Sunday, April 26, 2015

Michael Franks – Objects of Desire

   The jazz culture from the very beginning was a phenomenon rising on popular dance and song models, functioning and developing as a popular music in particular social environment, then established as an artistic quality in specific circumstances of modern change of the western civilization. Popular song melodies were among most active elements of early jazz. Melodic shape, textual references and some pure musical meanings associated with rhythmic patterns and harmonic changes were usual base for improvisation. Even modern jazz drew its energy of popular songs and melodies. For many of the post jazz generation it was real sensation some standard themes, before used in improvised music, were popular songs and hits of earlier decades.
   When in late seventies era of fusion was about to end and the period of neo classical jazz was not clearly visible, many musicians were trying to find some new inspiration in popular and artistic song. One of singers of this period was Michael Franks, musician from southern California (born in La Jolla, Sept. 18th, 1944). He became famous as one of most active songwriters in pop and jazz crossover, recorded by dozens and esteemed for his own albums with leading musicians of jazz and smooth jazz, Joe Sample, Larry Carlton, Michael and Randy Brecker, Wilton Felder, David Sanborn and many more. His songs were recorded by jazz and popular artists, The Manhattan Transfer, The Carpenters, Diana Krall, Shirley Basey and Ringo Star. Over a dozen albums (recorded mostly for Warner Bros. Records) is coherent series documenting the development of Michael Franks songwriting and performance as a very individual jazz style.

Michael Franks – Objects of Desire (1982)

   Michael Franks’ discography can be seen as a kind of timeline for the progress of his songwriting and performing possibilities, but first of all these consecutively created albums are a beautiful collection of great songs, well written and performed, ready to give satisfaction even to a demanding listener. In this consequently build collection seventh album is somehow unique. Michael Franks’ Objects of Desire was written and recorded in 1981. Warner Bros. Records published it in 1982 simultaneously in US, Canada, Japan, Germany, Spain and RPA and on various carriers LP, CD and Compact Cassette. It looks like this one was intended to be a blockbuster. The number of musicians was bigger than ever and album was built in series of sessions in different studios. And the results were encouraging.
   This Objects of Desire is somehow a concept album. It shows nine songs about values and desire, but as these desired objects may be different. It’s like the picture from the cover, Two Tahitian Women by Paul Gauguin, which shows man’s objects of desire and can be considered as the object of desire itself. Emotional relations from love to jealousy show the space for Franks’ songs. They have outstanding musical setting. Natural melodic lines economically correspond with lyrics, and its soft jazz arrangements open wide space for great solos. Many perfect saxophone solos played by Michael Brecker (Laughing Gas), David Sanborn (Tahitian Moon, Love Duet), Lawrence Feldman (Flirtation), and few dozens of great session musicians gave this album lot of space. The same with singing performances: Bonnie Raitt’s voice in Ladies’ Nite is electrifying and finds its reflection in Franks’ vocal. One another example of great voice communication is Love Duet where Franks sings with Renee Diggs. Such culture of sound was always domain of professional artists only. Here it starts to be art for itself. Four and half of stars for perfect creative work.

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