quarta-feira, 1 de setembro de 2010

4 Astros da Música Internacional : José Feliciano - Kenny Rogers - Tony Bennett - Johnny Mathis

Disc 1 - Johnny Mathis
  1. It's Not for Me to Say
  2. Feelings
  3. Misty
  4. Evie
  5. Smile
  6. You'll Never Know
  7. One Day in Your Life
  8. If
  9. Theme from Summer of '42
  10. My Funny Valentine
  11. A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening
  12. Betcha by Golly Wow
  13. A Time for Us
  14. A Man and A Woman
Disc 2 - Tony Bennett
  1. My Romance
  2. Manhattan
  3. Blue Moon
  4. The Most Beautiful Girl in the World
  5. I Wish You Were in Love Again
  6. I've Got Five Dollars
  7. Mountain Greenery
  8. Have You Met Miss Jones?
  9. Lover
  10. Spring Is Here
  11. This Can't Be Love
  12. This Funny World
  13. Thou Swell
  14. You Took Advantage of Me
Disc 3 - Kenny Rogers
  1. Love Me Tender
  2. As Time Goes By
  3. It Had to Be You
  4. Unchained Melody
  5. Stardust
  6. I Only Have Eyes for You
  7. Crazy
  8. When A Man Loves A Woman
  9. You Light up My Life
  10. Lady
  11. Can't Help Falling in Love
  12. I Swear
  13. You Decorated My Life
  14. You Are So Beautiful
Disc 4 - José Feliciano
  1.  Light My Fire
  2. California Dreamin'
  3. Right Here Waiting
  4. Daniel
  5. You Send Me
  6. Bamboleo
  7. High Heel Sneakers
  8. Mule Skinner Blues
  9. Angela
  10. Volvere
  11. Time After Time
  12. Samba Pa Ti
  13. Rain
  14. La Bamba
    One of the last and most popular in a long line of traditional male vocalists who emerged before the rock-dominated 1960s, Johnny Mathis concentrated on romantic readings of jazz and pop standards for the ever-shrinking adult contemporary audience of the '60s and '70s. Though he debuted with a flurry of singles-chart activity, Mathis later made it big in the album market, where a dozen of his LPs hit gold or platinum and over 60 made the charts. While he concentrated on theme-oriented albums of show tunes and traditional favorites during the '60s, he began incorporating soft rock by the '70s and remained a popular concert attraction well into the '90s.

    Unsurprisingly, given his emphasis on long sustained notes and heavy vibrato, Johnny Mathis studied with an opera coach prior to his teenage years, and was almost lured into the profession; his other inspirations were the smoother crossover jazz vocalists of the 1940s -- Nat "King" Cole, Billy Eckstine, and Lena Horne. Mathis was an exceptional high school athlete in San Francisco, but was wooed away from a college track scholarship and a potential spot on the Olympic squad by the chance to sing. He was signed to a management contract by club owner Helen Noga, who introduced the singer to George Avakian, jazz producer for Columbia Records. Avakian signed him and used orchestras conducted by Teo Macero, Gil Evans, and John Lewis to record Mathis' self-titled debut album in 1957. Despite the name talent and choice of standards, it was mostly ignored upon release.

    Columbia A&R executive Mitch Miller -- known for his desperately pop-slanted Sing Along albums and TV show -- decided the only recourse was switching Mathis to Miller's brand of pop balladry, and the formula worked like a charm; the LP Wonderful, Wonderful didn't include but was named after a Top 20 hit later in 1957, which was followed by the number five "It's Not for Me to Say" and his first number one, "Chances Are." From that point on, Johnny Mathis concentrated strictly on lush ballads for adult contemporary listeners.

    Though he charted consistently, massive hit singles were rare for Johnny Mathis during the late '50s and '60s -- half of his career Top Ten output had occurred in 1957 alone -- so he chose to focus instead on the burgeoning album market, much like Frank Sinatra, his main rival during the late '50s as the most popular traditional male vocalist. Mathis moved away from show tunes and traditional pop into soft rock during the '70s, and found his second number one single, "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late," in 1978. Recorded as a duet with Deniece Williams, the single prompted Mathis to begin trying duets with a variety of partners (including Dionne Warwick, Natalie Cole, Gladys Knight, and Nana Mouskouri), though none of the singles enjoyed the success of the original. Mathis continued to release and sell albums throughout the '90s -- his fifth decade of recording for Columbia -- among them 1998's Because You Loved Me: Songs of Diane Warren and 2000's Johnny Mathis on Broadway. ~ John Bush, Rovi

