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Music CD’s, easy to pick up, easy to wrap, and light-weight enough to carry when you’re in the midst of Christmas shopping frenzy.  But what I’m recommending here are not your current top releases of the season, like Josh Groban’s Noel, selling 2.1 million copies so far this Christmas.  (UPDATE: Josh Groban’s Noel has just climbed to the no. 1 spot as the best selling CD of 2007 in the US, close to 2.8 million copies sold.)  Nonetheless, the following selections are equally enjoyable, and will likely make a pleasant surprise for your recipient.  

I’d give them all  ~ ~ ~ Ripples out of 4.   Actually, any CD from these artists is worthy of giving, although the following titles are my favorites.

CARLY SIMON — Into White

A collection of some familiar tunes, in Carly Simon style, making the new arrangements sound soulful and at times…even better.  Simon’s signature deep alto voice makes titles as simple as Oh! Susanna sound like a folksy classic.  Other numbers include the Beatles’ Blackbird, and familiar tunes like You Are My Sunshine, Scarborough Fair, Over The Rainbow, all offering a much more serene and moving rendition.  I particularly enjoy Devoted To You medly with All I Have To Do Is Dream…oh the wonderful Everly Brothers, re-interpreted by Carly Simon. You Can Close Your Eyes is particularly poignant, with Ben and Sally Taylor, Simon’s children with ex-husband James Taylor. The album also includes two new tunes, Simon’s own Love Of My Life and Ben Taylor and David Saw’s I’ll Just Remember You, which, in Simon’s own words, “…the most beautiful and simple song I’ve ever heard.”  All in all, this CD is one true gem, serenity in audio mode.

                                                                           

                                                   

EVA CASSIDY — Songbird

Like so many artists before her, such as Van Gogh and Jane Austen, to name a few, Eva Cassidy received her honor and recognition posthumously.  1996 marked her untimely death from melanoma.  Since then, Cassidy’s Songbird album received Gold in 2000 and Platinum in 2001.  Her soulful soprano voice transcends the genres of folk, jazz, and country into a sublimation of a unique vocal style.  Fields of Gold starts off this album.  Just for this song, it’s worthwhile to get the CD.  I find Cassidy’s rendition much more soulful and poignant than the original Sting version.  Other songs include Autumn Leaves, Songbird (in Love Actually, 2003), Time Is A Healer, I Know You By Heart.  Yes, there’s also her own interpretation of the classic Over The Rainbow, bringing into it her signature fine vocal and acousitic guitar playing.  A valuable collection.

                                                             

JOHN COLTRANE — Coltrane for Lovers

If you’re a jazz lover, this is a must-have (you probably own it already).  If you’re not a jazz lover, this is a must-have.  It’ll introduce you to what jazz can do to your whole psyche.  A compilation of Coltrane’s tenor sax playing some soulful and quiet romantic tunes.  You don’t need to be a jazz lover to be attracted to these soothing and sensitive renditions.  I find it particularly relaxing listening to this CD while driving alone at night…quite a listening, and driving experience.  Selections include numbers with Duke Ellington on the paino, and Jimmy Garrison on bass.  A most enjoyable title for any lover, music or romance.

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