MICHAEL FRANKS Part 2.
Sonny Abelardo Production Coordination/Alex Acuna Percussion/Ken Alalrdyce Assistant Engineer/John Beasley Keyboards/Walter Becker Producer/Larry Carlton Guitar/Vinnie Colaiuta Drums/Luis Conte Percussion/Peter Erskine Drums/Howard "Buzz" Feiten Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar/Michael Fisher Percussion/Michael Franks Banjo, Guitar, Vocals/Sean Franks Cymbals/John Guerin Drums/Tom Hardisty Assistant Engineer/Jeri Heiden Art Direction, Design/Bunny Hull Vocals (bckgr)/Paul Jackson, Jr. Guitar/Tommy LiPuma Producer/Jeff Lorber Arranger, Keyboards, Programming, Producer, Engineer/Kip Lott Photography/Alan Meyerson Mixing/Gabriel Moffat Assistant Engineer/Roger Nichols Engineer, Mixing/Clif Norrell Assistant Engineer/Carole Parks Production Coordination /Dean Parks Guitar (Electric)/John Patitucci Bass/Neal Pogues Assistant Engineer/Scott Ralston Assistant Engineer/Eric Rudd Assistant Engineer/Brenda Russell Vocals (bckgr)/Marc Russo Sax (Alto)/Joe Sample Piano/Doug Sax Mastering/Al Schmitt Engineer/Bill Schnee Mixing/Bob Shepard Sax (Tenor)/Neil Stubenhaus Bass/Livingston Taylor Vocals (bckgr)/Michael Thompson Guitar/Ed Togerson Assistant Engineer/Freddie "Ready Freddie" Washington Bass/Kirk Whalum Sax (Tenor)/Larry Williams Arranger, Programming/Joey Wolpert Engineer
01 The Art Of Love (4:10)
02 Woman In The Waves (5:58)
03 All I Need (4:46)
04 Long Slow Distance (5:09)
05 Vincent's Ear (6:21)
06 Speak To Me (5:01)
07 On The Inside (5:12)
08 Chez Nous (4:29)
09 Blue Pacific (4:58)
10 Crayon Sun (Safe At Home) (6:20)
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"Michael Franks' first album of the '90s and his first in three years was a complete return to form and his best album since 1979's Tiger in the Rain. Meditative, lush and clearly the work of an artist intent on making personal music regardless of trends or airplay, Blue Pacific is as open and beautiful as the ocean for which it is named. The return of the production team of Tommy LiPuma and Al Schmitt doesn't hurt either, and with such veteran pros as Dean Parks, John Guerin, John Patitucci and Peter Erskine on board, how could Franks miss? With additional production and engineering support by Walter Becker and Roger Nichols, the Steely Dan connection, previously hinted at, was finally made, with great results. It's pointless to single out individual songs, since this is very much a complete, unified work. The album marked a total rebirth for Franks."
"This review is being written to currently right an egregious wrong. Which is simply that Michael Franks "Blue Pacific" is quite possibly, when listened to in it's entirety ( as opposed to evaluating each song seperately ) his best work as of this date. Don't misunderstand me, Michael Franks back catalogue is nothing short of amazing, having written some tunes that will forever be on my list of favorites, as I'm sure they will be on many other listener's lists as well. But, that being the case, when judged as a complete disc "Blue Pacific", with it's picturesque songs of oceans, sand and unrequited love ( what other kind is there? ) simply does not require me to search for the 'skip' button on my cd player. And the strength that comes from each song so wonderfully complementing the last is what makes it an extrodinary listening experience. Starting off with the funky, uptempo "Art Of Love", which really sets the tone of the disc extremely well, the album is off and running. To put it mildly this song has a groove you can 'take to the bank'! Followed by the leisurely "Woman In The Waves" which reminds me of Antonio Jobim's "Girl From Ipanema", the song is amazingly descriptive, seductive and sinfully playfull! There really are so many highlights to this disc.... including "Long Slow Distance" which, for me, is easily the standout track. Performed at mid-tempo, while Michael sings coyingly about pacing yourself for the "long distance" when entering a relationship and attempting to keep things nice and slow to make it last, is a work of true lyrical art! Plus, with a piano solo by Joe Sample that flows so well I almost started to laugh! The other true highlight would have to be "Vincent's Ear", obviously a tribute to Vincent Van Gogh's tortured life and the price some artist's pay for their talent's. The song is at once sympathetic of this true artist yet at the same time still in awe of the man himself. Finishing off the disc is a wonderful 'lullaby' called " Crayon Sun ( Safe At Home )a simple and elegant selection that finds Michael 'safe at home' and ultimately happy and satisfied with his journey. A fitting end to a cd that is at once imaginative, playful and yet strangely innocent in a child like wonder of the world. Overall, this album has much to offer the listener who is looking for a style of music that conjure's up a setting that is graphically set on any beach front where the lure of the ocean is still a powerful magnet to many of us. And one where the artist is still able to marvel at life's small pleasures and the beauty of what is all around him. A cd that, I find, is richly textured, immenently more mature than his previous work and shows Michael Franks at the top of his game. For me, personally, I'm going to sit back, reach for my pina colada and relax! It may be the middle of December but I've indeed found my place in the sun! Thanks!"
