November 26, 2008

Soweto Gospel Choir - Live at the Nelson Mandela Theater

This multitalented group has exploded onto the world music scene, wowing audiences with its virtuosity and passion. Drawn primarily from the churches and communities of South Africa’s most famous township, the choir mixes earthy rhythms, rich harmonies, drumming, dancing, and irrepressible charisma for an experience that lifts the soul and stuns the senses. Filmed live in concert on their Australian tour, they sing a blend of traditional gospel and contemporary standards in English as well as some of the 10 other official languages of South Africa. Constantly in motion and dressed in vibrantly colored robes and textiles, with one superb soloist after another taking the lead, they offer up such highlights as "Asimbonanga," Jonny Clegg’s tribute to Nelson Mandela; Peter Gabriel’s "Biko"; "Mbube," the South African song that became "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"; the traditional ballad "I Bid You Goodnight"; Bob Marley’s classic "One Love"; and Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrika, the South African National Anthem. 9929 CD 17.95
Listen to "Seteng Sediba

Posted by acapnews at 12:01 AM

November 14, 2008

Manhattan Transfer - 35th Anniversary: Great American Songbook

Marking the 35th Anniversary of this truly American vocal group, The Manhattan Transfer Great American Songbook DVD captures the legendary group in the studio as they sing classic, American standards incuding their first ever release of "Someone to Watch Over Me". These exclusive, intimate performances feature the group's trademark vocal harmonies with piano accompaniment. The songs were recorded at the legendary Henson Studios in Los Angeles during the group's 35th anniversary celebration. From bop and pop to swing, from vocalese and boogie-woogie to jazz, over the years The Manhattan Transfer has embraced varied musical styles, creating a style that's all their own and gathering legions of dedicated fans. Also includes new interviews with the group. 7677 DVD 9.95

Posted by acapnews at 2:01 AM

Rajaton - Sings Queen

Rajaton, our favorite Finnish mixed-voice sextet, has been blowing us away for 9 recordings now, proving with each release exactly how amazing they have become as vocalists. "Rajaton Sings Queen" follows their critically acclaimed "Rajaton Sings Abba," also with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jaakko Kuusisto. There are just a couple of a cappella tunes here, "Under Pressure," composed by Queen and David Bowie, and "Don't Stop Me Now." We of course prefer Rajaton's a cappella recordings, but let's make ourselves clear—we have been lovers of Queen since they first began performing in London in the early 1970s. The vocal brilliance of lead singer Freddie Mercury and guitarist Brian May, and their ability to pen deathless anthems like "We Are The Champions" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" have lifted them into the rarefied atmosphere of Rock superstars. And we have heard countless tribute albums and dozens of cover versions of Queen hits. All of them lacked the same thing that Queen has lacked since the untimely passing of Freddie Mercury, that is, Freddie himself, a performer who could fill stadiums. So now, finally, we hear a tribute album by Rajaton, whose vocal talents are right up there with Mercury's, and we have something! Just listen to the magnificent "I Want It All," "Killer Queen," "A Kind of Magic," "You Take My Breath Away," "Who Wants To Live Forever," the thrilling "Bicycle Race" and "The Show Must Go On." Rajaton's compatibility with the wonderful Lahti Symphony Orchestra was forged with the 2006 Abba album, and here both groups are hitting on all cylinders. Hearing "Bohemian Rhapsody" gave us a tingle up the back of our necks very similar to the one we first got listening to Queen's 1975 magnum opus "A Night At The Opera" through a friend's pricey stereo headphones. Rajaton's excellent English, which allows us to understand all the lyrics perfectly, is an unexpected treat. "Rajaton Sings Queen" is a powerful, magical recording by one of our top contenders for best a cappella group of all time! 7677 CD 16.95
Listen to "Don't Stop Me Now

