax into a world of beauty.  ^

Review by Wes George
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