" A friend turned me on to Michael Franks back in the early 80's. His unusual voice and musical style, along with his adeptness with lyrics, really resonate with me. I'm not a fanatical fan by any means, but there are certain moods for which his music is absolutely the best choice. I've owned Blue Pacific since it was first released, and if anything I enjoy and appreciate it more now than when I first purchased it. All of his other albums I've heard have songs I love, like, and don't much like. But Blue Pacific is that very rare thing, a perfect album. It's not that I absolutely love every single song on the album. It's that even my less favorite songs still obviously belong here. All the songs seamlessly flow together into one beautifully cohesive whole. The entire album strikes a tone and mood that is consistent throughout, and as others mentioned, it really does transport you mentally to the ocean. My favorite on the album by far is "Woman in the Waves". It's a combination of the lyrics and how the song sounds, along with it bringing back memories of swimming in the ocean with my friend who introduced me to Michael Franks. "Blue Pacific" ranks next. I can't really put into words what the song evokes in me, but it's magical. The rest of the songs are all really solid and which ones I like more than others depends on what day I'm listening to the album. I highly recommend Blue Pacific as THE Michael Franks album to own. All others are icing on the proverbial cake, but this is the one that it would be a tragedy to not have in your music collection."
DRAGONFLY SUMMER (1993)
Michael Franks (vocals); Toninho Horta, John Pisano, Steve Khan (guitar); Bob Mintzer (soprano & tenor saxophones); Dave Koz, Chris Hunter (alto saxophone); Marvin Stamm (trumpet, flugelhorn); Warren Bernhardt (piano); Jeff Lorber, Gil Goldstein (keyboards); Alec Milstein, Jimmy Haslip, John Patitucci, Steve Rodby (bass); Alex Acuna (drums, percussion); John Robinson, William Kennedy (drums); Mino Cinelu (percussion).Producers: Jeff Lorber, The Yellowjackets, Gil Goldstein, Ben Sidran.Engineers include: Jeff Lorber, James Farber, Thomas Mark
01 Coming To Life
02 Soul Mate
03 Dragonfly Summer
04 Monk's New Tune
05 Learning What Love Means
06 I Love Lucy
07 Practice Makes Perfect
08 String Of Pearls
09 Keeping My Eye On You
10 The Dream
11 You Were Meant For Me
12 How I Remember You
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"Influenced by such greats as Mose Allison and Bob Dorough, the sly and subtle Michael Franks lacks their chops, but has been quite clever and inventive at times. Dragonfly Summer isn't one of the pop/jazz singer's better albums, but it has its moments. Though Franks does most of the songwriting himself, he's often at the mercy of various producers. The CD's strongest material (including the haunting "String of Pearls" and the inspired ode to Thelonious Monk, "Monk's New Tune") was produced by the Yellowjackets, while the songs produced by the ever-contrived Jeff Lorber are forgettable and pedestrian. On the Brazilian-influenced, Ben Sidran-produced "You Were Meant for Me," Franks forms an unsuccessful duet with a 70-something Peggy Lee — who had long since lost her voice, and sounds truly awful."
"Michael released "Dragonfly Summer after a three year hiatus. What a wonderful return. The opener "Coming To Life" is an upbeat tune where Michael seems like he's singing about the start of this album itself. All of the songs are winners, I sometimes wonder what the outtakes are like, given the overall quality of the songs here. "Soul Mate" not only turned me on to Jeff Lorber, but also introduced me to Eric Benet, he's singing the harmony vocal. Not only is Michael talented, but the people he surrounds himself with, wow! The title track is fun, "Monk's New Tune" is about as late night jazz as Michael gets. "I Love Lucy" is that "I Love Lucy," the only cover Michael has recorded, save for a couple Christmas songs. The song is transformed from a Cuban lounge style to a romantic Brazilian influenced love song, the orchestration is glorious. "Practice Makes Perfect" is fun, "String Of Pearls" is a beautiful song, moving at a nice tempo featuring accoustic guitar and a woodwind solo. "Keeping My Eye On You" is a duet with Dan Hicks, it tells a story about two friends who are a bit wary of each other, they want the same girl. " The Dream" is a huge production number produced by the Yellowjackets. Michael would later record this song live, with Brenda Russell and Marilyn Scott handling background duty. "You Were Meant For Me" is a duet with Michael's muse, Peggy Lee, whose voice is tragically gone. This song is so gentle, it caresses what's left of Peggy's voice and Michael restrains himself, the end result is sweet. "How I Remember You" is a Michael formula jazz song, a great way to close this richly arranged and totally enjoyble album."
"Dragonfly Summer is my favorite MF album. The key thing to consider is everything that happened previously. The first five albums (Art of Tea - One Bad Habit) were mostly smooth jazz with great arrangements played by the Crusaders, etc. Then for the next several albums (Objects of Desire - The Camera Never Lies) Michael became more (not totally, just more) electronic and synthesized using producer Rob Mounsey. Good material because it was Michael but a severe dropoff for those desiring the more acoustic sound of the previous projects. Then after a break came Blue Pacific which combined the acoustic with the electronic. A wonderful project...but only a setup for the true masterpiece: Dragonfly Summer. Dragonfly Summer was in the same vein as Pacific except Michael's method of compiling multiple styles was more polished and consistent. The result was an album that showed Franks coming full circle and showering us with the cumulative knowledge of his experiences on both sides of the fence. Without going into a blow by blow of each individual song I'll just leave you with this challenge. By the time you get to "I Love Lucy" you'll be blown away, and that's just the first half. When you get to "How I Remember You" which ends the last half you'll be in love with love and all else that's special to you. For anyone who liked Michael Franks but was wary of his new directions: Don't be afraid...it's okay, come on into this CD...the water's warm again. For those who know MF a little: It's okay. Come inside and relax to the warmth and shelter of Dragonfly Summer. As for the rest of you: there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth once you go through life and find out what you missed out on."