    Tony Bennett's career has enjoyed three distinct phases, each of them very successful. In the early '50s, he scored a series of major hits that made him one of the most popular recording artists of the time. In the early '60s, he mounted a comeback as more of an adult-album seller. And from the mid-'80s on, he achieved renewed popularity with generations of listeners who hadn't been born when he first appeared. This, however, defines Bennett more in terms of marketing than music. He himself probably would say that, in each phase of his career, he has remained largely constant to his goals of singing the best available songs the best way he knows how. Popular taste may have caused his level of recognition to increase or decrease, but he continued to sing popular standards in a warm, husky tenor, varying his timing and phrasing with a jazz fan's sense of spontaneity to bring out the melodies and lyrics of the songs effectively. By the start of the 21st century, Bennett seemed like the last of a breed, but he remained as popular as ever. Bennett grew up in the Astoria section of the borough of Queens in New York City under the name Anthony Dominick Benedetto. His father, a grocer, died when he was about ten after a lingering illness that had forced his mother to become a seamstress to support the family of five. By then, he was already starting to attract notice as a singer, performing beside Mayor Fiorello La Guardia at the opening of the Triborough Bridge in 1936. By his teens, Bennett had set his sights on becoming a professional singer. After briefly attending the High School of Industrial Arts (now known as the High School of Art and Design), where he gained training as a painter, he dropped out of school at 16 to earn money to help support his family, meanwhile also performing at amateur shows. Upon his 18th birthday in 1944, he was drafted into the Army, and he saw combat in Europe during World War II. Mustered out in 1946, he went back to trying to make it in music, and he attended the American Theater Wing on the GI Bill. By the end of the 1940s, he had acquired a manager and was working regularly around New York. He got a break when Bob Hope saw him performing with Pearl Bailey in Greenwich Village and put him into his stage show, also suggesting a name change to Tony Bennett. In 1950, Columbia Records A&R director Mitch Miller heard his demonstration recording of "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and signed him to the label. Bennett's first hit, "Because of You," topped the charts in September 1951, succeeded at number one by his cover of Hank Williams' "Cold, Cold Heart." Following another five chart entries over the next two years, he returned to number one in November 1953 with "Rags to Riches." Its follow-up, "Stranger in Paradise" from the Broadway musical Kismet, was another chart-topper, and in 1954 Bennett also reached the Top Ten with Williams' "There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight" and "Cinnamon Sinner." The rise of rock & roll in the mid-'50s made it more difficult for Bennett to score big hits, but he continued to place singles in the charts regularly through 1960, and even returned to the Top Ten with "In the Middle of an Island" in 1957. Meanwhile, he was developing a nightclub act that leaned more heavily on standards and was exploring album projects that allowed him to indulge his interest in jazz -- notably 1957's The Beat of My Heart, on which he was accompanied mainly by jazz percussionists, and 1959's In Person! With Count Basie and His Orchestra. By the early '60s, although he had faded as a singles artist, he had built a successful career making personal appearances and recording albums of well-known songs in the manner of Frank Sinatra. In 1962, Bennett introduced "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," a ballad written by two unknown songwriters, George Cory and Douglass Cross, who had pitched it to his pianist, Ralph Sharon. Released as a single, the song took time to catch on, and although it peaked only in the Top 20, it remained on one or the other of the national charts for almost nine months. It became Bennett's signature song and pushed his career to a higher level. The I Left My Heart in San Francisco album reached the Top Five and went gold, and the single won Bennett Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Best Solo Vocal Performance, Male. Bennett's next studio album, 1963's I Wanna Be Around..., also made the Top Five, and its title track was another Top 20 hit, as was his next single, "The Good Life," also featured on the album. For the next three years, his albums consistently placed in the Top 100, along with a series of charting singles that included the Top 40 hits "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)" (from the Broadway musical The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd) and "If I Ruled the World" (from the Broadway musical Pickwick). By the late '60s, Bennett's record sales had cooled off as the major record labels turned their attention to the lucrative rock market. Just as Mitch Miller had encouraged Bennett to record novelty songs over his objections in the 1950s, Clive Davis, head of Columbia parent CBS Records, encouraged him to record contemporary pop/rock material. He acquiesced on albums such as Tony Sings the Great Hits of Today!, but his sales did not improve. In 1972, he left Columbia for the Verve division of MGM Records, but by the mid-'70s he was without a label affiliation, and he decided to found his own record company, Improv, to record the way he wanted to. He made several albums for Improv, including one with jazz pianist Bill Evans (following a disc they made for Fantasy Records), but the label eventually foundered. (Concord Records  released the box set The Complete Improv Recordings in 2004.) By the late '70s, however, Bennett did not need hit records to sustain his career, and he worked regularly in concert halls around the world. By the mid-'80s, there was a growing appreciation of traditional pop music, as performers such as Linda Ronstadt recorded albums of standards. In 1986, Bennett re-signed to Columbia and released The Art of Excellence, his first album to reach the pop charts in 14 years. Now managed by his son Danny, Bennett shrewdly found ways to attract the attention of the MTV  generation without changing his basic style of singing songs from the Great American Songbook while wearing a tuxedo. By the early '90s, he was as popular as he had ever been. The albums Perfectly Frank (1992, a tribute to Frank Sinatra) and Steppin' Out (1993, a tribute to Fred Astaire) went gold and won Bennett back-to-back Grammys for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance. But his comeback was sealed by 1994's MTV Unplugged, featuring guest stars Elvis Costello and k.d. lang, which went platinum and won the Grammy for Album of the Year as well as another award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance.

