Recording of the Month

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John Swenson  |  Jul 12, 2016  |  2 comments
Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard, Steve Swallow: Andando el Tiempo
ECM 2487 (CD). 2016. Manfred Eicher, prod.; Stefano Amerio, eng. DDD. TT: 47:19
Performance ****½
Sonics *****

Resistance is futile. From the moment she dropped out of high school in Oakland, California and headed for New York, nothing was going to stop Karen Borg, the daughter of a church organist, from evolving into one of the most influential jazz composers of her generation in her new identity as Carla Bley. While working as a hat-check girl at Birdland, she met the brilliant avant-garde pianist Paul Bley (1932–2016), married him in 1957, and kept the surname when, in 1964, they divorced. She began composing during that period, transforming the music she'd learned from her father into a jazz language rooted in the numinous depths of devotional music, but capable of the free expression absorbed from compatriots of her husband such as Ornette Coleman and Charles Mingus.

Margaret Graham  |  Feb 09, 2015  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1982  |  6 comments
COPLAND: Appalachian Spring, Rodeo, Fanfare for the Common Man
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Louis Lane, cond.
Telarc Digital DG-10078 (LP). Robert Woods, prod., Jack Renner, eng. DAA. TT: 44:11.

I predict that this Fanfare for the Common Man will suffer the same fate as the opening measures of Also Sprach Zarathustra. The impact of the opening brass and tympani is stupendous. Even when I know it is coming, I tend to leap from my chair in surprise. All audiophile copies of this disc will become grey and worn on Band One of Side One.

Audiophile impact aside, please don't neglect the other two works on this disc. Both Rodeo and Appalachian Spring receive excellent interpretations, and they too contain sufficient brass and drum to excite a jaded audiophile.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Jun 17, 2014  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1984  |  3 comments
1284rotm.promo.jpgBeethoven: Symphony 9 in d, Op.125 ("Choral")
Berlin Staatskapelle and Rundfunkchor, Otmar Suitner, cond.; Dietrich Knothe, chorus master; Magdaléna Hajóssyová, soprano; Uta Priew, contralto; Eberhard Büchner, tenor; Manfred Schenk, bass.
Denon CD383C7-7021 (CD).

This is a positively stunning performance, abetted by one of the best-sounding orchestral recordings on CD to date.

I have long felt that the best reading of Beethoven's Ninth ever committed to records was an antique Columbia 78 set with the Vienna Philharmonic and Felix Weingartner (later released on an abominable-sounding LP: SL-165). I almost hate to day it, because the oldest idols die the hardest, but Suitner's is better! This is a monumental, consummately joyous Ninth that leaves the listener with a wonderful feeling of elation. If the orchestral playing is at times a little less than world-class and a couple of the soloists not quite up to star level, so what? This may well be the definitive Ninth on CD, both interpretively and sonically.

J. Gordon Holt  |  Mar 18, 2014  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1985  |  9 comments
rotm1285.p.pngRespighi: Church Windows
The Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Keith Clark conducting.
Reference Recordings RR-15 (LP). Tam Henderson, prod.; Keith Johnson, eng. AAA

Some years ago, Harry Pearson, editor and publisher of That Other Magazine, announced his intention to help finance production of a no-holds-barred symphonic recording. The only question was, who would produce it?

Reference Recordings' Tam Henderson assures me he did not have HP's grant in mind when he conspired with the Pacific Symphony's conductor to record "something" in the Crystal Cathedral, a huge barn of a place in Santa Ana, CA. When that hall, graced by a large, romantic-sounding pipe organ and superb acoustics, proved to be unavailable because of some legal wrangle, the idea of recording something big and romantic for orchestra and pipe organ refused to go away.

Richard Lehnert  |  May 18, 2012  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1987  |  0 comments
Wynton Marsalis: Marsalis Standard Time, Vol.1
Wynton Marsalis, trumpet; Marcus Roberts, piano; Robert Leslie Hurst III, bass; Jeff Watts, drums
CBS CK 40461 (CD), FC 40461 (LP). Tim Geelan, eng.; Steve Epstein, prod. DDD. TT: 62:54

When someone has garnered as much hoopla as has Wynton Marsalis over the last five years, it becomes harder and harder for a critic to believe that the hype continues to be justified. Nor does winning Grammys in the jazz and classical categories help the situation's believability. Worse, Marsalis's own bristly demeanor and portentious pronouncements on the state of jazz—see "Book Reviews" elsewhere in this issue—make it all the more important that he put his money where his mouthpiece is. (As Miles Davis, never known as the soul of tact himself, groused a while back when leaving a Grammy Award ceremony at which Marsalis had held forth: "Who asked him?")

