Recording of the Month

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Robert Baird  |  Oct 13, 2002  |  0 comments
DAVE ALVIN & THE GUILTY MEN: Out in California
Hightone HCD8144 (CD). 2002. Dave Alvin, prod.; Mark Linnett, prod., eng. AAD? TT: 76:00
Performance ****½
Sonics ****
Robert Baird  |  Oct 12, 2003  |  0 comments
GEOFF MULDAUR'S FUTURISTIC ENSEMBLE: Private Astronomy: A Vision of the Music of Bix Beiderbecke
Edge 028947458326 (CD). 2003. Conceived & arranged by Geoff Muldaur; Dick Connette, prod.; Joe Boyd, exec. prod.; Eve Seltzer, Gary Carroll, Tristan Leral, Scott Lehrer, Dave Winslow, Mark Linett, Keith Weschler, Neil Couser, engs. AAD? TT:42:18
Performance *****
Sonics ****
Robert Baird  |  Oct 15, 2004  |  First Published: Oct 01, 2004  |  0 comments
MADELEINE PEYROUX: Careless Love
Madeleine Peyroux, vocals, acoustic guitar; Lee Thornburg, trumpet; Dean Parks, guitars; Larry Goldings, piano; David Piltch, bass; Jay Bellerose, drums; Scott Amendola, brushes.
Rounder 11661 3192-2 (CD). 2004. Larry Klein, prod.; Helik Hadar, eng.; Ricky Chao, Nicolas Fournier, asst. engs. AAD. TT: 42:56
Performance ****
Sonics ****
Thomas Conrad  |  Oct 16, 2005  |  1 comments
THELONIOUS MONK QUARTET WITH JOHN COLTRANE: At Carnegie Hall
John Coltrane, tenor sax; Thelonious Monk, piano; Ahmed Abdul-Malik, bass; Shadow Wilson, drums
Thelonious/Blue Note 35173 (CD). 2005. Michael Cuscuna, T.S. Monk, prods.; unknown eng. AAD. TT: 51:36
Performance *****
Sonics ***
Robert Baird  |  Oct 14, 2007  |  1 comments
Recording of October 2007: This Is Somewhere
Hollywood D00038502 (CD). 2007. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, prods.; Mike Daly, prod., asst. eng.; Joe Chiccarelli, eng.; Kennie Takahashi, Travis Huff, Tim Bright, Wayne Warnecke, Otto D'Angelo, asst. engs. AAD? TT: 48:34
Performance ****½
Sonics ****
Robert Baird  |  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  |  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  |  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  |  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  |  Sep 25, 2013  |  First 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  |  Sep 26, 2014  |  First 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.

Robert Levine  |  Sep 22, 2015  |  First Published: Oct 01, 2015  |  3 comments
Mahan Esfahani: Time Present and Time Past C.P.E. Bach: 12 Variations on "Les Folies d'Espagne." J.S. Bach: Harpsichord Concerto in d, BWV 1052. Geminiani: Concerto Grosso in d (after Corelli). Górecki: Harpsichord Concerto. Reich: Piano Phase for Two Pianos (harpsichord version: Esfahani). A. Scarlatti: Variations on "La Folia."
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord; Concerto Köln
Archiv Produktion 4794481 (CD). 2015. Christoph Classen, prod.; Michael Morawietz, eng. DDD. TT: 73:45
Performance ****½
Sonics *****

This razzle-dazzle release is remarkable on several levels, and I wouldn't be surprised if it converted harpsichord haters to harpsichord hipsters. Iranian-American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, stealing a quote from T.S. Eliot about the relevance—or irrelevance—of time and (while he's at it) the harpsichord, here presents the instrument in works written for it in the 17th and 18th centuries, interspersed with pieces by two 20th-century composers. (The album's title references these lines from Eliot's Four Quartets: "Time present and time past / Are both perhaps present in time future, / And time future contained in time past.") Esfahani's argument holds water: bringing an "olde" instrument into the present with unflinchingly contemporary music turns this debut solo-recital disc into a splendid event—and, yes, proves that baroque music, with its repeating patterns, can make a fine pairing with minimalism. It's all far less jarring than you might think, and does provoke thoughts about the slippage of time.

Robert Baird  |  Sep 22, 2016  |  3 comments
Nels Cline: Lovers
Nels Cline, electric & acoustic guitars, lap steel, effects; Charles Pillow, C & alto & bass flutes, oboe, English horn, B-flat clarinet, alto saxophone; Steven Bernstein, Taylor Haskins, others, trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone; Julian Lage, guitar; Yuka C. Honda, celeste, Juno 60; Devin Hoff, contrabass, bass guitar; Alex Cline, drums, percussion; Kenny Wolleson, vibraphone, marimba, percussion; Michael Leonhart, arr., conductor; many others.
Blue Note 8002505102 (2 CDs). 2016. David Breskin, prod.; Ron Saint Germain, eng. DDD? TT: 90:02
Performance ****½
Sonics ****½

There's an old saying about music written for films and the stage: It's so lush and tuneful that it's almost too schmaltzy to be heard without accompanying visuals. Add to that the suspicion that many so-called "out" jazz cats—guys with outsize reputations as loud, atonal shredders of the brainiac variety, blinding talents who prefer endless effects and generally play unhinged and far away from the melody—are really, under all the noise, big softies. There you have the story of Lovers.

Robert Baird  |  Sep 12, 2017  |  3 comments
Doc and Merle Watson: Bear's Sonic Journals, Never the Same Way Once: Live at the Boarding House May 1974
Owsley Stanley Foundation (7 CDs). 2017. Hawk, exec prod.; Starfinder Stanley, Jeffrey Norman, Pete Bell, project coordinators; Owsley Stanley, orig. eng.; Jeffrey Norman, CD mastering, tape archivist; John Chester, Jaime Howarth, digital transfers. ADD? TT: 5:33:17
Performance *****
Sonics *****

The late Owsley "Bear" Stanley spent his life raising consciousness. Whether it was mixing up jars of LSD, building his famous Wall of Sound PA system for the Grateful Dead, or supervising the creation of an incredible library of live recordings, Bear Stanley was after a certain purity, a higher level of quality, epiphanies.

Margaret Graham  |  Nov 12, 2014  |  First 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.

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