    Bennett became a Grammy perennial, also taking home Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance awards for Here's to the Ladies (1995) and On Holiday: A Tribute to Billie Holiday (1997). Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool (1999) was another Grammy winner in the retitled Best Traditional Pop Album category, as was Playin' with My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues, an album of duets released in 2001. One year later, Bennett paired off with a single duet partner, recording A Wonderful World with k.d. lang. The Art of Romance followed in 2004. Both albums won the Best Traditional Pop Album Grammy for their respective years. In August 2006, Bennett reached his 80th birthday, and his record label marked the occasion with a series of reissues and compilations. The next month brought Duets: An American Classic, another collection of pairings with other singers on re-recordings of some of Bennett's best-known songs that reached number three in the Billboard chart, the highest placing for an album in Bennett's career. It also won him another Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Album. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi

    Bearded, amiable American singer/actor Kenny Rogers launched his professional career as a member of the New Christy Minstrels, then first rose to fame as a member of the country-pop group the First Edition. After several years of hits like "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" (as well as popular syndicated TV series Rollin' on the River), the First Edition broke up in 1974. Rogers had some lean years immediately after the split, at one point making ends meet by promoting a correspondence school guitar course. The outlook became brighter in 1976 when Rogers recorded his first solo hit, "Love Lifted Me," which he followed up with the even more popular ballad "Lucille." He regained his following with a dozen TV specials and several duets with equally renowned female country artists. In 1980, Rogers made his TV-movie debut with The Gambler  (1980), an agreeable Western based on one of his more successful songs ("You gotta know when to hold 'em/know when to fold 'em...etc."). The Gambler scored an immediate ratings coup, inspiring sequels over the next decade, the best of which was The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw  (1991), which had the added drawing card of guest appearances by several popular TV cowboy stars of days gone by. Rogers also pleased the crowd with the made-for-TV Coward of the County  (1981), a dramatized elaboration of another of his top-selling songs. Less successful was Kenny Rogers' starring theatrical feature, Six Pack (1982), which proves that having six cute kids onscreen doesn't make you a Disney-quality hit. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    One of the most prominent Latin-born performers of the pop era, singer/guitarist Jose Feliciano was born September 10, 1945, in Lares, Puerto Rico; the victim of congenital glaucoma, he was left permanently blind at birth. Five years later, he and his family moved to New York City's Spanish Harlem area; there Feliciano began learning the accordion, later taking up the guitar and making his first public appearance at the Bronx's El Teatro Puerto Rico at the age of nine. While in high school he became a fixture of the Greenwich Village coffeehouse circuit, eventually quitting school in 1962 in order to accept a permanent gig in Detroit; a contract with RCA followed a performance at New York's Gerde's Folk City, and within two years he appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival. After bowing with the 1964 novelty single "Everybody Do the Click," he issued his flamenco-flavored debut LP The Voice and Guitar of Jose Feliciano, trailed early the next year by The Fantastic Feliciano.

    Unhappy with the direction of his music following the release of 1966's A Bag Full of Soul, Feliciano returned to his roots, releasing three consecutive Spanish-language LPs -- Sombras...Una Voz, Una Guitarra, Mas Exitos de Jose Feliciano and El Sentimiento, La Voz y La Guitarra de Jose Feliciano -- on RCA International, scoring on the Latin pop charts with the singles "La Copa Rota" and "Amor Gitana." With 1968's Feliciano!, he scored a breakthrough hit with a soulful reading of the Doors' "Light My Fire" that launched him into the mainstream pop stratosphere; a smash cover of Tommy Tucker's R&B chestnut "Hi Heel Sneakers" solidified his success, and soon Feliciano found himself performing the national anthem during the 1968 World Series. His idiosyncratic Latin-jazz performance of the song proved highly controversial, and despite the outcry of traditionalists and nationalists, his status as an emerging counterculture hero was secured, with a single of his rendition also becoming a hit.

    In 1969 Feliciano recorded three LPs -- Souled, Alive Alive-O, and Feliciano 10 to 23 -- and won a Grammy for Best New Artist; however, he never again equalled the success of "Light My Fire," and only the theme song to the sitcom Chico and the Man subsequently achieved hit status, edging into the Top 100 singles chart in 1974. Throughout the 1970s Feliciano remained an active performer, however, touring annually and issuing a number of LPs in both English and Spanish, including 1973's Steve Cropper-produced Compartments; he also appeared on the Joni Mitchell hit "Free Man in Paris," and guested on a number of television series including Kung Fu and McMillan and Wife. In 1980 Feliciano was the first performer signed to the new Latin division of Motown, making his label debut with an eponymous effort the following year; his recorded output tapered off during the course of the decade, although he occasionally resurfaced with LPs including 1987's Tu Immenso Amor and 1989's I'm Never Gonna Change. A school in East Harlem was renamed the Jose Feliciano Performing Arts School in his honor; in 1996, he also appeared briefly in the hit film Fargo. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi

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