Recording of the Month

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Robert Baird Posted: Oct 07, 2008 0 comments
BEN FOLDS: Way to Normal
Epic 886970984928 (CD). 2008. Dennis Herring, prod., Joe Costa, eng. AAD? TT: 40:32
Performance ****½
Sonics ***
Robert Baird Posted: Oct 12, 2009 0 comments
Regina Spektor: Far
Sire 519396-2 (CD). 2009. Mike Elizondo, Jeff Lynne, Jacknife Lee, David Kahne, prods.; Adam Hawkins, Marc Mann, Steve Jay, Tom McFall, engs. AAD? TT: 47:21
Performance ****
Sonics ****½
Robert Baird Posted: Oct 11, 2010 0 comments
Grinderman: Grinderman 2
Anti- 87125 (CD). 2010. Grinderman, Nick Launay, prods; Launay, eng. AAD. TT: 41:19
Performance ****½
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Oct 06, 2011 0 comments
1011rotm.jpgTom Harrell: The Time of the Sun
Tom Harrell, trumpet, flugelhorn; Wayne Escoffery, tenor saxophone; Danny Grissett, piano, Fender Rhodes; Ugonna Okegwo, bass; Johnathan Blake, drums
High Note HCD7222 (CD). 2011. Tom Harrell, Wayne Escoffery, Angela Harrell, prods.; Joe Fields, exec. prod.; Mike Marciano, eng. AAD? TT: 62:12
Performance ****½
Sonics ****½

Trumpeters use their horns to search for truth. At least that's the folk tale. Somehow, that pure, ringing tone that most strive for at some point in their career—think Louis Armstrong, Clifford Brown, Miles Davis—suggests a quest for deeper knowledge, something closer to the heart. In effect, trumpeters play a knife—a blade that can cut through nerve, bone, and sinew to that heart; to realizations, we'd like to think, that force them to be honest.

Robert Baird Posted: Sep 25, 2013 Published: Oct 01, 2013 0 comments
The most indelicate, if not gory, term in all of music is the ever-popular "bleeding chunks." The bane of classical audiences cursed with lazy pops conductors, bleeding chunks are movements of works—or even parts of movements—strung together in that abomination known as a medley. The effect can be, I guess, soothing to those who, for example, know only a little about Mozart. But for anyone well versed in their Wolfy, these programs are jarring, and can produce involuntarily grinding of those cavity-prone back molars.
Richard Lehnert Posted: Sep 26, 2014 Published: Oct 01, 2014 4 comments
Bruckner: Symphony 9
Claudio Abbado, Lucerne Festival Orchestra
Deutsche Grammophon 479 3441 (CD, 48/24 download from HDTracks). 2014. Georg Obermayer, prod., ed.; Urs Dürr, Toine Mertens, engs. DDD. TT: 63:09
Performance *****
Sonics ****½

This performance of Bruckner's last, all-but-finished composition was recorded at the last concert conducted by Claudio Abbado. It is a fitting final statement by an interpreter of unparalleled sensitivity, intelligence, and taste.

The Ninth is no serene work, and Abbado's earlier recording, with the Vienna Philharmonic, is a darker, more intensely driven vision of Bruckner's fight to live long enough to complete his most profound, most ambitious composition. The difficulties of that double struggle are evident throughout the three movements Bruckner completed (Abbado never conducted a completion of the nearly finished Finale), and in 1996 in Vienna, those struggles seemed the story Abbado wanted to tell.

Margaret Graham Posted: Nov 12, 2014 Published: Sep 01, 1983 3 comments
Rickie Lee Jones: Rickie Lee Jones
Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs MFSL 1-089 (LP) (originally on Warner Bros. LP, 1979). Nick DeCaro, Johnny Mandel, orchestral arrangements; Lenny Waronker, Russ Titelman, prods.

This is actually a nice record. I was somewhat surprised to find myself really enjoying it. All the songs were written by Miss Jones, who does share the credit with Alfred Johnson for two: "Weasel And The White Boys Cool" and "Company." Her lyrics are fresh and entertaining, and her music quite good. The only jarring note to me was her inept-sounding efforts to assume the lowah-class South'n accent that is apparently considered essential for success in popsingin'. It only muddles her diction and makes the lyrics even more difficult to understand.

J. Gordon Holt Posted: Apr 10, 2014 Published: Sep 01, 1985 1 comments
985rotm.shost250.jpgShostakovich: Symphony 15
USSR Ministry of Culture State Symphony Orchestra, Gennady Rozhdestvensky conducting.
JVC/Melodiya CD VDC-528 (CD). Igor Veprintsev, eng. AAD.

I have been wondering recently if we aren't seeing the beginning of the end of rotten recordings. I'm now not too surprised when yet another superlative-sounding Telarc or Reference Recordings disc arrives for review, but when a Soviet-made Melodiya blows me away with its sound, not to say a stupendous performance, I must conclude that something earthshaking is going on.