ABANDONED GARDEN (1995)
Bass - Jimmy Haslip (track 01,02,07)/Christian McBride (track 03,05)/Marc Johnson (track 0,06,10,11)/Steve Swallow (track 09)Drums - Chris Parker (track 01,02,07)/Lewis Nash (track 03,05)/Peter Erskine (track 04,06,08-11)/Mark Egan (track 08)Guitar - Chuck Loeb (track 01,02,07,09,11)/Jeff Mironov (track 0,06,08,09,10,11)Guitar [Steel String], Guitar [Electric] - John Leventhal (track 08)Percussion - Manolo Badrena (track 01,02,07,10)/Don Alias (track 03,04,05,06,08,10,11)/Bashiri Johnson (track 04,06,08)Piano, Arranged By - Russell Ferrante (track 01,02,07)/Carla Bley (track 09)Flugelhorn - Randy Brecker (track 03)Flute [Alto], Arranged By [Horns] - Bob Mintzer (track 03)Piano - Eliane Elias (track 03,05)/Gil Goldstein (track 04,06,10,11)/Piano - Bob James (track 08)Saxophone [Tenor] - Michael Brecker (track 03,05)/Joshua Redman (track 06)/Saxophone [Alto] - Andy Snitzer (track 07)/Saxophone [Alto] - David Sanborn (track 10)Trombone - Keith O'Quinn (track 03)Flumpet - Art Farmer (track 09)Vocals - Brian Mitchell (track 09)
Notes: Liner notes: "In memoriam, Antonio Carlos Jobim, with endless admiration, affection, and love."
01 This Must Be Paradise (6:10)
02 Like Water, Like Wind (5:19)
03 A Fool's Errand (4:35)
04 Hourglass (4:45)
05 Cinema (4:52)
06 Eighteen Aprils (4:35)
07 Somehow Our Love Survives (5:00)
08 Without Your Love (5:22)
09 In The Yellow House (5:21)
10 Bird Of Paradise (5:39)
11 Abandoned Garden (5:24)
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"Michael Franks dedicated this album to the memory of Antonio Carlos Jobim, but it's neither Franks' best effort nor particularly evocative of the great Brazilian composer. There is not an especially strong Brazilian influence on the disc, despite the presence of Eliane Elias. In fact, there's a host of heavy hitters on board, including the Yellowjackets, Peter Erskine, Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, Art Farmer, Marc Johnson, Bob Mintzer, Michael Brecker, and many, many others. But while the revolving door of stars has served Franks well on other recordings, here they don't seem to add up to much."
"After listening to this album, no one will doubt that Michael Franks has a love and admiration for his idol and mentor Antonio Carlos Jobim that is about as deep as one man can feel about another on a non-sexual level. The title cut and Like Water, Like Wind are utterly unambiguous on that score. Franks has made many lyrical references to Jobim in the past, but now that Jobim has gone to Jesus, he allows his feelings to gush forth, figuratively genuflecting to him, resulting in some rather remarkable songs. When playing this album for friends, some of the less perceptive ones made comments about Franks sounding "gay" for Jobim. Now I don't pretend to know a thing about Franks' private life but I don't think he sounds that way. I think some are uncomfortable and perhaps jealous that Franks has a talent for expressing romantic feeling and physical longing in the most exquisite, picturesque phrasings.I detect nothing but pure admiration in his songs about Jobim. Abandoned Garden starts with an incredibly sensual bossa nova, no doubt as a nod to Jobim. Listen to the lyrics. How many of us wish we could express our desire and our fondness for our lovers so poetically? "Tenderly now, let me demonstrate, you need only undulate, keeping time with the samba like this while the stars rise..." Get Franks' drift? In addition to the aforementioned songs, I think Cinema, written together by Jobim and Franks, is a high point on the album. Jobim wrote the music and it simply sways. The romantic lyrics are highlighted by the smooth tenor sax of Michael Brecker and accented by the fine piano work of Elaine Elias. I could listen to this one ten times in a row! Other songs I like are Somehow Our Love Survives, co-written with Joe Sample, Without Your Love (From the musical Noa Noa), and the romantic yet enigmatic Bird of Paradise. In the Yellow House (also from Noa Noa) is an interesting departure for Franks featuring a vocal duet with Brian Mitchell. If you hadn't read the lyrics you might at first be perplexed by the story line. Then you hear a couple of references that make you realise that the duo is supposed to be Van Gogh and Gaugin singing their regrets and apologies to one another. My epiphany was the reference to "a wheatfield with crows and those cypresses in starry night". On this album, more than on any other Franks album, one of the keys to enjoyment is knowing to what his lyrical allusions refer. Abandoned Garden contains a couple of songs I consider rather plodding and/or lyrically lame which keep its rating a shade under 5 stars. Fool's Errand, Hourglass and Eighteen Aprils just don't fit with the spirit of the rest of the album. That being said, I think Abandoned Garden is Franks' best all-round album since Tiger in the Rain, and that Jobim has been a most beneficial musical influence. In addition, an incredible stable of well-known session musicians helps to make this an album worth owning."
"Abandoned Garden is Michael Franks' most poignant, emotional and mystical CD. He utilizes his boundless talents to remember and revere an inspiring musical friend. The vocals, arrangements and instrumentation are flawless. This CD is Michael Frank's most melancholic and spiritual recording. Every song is laden with both pathos and hope. Franks' vocals are compelling and resonate with a sublime austerity. An irrefutable masterpiece ! Abandoned Garden is Michael Franks with a major touch of vintage John Lennon ! As usual, Michael Franks is musically eclectic and impeccable."
