quintet Archive

DVORAK: String Quintet, Sextet – Jerusalem Quartet – Harmonia mundi 

DVORAK: String Quintet, Sextet – Jerusalem Quartet – Harmonia mundi 

A beautifully played coupling of two contrasting and important works. DVORAK: String Quintet in E-flat, Op. 97; String Sextet in A, Op. 48 – Jerusalem Quartet, Veronica Hagen, viola/ Gary Hoffman, cello – Harmonia mundi HMM 902320, 66:57 ****: One could not provide a better contrast of early and late Dvorak. The Sextet, an unusual ensemble to begin with, did not particularly bother the 36-year-old composer, freshly radiant from the success of his first book of Slavonic Dances for piano four hands. Chamber music was, after all, his preferred medium, and he was anxious to transfer the newly-minted discover of nationalistic tunes to other ensembles. So, by May of 1878, the new String Sextet appeared, complete with folkloric colorations and hummable ideas all couched within the traditional strictures of sonata form, modeled no less on Brahms’s own efforts. The latter, who was genuinely astounded by the fecundity of ideas coming from his Slavic comrade, said that “anyone could pick up their main themes from his rejects.” This work, full of the abandonment of a composer really getting his grove on, shows the signs of a composer hitting his stride in full flush, daring the audience not to like it. And […]

DVORAK: String Quintet, Sextet – Jerusalem Quartet – Harmonia mundi 

DVORAK: String Quintet Op.97; String Sextet Op.48 – Jerusalem String Quartet/ Veronika Hagen, viola/ Gary Hoffman, cello – Harmonia mundi 

Bohemia and America find sumptuous musical celebration in these two large chamber works of Dvorak. DVORAK: String Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 97; String Sextet in A Major, Op. 48 – Jerusalem String Quartet/ Veronika Hagen, viola/ Gary Hoffman, cello – Harmonia mundi HMM 902320, 66:57 (1/19/18) [Distr. by PIAS] ****:  Recorded 14-17 January 2017, these two large string works testify to Dvorak’s master of forms that parallel compositions in the oeuvre of his musical mentor, Johannes Brahms, who had been mightily impressed with Dvorak’s  Strains from Moravia.  The 1878 Sextet in A Major—created in the brief span of thirteen days—gained the attention of Joseph Joachim, in whose home the work had its premiere by the Joachim Quartet, and so afforded Dvorak recognition beyond his native Bohemia. The opening movement, Allegro moderato, conforms to the Classical models from the Austro-German tradition.  The first violin  (Alexander Pavlovksy) and cello (Kyril Ziotnikov) intone the sweet duet that sets the melodic impulse. Opinions will diverge as to whether the Slavonic, quietly folk-like materials sustain the broad development Dvorak imposes. The constant interchange of thematic fragments and derivatives likely nods to Schumann as much as to Brahms for the subsequent evolution.   Dvorak then […]

Mara Gibson:  Sky Born – Navona Records

Mara Gibson:  Sky Born – Navona Records

Mara Gibson:  Sky Born – – The Cascade Quartet/Holly Roadfeldt piano/ Michael Hall, viola/ Megan Ihnen/ mezzo-soprano – Navona Records NV6128 TT:55:00  (11/10/17) *** 1/2 A fine recording snd performance of contemporary music by and up and coming composer  Sky Born is a second offering from contemporary composer Mara Gibson, and if you like contemporary music it’s worth seeking out. Ms. Gibson has worked at UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance for over ten years and will also be teaching this fall at Louisiana State University this year. Gibson’s album features compositions performed by UMKC fellow faculty members, the Cascade Quartet, violist Michael Hall, mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen, and pianist Holly Roadfeldt. Gibson drew her inspiration from a variety of artistic mediums. The piano preludes, which are interspersed throughout the album, were inspired by paintings from Jim Condron, each piece extracting a haunting soundtrack from a series of abstract art. Gibson also uses poems as the foundation for her compositions. The first track on the disc, called Blackbird, is based on Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, a poem by Wallace Stevens. Though influenced by literary works, the entire disc has energy and emotion that will grab listeners and involve […]

