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Michael released "Dragonfly Summer after a three year hiatus. What a wonderful return. The opener "Coming To Life" is an upbeat tune where Michael seems like he's singing about the start of this album itself. All of the songs are winners, I sometimes wonder what the outtakes are like, given the overall quality of the songs here. "Soul Mate" not only turned me on to Jeff Lorber, but also introduced me to Eric Benet, he's singing the harmony vocal. Not only is Michael talented, but the people he surrounds himself with, wow! The title track is fun, "Monk's New Tune" is about as late night jazz as Michael gets. "I Love Lucy" is that "I Love Lucy," the only cover Michael has recorded, save for a couple Christmas songs. The song is transformed from a Cuban lounge style to a romantic Brazilian influenced love song, the orchestration is glorious. "Practice Makes Perfect" is fun, "String Of Pearls" is a beautiful song, moving at a nice tempo featuring accoustic guitar and a woodwind solo.
Reissue with the latest remastering and the original cover artwork. Comes with a description written in Japanese. John Hicks works in some really wonderful company here – a trio with bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Idris Muhammad – both of whom really add a lot to the date! We're always big fans of Lundy's sound on bass – and his approach here has the same warm-rolling quality you'd find in his own best 80s work – really helping to push Hicks' lyrical agenda on the piano with a rhythmic support that's tremendous. Muhammad's pretty great too – definitely on the understated side of his talents, that nicely subtle sound he developed in the 80s – and Hicks, as always, is more than a cut above most of his contemporaries, and continues a long legacy of extremely soulful work on the keys of the piano.
After the success of The Art of Tea, Michael Franks was able to more confidently move closer to the kind of music he wanted to make. Employing a more exotic Brazilian feel on Sleeping Gypsy, with lush orchestration (courtesy of veteran jazz arranger and conductor Claus Ogerman), Franks moved his acoustic guitar work to the background to create a romantic sound with no sappiness. With "Down in Brazil" and, particularly, "Antonio's Song," his ode to Antonio Carlos Jobim, Franks was doing with Brazilian music for the rock crowd in the '70s what Stan Getz did for the jazz crowd in the '60s. He again employed his witty wordplay and evocative storytelling ability on "B'wana-He No Home," a song about a time when Dan Hicks was staying at his house while Franks was away. A romantic, elegant and important album in bringing Brazilian music to a wider audience.