Richard Lehnert Posted: Sep 01, 2011 Published: Sep 01, 1988 1 comments
Wynton Marsalis Quartet: Live at Blues Alley
Wynton Marsalis, trumpet; Marcus Roberts, piano; Robert Leslie Hurst III, bass; Jeff Watts, drums
Knozz-Moe-King (4 takes), Juan (3 takes), Just Friends, Cherokee, Delfeayo's Dilemma, Chambers of Tain, Au Privave, Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans, Autumn Leaves, Skain's Domain, Much Later
Columbia PC2 40675 (2 LPs), C2K 40675 (2 CDs). Tim Geelan, eng.; Steve Epstein, prod. DDA/DDD. TT: 117:39

Branford Marsalis: Random Abstract
Branford Marsalis, saxes; Kenny Kirkland, piano; Delbert Felix, bass; Lewis Nash, drums
Yes and No, Crescent City, Broadway Fools, LonJellis, I Thought About You, Lonely Woman, Steep's Theme, Yesterday's,* Crepuscule With Nellie*
Columbia OC 44055 (LP), CK 44055 (CD*). Tomoo Suzuki, eng.; Delfeayo Marsalis, prod. ADA/ADD. TTs: 58:46, 74:10*

Harrison/Blanchard: Black Pearl
Terence Blanchard, trumpet; Donald Harrison, saxes; Cyrus Chestnut, piano; Reginald Veal, bass; Carl Allen, drums
Selim Sivad, Black Pearl, Ninth Ward Strut, Infinite Heart, The Center Piece, Somewhere, Dizzy Gillespie's Hands, Toni, Birth of the Abstract
Columbia FC 44216 (LP), CK 44216 (CD). Tim Williams, eng.; George Butler, prod. ADA/ADD. TT: 53:09

"Jazz isn't dead—it just smells funny," said Frank Zappa in 1974. Back then, in those dark days of Fusion, one could be forgiven for thinking that jazz's greatest years were over, that the form had died, or at least mutated enough, in its wooing of the huge, bucks-wielding rock audience, to be unrecognizable, or at least unlovable. Then, in 1982, fresh from Art Blakey's band (Blakey remains a seemingly bottomless well of fresh young talent; Harrison/Blanchard, too, worked with him), Wynton Marsalis's eponymous debut LP was released. This was possibly one of the most important jazz releases of all time, not so much because of its musical content as its stylistic choices: intelligent, hard-edged, fully fledged acoustic jazz in the style of Miles Davis's second great quintet. Marsalis, in fact, used most of that quintet on half of that release, the other half his new band of Kirkland, Watts, Moffatt, and brother Branford.

J. Gordon Holt Posted: Aug 30, 2010 Published: Sep 30, 1989 1 comments
Denon Anechoic Orchestral Recordings
Music and Test Signals for Evaluation of Room Acoustics
Mashahiko Enkoji, Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra
Denon CD PG-6006 (CD only). Katsuhiro Tsubonou, Yoshiharu Kawaguchi, dirs.; Norio Okada, Katsuhiro Miura, engs. DDD. TT: 58:42
Richard Lehnert Posted: Sep 07, 2009 Published: Sep 07, 1990 0 comments
TIM BUCKLEY: Dream Letter (Live in London 1968)
Tim Buckley, vocals, 12-string; Lee Underwood, guitar; David Friedman, vibes; Danny Thompson, bass
Enigma Retro/Straight 73507-2 (2 CDs only). Bill Inglot, Lee Hammond, prods.; Bill Inglot, Ken Perry, John Strother, engs. AAD. TT: 116:42
Richard Lehnert Posted: Oct 03, 2008 Published: Sep 03, 1991 0 comments
WAGNER: Glenn Gould Conducts & Plays Wagner
Siegfried Idyll, original chamber version.* Piano Transcriptions (Gould): Die Meistersinger, Prelude to Act I; Götterdämmerung, Dawn & Siegfried's Rhine Journey; Siegfried Idyll
Glenn Gould, piano, piano 4-hands (overdubbed), conductor; members of the Toronto Symphony
Sony Classical SK 46279 (CD only). Kevin Doyle,* Kent Warden, Frank Dean Dennowitz, engs.; Glenn Gould,* Andew Kazdin, prods. ADD. TT: 71:00
Mortimer H. Frank Posted: Oct 27, 2003 Published: Sep 01, 1993 0 comments
HAYDN: Symphonies 99 & 102
Frans Brüggen, Orchestra of the 18th Century
Philips 434 077-2 (CD only). Sieuwer Verster, prod.; Jaap Bogaart, eng. DDD. TT: 48:57
HAYDN: Symphonies 100 & 104
Frans Brüggen, Orchestra of the 18th Century
Philips 434 096-2 (CD only). DDD. TT: 53:35
Kevin Conklin Posted: Sep 06, 1994 0 comments
MAHLER: Symphony 1, "Blumine"
James Judd, Florida Philharmonic Orchestra
Harmonia Mundi USA 907118 (CD only). Peter McGrath, eng.; Paul F. Witt, prod.; Robina Young, exec. prod. DDD. TT: 64:15
Richard Lehnert Posted: Sep 23, 1995 0 comments
REGER: Sonatas for Unaccompanied Violin, Vol.2
Op.91 Nos. 1, 3, 5, 6
Ulrike-Anima Mathé, violin
Dorian DOR-90212 (CD only). Sergio Bernal, Douglas Brown, prods.; David H. Walters, Douglas Brown, engs. DDD. TT: 55:30

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