"Full of delicate melodies, intricate lyrics, mellow singing and nostalgia, this album is a must. Being a Michael Franks fan for many years, I haven't heard any of his other projects that satisfies me more than this.Unlike the usual blend of uptempo stuff and slower, more relaxed tracks (of which 'Dragonfly Summer' is certainly the best example), this collection of songs displays a rare unity of sound and purpose, with the ghost of Antonio Carlos ("Tom") Jobim (his recently-lost friend to whom he dedicated the opus), haunting the whole album.Don't get me wrong though, this album is everything but sad and morbid; just like bossa, I'd describe it as 'joyous sadness'. Michael and Tom's co-penned song "Cinema" is an instant classic; "Hourglass" is a beautiful personification of time as a woman, while "Abandoned Garden", the closing tribute song to the friend and master, will easily bring tears to your eyes if you let yourself be touched by its words and atmosphere.I often regret that some of my prefered artists are not very well known by the general public, but in the case of Michael Franks, I'm glad, because he can go on enchanting us by just being himself: the coolest poet of jazz."
Backing Vocals - Carmen Cuesta* , Lani Groves , Tawatha Agee* /Bass - Will Lee/ Bass, Keyboards - Jimmy Haslip /Double Bass [Acoustic Bass] - John Patitucci /Drums - Brian Dunne , Shawn Pelton , Steve Gadd/ Drums, Percussion - Wolfgang Haffner /Flugelhorn - James Hynes*/ Flute - David Mann /Flute, Saxophone - Chris Hunter /Guitar - Chuck Loeb , Jay Azzolina , Jeff Mironov , Steve Khan /Keyboards - Charles Blenzig , Chris Palmaro , Mike Ricchiuti/ Percussion - Bashiri Johnson , David Charles /Piano - Bob James/ Saxophone - Andy Snitzer , Bob Mintzer /Strings - Jim Beard/ Trombone - Birch Johnson /Trumpet - Larry Lunetta , Randy Brecker/ Vibraphone - Dave Samuels /Vocals - Michael Franks , Valerie Simpson
01 Barefoot On The Beach (5:03)
02 The Fountain Of Youth (5:51)
03 Every Time She Whispers (7:23)
04 Like Moon Behind The Cloud (6:24)
05 Why Spring Ain't Here (4:27)
06 Mr. Smooth (4:40)
07 Heart Like An Open Book (4:46)
08 When You Smiled At Me (5:04)
09 Now Love Has No End (6:11)
10 Double Talk (6:10)
11 A Walk In The Rain (6:21)
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"Countless musical trends have steamrolled by since this wry singer songwriter with the cool and collected, wistful onionskin voice first graced the adult music world in the mid-'70s with The Art of Tea and its cryptic hit, "Popsicle Toes." Yet Franks has stood his ground, growing as an observational lyricist while his relaxed demeanor stays pretty much the same, and charmingly so. While varying his backing instrumental tracks to fall somewhere between classic, subtle brassy Steely Dan ("The Fountain of Youth" features Yellowjacket saxman Bob Mintzer kicking it up with trumpeter Larry Lunetta) and colorful smooth jazz vibes (Bob James, Dave Samuels, and Chuck Loeb crackle behind the bemused frustration story "Double Talk"), the joy of his writing approach is found in his song structure. Franks just doesn't buy into the Top 40 school of "hook or forget it" songwriting. He's more interested in weaving quirky, even esoteric images over solid grooves. "You could jump a DC-8 and probably be here by eight" sets the tone for the frolic of the title track. Everything is fair game from references to Ingrid Bergman and Rhett Butler looks on "Heart Like an Open Book" to congratulating Ponce De Leon for the youthful drive of his lover on "The Fountain of Youth." He's quite the humorist, too, telling a cheating mate on "Double Talk" that "each time you lie your profile grows/it looks just like Pinocchio's." "Mr. Smooth" is a crisp commentary on a stuck-up man who thinks he's a god somehow. So that even when Franks is expressing displeasure, his heart is light. He covers all the aspects of love from the supreme joy of "Now Love Has No End" to "Why Spring Ain't here" but the minute he starts to boil over, he's back to the beach, having a blast. It's the kind of spring in your step music Franks fashioned his career out of."
"Over the years, Michael Franks has developed and polished a style that just screams his name when you hear it. His clever wordplay, his unabashed romanticism, his frequent reference to tropical themes and his love of samba always stand out somewhere on his albums and Barefoot on the Beach is no exception. There is a lot to like here and there are also a couple of numbers with the inevitable cutesy wince-inducing lyrics that he seems to delight in. On this album, The Fountain of Youth takes that prize. The standout song here is the sensuous, romantic duet with Valerie Simpson on Now Love Has No End. Close behind are the samba-infused Every Time She Whispers and the evocative title cut. Mr. Smooth is a slap at commercial radio and arrogant disc jockeys who feed musical pap to the public and refuse to consider playing music outside of a pre-determined format. Though this is not Michael Franks' best album, when you put it on you'll instantly recognize that it is simply and frankly Michael"
"This CD is a relax in a tub of bubbles or on a good feeling memory trip. There are a couple of suprise artist with in duets with Michael that will blow your mind. You can invision yourself walking on the beach with the warm breeze touching your body. Enjoy! "
"This record, like Franks's previous tribute to Jobim (Abandoned Garden) sets further standards of taste in so-called "smooth jazz pop song" genre. Lovely and clever lyrics find a perfect ride in his inimitable voice and the backing musicians groove like mad. Check out the cool rhythms of the "The Fountain of Youth" and the balmy harmonies of the title track. I think it is a bit unfair to judge this recording against his early classics like "The Art of Tea". Styles do change, and each record must be listened for its own merits. I haven't listened to a mediocre song by MF, as yet. "
"If you are a M. F. fan you will definitely want this CD. I think Michael was touched by an angel or something when he composed some of the songs here. This is a five star rating. Too bad for his previous record lable that dropped him, oops"
WATCHING THE SNOW (2003)
Michael Franks (vocals); Veronica Nunn (vocals); Jay Azzolina, Romero Lubambo (guitar); Chris Hunter (flute, saxophone); Alex Sipiagin (trumpet, flugelhorn); John Clark (French horn); Charles Blenzig (piano, keyboards, percussion); Jay Anderson (double bass); Billy Kilson (drums); Cafe (percussion).
