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Tuesday, October 20, 1998
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 41

Fitzgerald's Friday


About the Cougar

Three new CD's feature a wide spectrum of musical genres 

In the buzzbag
Brooklyng funk essentials

Available from Shanachie Records

By Jason Caesar Consolacion
Daily Cougar Staff

  The Brooklyn Funk Essentials was a concept founded by Lati Kronlund and Arthur Baker about six years ago. At first, it was intended to be a side-project, but in time, it developed into a productive collaboration of musicians, vocalists, poets and DJ's from everywhere from Brooklyn to Istanbul.

The Brroklyn Funk Essentials turn out a funky quality product with their latest album, In the Buzzbag.

Andrea Kronlund/Shanachie

 In 1993, they won everyone over with their debut, Cool and Steady and Easy, which was held by Billboard magazine as the R&B album of the year.

 Their follow-up, In The BuzzBag, is not that bad either. A collage of blues, funk, acid-jazz, funk-jazz, ska and reggae replenish the album to form one of the most diverse packages offered anywhere.

 The group is a regular on the New York City live scene and has been well received along the East Coast and internationally. With In The BuzzBag, they hope to earn more national recognition.

 The Brooklyn Funk Essentials includes a plethora of talents: Yancy Drew Lambert (drums), E.J. Rodriguez (percussion) and Kronlund (bass and musical director) make up the rhythm section while Bob Brachmann (trumpet), Joshua Roseman (trombone) and Paul Shapiro (tenor sax and flute) handle the brass section. ATN Stadwijk plays keyboards.

 Lead vocals are covered by reggae singer Papa Dee, poet and vocalist Sha-key, Stephanie McKay and Everton Sylvester.

 In The BuzzBag also includes the Turkish band La(o Tayfa which features Ipek Senot on vocals and ten other musicians on the Baglama, Clarinet, Kanun, Violin and Zurna, among other instruments.

 The tracks on the album are very funky. "Selling Out" features a riff reminiscent of Stevie Wonder's tribute to Duke Ellington, "Sir Duke."

"Istanbul Twilight" combines reggae and La(o Tayfa's signature sound for what is one of the best songs on the album. Put it this way: if UB40 were to cover "Within You Without You" by The Beatles, it would sound like this.

 The title track features a strong introduction by Lambert and a melodious fugue between the brass section and La(o Tayfa, while "You Donit Know Nothing" is definitely the jam of the album.

 In The BuzzBag, produced by Kronlund, is quite impressive, collaborating the sounds of two diverse countries and successfully producing a unified ensemble of urban beats.

Practical magic
Original soundtrack

Available from Reprise Records

By Isabella So
Daily Cougar Staff

 If you thought that Practical Magic,was a chick flick, well, wait until you check out the soundtrack.

 I have no problems with a "chick soundtrack." Being a female myself, I pretty much liked the CD in its entirety. 

 But guys, give it a chance. You might actually like it, too. Would it help if I told you that there are some lovely pictures of Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman inside?

 Practical Magic covers the spectrum of all types of music, from country and good ol' oldies to a few sultry tunes.

 The soundtrack starts off with one of Stevie Nicks' new tunes, "If You Ever Did Believe" and "Crystal," both produced by Sheryl Crow. But don't expect a different tune from Nicks. It's the same easy, relaxing rhythm that made her famous. If it's not broken, why fix it, right? 

 Then there's the country radio favorite "This Kiss" by Faith Hill and Nick Drakeis "Black Eyed Dog."

 The good ol' oldie is up next. "Got To Give It Up (Pt. 1)" by Marvin Gaye, serves as the pickup beat for this soundtrack. 

 And then there's the sweet and very memorable "Always On My Mind," a ballad written and sung by the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. This song gives the CD a very nice "lovey" touch. 

 Oh, then there's "Coconut" by Harry Nilsson, a personal favorite like the cherry on the top of an ice cream sundae. The song just screams out, "dance to the beat now and sing along." This song is also at the end credits of the movie Reservoir Dogs.  So, guys, if you just want that particular song and don't want to be caught with this CD, check out the soundtrack to Reservior Dogs. Also, might I add that this is a good song to be played while taking tequila shots? (Just a hint.)

 The record also includes artists such as Joni Mitchell with "A Case Of You," and Michelle Lewis' "Nowhere and Everywhere." Both sound like a mix of Fionna Apple and Paula Cole, soft and sweet but with an edge.

 Hey, guys, if you want to be on the good side of your significant other, I strongly suggest that you invest money in this soundtrack and play Presley's "Always On My Mind." Then you have it made. Practical Magic in the end is a good CD to have and I liked it very much, no complaints here.

Chocolate city grooving
Marcus Johnson

Available from N2K Encoded Music

By Jason Caesar Consolacion
Daily Cougar Staff

 Washington, D.C., native Marcus Johnson recently released his debut CD on the N2K Encoded Music label and the young jazz keyboardist wastes no time in letting his audience know heis ready for the big time.

Marcus Johnson's new album provides a pleasant mix of jazz, R&B and hip-hop.

Danny Miller/N2K/Encoded

 Chocolate City Groovin' shows off Johnson's writing abilities, as well as his musicianship. He writes most of the material on the album, offering two covers: Maxwell's " 'Til the Cops Come Knockin' " and Bernard Wright's classic "Won't You Let Me Love You."

 Johnson's style is influenced by artists of such caliber as Quincy Jones, George Duke and Gerald Albright. A mixture of jazz, R&B and hip-hop blend nicely as the artist graces the keyboard with relaxing melodies and spiritual descants.

 Johnson's band, the Marcus Johnson Project, provides strong support to the keyboardistis style. Saxophonists Bryan Mills and Marshall Keys, bassist Wardell Howell, drummer Eric Valentine, guitarist Stan Cooper and additional keyboardist Glenn Douglas offer their talents on Chocolate City Groovin'.

 Guest artists Alyson Williams and Tate Moss provide vocals on the mellow, "Morning Light" and Wright's "Won't You Let Me Love You," respectively. Both tracks feature strong, countering improvisation by Mills, Marshall and Johnson.

 For jazz lovers, Chocolate City Groovin' is a good time,  sweet mix and a romantic evening all rolled into one 11-track CD. With this self-produced album, Marcus Johnson is ready to make himself well-known in the adult contemporary and instrumental jazz world.

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