Recording of the Month

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David Patrick Stearns Posted: Sep 09, 2004 Published: Sep 01, 2004 1 comments
MOZART: Requiem
Christine Schafer, soprano; Bernarda Fink, alto; Kurt Streit, tenor; Gerald Finley, bass; Arnold Schoenberg Choir, Concentus Musicus Wien; Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 82876 58705 2 (SACD/CD). 2004. Friedemann Engelbrecht, prod.; Michael Brammann, Josef Schutz, engs. DDD. TT: 50:23
Performance ****
Sonics *****
Thomas Conrad Posted: Sep 17, 2005 0 comments
CHARLIE HADEN LIBERATION MUSIC ORCHESTRA: Not In Our Name
Charlie Haden, bass; Carla Bley, piano, arranger, conductor; Seneca Black, Michael Rodriguez, trumpet; Miguel Zenón, alto sax; Chris Cheek, Tony Malaby, tenor sax; Curtis Fowlkes, trombone; Ahnee Sharon Freeman, French horn; Joe Daley, tuba; Steve Cardenas, guitar; Matt Wilson, drums
Verve B000494902 (CD). 2005. Charlie Haden, Carla Bley, Ruth Cameron, prods.; Gerard de Haro, eng. DDD? TT: 68:55
Performance ****
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Sep 17, 2006 0 comments
M. WARD: Post-War
Merge MRG 280 (CD). 2006. M. Ward, Jim James, prods.; Mike Coykendall, prod., eng.; Adam Selzer, Mike Mogis, Nick Luca, engs. AAD? TT: 37:35
Performance ****½
Sonics ***½
John Atkinson Posted: Sep 16, 2007 0 comments
J.S. BACH: The Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Glenn Gould, piano (1955); Yamaha Disklavier Pro piano, "Re-Performance" by Zenph Studios Sony Classical 8697-03350-2 (SACD/CD). 2007. Howard H. Scott, prod. (1955 mono sessions); Steven Epstein, prod. (2007 stereo, multichannel, and binaural sessions); Peter Cook, Richard King, eng. (2007); Dennis Patterson, asst. eng. (2007); Marc Wienert, piano voicer (worked with Gould); Ron Giesbrecht, calibration. Zenph project team: Mikhail Krishtal, Anatoly Larkin, Peter J. Schwaller, John Q. Walker. DDD. TT: 77:02.
Performance *****
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Sep 09, 2008 Published: Sep 10, 2008 0 comments
RANDY NEWMAN Harps and Angels
Nonesuch 075597998931 (CD). 2008. Mitchell Froom, Lenny Waronker, prods.; David Boucher, eng. ADD. TT: 34:54
Performance *****
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Sep 09, 2008 Published: Sep 10, 2008 0 comments
RANDY NEWMAN Harps and Angels
Nonesuch 075597998931 (CD). 2008. Mitchell Froom, Lenny Waronker, prods.; David Boucher, eng. ADD. TT: 34:54
Performance *****
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Sep 14, 2009 0 comments
Willie Nelson: American Classic
Blue Note 5099926719726 (CD). 2009. Tommy LiPuma, prod.; Al Schmitt, Steve Genewick, engs. AAD? TT: 45:33
Performance ****½
Sonics ****
Stephen Mejias Posted: Sep 13, 2010 0 comments
Bushman's Revenge: Jitterbug
Rune Grammofon RCD 2097/RLP 3097 (LP/CD). 2010. Bushman's Revenge, prods.; Hasse Rosbach, prod., eng.; Morton Stendahl, eng. DDA/DDD. TT: 53:39
Performance *****
Sonics ****½
Robert Baird Posted: Sep 01, 2011 0 comments
John Adams Son of Chamber Symphony, String Quartet
John Adams, International Contemporary Ensemble; St. Lawrence String Quartet
Nonesuch 523014-2 (CD). 2011. Judith Sherman, prod.; John Kilgore, John D.S. Adams, engs.; Chris Allen, Tom Gloady, Nathan Chandler, asst. engs. DDD? TT: 54:00
Performance ****½
Sonics ****

When John Adams was working on his Chamber Symphony (1992), he became aware that his son Sam was in the next room watching old American cartoons, presumably those by Warner Bros. that used music by the great Raymond Scott. Hyperkinetic borrowings from Scott's witty scores made their way into that earlier work, and now into its successor, a fact hinted at by its humorous title: Son of Chamber Symphony. There's even a moment early on in this new work when the distinctive rhythmic rumble of Scott's masterpiece, "Powerhouse," can be fleetingly heard in what is, overall, a short but very sweet triumph.

Richard Lehnert Posted: Aug 28, 2012 Published: Sep 01, 2012 0 comments
Jarrett, Garbarek, Danielsson, Christensen: Sleeper
Keith Jarrett, piano, percussion; Jan Garbarek, tenor & soprano saxophone, flute, percussion; Palle Danielsson, double bass; Jon Christensen, drums, percussion
ECM 2290/91 (2 CDs; hi-rez FLAC files from HDTracks). 1979/2012. Manfred Eicher, prod., mix; Jan Erik Kongshaug, eng., mix. ADD. TT: 106:56
Performance *****
Sonics ****

Keith Jarrett's American quartet (with Redman, Haden, Motian) was prolifically inventive. His Standards trio (Peacock, DeJohnette) continues endlessly rich and ebullient at the end of its third decade. But Jarrett's Scandinavian quartet of saxophonist Jan Garbarek, drummer Jon Christensen (both Norwegian), and bassist Palle Danielsson (Swedish), was something else again. Each player's technical mastery, combined with their collectively perfect attunedness to one other, an apparently effortless intimacy of interplay that sounds telepathic, made them special even in a career as brilliant as Jarrett's—who wrote his best tunes for this band.

