Recording of the Month

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Robert Baird  |  May 12, 2002  |  0 comments
NEIL YOUNG: Are You Passionate?
Reprise 48111-2 (CD). 2002. Neil Young, Booker T. Jones, Duck Dunn, Poncho Sampedro, prods.; John Hanlon, eng.; Aaron Prellwitz, Alex Osborne, asst. engs.; Tim Mulligan, mix, mastering; John Hausmann, Denny Purcell, mastering; John Nowland, A/D transfer. AAD? TT: 65:29
Performance ****?
Sonics ****
Bradley Bambarger  |  May 09, 2004  |  First Published: May 01, 2004  |  0 comments
HESPÈRIAN XXI: Villancicos y Danzas Criollas de la Iberia Antigua al Nuevo Mundo (1550-1750)
La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Hespèrian XXI, Jordi Savall
Alia Vox CD 9834 (CD). 2004. Nicolas Bartolomée, prod.; Nicolas de Beco, eng. DDD. TT: 77:03
Performance ****½
Sound *****
Robert Baird  |  May 15, 2005  |  0 comments
TORD GUSTAVSEN TRIO: The Ground
Tord Gustavsen, piano; Harald Johnsen, double bass; Jarle Vespestad, drums
ECM 1892 (CD). 2005. Manfred Eicher, prod.; Jan Erik Kongshaug, eng. DDD. TT: 60:13
Performance ****½
Sonics ****½
David Patrick Stearns  |  May 14, 2006  |  0 comments
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony 6, Serenade for Strings
Daniele Gatti, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Harmonia Mundi HMU 907394 (SACD). 2006. Brad Michel, prod.; Chris Barrett, Craig Silvry, engs. DSD. TT: 77:09
Performance *****
Sonics *****
Dan Ouellette  |  May 13, 2007  |  0 comments
Michael Brecker Pilgrimage
Michael Brecker, tenor sax, EWI; Pat Metheny, guitars; Herbie Hancock, Brad Mehldau, keyboards; John Patitucci, bass; Jack DeJohnette, drums
Heads Up International HUCD 3095 (CD). 2007. Michael Brecker, Gil Goldstein, Steve Rodby, Pat Metheny, prods.; Darryl Pitt, exec. prod.; Joe Ferla, eng. DDD. TT: 77:57
Performance ****½
Sonics ****½
Robert Baird  |  May 15, 2008  |  0 comments
BON IVER: For Emma, Forever Ago
Jagjaguwar Jag 115 (CD). 2008. Justin Vernon, prod., eng. AAD? TT: 37:15
Performance ****1/2
Sonics ****
Robert Baird  |  May 15, 2009  |  0 comments
Willie Nile: House of a Thousand Guitars Circle P/River House RHR9904 (CD). 2009. Willie Nile, Brad Albetta, Frankie Lee, Andy York, prods.; Stewart Lerman, Rich Pagano, prods., engs.; Rich Lamb, eng. AAD? TT: 52:36 Performance ****½ Sonics ***½
Robert Baird  |  May 15, 2010  |  0 comments
Johnny Cash: American VI: Ain't No Grave
Lost Highways/American Recordings B0013954-02 (CD). 2010. Rick Rubin, prod.; David Ferguson, eng.; Greg Fidelman, Jimmy Tittle, Paul Fig, Dan Leffler, asst. engs. AAD.? TT: 32:23
Performance ****½
Sonics ***½
Robert Baird  |  May 06, 2011  |  1 comments
The Twilight Singers: Dynamite Steps
Sub Pop SPCD 844 (CD). 2011. Greg Dulli, prod.; Brenndan McGuire, Ben Mumphrey, Steve Nalepa, Mike Napolitano, others, engs. AAD? TT: 43:03
Performance ****
Sonics ****

Unleash "Retarded," the unforgettable first track of Up In It (1990), the Afghan Whigs' first Sub Pop album—the one with the eerie stitched-up hand on the cover—and immediately the madness seeps out. No one has ever done the angry leer and tormented spat quite like AW singer/songwriter Greg Dulli. As the charismatic leader of one of the nastiest, hardest-edged live acts ever to prowl a 1990s indie-rock stage, he and the Whigs were one of the Yo MTV 120 Minute generation's most striking acts—one that combined buzzy guitar thunder with odd but welcome leanings toward classic R&B that persist to this day in the Twilight Singers. The assault of the Cincinnati-based Whigs was led by Dulli, a seemingly normal Ohio boy whose unhinged wailing, self-flagellating lyrics, and shrieking, Cobra-like stage persona made him a rock star: dangerous candy for the girls, unhinged fury for the fellas.

