Aretha, Idina Menzel, Eddie Martinez and Gaga

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DJ Eddie MartinezIn the Cookie Jar 

Eddie Martinez

You may have heard him in venues like New York City’s WORK! Party, or his “House Sessions” podcasts, but now DJ Eddie Martinez has packaged up some of the amazing music you hear on his dance floors all over the world to create “Hybrid” (available on i-Tunes).

His pulsing track “One Love” (with dance music belter Meg) has hit dance floors, and this column, and has gotten a great response. The rest of “Hybrid” will no doubt do the same.

DJ Eddie Martinez 2Martinez gets a great collection of ladies to take the mic on the tracks, from the breathy and luscious vocals of Andrea Carnell on “Fly,” to the fun-filled Jena popping in on “Real Talk,” which has the makings of a perfectly legendary house track. For fans of Martinez who are looking for some of his classic deeper house, Martinez tossed some of that on “Hybrid.” Tracks like “Make Some Noise” and the aptly titled “Euphoria” seemingly take you directly to the middle of one of Martinez’s dance floors, with just the right mix of hypnotically tribal beats and big room anthems.

Martinez shows heavy influences of legends like Peter Rauhofer, Junior Vasquez, and Victor Calderone in his material on “Hydrate” big names to live up to, but if “Hydrate” is an indication, Eddie Martinez is more than up to the challenge.

Aretha FranklinAretha Frankilin Classics

By now, everyone has heard the Aretha Franklin’s “takin’ it to church” version of Adele’s “Rollin’ In the Deep,” but to get the full glory of it, pick up the Queen of Soul’s new album, “Aretha Franklin Sings The Great Diva Classics.” This project had the potential to be an epic misfire or a soaring success, and it’s definitely proven to be the latter. While the first track borrows one of our current divas biggest hits, the entire project borrows from music’s rich history to give the Franklin a crack at some true classics. Her take on Gladys Knight and the Pips’ “Midnight Train To Georgia” gives it a somewhat more intimate feel, while Barbra Streisand’s “People” is pure vocal genius.

Taking a shot at another current artist’s hit with Alicia Keys’ “No One” is a Caribbean-tinged joy, proving that the Queen can more than keep up with the younger heirs to her throne. An added treat on this album is Franklin’s version of her contemporary and friend Chaka Khan’s iconic “I’m Every Woman,” where she takes the bridge of the track and gives us a few lines of her classic signature song “Respect.” As if this project was not complete enough, some very talented remixers have taken a crack at “Rollin’ In The Deep.”

Idina Menzel Holiday WishesWe haven’t seen some classic Aretha Franklin on the dance floor since her epic “Rose Is Still A Rose” remixes that were done by dance floor legends like Johnny Vicious and Hex Hector, but the mixes for “Rollin” definitely have potential. The “Cutmore Club Mix” is probably the most epic of the bunch, giving the chorus the front and center attention it deserves; while the “Wideboys Remix” gives it a more up to date feel, with some sickening drums and piano; and the “Morlando Clubmix” gives it somewhat of a European flavor, with a slightly faster BPM and more HI-NRG feel.

Idina Menzel

Idina Menzel’s “Holiday Wishes” has the market cornered on holiday music this year. After the massive success of “Let It Go,” Menzel wisely kept the chilly theme going and released what is going to be a classic holiday album. Holiday staples like “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “The Christmas Song” are perfect holiday gems in the hands of Ms. Menzel. Taking on a somewhat current holiday staple like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” could, on first glance, cause some to consider this is diva stand-off, but Menzel puts her own stamp on this one, keeping the arrangement more simpler than Carey’s original version. “Holly Jolly Christmas” is a toe-tapping delight and “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” is gloriously romantic. One of the stand outs on this album is the seasonal classic “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” a duet with the incomparable Michael Buble. Their vocals meld seamlessly, giving you the perfect “by the fire” soundtrack to share with your favorite cuddle partner this season.

Lady Gaga & Tony BennettTony Bennett and Lady Gaga

She’s put the meat dress into the deep freeze, put the egg shaped transport into the garage, and Lady Gaga has teamed up with American icon Tony Bennett for “Cheek to Cheek,” one of the most glorious albums you will hear this year. It’s simply classic; simple instrumentals, divine vocals, and sound choices that match the artists perfectly, both on individual cuts and when their talents are combined. Gaga slays Cher’s “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” as a piano-laced ballad, and Mr. Bennett floats us through “Don’t Wait Too Long,” which is simply a musical pleasure. On tracks like the rollicking “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” and the flirtatious “I Won’t Dance,” the voices of these two immensely talented vocalists are melded perfectly with the song choices on this project.

Many will admit (myself included) that having Gaga join Bennett on his duet’s CD for “The Lady is a Tramp” was a risky choice. When you get tracks like the nearly tear inducing “But Beautiful” on “Cheek to Cheek,” the risk has paid off in spades.

DJ Eddie Martinez Top Ten 

1. Eddie Martinez Feat. Meg – One Love

2. Helena Feat. Shawnee Taylor – Levity

3. Rosabel – Stand Strong

4. Jennifer Lopez – Booty (Mixes)

5. Ralphi Rosario – Sex Machine

6. Eddie Martinez Feat. Vaughn – Hypnotized

7. Royksopp Feat. Robyn – Do it Again (Mixes)

8. Eddie Martinez – Make Some Noise

9. Sia – Chandilier (Mixes)

10. Rush & Play – Work it (Mixes)

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