THE SHINS: Wincing the Night Away
Sub Pop SP 705 (CD). 2007. James Mercer, Joe Chiccarelli, prods.; Phil Ek, Sean Flora, Hiro Ninagawa, Brian Deck, Lars Fox, engs. AAD? TT: 41:52
Dusty Springfield: Dusty in Memphis
Atlantic/Analogue Productions APP 8214-45 (two 45rpm LPs). 1969/2011. Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd, Arif Mardin, prods.; Ed Kollis, eng.; Kevin Gray, 45rpm mastering. AAA. TT: 76:40
Coaxing a singer to "stretch" always sounds like a good ideathat is, until the singer is standing in the same recording booth used by Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, and suddenly her confidence, never brimming to start with, drops through the floor and she can't or won't sing a note. Add to this that Dusty Springfield was already a sticky perfectionist who'd self-produced most of her records and wasn't happy with the songs to be recordeddespite the fact that most of them were straight out of the Brill Buildingand you have the recipe for an all-time classic record, right?
Clifford Brown/Max Roach: The Clifford Brown/Max Roach Emarcy Albums
Clifford Brown, trumpet; Max Roach, drums; Harold Land, Sonny Rollins, tenor saxophone; Richie Powell, piano; George Morrow, bass
Mosaic MRLP 3004 (4 LPs). 195456/2012. Bob Shad, orig. prod.; Michael Cuscuna, reissue prod.; Ryan Smith, remastering. ADA.
Trumpeter Clifford Brown's death in a car accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on June 26, 1956his second wedding anniversaryset up an eternity of unanswerables headed by the belief, among many, that had Brownie lived, his star would now be as high as or higher than that of Miles Davis.
James Booker: Classified: Remixed and Expanded
Rounder 11661-9175-1 (2 LPs). 1983/2013. Scott Billington, John Parsons, prods.; Jay Gallagher, eng.; Jonathan Wyner, transfer eng.; David Farrell, remix. ADA. TT: 68:12
Before anything else, there's his musicality. No one has ever played the piano like James Carroll Booker III. If the piano is New Orleans' preeminent musical instrument, then Booker is its most talented virtuoso. A child prodigy who went on the road as part of Little Richard's band when he was 14, the Ivory Emperor, the Bronze Liberace, Li'l Booker, Little Chopin in Living Color (as he was variously known throughout his life) was breathtakingly gifted.
EARL WILD: The Art of the Transcription
Earl Wild, piano, recorded live at Carnegie Hall on November 1, 1981 Audiofon 2008-2 (2 LPs). Julian Kreeger, prod., Peter McGrath, eng. AAA
It takes nerve for a performer to allow an entire concert to be recorded for release on disc. It also takes extraordinary confidence in one's technique. Mistakes that are overlooked in the live experience become snags for the ear in the recorded version. One starts to listen for them and loses the musical experience in its totality.
Branford Marsalis: Renaissance
Branford Marsalis, tenor & soprano sax; Kenny Kirkland & Herbie Hancock, piano; Bob Hurst & Buster Williams, bass; Tony Williams, drums
CBS FC 40711 (LP). Dennis Ferrante, Bob Margoleff, Howard Siegel, engs.; Delfeayo Marsalis, prod. DDA. TT: 57:09
These are heady days for those who believe that jazz may have reached its height in the mid- to late '60s, before its disastrous 15-year romance with fusion. With such strong new talents as the Marsalis and Brecker brothers and Chico Freeman embracing the spirit of that time, and fusion-scarred veterans like Freddie Hubbard and Joe Henderson returning to the basics of acoustic trios, quartets, and quintets in recent recordings and concerts, jazz has attained a new and cherished seriousness valued all the more for its unexpectedness.
BOBBY KING & TERRY EVANS: Live and Let Live!
Rounder 2089 (LP), CD 2089 (CD). Larry Hirsch, eng.; Ry Cooder, prod. AAA/AAD. TT: 44:42
If you've heard a Ry Cooder album in the last 12 years, you've heard Bobby King and Terry Evansthey're the gorgeously voiced gospel/R&B singers who've backed up Ry while he's learned to sing in publicand from whom he can't help but have learned a lot. To crib from the liner notes, King is from a Louisiana gospel background, while Evans sang R&B in Mississippi. Their music together is a seamless blend of the best of both sides of the churchyard gate, smack dab in the middle of the strongest undercurrents of American music. Virtually every tune is a gem, but "Let Love Begin," so warm and lovingly sensual it'll melt your speakers, and the best version I've ever heard of "Dark End of the Street," are instant classics. "Saturday Night" has a hint of sprung Cajun rhythm, and "Let Me Go Back to the Country" has that vital feel of a pick-up band one by one sitting down to sit in, music made for the sheer joy of singing and playing. Only "Bald Head," another misogynistic Cooder tune, falls flat, though not for lack of trying by King & Evans.
Glasnost Mondial Supergroup: 1990 Aragon Jam Sessions
Anthony Federici, Michael Fremer, Roland Marconi, Bob Reina, Paul Rosenberg, Rob Sample, vocals; Frank Doris, Steve Harris, Roland Marconi, Paul Rosenberg, guitars; Elliot Kallen, Bob Reina, keyboards; John Atkinson, bass; Allen Perkins, Neil Sinclair, drums
Bainbridge GMS-1 (CD only). PJ Littleton, Michael Kusiak, Jr., engs.; PJ Littleton, Paul Rosenberg, prods. Recorded live with direct feed to the Colossus Digital Audio System from a single MS-4 surround 4-channel microphone. DDD. TT: 71:42