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Robert Baird Posted: Jun 12, 2005 0 comments
RENÉE FLEMING: Haunted Heart
Renée Fleming, vocals; Bill Frisell, guitar; Fred Hersch, piano, arrangements
Decca B00004406-02 (CD). 2005. Renée Fleming, prod.; Elliott Scheiner, prod., eng.; Peter Doris, Aya Takemura, Brian Montgomery, Anthony Ruotolo, asst. engs. DDD. TT: 63:58
Performance *****
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Jun 16, 2006 1 comments
DR. JOHN: Mercernary
Blue Note 3 54541 2 (CD). 2006. Dr. John, prod.; Mark Bingham, eng. AAD? TT: 49:45
Performance ****½
Sonics ****½
Robert Baird Posted: Jun 17, 2007 0 comments
WILCO: Sky Blue Sky
Nonesuch 131388 (CD). 2007. Wilco, prods.; TJ Doherty, eng.; Jim Scott, mix; Bob Ludwig, mastering. AAD? TT: 51:18
Performance *****
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Jun 10, 2008 0 comments
JENNY SCHEINMAN: Jenny Scheinman
Koch KOC-AD-4483 (CD). 2008. Jenny Scheinman, Tony Scherr, prods.; Scherr, eng. AAD? TT: 53:26
Performance ****
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Jun 08, 2011 0 comments
Jordi Savall: Dinastía Borja
Music by Guillaume Dufay, Josquin Des Prez, Lluis del Mila and others Jordi Savall, viola da gamba, director; Hespèrion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Alia Vox AVSA 9874A/C (3 SACD/CDs). 2010. Jordi Savall, prod.; Toni Figueras, recording coordinator; Aline Blondiau, Nicolas de Beco, Dominique de Spoolberg, Olivier de Spoolberg, recording assistants. AAD? TT: 3:43:19
Performance *****
Sonics *****

As is usually the case, a recent performance at New York's Lincoln Center by Jordi Savall, his instrumental ensemble, Hespèrion XXI, and his choir, La Capella Reial de Catalunya, was a triumph—his impeccably researched and realized early music had the crowd on their feet. In lesser hands, such exotica as old-world Spanish music influenced by indigenous forms from Mexico would have trouble drawing a paying crowd, let alone filling Alice Tully Hall; but Savall's unique vision has rescued and revitalized obscure musical forms aplenty, from the medieval, renaissance, and baroque periods. Along the way he's also managed to record notable versions of more popular works of the standard classical repertoire, such as the Mozart Requiem, and J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.

Robert Baird Posted: May 29, 2012 2 comments
Krzysztof Penderecki/Jonny Greenwood
Threnody for the victims of Hiroshima, Popcorn Superhet Receiver, Polymorphia, 48 Responses to Polymorphia
Aukso Orchestra, Penderecki, Marek Mos, conductors
Nonesuch 530223-2 (CD) Filip Berkowicz, Michal Merczynski, prods. Barbara Orzechowska, associate prod. Ewa Guziotek-Tubelewicz, Pitor Witkowski, engs. Performance ***** Sonics *****

For the past two decades, the "C" word in classical music— crossover—has been a bone of both hope and contention. Lured by the supposed riches that lurk amongst classical fans who want to slum it and popular music fans with upscale intellectual curiosities, artists from Caruso to Domingo to Joshua Bell have given in this concept in search of a success to mostly disappointing results. And then of course there's humble Gordon Sumner (aka Feyd Rautha Harkonnen) who blithely smeared his meager powers onto the work of poor John Dowland in Songs From the Labyrinth—an apt title if ever there was. In 2010 the great Renee Fleming, no stranger to taking risks and a jazz singer during her college years, dipped her toes, fairly disastrously it turns out, into the classical/rock crossover pool with Dark Hope, a record whose title again seems to carry a less than promising message.

Robert Baird Posted: May 22, 2014 Published: Jun 01, 2014 0 comments
The link between jazz and the works of Igor Stravinsky is well known. In Conversations with Igor Stravinsky, his landmark 1959 collaboration with Robert Craft, the composer mentions jazz artists like Art Tatum and Charlie Christian. The fact that Stravinsky was captivated by the improvisational freedom of jazz and its insistent, inventive rhythms makes all his work, especially Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring), a natural for jazz players to play and quote from, and over the years they have more than obliged.
Robert Baird Posted: May 21, 2015 Published: Jun 01, 2015 0 comments
José James: Yesterday I Had the Blues, The Music of Billie Holiday
Blue Note B002283102 (CD). 2015. Yoshihisa Saito, exec. prod.; Don Was, prod.; Chris Allen, eng., mix. DDD? TT: 49:33
Performance ****
Sonics *****

Unlike the conundrum of today's country music, whose lyrics celebrate family and tradition even as the country-music community ignores and disrespects the giants of the music's past, jazz and rock have for the most part remembered and celebrated their musical pioneers and game changers, and the singular, monumental virtuosity of artists like Billie Holiday.

Robert Baird Posted: May 17, 2016 Published: Jun 01, 2016 3 comments
Esperanza Spalding: Emily's D+Evolution
Concord 7238281 (LP, 24/96 FLAC from PonoMusic). 2016. Esperanza Spalding, Tony Visconti, prods.; Kyle Hoffman, Tim Price, engs.; Martin Cooke, Kyle McAulay, Erin Tonkon, asst. engs.; Paul Blakemore, mastering; Rich Costey, mix. Mario Borgatta, mix assist. DDA? TT: 43:41
Performance ****½
Sonics ****½

It may have started back in 2011, when the crowd at the Grammy Awards let out a collective "Who?" as Esperanza Spalding was named Best New Artist, an award almost everyone had thought would go straight to Justin Bieber. Spalding was the first jazz artist ever to win that award.

The resulting notoriety took the jazz bassist and singer, who'd lived almost entirely in the rather insular world of jazz, by surprise. A child prodigy who played violin at five, and soon after learned oboe and clarinet, Spalding sings in Portuguese, Spanish, and English, and became one of the youngest teachers in the history of her alma mater, Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music.

Robert Baird Wes Phillips Posted: Mar 06, 1997 0 comments
MILES DAVIS QUINTET: The Great Prestige Recordings
Includes: The New Miles Davis Quintet, Cookin', Relaxin', Workin', Steamin'
Miles Davis, trumpet; John Coltrane, tenor sax; Red Garland, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums.
Analogue Productions APJ 035 (5 LPs). 1996. Bob Weinstock, original prod.; Rudy Van Gelder, original eng.; Chad Kassem, reissue prod.; Stan Ricker, mastering eng. AAA. TT: 3:11:09
Music *****
Sonics *****

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