CASTALBUMS.ORG: REVIEW: LENA HALL: OBSESSED SERIES

Originally published on CastAlbums.org.

067551.jpgThis week’s release of Lena Hall Obsessed: Chris Cornell brought the conclusion of one of the most ambitious recording programs to emerge from our small corner of the music industry in recent memory: Lena Hall‘s yearlong series of Obsessed EPs. Each month since January, Hall has put out a four-to-six song collection of stripped down covers, with each release focused on a different band or musician drawn from Hall’s favorites.

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CASTALBUMS.ORG: REVIEW: Jessica Vosk – Wild and Free

Originally published on CastAlbums.org

069540.jpgYou might not yet be familiar with the name Jessica Vosk. As a performer whose most significant credits are Fruma-Sarah in the Fiddler revival and the 20th Broadway Elphaba, she hasn’t yet had the opportunity to breakout and ascend to true Broadway stardom. If we live in a just universe, her debut album, Wild and Free, would be that opportunity. Continue reading

CASTALBUMS.ORG: REVIEW: How We React and How We Recover – Jason Robert Brown

Originally published on CastAlbums.org.

069449Many of us first fell in love with Jason Robert Brown‘s music through the cast recording of his first show, the revue Songs for a New World. His ability to create entire worlds through words and music, telling complete stories in three-minute chunks, lent itself extraordinarily well to cast recordings and concerts — as the concert revival of the show now playing at New York City Center is demonstrating to a new generation. Continue reading

CASTALBUMS.ORG: REVIEW: Hello Again – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Originally published on CastAlbums.org.

Hello AgainWhen RCA released the cast album of Lincoln Center’s production of Hello Again in 1994, they introduced a bold new voice of the American musical theatre to the world: Michael John LaChiusa. While savvy New Yorkers had already encountered his complex, challenging work in First Lady Suite, that score had gone unrecorded at the time. I remember not quite knowing what to make of the score; I was a teenager who had little to no experience with the subject matter, but I could tell this was the first composer to make a case that the post-Sondheim generation could keep pushing the form in the ways he had without becoming pale imitations of the master. Continue reading

CASTALBUMS.ORG: Pat Suzuki – Complete Album Series & Singles and Rarities 1958–1967

Originally published on CastAlbums.org.

Pat Suzuki Complete Album SeriesHad Pat Suzuki only ever appeared in Flower Drum Song, her knock-out performance of Rodgers & Hammerstein’sI Enjoy Being A Girl” would have secured her place in musical theater history. How lucky we are, though, that she also had a lengthy, if somewhat forgotten, career as a recording artist. And how lucky we are that Stage Door Records is releasing two collections of her studio work: Complete Album Series (out next week) and Singles and Rarities 1958-1967, out now.

The earliest of these recordings predate Suzuki’s Broadway debut in Flower Drum Song. At the time, Suzuki was doing a club act containing (as Bing Crosby attests in the album notes) “anything from jazz to light opera.” The album The Many Sides of Pat Suzuki reflects her range, including Ellington (“Solitude“), showtunes from days gone by (“Fine and Dandy“), jazzy standards (“From This Moment On“), and fairly contemporary material (“Lazy Afternoon“). The closest she gets to light opera is “Poor Butterfly,” but that’s not a complaint. Continue reading

CASTALBUMS.ORG: REVIEW: Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert – Original Soundtrack of the NBC Television Event

Originally Published on CastAlbums.org.

Jesus Christ Superstar TV SoundtrackFew scores have been recorded as many times in as many different interpretations as Jesus Christ Superstar. Perhaps owing to its origins first as a concept album, then as a concert tour, and then as a world-wide stage musical phenomenon (with each country’s production independently envisioned by its own production team) and film (created simultaneously with and distinct from the stage version), this score has never had a standard mold into which subsequent renditions must fit. Further, the recent NBC “television event” is at least the fifth English-language video production of the material, so there was no pressure to preserve a “definitive” rendition. Continue reading

CASTALBUMS.ORG: REVIEW: Donnybrook! reissue featuring The Pete King Orchestra Plays the Music of Donnybrook!

Originally published on CastAlbums.org.

Donnybrook!Donnybrook! Is one of the rare golden age cast albums that’s never received a proper digital transfer, despite the near-mania for releasing so many relatively obscure titles that characterized the cast recordings industry in the ‘90s and 2000s. Did Decca Broadway (who now owns the Kapp catalogue to which Donnybrook! belongs) lack appropriate masters, or did they simply deem the material less worthy? Whether as cause or effect, this musical adaptation of The Quiet Man has never achieved even the cult status of shows with similar pedigree from the same era. Continue reading