01 The Way We Celebrate New Year's
02 Watching The Snow
03 Christmas In Kyoto
04 My Present
05 I Bought You A Plastic Star (For Your Aluminum Tree)
06 Said The Snowflake
07 The Kiss
08 When The Snowman Sings
09 Island Christmas
10 My Present (Prerise)
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"To call Michael Franks schmaltzy is like calling Santa Claus jolly, but what sets him apart from his contemporaries is his ability to deliver each clever yet wince-inducing rhyme with a wink. Watching the Snow is comfort food with all the trimmings, and it's a testimony to Franks' laid-back demeanor and subtle humor that an entire record of original holiday songs can complement a snowy December day rather than accentuate its forced seasonal cheer. Dressed to impress by Franks' conversational vocal style, Chris Hunter's mellow sax attack, and Charles Blenzig's fireplace keyboard meanderings, it requires nothing but the two-bites-from-being-uncomfortably-full sensation of a post-dinner nap to render the listener grinning in half-comatose reverie. Originally released in Japan in 2003, Snow finds Franks musing on everything from decorating the mango tree ("Island Christmas") to snowmen blowing smoke rings ("When the Snowman Sings") with equal parts sentimental melancholy and irreverence. Each track is lovingly crafted, astronomically inoffensive, and wine-drunk silly and sincere. Even at his most biting, on "I Bought You a Plastic Star (For Your Aluminum Tree)," where he croons "Easy credit may not cure your ills/Unless your address is in Beverly Hills/Spend all ye faithful with all your might/We're gonna have ten years of silent night," Franks' delivers the lines more like a teasing uncle than a bitter old grandpa, resulting in a fine addition to the ever-expanding holiday genre. Proceeds from Watching the Snow go to the no-kill shelter, sanctuary, and animal welfare organization Hearts United for Animals."
"Every song on this CD is wonderful. As always Michael's lyrics and music are superb. Clever, festive, fun and romantic...painting a Christmas portrait as only Michael can do. "
"A really nice album. Franks is still one of the most sensitive composer around today"
"I was so delighted when I first heard this disc played in full on the radio and even more so when it was immediately followed by an encore spin. The lyrics are as fresh as the new fallen snow. The groove is jazzy and tropical and makes it feel like Christmas on some deserted isle. No need to listen to the same old carols. Put this one in your player, get yourself some hot cocoa and schnapps and chill out next to the fire."
01 Lady Wants to Know
02 When I Give My Love to You
03 Tell Me All About It
04 Sunday Morning Here With You
05 Tahitian Moon
06 Now I Know Why (They Call It Falling)
07 On My Way Home to You
08 Popsicle Toes Meet Me in the Deerpark
09 Living on the Inside
10 Rainy Night in Tokyo
11 Vivaldi's Song
12 Mr. Blue
13 When the Cookie Jar Is Empty
14 Somehow Our Love Survives
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"Those who haven't heard of the music of Michael Franks don't know what they're missing.... they're missing out on a very talented singer/songwriter and most especially, his wonderful music. Try to remember the '70s and '80s and the songs "Mr. Blue," "Tell Me All About It," "Popsicle Toes," "Down In Brazil" and "Lady Wants To Know" to name a few among countless others. That cool and mellow voice behind these hit songs belongs to Mr. Franks who has worked with Kenny Rankin, The Crusaders, David Sanborn, Ron Carter and Toots Thielemans, etc. Some of the artists who has recorded his songs are Natalie Cole, Manhattan Transfer, Carpenters and lately Diana Krall. I've collected some of his earliest albums from the very first "Art of Tea" to this recently released CD "Love Songs" which is a superb, tastefully chosen collection of his most famous and remarkable hit songs that would surely warm one's heart! This album was produced by Tommy LiPuma and arranged by Claus Ogerman and Eumir Deodato, and it has an excellent line-up of guests jazz musicians who are my all-time favorites: Joe Sample (piano), David Sanborn (sax), Larry Carlton (electric guitar), Steve Gadd (drums), Brenda Russell (vocals), to mention a few. All the songs are so remarkable but my highlights are "Tell Me All About It," "Lady Wants To Know," "Vivaldi's Song," "When I Give My Love To You," "Tahitian Moon" and of course the very song that got me hooked to his music, "Mr. Blue." I wholeheartedly recommend this CD to those who love mellow pop/jazz music. You'll definitely enjoy listening to it!"
"The song selection and the mastering of this set is excellent. A few of the songs here deserved to be on Michael's Anthology and were missed, now they've found a home and given the remastering they deserve. Unlike the Anthology, which featured cuts from every Warner Brothers albums and a cut from "Barefoot On The Beach" on the defunct Windham Hill Jazz Label, some albums this time were skipped in their entirety. "The Camera Never Lies" could have been represented by "Now You're In My Dreams," a duet with session goddess Patti Austin, "Blue Pacific" with "The Art Of Love," "Dragonfly Summer" with "String Of Pearls," and "Barefoot On The Beach" with "Now Love Has No End" with Valerie Simpson. A lot of Michael fans, myself included, were crying for an overhaul of his catalog up to 1990, his "Looking Back" album fueled the desire even more and his "Anthology" pacified that desire. Now listening to this cd and the potential his catalog represents, we're back to the overhauling idea. The repeats of his well known songs like "Popsicle Toes" and "The Lady Wants To Know" do nothing to detract the enjoyment of this well sequenced disc."