Richard Lehnert  |  May 31, 2011  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1988  |  1 comments
CHARLIE PARKER: Bird (Original Soundtrack)
Charlie Parker, Charles McPherson, alto saxes; Red Rodney, trumpet; Monty Alexander, piano; Ray Brown, Ron Carter, basses; Charlie Shoemake, vibes; John Guerin, drums; others
Columbia SC 44299 (LP), CK 44299 (CD). Bobby Fernandez, Neal Spritz, engs.; Clint Eastwood, Lennie Niehaus, prods. ADA/ADD. TT: 41:21

Unlike Round Midnight, which encased Dexter Gordon's Bud Powell character in a soft-focus, romanticized, soundstagily mythic NY/Paris jazz juncture that never quite was (Herbie Hancock's music direction was deliberately inauthentic for that or any time or place other than the film studio), producer/director Clint Eastwood's labor-of-love Bird attempts to place Charles Christopher Parker Jr. squarely in the bebop world he created. The modern musicians he "plays" with here blow strictly in that tradition, accompanying Parker's solos, as peeled off the original Savoy, Verve, and home recordings with audio wizardry (massive EQing, dynamic noise filters, etc.).

J. Gordon Holt  |  May 28, 2010  |  First Published: Dec 28, 1989  |  0 comments
Sonic Booms
Steam Locomotives, Jet Fighter Aircraft, Military Exercise (with live ammunition), WWII Aircraft, Comic Relief I & II, West Mountain Inn, Diesel Train, Steam Train with Rain & Thunder
Bainbridge BCD6276 (CD only). Produced & mixed by Brad S. Miller. DDD. TT: 58:00
Richard Lehnert  |  Jul 06, 2008  |  First Published: Dec 06, 1991  |  0 comments
TAKE 6: He Is Christmas
Reprise 26665-2 (CD only). Take 6, prods.; Robert Charles, Mike McCarthy, Warren Peterson, engs. DDD. TT: 35:34
Igor Kipnis  |  Jan 25, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1992  |  0 comments
SHOSTAKOVICH: 24 Preludes & Fugues, Op.87
Keith Jarrett, piano
ECM New Series 1469/70 (437 189-2, 2 CDs only). Peter Laenger, eng.; Manfred Eicher, prod. DDD. TT: 2:15:21
Les Berkley  |  Dec 28, 1993  |  0 comments
ANONYMOUS 4: On Yoolis Night
Medieval Christmas Carols and Motets
Anonymous 4
Harmonia Mundi 907099 (CD only). Robina G. Young, prod.; Brad Michel, eng. ADD? TT: 68:03
Wes Phillips  |  Dec 23, 1995  |  0 comments
KEITH JARRETT: At the Blue Note: The Complete Recordings
Keith Jarrett, piano; Gary Peacock, bass; Jack DeJohnette, drums
ECM 1575-80 (78118-21575-2, 6 CDs only). Manfred Eicher, prod.; Jan Erik Kongshaug, eng. DDD. TT: 7:03:37
Robert Baird  |  Dec 20, 1997  |  0 comments
DELBERT McCLINTON: One of the Fortunate Few
Rising Tide RTD-53042 (CD). 1997. Gary Nicholson, Emory Gordy, Jr., Delbert McClinton, prods.; Russ Martin, Marc Frigo, engs. AAD? TT: 38:12
Performance ****
Sonics ****½
Robert Baird  |  Dec 31, 1998  |  0 comments
EMMYLOU HARRIS: Spyboy
Eminent EM-25001-2 (CD). 1998. Emmylou Harris, prod.; Buddy Miller, prod., eng.; Dean Norman, Doug Dawson, engs. AAD? TT: 67:07
Performance ****?
Sonics ****?
John Atkinson  |  Dec 26, 2000  |  1 comments
Little Feat: Hotcakes & Outtakes: 30 Years of Little Feat
Warner Archives/Rhino R2 79912 (4 CDs). 1970-2000. Russ Titelman, Ted Templeman, Lowell George, Van Dyke Parks, Erik Jacobsen, George Massenburg, Bill Payne, Paul Barrère, Bill Wray, Ed Cherney, Frank Zappa, Michael O'Bryant, Richard Moore, orig. prods.; Gary Peterson, Bill Payne, Paul Barrère, reissue prods.; Bill Inglot, reissue sound. AAD. TT: 5:13:48
Performance *****
Sonics ****
Robert Baird  |  Dec 15, 2002  |  0 comments
COLDPLAY: A Rush of Blood to the Head
Capitol 5 40504 2 (CD). 2002. Coldplay, Ken Nelson, prods.; Mark Phythian, Ken Phythian, engs.; Rik Simpson, Jon Withnal, Ben Thackeray, Jon Bailey, Andrea Wright, asst. engs. AAD? TT: 54:14
Performance ****½
Sonics ****

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