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Michael Franks Releases Long-Awaited Album, 'Rendezvous In Rio'

Singer-songwriter Michael Franks may not be recording as many albums as he did back in the 1970s or 1980s, but fans aren't worried. As VOA's Doug Levine tells us, each new album is worth the wait.

When we last heard from Michael Franks, he was singing the praises of wintertime and holiday celebration on his 2004 CD, Watching The Snow. 2006 finds him returning to familiar musical territory, Latin jazz on Rendezvous In Rio.

Michael Franks' love for Brazilian music dates back to 1977, when he traveled to Rio de Janeiro to record two songs for his third album, Sleeping Gypsy. Over the years, samba has been a recurring theme in his music. Not to mention impressionist painter Paul Gauguin who inspired Franks to write and perform 28 songs for his musical "Noa Noa."

By far, the most ambitious tune on Michael Franks' new album is The Critics Are Never Kind. Composed originally for Noa Noa, the song is a conversation between Paul Gauguin and his peers Vincent Van Gogh and Edgar Degas. No doubt, Franks exercising his right to creative license to its fullest.

Another subject often broached on a Michael Franks album is love, reprised in ballad form on this track from Rendezvous In Rio.

Michael Franks' The Chemistry Of Love, features an arrangement by keyboardist Jeff Lorber. Other musical guests of note include bassist Jimmy Haslip of the Yellowjackets, guitarist Chuck Loeb, saxophonist Eric Marienthal, and former E-Street Band keyboardist David Sancious.

Listening to a Michael Franks album, one can't help feeling like they're hearing his life story, and Rendezvous In Rio is no exception. Growing up in Southern California in the 1960s, Franks caught the jazz bug after listening to Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. The favor is returned with his tribute titled Hearing Take Five.