The Duet albums are booming in the world of pop music and jazz. Especially many of the duets by big names have extremely gorgeous contents or planning, which make us enjoy the pleasure of music manyfold beyond the framework of duets. Among those duets, I’d like to pick out what struck me in particular.
This duet album was released in 2014 by Barbra Streisand, a singer and an actress representing the American show business world. Although Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet, and many other big names sang duets, this piece by Barbra having diverse contents is equally magnificent. I was surprised by the gorgeous lineup of her duet partners. They are all superstars such as Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Michael Buble, and Baby Face.
The album includes mainly slow-tempo ballads, and not only she sings with her relaxed voice but also has heartful conversation with her guests. Her great hit, <The Way We Were>, is the duet with Lionel Richie. By having Billy Joel's <New York State of Mind> added, the romantic world spread out endlessly. It sure is the perfect creation of music only can be achieved by the best entertainer. Barbra released “Movie Partners” (SICP-30959), her musical songs duetted with Hollywood stars in 2016, and it is also an enjoyable piece worth listening.
“Ella & Louis” and “Ella & Louis Again” are the vocal duets' masterpieces recorded in Verve, the famous label in 1950s. These are the great albums having comfortable duets in perfect harmony by two legends of jazz, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. This year marks the milestone, exactly 100 years from the birth of Ella. In this anniversary year Nicki Parrot, the modern popular singer, recorded the tribute album for Ella. We should pay attention to the fact that many numbers from “Ella & Louis” are included. Byron Stripling is taking Loui's part by playing a trumpet and performing the vocals.
Although Byron is not known so much in Japan, since he has taken Louis' role in concerts and musicals in America, he knows every detail of the characteristics of Louis, and here again creates the pleasant atmosphere by singing and playing a trumpet as he likes. Since Nicki Parrott also takes the phrasing of Ella in her own style, we can hear the song with jazzy sense in smartness. Nicki Parrott's catchphrase at the time of her debut was “singing bassist,” and as you can imagine, she is good at playing the bass. Here she is singing while playing the bass at the same time showing her inherent personality. Starting with the title song, only popular songs are included such as <Cheek to Cheek>, <Summertime>, and <Our Love Is Here to Stay>. Therefore, it is not only the tribute planned for the superstars, but we can also fully enjoy the current vocal scene. Venus Records are well known for its good sound quality, so if you could, I recommend you to listen to SACD which was launched at the same time.
Duets are not necessarily limited to vocalists. Coming from Cuba and is now the super trumpeter of Latin jazz world, Arturo Sandoval's latest duet album is really “ultimate” as is indicated in the title. Singers are gathered from all over the world, and the singing voices and trumpets blend into each other song by song. Furthermore, the singers are not limited to Latin singers but big names in pops, jazz, classic worlds are participating. How gorgeous!
<Corazon Patio> with Alejandro Sanz, nominated for a Latin Grammy four times, <ANDANTE ANDANTE> sung by Frida, a former member of Sweden's popular band, “ABBA,” and others songs full of Latin passions and pathos, and 11 songs in total are included. The last song was sung by Celia Cruz, the great diva of Cuba, who passed away in 2003, overdubbed with Sandoval's trumpet. It is also a superb duet.
Surrounded by various kinds of music from his childhood, Masamichi Okazaki joined Waseda University Modern Jazz Club. He started contributing articles to music magazines when he was a student. He covers wide range of music not only trad, modern and contemporary jazz, but also from pops to classics. He writes liner notes for CDs and LPs, and is a regular contributor to JAZZ JAPAN, STEREO, and others. He joined a big band, Shiny Stockings, as a saxophone player. He is a director of The Music Pen Club Japan (MPCJ).