Thomas Conrad  |  May 01, 2012  |  0 comments
Ryan Truesdell: Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans
Ryan Truesdell, conductor; 35 musicians including those mentioned in text, plus: Scott Robinson, Charles Pillow, reeds; Greg Gisbert, trumpet; Marcus Rojas, tuba; Romero Lubambo, guitar; Lewis Nash, drums
ArtistShare AS0114 (CD). 2012. Ryan Truesdell, prod.; James Farber, eng. DAD. TT: 74:18
Performance *****
Sonics ****½

It is dreamlike when the opening track, "Punjab," begins so softly, with the tapping of a tabla. Exotic woodwinds, perhaps English horn and bassoon, murmur in the left channel, whisper in the right. It is dreamlike because Gil Evans died in 1988, yet this unfamiliar music sounds like him, and when suddenly that deep, solemn brass figure looms out of the right channel, it could only be him. More instruments enter, and more motifs, with brighter colors from alto saxophone and flute. Like all the greatest Gil Evans music, "Punjab" creates its own world of high drama and mysterious allusion. It belongs in the exalted company of such Evans masterpieces as Out of the Cool and Sketches of Spain. And it is new.

Robert Baird  |  Apr 29, 2013  |  First Published: May 01, 2013  |  0 comments
Doug MacLeod: There's a Time
Reference RR-130 (HDCD). 2013. Doug MacLeod, Janice Mancuso, prods.; Keith O. Johnson, Sean Royce Martin, engs. DDD? TT: 58:00
Performance ****½
Sonics ****½

Like a lot of other once-pure forms of American music, the blues today has become a swirl of influences, mixing folk, rock, rhythm & blues, and even Latin flavors into a music that its aficionados—that fervent contingent known as "blues nuts"—have grudgingly accepted as being a part of the music they adore. But if blues fans thought Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan muddied the wellsprings of the Devil's own music, it'll be only a matter of time before rappers mix blues in with their beats, and then—horror of horrors!—dance music begins to "borrow" from da blues. Rather than resist these changes, blues fans should willingly embrace any new energies brought into the music; rather than ruin, these fresh ideas and passions may actually revitalize a musical form that many already see as a museum piece.

Robert Baird  |  Apr 22, 2014  |  First Published: May 01, 2014  |  1 comments
WANTED: Jazz Hero. Must be willing and able to bring stunning new creative energies to a musical genre in danger of becoming stale and repetitive. Must be comfortable with a Marsalis level of celebrity. Saxophone or trumpet players preferred. Old men need not apply.

In 2011, jazz prayers were answered with the release of When the Heart Emerges Glistening, a brilliantly inventive mainstream jazz album led by Ambrose Akinmusire, a photogenic, 28-year-old trumpeter from Oakland, California. The young man had lots of fresh ideas, speed and dexterity to burn, and a unique tone, the combination of which brought back a flood of memories: Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Pops.

Richard Lehnert  |  Apr 15, 2015  |  First Published: May 01, 2015  |  5 comments
Bruckner: Symphony 8
Rémy Ballot, Upper Austrian Youth Symphony Orchestra
Gramola 99054 (2 SACD/CDs). 2015. John Proffitt, prod., eng.; Richard Winter, prod.; Rémy Ballot, Matthias Kronsteiner, eds., mastering. DDD. TT: 103:44
Performance ****½
Sonics *****

This performance of Bruckner's greatest, most generous work, his Symphony 8, took place in August 2014 in the basilica of St. Florian, the Austrian monastery where Bruckner was schooled and served as organist. It was taped before an audience, directly above the crypt in which Bruckner is buried. The band was the Upper Austrian Youth Symphony Orchestra: 130 players, average age 17, conducted by Rémy Ballot, a student of the late Sergiù Celibidache.

Robert Baird  |  Apr 21, 2016  |  First Published: May 01, 2016  |  0 comments
Emitt Rhodes: Rainbow Ends Omnivore OVLP-163 (LP). 2016. Chris Price, prod., eng.; Pierre de Reeder, Kyle Frederickson, engs.; Nathan Flom, Emitt Rhodes, Emeen Zarookian, add'l. engs. ADA? TT: 37:01 Performance **** Sonics ****

"A few shows here, a few shows there—Emitt eventually found himself without a label, and his career came to a halt," reads the biography on EmittRhodesMusic.net. "He had had enough. He was 24."

Go on, admit it: Everyone loves a disappearing act—the plight of the unjustly snakebit, the ghostly casualties of a business that markets creativity but doesn't respect it. Hawthorne, California native Emitt Rhodes, onetime drummer for mid-'60s SoCal garage band (and later Nuggets staple) Palace Guard, and later the cofounder and leading force of L.A. psychedelic pop band Merry-Go-Round, went solo in 1969.

Robert Baird  |  Apr 20, 2017  |  1 comments
The Flying Burrito Brothers: The Gilded Palace of Sin
A&M/Intervention SP 4175 (LP). 1969/2017. Larry Marks, prod.; Henry Lewy, prod., eng.; Kevin Gray, remastering. AAA. TT: 35:24
Performance *****
Sonics ****½

The International Submarine Band, the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and finally, just Gram Parsons. He was a Snively on his mother's side, scion of a vast citrus-growing fortune. A trust-fund baby who, unlike most of the struggling musicians he hung out with, could go to a bank and withdraw large amounts of cash. When he was 12, two days before Christmas, his father killed himself. Seven years later, on the day he graduated from high school, his mother finally drank herself to death. He lasted one semester at Harvard before becoming a denizen of Los Angeles, and eventually a powerful force in the Sunset Strip music scene.

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