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Music Review

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Aztec Jazz


Artist: Tom Russell and the Norwegian Wind Ensemble
Label: Proper Records
RRP: £13.99
8 05520 03113
Release Date: 01 July 2013

Aztec Jazz was recorded as a live concert in Halden, Norway in May of 2012 with the world-renown 32-piece Norwegian Wind Ensemble and guitarist Thad Beckman. Tom Russell's classic songs: 'St. Olav's Gate', 'Nina Simone', 'Guadalupe', 'Stealing Electricity', 'Goodnight' Juarez and others... are performed on acoustic guitars against a lush backdrop of oboes, trumpets, saxophones, French horns, trombones and percussion. The orchestral parts were were written by Swedish composer Mats Halling...

For over three decades and 28 albums, Tom Russell has delivered some memorable music and now here is a chance to hear some of his classics with an accompanying orchestra. In fact, the orchestral arrangements on the tracks are incredibly effective, and are the work of Swedish composer Mats Halling. The album opens with a beautiful introduction to 'Love Abides'.

'Nina Simone' is probably my favourite song on the album, the orchestration greatly adding to what was already a classic track. 'Guadalupe' is in a similar vein to 'Nina Simone'. The introduction to 'Jai Alai' is also noteworthy for it's impressive guitar and orchestral arrangement.

In all honesty I'm not a great lover of Tom Russell's voice. He's not a great singer by any stretch of the imagination. But, like some other musical greats, it's his music and lyrics that are what set him apart from the crowd.

If you're a fan of Russell's then you'll love this opportunity to rediscover some of his classic tracks.


Nick Smithson

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