BRUCH: String Octets; String Quintet – The Nash Ensemble – Hyperion 

BRUCH: String Octets; String Quintet – The Nash Ensemble – Hyperion 

The aging German master displays his melodic and often explosive temper in three late string works. BRUCH: String Octet in E-flat Major; String Quintet in a minor; String Octet in B-flat Major – The Nash Ensemble – Hyperion CDA68168, 62:48 (3/31/17) [Distr. by Harmonia mundi/PIAS] ****: The three chamber works by Max Bruch (rec. 18-20 April 2016) here performed by the talented Nash Ensemble testify to the resurgence of the composer’s late interest in the medium, all of the pieces having been conceived 1918-1920. Even in the throes of WW I, Bruch managed to find inspiration through his association with violinist Willy Hess, virtuoso and pedagogue at the Hochschule fuer Musik in Berlin. Throughout these string ensemble works, we feel that both Brahms and Mendelssohn have exerted their respective spells and influences upon Bruch, though his own natural capacity for melodic utterance remains his own. The opening work, the String Quintet in E-flat, proffers four movements, the first of which, Andante con moto, serves an introductory function for the ensuing Allegro. This movement projects a more symphonic cast, with the two violas – Lawrence Power and James Boyd – filling out the often dramatic outbursts. The songful Andante con moto […]

FLECK: Juno Concerto; Quintet – Béla Fleck, banjo/Brooklyn Rider/Colorado Symph./Jose Luis Gomez– Rounder Records

FLECK: Juno Concerto; Quintet – Béla Fleck, banjo/Brooklyn Rider/Colorado Symph./Jose Luis Gomez– Rounder Records

Béla FLECK: Juno Concerto; Griff; Quintet for Banjo and Strings: Movement II – Béla Fleck, banjo/Brooklyn Rider/Colorado Symphony/Jose Luis Gomez– Rounder Records 1166100200 50:51 (3/17/17) ****: A banjo concerto – a very entertaining one at that! I am not at all sure how many works for banjo and orchestra; especially an actual multi-movement concerto there are, but the Juno Concerto is likely the best! I did query to find a concerto by banjoist Chris Lake whose work I do not know but Fleck’s Concerto is very engaging. As promotional materials attest, “Béla Fleck is the world’s premier banjo player, a 16-time Grammy Award winner nominated in more categories than any other musician, a genre-busting collaborator, a film producer and a composer. Foremost, though, he is a dad. The impact of fatherhood on Béla is reflected in Juno Concerto, named for his firstborn son with fellow folk musician Abigail Washburn.” The music morphs through a number of styles including some very Copland-esque moments and some bluegrass type exchanges with orchestral support that reminded me a little bit of Bartok. Ultimately, this is a very creative and – most importantly – entertaining work that showcases Fleck, as the soloist as well as […]

BRAHMS: Piano Quintet in f; SCHUMANN: String Quartet No. 1 – M. Pressler, p./ Pacifica Q. – Cedille

BRAHMS: Piano Quintet in f; SCHUMANN: String Quartet No. 1 – M. Pressler, p./ Pacifica Q. – Cedille

An unusual pairing sets music of Brahms and Schumann together as masters of their respective idiom. BRAHMS: Piano Quintet in f, Op. 34; SCHUMANN: String Quartet No. 1 in a, Op. 41 – Menahem Pressler, p./ Pacifica Quartet – Cedille CDR 90000 170, 71:39 (3/10/17) [Distr. by Naxos] ****:  The etiology of the Brahms 1865 Piano Quintet (rec. 19-21 November 2014) has become common parlance, its having experienced two prior incarnations, as both a string quintet and a sonata for two pianos. The latter incarnation still survives and occasionally finds acolytes (as Op. 34b) in devoted musicians who wish to endure what the composer lamented as its “lack of charm.” And true, the opening Allegro non troppo does project a sense of broad melancholy, set as two contrasting ideas which provide the through-composed nature of the entire movement. Pressler (at ninety-one) himself can still impress us with his suave, cascading runs. The “symphonic” aspect of the writing constantly urges the music to the limit of what the ensemble can project without distortion. Much of the music’s evolution takes cues from Beethoven and Schubert, particularly the latter’s combination of grandeur and intimate nostalgia. Menahem Pressler and the Pacifica Quartet take a […]

