Sunday, 25 September 2011

IN THE GROOVE: We assemble an eclectic playlist of jazz, rap and soulful reggae

SINGIN' AND SWINGIN': Bennett leads an all-star lineup.

Tony Bennett may be 85 years old, but age ain’t on his page if his new collaborative album, Duets II, is something to go by. Wonderfully appealing as ever, Bennett laces his music with regular spurts of exuberance and consistently impeccable phrasing befitting the legendary status of this iconic singer. In celebration of the milestone of Bennett’s 85th, Duets II brings together some of music’s biggest contemporary names to share billing on what is a scintillating follow-up to 2006’s multi-platinum Duets: An American Classic, which picked up three Grammys.

Very much like its predecessor, the new album is teeming with refreshing cuts with a vintage bent that redefine the concept of easy listening. On closer analysis, however, it becomes evident that the album delivers songs that are alternately groovy and mistily brooding. Stunning highlights include Norah Jones’ smoky vocals on the slow-burning “Speak Low”; the showstopping John Legend-assisted “Sing, You Sinners,” full of horns and other big-band instruments; and the wistful Amy Winehouse collabo “Body and Soul.” Also look out for appearances from Carrie Underwood, Michael Buble, Mariah Carey and Lady Gaga, who guests on the snazzy opener “The Lady is a Tramp.” If anything, Duets II provides ample proof that in spite of of his senior age, Bennett still takes ‘em to school. Tyrone's Verdict: A


REGGAE & DANCEHALL: To serve as the appetizer for her forthcoming as-yet-untitled full-length debut, singer Cherine releases the mixtape JA 9.25 (the date of her birth), which features a mix of her current radio anthems and new hits waiting to be discovered. Meanwhile, fans of dancehall vixen Ce’Cile are dying to sample the offerings of her latest release, Jamaicanization, spiked with a signature blend of sass and truth-telling. And fresh from the critical success of his recently-released mixtape, Konshens now turns his attention to his highly anticipated studio effort, Mental Maintenance, which should pick up where the Sextape left off.

HIP-HOP & RAP: After biding his time on the sidelines, Roc Nation rapper J. Cole is finally set to get his due with the release of his buzzed-about debut Cole World: The Sideline Story (out Tuesday). Not that he really needs the aid, but the 26-year-old gets assists on the record from Trey Songz (the flirty “Can’t Get Enough”) and mentor Jay Z, who lends a verse on “Mr. Nice Watch.”

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