Posted by acapnews at 12:01 AM

Go Fish - Party Like A Preschooler

3-man Go Fish have 9 best-selling collections of their Contemporary Christian original tunes in the PAC catalog. "Party Like A Preschooler, is all accompanied covers, although all of them feature cutting-edge arrangements by the group. But the purpose of "Party" is more simple than previous recordings, which dealt with Christian issues and ways of seeing the world, "Party" is simply fun, sing-along and dance-along music for kids, done with amazing energy, joy and spirit by the group. "Do Your Ears Hang Low," "The Wheels on the Bus," "Pop Goes the Weasel," "5 Little Monkeys," "The A,B,Cs," "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt"…these were as familiar as our breath when we were growing up, but we never heard them done like this. Kids will love "Party Like a Preschooler," and their parents will dig it too. As the headline in the liner notes says, this is "Great music for kids that won't drive parents bonkers." In fact there's a bonus track for dads, "It's hard to be cool (in a mini-van)!" 2258 CD 9.95
Listen to "Pop Goes the Weasel

Posted by acapnews at 12:01 AM

November 5, 2008

Straight No Chaser - Holiday Spirit

In December of 2007 SNC, one of our favorite male Collegiate a cappella groups, posted several videos of past performances, including a 10 year old video of a live cut of their version of the "12 Days of Christmas" on YouTube. To say it caused a sensation would be putting it mildly—6 million people saw it during December, with an additional 2 million seeing it since then. Combined, Straight No Chaser has received over 10 million views of their videos on YouTube. Formed a dozen years ago while students at Indiana University, this phenomenon has caused the group to reassemble and re-emerge, a process covered on a series of webisodes, covering their rehearsing together for the first time in 10 years, doing their photoshoot, and then recording this album, "Holiday Spirits." Even the New York Times told the story of SNC in their Arts & Leisure section in September of 2008. All that excitement aside, the album is great! 14 songs, all group-arranged, especially by group member Dan Ponce, who also wrote the lovely "Christmas Wish" and "Indiana Christmas." "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," "Jingle Bell Rock," "The Christmas Song," "This Christmas," "Hark the Herald Angels Sing/Angels We Have Heard on High" and Brian Wilson's classic "Little Saint Nick" show off the smooth harmonies, brilliant leads and killer arrangements that made SNC one of the best Collegiate groups. Then "The 12 Days of Christmas" shows us what the fuss is all about. It contains samples of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," and suddenly the song has morphed into Toto's "Africa." It's funny, surprising, perfectly realized and all done with the human voice, all of which was not lost on the delighted live audience. The album finishes with "Sweet Little Jesus Boy," the Phil Spector "Wall of Sound" carol "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," "Carol of the Bells," and sublime covers of "Silent Night" and "Auld Lang Syne." We couldn't be happier for the success of talented SNC, who haven't lost a half-note since their college days, and can enthusiastically recommend "Holiday Spirits," one of the most enjoyable Christmas recordings we have heard! 2519 CD 13.95
Listen to "Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Posted by acapnews at 12:15 AM

November 4, 2008

Phil Mattson and VoicesIowa - Count Your Blessings

Formed at Southwestern Community College's School for Music Vocations in 1991, the mixed-voice sextet VoicesIowa was recently honored by Down Beat Magazine as "Vocal Jazz Group of the Year." Their repertoire also includes Renaissance part-songs, 19th and 20th century compositions and arrangements of contemporary music. Their Director Phil Mattson has been nominated twice for Grammy Awards. These 12 songs, recorded live at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi, MN, feature Mattson-arranged winners like "Snow Covers the Valley," Bach's "Jesu, Meine Freude," Burt Bacharach's "Alfie," "Never Let Me Go," Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen's classic "Blues in the Night" and Irving Berlin's "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep." Ward Swingle's "Country Dances" and the Swingle-arranged "Satchmo," Duke Ellington's "Don't Mean A Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing," Anders Edenroth of the Real Group's "Friendship" and Bobby McFerrin's "Jubilee" are other favorites. Great stuff, from the first cut to the last! 7600 DVD 24.95
Listen to "Alfie

Posted by acapnews at 12:01 AM

Westminster Chorus - Road to Gold

Westminster Chorus: Road to Gold follows a young band of barbershopers who set out to make history, bringing their youth to a hallmark American art form - Barbershop Harmony. Their stunning performances on stage have moved thousands and their infectious love for brotherhood, competition, and artistry has captivated fans both in and outside of the Barbershop Harmony Soceiety. What began as an idea between a few young men has become an international phenomenon and has undoubtedly changed the face of barbershop music forever. 5854 DVD 24.95

Posted by acapnews at 12:00 AM