Neil Young: Official Release Series, Discs 14
Reprise 519173-1(4 LPs, Limited Edition Vinyl Boxed Set). 2009. Neil Young, David Briggs, Elliot Mazer, Jack Nitzsche, Henry Lewy, prods.; John Nowland, reissue eng. AAA.
Wyatt/Atzmon/Stephen: For the Ghosts Within
Domino DNO271/WIGLP263 (CD/LP). 2010. Gilad Atzmon, prod.; Robert Wyatt, Jamie Johnson, Philip Bagenal, engs. ADD? TT: 56:13
For the Ghosts Within marks my introduction to the wonderful world of Robert Wyatt. It happened in Denver, Colorado, at around 1am, several hours after the first full day of the 2010 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. I'd taken a break from posting blog entries to flip through the November 2010 issue of my other favorite magazine, The Wire. There, on p.11, I saw a neat, simple ad that offered little more than an album's intriguing cover art: stencil-like cutouts of three figures that seem meant to represent the album's three musicians, though these figures are almost entirely stripped of human form, reduced or distilled to their musical functionsas if the players are their instruments. Drawn by the rich colors and provocative imagery, I went straight to Domino Recording Co.'s website and listened to "Laura," track 1 of For the Ghosts Within. (Like so much of the album, "Laura" was completely new to me, but I have since learned that it is the title song from the 1944 film Laura, composed by David Raksin, and given fine treatments by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Julie London, among others.)
Anthony Wilson: Seasons
Anthony Wilson, Steve Cardenas, Julian Lage, Chico Pinheiro, guitars
Goat Hill Recordings 003 (CD/DVD). 2011. Anthony Wilson, prod.; Todd Whitelock, eng.; Damon Whittemore, asst. eng.; Kevin Gray, mastering; George Petit, live sound assistance; Steve Becker, Chris Scarafile, cameras. AAD? TT: 63:35
Halfway into the interview in his management company's offices, as Steve Earle literally squirmed in his seat, I got the distinct impression that he had somewhere else to go, something more important to do. Turned out he was anxious to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the exhibition Guitar Heroes: Legendary Craftsmen from Italy to New York. Suddenly, instead of talking about his career, he was rhapsodizing about the jazz-guitar luthiersJohn D'Angelico and James D'Aquistowhose work was being exhibited, and a display that featured one of the four guitars known to have been made by Antonio Stradivari.
A recent survey of my teenaged nephew and his friends turned up a number of musical trends both predictable and surprising. It sent them into paroxysms of disbelief and laughter when the old-man uncle asked whether they liked any guitar bands, like, say . . . Green Day. Guitar bands, to say the least, ain't cool. Pop-oriented hip-hop artists like Wiz Khalifa are. So are white, pop-rock "country" singers like Jason Aldean, whom teenaged boys, even in the age of piracy, continue to spend money on, be it downloads or a CD to rip.
Keith Jarrett's gift for brilliant invention is apparently inexhaustible throughout both of these concerts, recorded five days apart in spring 1981. The combinations of lyricism, literally foot-stomping gospel, chordings and voicings alternately sumptuously lush and astringently lean, and unexpected musical destinations reached in surprising ways, are here at least as rich as anything else he's done.
The ideal rock singer/songwriter? Someone who addresses adult issues with all the passion of adolescence (than which, believe me, there is none more monomaniacalthere's no righteous indignation like a teenager's). Someone who can sing about him- or herself and strike the universal; someone who can tell a story of what the swells call "the human condition," or of some social injustice, in terms of how it affects a single life in all that life's unique details. In this case, some musical near-illiterate like "The Beloved Entertainer," as it says on the little brass nameplate under the harlequin-painted face exploding from the golden Warner Brothers shield on the cover of SpikeThe Little Hands of Concrete himself.
DICK HYMAN: Dick Hyman Plays Fats Waller
Dick Hyman, piano
Reference Recordings RR-33DCD (CD*), RR-33CD (CD**), RR-33LP (LP). Keith O. Johnson, recording eng.; Robert Harley, mastering eng. (RR-33DCD); J. Tamblyn Henderson, Jr., prod. D/DDD/AAA. TTs: 59:28,* 59:22,** 59:22
P.D.Q. BACH: WTWP Classical Talkity-Talk Radio
Prof. Peter Schickele and the Usual Cast of Clowns; many instruments, some of which you'll recognize
Telarc CD-80295 (CD only, as if we had to tell you that). Robert Woods, Elaine Martone, prods.; Jack Renner, Michael Bishop, engs. DDD (as if we had to tell you that, too). TT: 61:39
TOUS LES MATINS DU MONDE (soundtrack)
Jordi Savall, Christophe Coin, bass viols; Les Concert des Nations, Jordi Savall, dir.
Valois/Auvidis V 4640 (CD only). Pierre Verany Studios, production & engineering. DDD. TT: 76:00
GERSHWIN: Piano Music Rhapsody in Blue (solo piano version by Gershwin); 3 Preludes; "Sleepless Night"; Impromptu in 2 Keys; Song Transcriptions: "Sweet and Low-Down," "Maybe," "Clap Yo' hands," "So am I," "Looking for a Boy," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "That Certain Feeling"; Second Rhapsody (solo piano version by David Buechner) David Buechner, piano Connoisseur Society CD 4191 (CD only). Patricia A. Duciaume, eng.; E. Alan Silver, prod. D?D. TT: 59:26
OLU DARA: In the World, from Natchez to New York Atlantic 83077-2 (CD). 1998. Yves Beauvais, Olu Dara, prods.; Danny Kopelson, eng. Tom Schick, asst. eng. AAD? TT: 47:03 Performance **** Sonics ****(But see final paragraph.)