1992 Records To Die For Page 7
SHIRLEY HORN: You Won't Forget Me
Shirley Horn, voice, piano; Charles Ables, bass; Steve Williams, drums. With: Miles Davis, trumpet; Buck Hill, trumpet; Branford Marsalis, tenor saxophone; Wynton Marsalis, trumpet; Toots Thielmans, harmonica, guitar; Buster Williams, bass; Billy Hart, drums
Verve Digital 847 482-2 (CD only). Richard Seidel, Joel Siegel, prods.; David Baker, eng. DDD. TT: 71:13
Amazing singing---guts, heart, and brains all the way down---quintessential jazz conversation that feels like someone crawled upside your heart to deliver intimate testimony from the inside---that's Shirley Horn, and that's this album. Horn's arrangements of these 14 standards, and her piano/bass/drums trio, are perfect, and how can you resist an album that has both Wynton and Miles, the latter in his first acoustic date in over 20 years?
Sonics are almost as untoppable, with fantastic if overwide piano sound, near-verbatim soundstaging, and the best reverb and cymbal sound CG's ever heard. You won't forget this one. (XIV-6)
McCOY TYNER: New York Reunion
McCoy Tyner, piano; Joe Henderson, tenor sax; Ron Carter, bass; Al Foster, drums
Chesky JD51 (CD only). Bob Katz, eng.; David Chesky, prod. DDD. TT: 74:37
Back in Vol.14 No.9 I called this "the best 'audiophile' album ever made," and I still think so. The two impeccables are well met here: state-of-the-art mainstream jazz ensemble playing from four men at the peaks of their maturity, captured in what's already become, in just a few years, "classic" Chesky sound: full, rounded, three-dimensional instruments filling a single recording space with music. Tyner is uncharacteristically serene, mellow, laid-back here, to the point that New York Reunion almost becomes a Joe Henderson date---of which, as any jazzer will tell you, there can never be too many. And Joe's in fine form. A classic all 'round; demonstration quality for students of jazz and sound alike. (XIV-9)
BEETHOVEN: Wellingtons Sieg, oder Die Schlacht bei Vittoria (Battle Symphony), Op.91
ROSETTI: Parthia in F for Two Flutes, Two Oboes, Two Clarinets, Three Horns, Two Bassoons, & Double Bassoon
SPOHR: Notturno in C for Wind Instruments & Turkish Band, Op.34
Paul Dombrecht, Octophoros
Musical Heritage Society MHS 512700Y (CD only). Adelheid & Andreas Glatt, Pieter Andriessen, engs. & prods. DDD. TT: 64:41
All written for extended wind ensembles, this unusual repertoire dating from 1785-1816 features as its primary interest a splendid reconstruction of Beethoven's infamous Wellington's Victory and includes the participation of as many as 32 superb period instrumentalists. The album title, Music for Harmonie and Janissary Band, implies lots of Turkish band noise, and that's what one gets, but that sonic entertainment is not to the exclusion of some really exquisite moments of lesser decibels from Antonio Rosetti (né the late 18th-century Bohemian, Frantisek-Antonin Roessler) and Louis Spohr. Rosetti's hunting-horn finale is just one example of the extraordinary timbres to be heard on this vividly clear and colorful recording originally from the Belgian firm, Accent.
CHOPIN: 51 Mazurkas, Vols.I & II
Karen Kushner, piano
Connoisseur Society CD 4181 & 4182 (2 CDs only). Patricia A. Duciaume, eng.; E. Alan Silver, prod. DDD. TTs: 66:32, 75:03
The 51 Chopin Mazurkas, those amazingly variegated Polish miniatures, are capable of almost infinite interpretive stances, most of them plausible providing that sensitivity to the composer's style and personality exists. With either integral or selected surveys available over the years by such distinguished performers as Rubinstein (three complete sets), Cortot, Friedman, Horowitz, Kapell, and Rosen, it might perhaps seem presumptuous to offer a recorded debut by a virtually unknown New York pianist. Nonetheless, Karen Kushner, a former Adele Marcus and William Masselos student at Juilliard, performs these pieces with such rhythmic verve, poetic sensibility, and spirit that repeated hearings each time reconfirmed my initial impression of delight and enthusiasm. Those familiar with E. Alan Silver's reputation for superbly reproduced piano recordings will automatically know that the present discs set the highest standard.
HOWARD TATE: Get It While You Can
Verve V6-5022 (LP only). Val Valentin, eng.; Jerry Ragovoy, prod. AAA. (A CD compilation is rumored for 1992 release.)
Since music is all that matters, I'm again ignoring the command to put sonics on the same level. To do so is to regard the plate as important as the cake. So on to a forgotten masterpiece. Tate had (has?) a range rivaled only by Jackie Wilson, and an emotional fire matched only by Otis Redding. Overseen by the great Jerry Ragovoy, Tate worked through classic material which you've probably heard performed by Bonnie Raitt, BB King, Joe Williams, and others. But none have matched Tate's intensity. Quite simply the best all-in-one R&B/blues/gospel/funk recording of all time; a primer of black music prior to Sly and Shaft.
MEL & TIM: Starting All Over Again
Stax STS-3007 (LP). Jerry Masters, eng.; Barry Beckett, Roger Hawkins, prods. AAA.
Probably groomed to fill the void created when Sam & Dave split, Mel & Tim suffered unjustly from inevitable comparisons. No, they didn't generate the same electricity; rather, they were smoother and more romantic. But their interplay was the stuff of which great duos are formed, and this 1972 set is filled with tracks (including Sam & Dave's "Wrap It Up") which suit them to perfection. The title song, recently covered note-for-note by Hall & Oates, is a peerless smoocher, while the remaining cuts show the pair's skill with gospel, funk, and good ol' southern soul. Nary a duff moment; only duff Stax sound quality. But the performances are so "real" that you'll just forget about the sibilance...