RENDEZVOUS IN RIO (2006)
Alex Al Bass/Jay Anderson/Mark Anderson/Billy Arnold/Dan Beach Computer Editing/Charles Blenzig Arranger, Keyboards, Programming, Producer/Sergio Brandao Bass/Rich Breen Engineer, Mixing/Roger Burn Piano, Arranger, Keyboards, Vibraphone/David Channing Engineer/ Vinnie Colaiuta Drums/Sean Conly/Mike DeMicco Guitar, Soloist/Megan Denver Art Direction, Design, Photography/Pamela Driggs Vocals/Brian Dunne Drums/Robbie Dupree Vocals, Vocals (bckgr)/Willard Dyson/Wolfgang Haffner Drums/Jimmy Haslip Bass (Electric), Producer/Larry Hoppen Vocals/Chris Hunter Flute, Saxophone/Derek Jones Engineer/Carmen Cuesta Loeb Vocals/Chuck Loeb Guitar, Piano, Arranger, Keyboards, Producer, Synthesizer Programming/Jeff Lorber Arranger, Keyboards, Producer, Engineer, Drum Programming, Percussion Programming/Romero Lubambo Guitar/Eric Marienthal Sax (Alto), Sax (Tenor)/Jerry Marotta Percussion, Drums/Gary Meek Flute, Saxophone, Sax (Tenor)/Veronica Nunn Vocals (bckgr)/Dion Ogust Photography/Scott Petito Bass, Arranger, Keyboards, Producer, Engineer, Mastering, Mixing, Assembly, Vocal Engineer Beth Reineke Vocals (bckgr)/Leslie Ritter Vocals (bckgr)/John Rosenberg Executive Producer/David Sancious Piano, Keyboards, Soloist/Marc Shulman Guitar/Dwight Sills Guitar/Andy Suzuki Woodwind/Dennis Wall Mixing/Michael White Drums/David Wilkes A&R
01 Under The Sun
02 Rendezvous In Rio
03 The Cool School
04 Samba do Soho
05 The Critics Are Never Kind
07 The Chemistry of Love
08 Hearing "Take Five"
09 The Question Is Why
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As you know, I always decide on the cover art myself, a practice which has ruffled more than one record company art department. For Rendezvous I chose a painting called "The Yellow Fountain," by a Woodstock artist named Dick Jeffery. For me it conveys the lush tropical mood of the title tune, which I wrote with Charles Blenzig, longtime musical director and previous collaborator ("Barefoot on the Beach")."
"Michael Franks' laid-back vocals have made him the choice of a new generation of cool school attendees. With Rendezvous in Rio, his debut release for Koch Records, Franks continuously shows why he is still at the top of his game with brand-new songs that will soothe, undo your stresses, or put you in a romantic mood. The various musical styles on the CD include two Brazilian sambas, one titled "Under the Sun," pointing you toward the Southern Hemisphere and the warmth of Rio de Janeiro and Bahia. A master of phrasing and elongated notes, Franks tells his great stories in several tempos that literally have you wanted to take this journey with him. "Rendezvous in Rio" starts with Café's percussive whistle and the rhythmic flow of Romero Lubambo's guitar. Chris Hunter's sax and flute solos also heighten the imagery of Franks' sexy vocals. "The Cool School" starts with the beautiful guitar accompaniment of Chuck Loeb and continues under Franks' vocals with a hushed flow of cool/smooth riffs that make this song one of the best on the CD. With the artistry of such respected contemporary jazz artists as Jeff Lorber, Jimmy Haslip, Chuck Loeb, and Alex Al and the lilt of the carnival whistle, Michael Franks has conspired to entertain you, and has succeeded. You're sure to enjoy this very special Rendezvous in Rio. Recommended."
"This is Michael Franks's best album in years, probably the best since Blue Pasific in 1990. The album opens with Under The Sun, a very nice track which suddenly takes me back to the days of Down in Brazil and Antonio's song. The first two tracks of the album seem to set the mood for the entire album, although some not really so brazillian. One tradition that is still brought along in this album is the musical conversation that relates to Van Gogh, the painter. In the past albums there are Vincent's Ear, On The Inside and In the Yellow House to name some. The tradition continues with "The critics are never kind" which extends the usual conversation between Van Gogh and Gauguin to include Degas. Other great songs in the album like "Scatsville","Chemistry of Love","Songbirds","Samba do Soho","The cool school". In all, this album might as well be considered one of Michael Franks's peaks in his musical artistry. "
"Firstly, if you groove on Michael Franks, then you'll want to add this album to your collection. There....you've got my recommendation. I'm a Los Angelino, married for many years to a beautiful Brasilian. Years ago, when we met, I had just discovered Michael Franks, Michael Ruff, Al Jarreau and other classic jazz vocalists.....and then my wife introduced me to Brasil, and the world of Brasilian Bossa Nova and Samba became one of my new loves. After many wonderful years of travel to Brasil, I have accumulated a large collection of Brasilian Bossa Nova, Brasilian Samba in various forms, American Contemporary Jazz and many albums where American artists have discovered, merged and recordered Brasilian sounds. Michael Franks has merged his talent with what I believe is some of the greatest rhythms this world has to offer in this album. Yes, he's done it in other albums, but for me, his rendition of "Samba do Soho", a true contemporary Brasilian Bossa Nova classic, provides a great musical center for this album. While not all of the cuts are Bossa Nova or Samba, there's enough Bossa Nova and Samba rhythm-percussion to give you what you'd expect when you buy an album that has "RIO" in the title."