Jasmine Lovell-Smith’s Towering Poppies – Yellow Red Blue – Paint Box

Jasmine Lovell-Smith’s Towering Poppies – Yellow Red Blue – Paint Box

A musical trip which comprises flowers to kings to family to mountains. Jasmine Lovell-Smith’s Towering Poppies – Yellow Red Blue [TrackList follows] – Paint Box, 53:18 [11/4/16] ****: (Jasmine Lovell-Smith – soprano sax, producer; Josh Sinton – bass clarinet; Cat Toren – p.; Adam Hopkins – bass; Kate Gentile – drums; Cuarteto la Matraca: Elena Makhnev – v., Raúl Moreno – v., Rolando Vidal – viola, Jesús Gutiérrez – cello (tracks 3, 5, 7)) Soprano saxophonist Jasmine Lovell-Smith continues her musical journey with her 53-minute sophomore album, Yellow Red Blue, the follow-up to her 2012 debut, Fortune Songs. There’s an underlying international shade to the eight tunes (seven originals and a Joni Mitchell song), although it’s not overtly apparent. The material was penned in Wellington, New Zealand (the country where Lovell-Smith was raised and got her Bachelor of Music degree at Massey University), Brooklyn, NY (New York is where she formed her quintet, Towering Poppies), Middletown, CT (she received a Master of Arts in composition from Wesleyan University) and Morelia, Mexico (she lived in Mexico for a brief time). The music also has some light Mexican influences due to the inclusion of Cuarteto la Matraca (a string quartet) on three […]

The Dave Liebman Group – Expansions Live – Whaling City Sound

The Dave Liebman Group – Expansions Live – Whaling City Sound

A double dose of Dave. The Dave Liebman Group – Expansions Live [TrackList follows] – Whaling City Sound WCS 088 (2-CDs), 62:36, 60:22 [Distr. by Naxos] [10/14/16] ****: (Dave Liebman – soprano sax, C flute, co-producer; Matt Vashlishan – alto sax, clarinet, C flute, straw, co-producer, mixer; Bobby Avey – piano, keyboard; Tony Marino – acoustic and electric bass; Alex Ritz – drums, frame drum) Saxophonist Dave Liebman and his quintet bring out the dynamism on the double album, Expansions Live, which has over two hours of music, split between an acoustic side and an electric side, taped at three venues from 2014 through 2016. The personnel on these concert pieces comprises Liebman on soprano sax and flute; longtime collaborator Tony Marino on acoustic and electric bass; Matt Vashlishan on alto saxophone, clarinet and flute; Bobby Avey on piano and electric keyboards; and drummer Alex Ritz. Liebman fans will appreciate the opportunity to contrast and compare the live renditions of tunes from prior Liebman studio releases, plus a few new compositions, as well as the chance to hear the group run through jazz standards by Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Tadd Dameron and others. CD 1 has 62 minutes of material […]

“Perspectives”: American Brass Quintet – Music by PATTERSON, GREENBURG, CURRIER AND EWAZEN – Summit

“Perspectives”: American Brass Quintet – Music by PATTERSON, GREENBURG, CURRIER AND EWAZEN – Summit

“Perspectives”: American Brass Quintet – Music by PATTERSON, GREENBURG, CURRIER AND EWAZEN – Summit 692, 51:00  (12/13/17) ***1/2: Contemporary brass music from the premier brass ensemble: The American Brass Quintet is one of the finest group of brass players in the world. In 2013 the quintet received Chamber Music America’s highest honor, the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award for significant and lasting contributions to the field. Committed to the development of brass chamber music through education and outreach, the American Brass Quintet has served as Ensemble-in-Residence at The Juilliard School since 1987 and the Aspen Music Festival since 1970. On their latest CD from Summit Records, The ABQ offers a collection of works by American contemporary composers, commissioned by the Quintet for this recording. The disc begins with Shine by Robert Patterson. The four-movement work is an exploration of four different metals. It’s an interesting and varied piece, featuring a movement representing brass bells, quicksilver, gold and blue steel. The disc then moves on to the Quintet for Brass by Jay Greenburg, and then Cadence, Fugue, Fade by Sebastian Currier. Both works are highly listenable, and as a former brass player myself, I marvel at the skill of the […]