Robert Baird Posted: Aug 28, 2013 Published: Sep 01, 2013 3 comments
David Chesky: Jazz in the New Harmonic
David Chesky, piano; Javon Jackson, tenor saxophone; Jeremy Pelt, trumpet; Peter Washington, bass; Billy Drummond, drums
Chesky JD358 (CD). 2013. Norman Chesky, exec prod.; David Chesky, prod.; Nicholas Prout, prod., eng. DDD.? TT: 69:15.
Performance ****
Sonics *****

If there's a word that describes the feeling, the vibe present throughout Jazz in the New Harmonic, it's trance. Pianist and session leader David Chesky even uses it without prompting when asked how, among all his music endeavors—an album of difficult non–Joplin-like New York Rags in 2012, a children's ballet later this year, not to mention running Chesky Records—he found the time or inspiration to make a straight-ahead jazz record.

Robert Baird Posted: Aug 21, 2014 Published: Sep 01, 2014 0 comments
Amy LaVere: Runaway's Diary
Archer ARR 319611/2 (LP/CD). 2014. Luther Dickinson, prod.; Kevin Houston, eng., Daniel Lyon, asst. eng. ADA/ADD. TT: 38:27.

"It's not your average gal that drinks bourbon neat, walks around with a pocket atlas and drives a big white gear van. I thought she was charming and awfully funny."

Talent and humor has never been a problem for Amy LaVere. Not long after high school she led Last Minute, a Detroit punk band. When we next hear of her, she's in Nashville as part of a husband-and-wife folk/country duo, The Gabe and Amy Show, who released a single, "Blankets of Love," b/w Johnny Cash's "Big River."

Thomas Conrad Posted: Aug 25, 2015 Published: Sep 01, 2015 19 comments
Maria Schneider Orchestra: The Thompson Fields
Maria Schneider, composer, arranger, conductor; 18-piece orchestra
ArtistShare AS0137 (CD). 2015. Maria Schneider, Ryan Truesdell, prods.; Brian Montgomery, eng. DDD. TT: 77:25
Performance *****
Sonics ****

The world's leading figure in orchestral jazz has not released a jazz recording in eight years. In her liner notes, Maria Schneider says, "This album was funded by my ArtistShare fan base. Making a recording like this is becoming increasingly difficult and would now be impossible without the generous support of my many participants."

Today, big jazz bands rarely tour. Some are stable entities, but on a part-time basis. Most, like Schneider's, come together for projects, then go their separate ways. Yet against all odds, large-ensemble jazz survives because no other format offers its range of expression and its power.

Robert Baird Posted: Jun 23, 2015 Published: Jul 01, 2015 1 comments
Vivaldi: L'Estro Armonico: 12 Concertos for Violins, Op.3
Rachel Podger, Bojan Cicic, Johannes Pramsohler, violin; Brecon Baroque, Rachel Podger
Channel Classics CCS SA 36515 (2 SACD/CDs). 2015. Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, prod.; Jared Sacks, eng.; Ernst Coutinho, asst. eng. DDD. TT: 96:54
Performance *****
Sonics *****

It's no big secret that classical music is in trouble. At a time when selling a few hundred CDs will land you squarely in the upper reaches of the classical music chart, and the venerable New York Philharmonic faces an unsettled future in terms of its endowment, future conductor and hall renovation, many say that what the genre most lacks are genuine shining stars. It's been a long time since maestros like Leonard Bernstein or Georg Solti trod the boards, or a brilliant instrumentalist like Jacqueline du Pré became a celebrity and attracted the attention of a larger public that then might actually buy a record or attend a concert. In 2015, building an audience is classical music's central dilemma—so having a dominant player like baroque violinist Rachel Podger is a much-needed development. It's a sign of our fragmented times that a baroque violinist, rather than one who concentrates on the classical and romantic repertoire, has now become a leading light in the classical world.

Margaret Graham Posted: Dec 16, 2014 Published: Apr 01, 1983 0 comments
Art Pepper: Darn That Dream
Art Pepper, alto sax; Joe Farrell, tenor sax; George Cables, piano; John Dentz, drums; Tony Dumas, acoustic bass.
M&K RealTime Digital RT-309 (LP). Ken Kreisel and John Dentz, prods., Ken Kreisel and Scott Simon, engs. Recorded at The Annex Studio, Hollywood, CA, March 23, 1982. 37:36.

Earl Wild: Works for Piano
Cesar Franck: Prelude, Chorale and Fugue; Gabriel Fauré: Barcarolle No.3 in G Flat, Op.42. Maurice Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit.
Earl Wild, piano.
Audiofon Stereo 207 (LP). Julian H. Kreeger, prod., Peter McGrath, eng.

Darn That Dream should be of great interest to jazz buffs, as it is one of Art Pepper's last recordings, and a superb recording it is. One hardly feels that one is listening to a disc. Close your eyes and you are in the room with the players. For anyone who enjoys jazz, this record is a must.

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