Rebirth of Reason


Desert Island Discs #3
by Chris Matthew Sciabarra

Coming up with five CDs to take with me into exile is difficult ... and I assume that these CDs can't be compilations of lots of single cuts from other CDs, so I'll do my best:

1. The Rhino Soundtrack version of "Ben-Hur": Yes, the movie is my favorite, but the soundtrack is also one of the grandest and most important symphonic film scores ever recorded. Composed, arranged, and conducted by the great classical and film composer Miklos Rozsa, it is filled with the sounds of struggle and redemption. A true inspiration.

2. Getz/Gilberto: One of the most melodic albums in the history of jazz, featuring the magnificent tenor saxophonist Stan Getz playing the classic bossa nova sounds of the great Brazilian composer (also featured on this album), Antonio Carlos Jobim. Great vocals and guitar work too from Astrud and Joao Gilberto.

3. Intuition: A duet album with the incomparable Bill Evans on piano and the virtuoso bassist Eddie Gomez. A tour de force of improvisational interplay on some great standards from the American songbook, including "Invitation."

4. For Django: Joe Pass, the great jazz guitarist, doing his remarkable and swinging tribute to another great jazz guitarist: the gypsy Django Reinhardt.

5. Thriller: If I'm in exile, I'm gonna want to boogie! Some of my fondest memories from New York dance clubs are from the 80s, and no album better captures that moment than Michael Jackson's "Thriller" -- which ended up becoming a greatest hits collection. He's eccentric, to say the least, but his music has had a major impact on pop culture, and this infectious, rhythmic collection is among his best, from "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" to "Billie Jean." (However, I won't be moonwalking anytime soon...)

Honorable mention: "Embraceable You" -- I say honorable mention, because I'd not want to be accused of nepotism. This album, by a fantastic jazz guitarist (Carl Barry) and his equally talented wife (Joanne Barry), is actually by my brother and sister-in-law, and features some great improvisation on classic standards of American song.

I'd also probably add a greatest hits collection of Mario Lanza -- tracks chosen by Linz, of course -- but the point of being on a desert island is to be safe and sound from surging waters, and I'm afraid that listening to Mario tends to cause a flow of tears that might very well flood the island and endanger all human habitation.

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