Mike LeDonne, B-3, & The Groover Quartet – That Feelin’ – Savant

Mike LeDonne, B-3, & The Groover Quartet – That Feelin’ – Savant

Keeping the classic organ/sax quartet format vibrant… Mike LeDonne & The Groover Quartet – That Feelin’ – Savant SCD 2159, 59:38 ****: (Mike LeDonne – Hammond organ; Eric Alexander – tenor sax; Peter Bernstein – guitar; Joe Farnsworth – drums. With special guest, Vincent Herring –  alto sax on # 1, 5, & 6) Living in New York City with its unique seven-day-a-week jazz scene, provides the opportunity for Hammond B-3 organist, Mike LeDonne, to keep his Groover Quartet tight. Fellow band members Eric Alexander (tenor sax), Peter Bernstein (guitar), and Joe Farnsworth (drums) are all active with various projects and recording dates. Yet they can play with LeDonne often, usually at the jazz club Smoke. Mike has kept the soul jazz sax/organ/guitar front line format alive and kicking on his new CD, That Feelin’. It is a grouping that can re-conceptualize pop and soul charts like “La La Means I Love You” and “This Will Be an Everlasting Love” as well as the Broadway tune, “A Lot of Living to Do.” Straight-ahead jazz is covered by Donald Byrd’s “Fly Little Bird, Fly” and the standard, “At Last.” The quartet expands to a dual sax quintet with altoist, Vincent Herring, […]

Swiss Radio Days Jazz Series 40 – Sonny Rollins Trio & Horace Silver Quintet, Zurich 1959 – TCB

Swiss Radio Days Jazz Series 40 – Sonny Rollins Trio & Horace Silver Quintet, Zurich 1959 – TCB

Swiss Radio Days Jazz Series 40 – Sonny Rollins Trio & Horace Silver Quintet, Zurich 1959 – The Montreux Jazz Label TCB 02402, 58:51 ****: The quintessence of small group modern jazz.  (Sonny Rollins Trio : Sonny Rollins – tenor saxophone; Henry Grimes – bass; Pete La Roca – drums – Horace Sliver Quintet: Horace Silver – piano; Blue Mitchell – trumpet; Junior Cook – tenor saxophone; Gene Taylor – bass; Louis Hayes – drums)  A small “contretemps” has erupted relating to the issue of Swiss Radio Days Jazz Series 40 – Sonny Rollins Trio & Horace Silver Quintet, Zurich 1959. In a posting on the blog Jazz Wax on December 10, 2016 Sonny Rollins, through his publicist Terri Hinte, claims this album is a “bootleg”. Rollins states that no agreement was made for release of the record and that he has not been remunerated. While not doubting Rollins’ claim, it would seem to run counter to what Yvan Ischer, Producer of the JazzZ-RTS Series, states in the liner notes of this release. He writes that “at a time when many people publish images and sounds without worrying about artist rights, we wished to establish an indisputable standard with our […]

Michael Dease – All These Hands – PosiTone

Michael Dease – All These Hands – PosiTone

An historical jazz journey from Michael Dease… Michael Dease – All These Hands – PosiTone PR8160, 65:53 (1/6/17) ****:  (Michael Dease – trombone; Renee Rosnes – piano; Steve Wilson – flute, alto sax, soprano sax; Etienne Charles – trumpet & flugelhorn; Randy Napoleon – guitar; Gerald Cannon – bass; Rodney Whitaker – bass; Lewis Nash – drums; With special guests: Jason Hainsworth – tenor sax (#7); Diego Rivera – tenor sax (#7); Rufus Reid – bass (#11); Dan Pratt – tenor sax (#11) Michael Dease has helped revitalized the trombone as a lead instrument on recorded jazz ensembles. His fluid delivery and burnished tone brings to mind J. J. Johnson, and Dease has had a rapid rise on the jazz scene. His fourth session for PosiTone Records, set to be released early next month explores the major jazz destinations in which jazz took root. It’s a journey that began in the deep south and migrated to northern urban centers following the search for upward mobility and social freedom. Recorded on mostly quintet and trio formats, Michael composed all the compositions and they celebrate the development of the jazz form with its strong influence from the blues, both urban and rural. […]