"My love of Michael Franks and Brazilian rhythms has never been in jeopardy. The thought of Michael merging his sublime style with this beautiful bossa sound was something that I was seriously looking forward to hearing. This is indeed a marriage made in heaven, and a pairing that I hope will be showcased more often than not in the future. His admiration for the late, great Antonio Carlos Jobim, and his touching 1995 album, "Abandoned Garden" flirted with all things Latin, and it is here where he has definitively rendezvoused in Rio. Michael may be a little greyer in the hair department but his sheer presence diminishes not one jot. Vocally and lyrically Michael has not skipped a beat; he is as sound today as a performer as he was back in the mid-1970s and is equally as important as far as being fully ensconced in the current music scene. To me, Michael is a poet of our time if not also a genius. As has been stated elsewhere, Michael cannot simply say, "I Love You". His philosophy is more ethereal than this as his vocal journey in getting there. It is a lyrical fountain using the most beautiful, whimsical, inspirational and novel of words, phrases and visions. I love this CD : it is a seriously fine album of gentle melodies, lyrical warmth and delivered with the passion and expertise of a master who knows his craft. Any doubters out there will do no better than listen to the opening song, "Under The Sun". Simply glorious and so spot-on if you ever have been sick of cold winters, rain and all the snow. One for those who suffer with SAD syndrome! LOL! The gentle sashaying bossa, the plucking acoustic guitar, and percussive undercurrent serve well as a backdrop to Michael's wistful, thoughtful and gentle vocal. A livelier approach is taken on the excellent titled song, complete with Latin percussion and whistles; this is so typical of a Franks' groove and as such is essential.Echoes of his "Abandoned Garden" album can be heard on the beautiful "The Cool School" which is extremely laid back and jazzy and almost fits into a more lively dinner mode. Chuck Loeb is unmistakable in his performance and excels, as we would only expect. "Samba Do Soho" is a seriously irresistible mover and is helped to sparkle with the support of vocalist Pamela Driggs and flautist Chris Hunter. Perfect accompaniment for the lovely climes this ragged old Isle is experiencing at the moment! If you really want an intelligent tune to get your teeth into, then look no further than the pointed "The Critics Are Never Kind". Do they know, he muses, what it's like to get high on sweet inspiration? I bet the answer to that is a resounding `no' for the majority. I hope Michael finds this particular reviewer kind and understanding at least. Today music is a throwaway commodity aimed at the young. True art, longevity and beauty is missed on a lot of people, but like the old Tabu label creed has it, "the world has music for those who listen". Take a listen to this artist, this album and see where it takes you. It should transport you to warmer climes, poetic places and warmer feelings. From a thinly veiled swipe at those who deem themselves in a position to judge we move onto more traditional territory with the pure whimsy of "Scatsville". Jeff Lorber is evident here on production, and Gary Meek and Michael White eagerly deliver their musical talents to good effect. I could continue my praise for this set ad infinitum but suffice to say that along with all the talented musicians and executive producer John Rozenberg, Michael has delivered one of the best albums for some time. I really and truly hope to hear more like this, and whatever Michael deigns to give us I will be happy to embrace it with open ears and open arms. A must-have CD "
1973 - Michael Franks (Brut)
1975 - Art of Tea (Reprise)
1977 - Sleeping Gypsy (Warner Brothers)
1978 - Burchfield Nines (Warner Brothers)
1979 - Tiger in the Rain (Warner Brothers)
1980 - One Bad Habit (Warner Brothers)
1980 - With Crossfire Live (Warner Brothers)
1982 - Objects of Desire (Warner Brothers)
1983 - Passionfruit (Warner Brothers)
1983 - Previously Unavailable (DRG) - reissue of 1973's Michael Franks
1985 - Skin Dive (Warner Brothers)
1987 - The Camera Never Lies (Warner Brothers)
1990 - Blue Pacific (Reprise)
1993 - Dragonfly Summer (Warner Brothers)
1995 - Abandoned Garden (Warner Brothers)
1999 - Barefoot on the Beach (Windham Hill)
2004 - Watching The Snow (Rhino)
2006 - Rendezvous in Rio (KOC)
Born in sunny South California, Franks started playing guitar at the age of fourteen. Later he matriculated to the UCLA, studied English literature and commenced writing his own songs. He played with a few high school bands, and part-time performed in local clubs. He, however, did not abandon academia, got several masters, and eventually penned the dissertation "Contemporary Songwriting and How It Relates to Society". He taught a course in the history of popular song at the UCLA and Berkley. A dream of Michael came true when three of his songs were recorded by Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, even getting John Mayall to join those two artists for the track "White Boy Lost in the Blues" (for which Franks' accompanied on acoustic guitar as well). 1973 saw the release of his self-titled debut album which unfortunately had only limited distribution (on Brut Productions). One year later he contributed soundtrack music for the Warner Bros. film Zandy's Bride (with Liv Ullman and Gene Hackman). Warner liked his musical works and offered him a recording contract.
Michael's first album for Warner Brothers, produced by the legendary Tommy LiPuma, enjoyed the contribution of Crusaders' members (including guitarist Larry Carlton) and already spawned a few evergreens of what would become a decade-long recording career. Recorded live on three dates only, The Art of Tea already marked at this early stage what would become a unique jazz style for the talented singer/songwriter. In 1977 Sleeping Gypsy hit the market, again recorded using the LiPuma/Crusaders input but also adding Brazilian musicians and including the Franks' classic "The Lady Wants To Know". At that time he also joined sessions with top-jazzists such as Kenny Barron, Ron Carter, Eddie Gomez, and Bucky Pizzarelli. Since 1978 he published one hit album each year: Burchfield Nines (1978), Tiger in the Rain (1979) and One Bad Habit (1980). Concerts in Sydney/Australia and Auckland/New Zealand together with the Aussie band Crossfire were recorded and saw release as ... with Crossfire / Live (1980). Michael's next studio album Objects of Desire (1982) is evidence for a huge development, adding a tighter instrumentation to the songs, apparently also influenced by producer Michael Colina (who, as a solo artist and keyboard player, seems to have had his impact as well). The session? were again accompanied by a stunning gathering of musical talent: Andy Newmark (drums), Michael Brecker (saxophones), Mark Egan (bass), Victor Feldman (percussion), to name just a few. During these recording sessions Michael also met keyboard player Rob Mounsey, who signed responsible for the production of the 1983 album Passionfruit. Consequently, it showcases Michael's voice embedded in more keyboard sounds and funky arrangements than on any previous release. The cooperation with Mounsey persisted for the next long-player, Skin Dive. For the opener of that album, the funky "Read My Lips", famous bass player Marcus Miller was recruited alongside with other well-known names of the recording-studio scene. With "When I Give My Love To You" the album also contains a beautiful duet on which Michael was joined by Brenda Russell. In 1987 the album The Camera Never Lies ended the trilogy of Mounsey-produced long-players, again using a long string of the finest players available (i.e. saxophonist Bill Evans, Patti Austin on background vocals, guitarist Steve Khan etc.) and contributions such as Art Garfunkel singing background vocals on the title track.
At this point Warner Brothers decided to release a first compilation of Franks' works, which yielded the greatest hits compilation Indispensable: Best of (1988). After his collaborations with producer Rob Mounsey Michael decided to take more time to prepare his well thought out compositions, to compose his peppy lyrical songs and to cooperate more with other artists, among them his contribution to the Joe Sample (an original member of The Crusaders) solo album Spellbound for Warner Brothers. On this album Franks' sang one of the two tracks ("Leading Me Back To You") he had co-composed (for the other song, "Somehow Our Love Survives", Al Jarreau contributed vocals, another Tommy LiPuma protegee for decades). His next studio album after three years, Blue Pacific (1990), was a change in his approach to compile a new album: three different production teams were instrumental in recording Franks' new compositions, led on by Jeff Lorber, again studio veteran Tommy LiPuma, and former Steely Dan member Walter Becker. Nevertheless, Franks' sound hardly changed, but probably became even a little more versatile through the broader talents used this way.
In November 1991 our hero unexpectedly appeared on a live recording of the Yellowjackets, singing the track "The Dream" on the live recording Live Wires. That song is unusually powerful considering Franks' circumstances, but apparently it was also a great success for Michael, because he re-recorded it for his next own album. But Michael never solely focussed on his own typical style. He joined rapper Me Phi Me for the track "Where Are You Going?" on the 1992 album One. After that, he prepared his own next studio album: Dragonfly Summer (1993) again saw him record with different production teams (this time with four different crews) the Yellowjackets amongst them. Additionally, the producer's skills of Jeff Lorber, Gil Goldstein and Ben Sidran were used. Anyhow, the success of his late 70s/80s records seemed to wane and so Abandoned Garden (1995) was his last brand new release after twenty years for Warner Brothers. One more publication for Warner Brother was contained on the Christmas sampler produced by Matt Pierson, Jazz Christmas Party (1997). Hereon Franks contributed his "I Bought You A Plastic Star For Your Aluminum Tree". He also joined Astrud Gilberto in that year, but the pertinent recording never saw release outside of Japan. The record company next used the extensive song catalog of Michael for another compilation release in May 1998, The Best of Michael Franks: A Backward Glance. The end of the decade saw Michael launch his own homepage through which he could get in touch with his fans internationally through the new medium internet.
Michael then got signed by the Winham Hill label where he published Barefoot on the Beach in summer '99. Even though apparently recorded under different circumstances, this album neither saw a change in style nor a change in how Michael used the best talents available for his music: Separately produced by Chuck Loeb and Jimmy Haslip (of the Yellowjackets), Barefoot ... contains some of Michael's best songs for years. Rumor has it that Michael also worked on a musical about French painter Paul Gaugain for years, of whom he already used a motive for the cover art work of Objects of Desire. Michael shares Gaugin's love for Hawaiian motives, but no songs of the supposed musical ever surfaced. Through his homepage fans could follow Michael's touring activities (a lot of which was done in Japan) and eventually the completion of Watching the Snow (2003), the first album which he distributed through his own homepage, co-produced by Michael himself and Charles Blenzig. This long-player contains a new version of "I Bought You Plastic Star ..." and a duet contribution of Veronica Nunn on the song "Island Christmas". It soon gained the "Grand-Prix" Award for 2003 in the Rock/Pop Category with the premier Japanese Music Magazine 'ADLIB'. Michael's talents as a songwriter were also appreciated by British Gordon Haskell who paid tribute to Franks' works with The Lady Wants to Know (2004), an album which entirely consists of Michael Franks' (previously self-recorded) songs. According to his homepage, Michael is currently working on a forthcoming release which he intends to publish in late 2005. More than thirty years of recording has made him one of the most important jazz vocalists, unfortunately still unrecognized by many. Throughout his career he collaborated with the likes of Flora Purim, Kenny Rankin, Ron Carter, David Sanborn, Toots Thielemans, Eric Gale, and others, and has had songs recorded by The Manhattan Transfer, Patti LaBelle, Carmen McRae and Carpenters. No matter who he recorded or played with, the attitude toward his own music never changed: Dim the lights, get out the Chardonnay, cuddle up.
January 18 - Austin, TX - One World Theater
February 14 & 15 - Nashville, TN - Symphony Centerwith the Nashville Symphony