“Tribute” = MOZART: Quartet in B-flat; Quintet in c – Michael Tree, viola/ Dover Quartet – Cedille

“Tribute” = MOZART: Quartet in B-flat; Quintet in c – Michael Tree, viola/ Dover Quartet – Cedille

Pay close attention to this one, as you are going to hear from them a whole lot more in the near future. Tribute = MOZART: Quartet in B-flat, K 589; Quintet in c, K 406 – Dover Quartet/ Michael Tree, viola (in Quintet) – Cedille CDR 90000 167, 73:10 [Distr. by Naxos] *****: Formed in 2008 at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music (recently appointed the faculty quartet in residence at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music), this is the Dover Quartet’s debut on disc, and happy the folks at Cedille who landed them. This is an auspicious entry into the recorded legacy of these pieces, and an equally auspicious entry into the glamour and time honored legacy of another quartet, the Guarneri, who themselves debuted in 1966 with an outstanding RCA recording of these same two quartets. Guarneri first violinist Arnold Steinhardt writes an introduction in the notes, and served as a coach to the quartet while still in nascent formation. To round off the circle, Guarneri violist Michael Tree plays second viola in this recording’s Quintet. It’s perhaps a little unfair to compare this release with that of the mentors, but the Dover comes out very well. Tempos are a […]

Houston Person & Ron Carter – Chemistry – HighNote

Houston Person & Ron Carter – Chemistry – HighNote

Houston Person & Ron Carter – Chemistry [TrackList follows] – HighNote HCD 7293 49:25 ****: An exuberant release from a definitive bassist and an earthy tenor saxophonist. (Houston Person – tenor saxophone; Ron Carter – bass) The word chemistry springs from the word alchemy which in its very early etymology was often seen as linked to the search to turn common metals such as iron into gold. This release is called Chemistry from Houston Person and Ron Carter, and the intermediate process has been eliminated, resulting in pure gold. In this session of standards, the tunes have been culled from the American Songbook with the intention of providing unabashed look at life, love youth and beauty. So if you want to hear two masters at work, playing off and for each other, this is the place to be. In addition, the dean of recording engineers Rudy Van Gelder brought his artistry to the session giving both instruments a deep full approachable sound that was a hallmark of his style. Miles Davis’ first great quintet recorded “Bye Bye Blackbird” and although Ron Carter was in the second iteration of the group, he was fully aware of the connection to the band. […]

Woody Shaw – Louis Hayes The Tour, Vol. One – HighNote

Woody Shaw – Louis Hayes The Tour, Vol. One – HighNote

Woody Shaw – Louis Hayes The Tour, Vol. One – HighNote HCD7291, 62:56 ****:  This is a standout band doing creative and modern playing. (Woody Shaw – trumpet; Junior Cook – tenor saxophone; Ronnie Mathews – piano; Stafford James – bass; Louis Hayes – drums) Michael J. West, writing a blog for NPR Jazz said the following about Woody Shaw:”….might be jazz trumpet’s least appreciated giant.” If there were any questions about Woody Shaw’s bona fides, they were put to rest in this live recording from the Leiderhalle Mozartsaal, Stuttgart, Germany on March 22, 1976. The co-leader for the session was drummer Louis Hayes who brought along some of his Brooklyn his friends, Junior Cook on tenor sax, pianist Ronnie Mathews and bassist Stafford James, each of whom brings to the outing their post-bop sensibilities. When Woody Shaw was just starting out at eighteen, he wrote what was to become an iconic number “The Moontrane” which was featured on organist Larry Young’s 1965 album Unity. This version is substantially different from other Shaw recordings, as it features an extended improvisation from under-appreciated pianist Mathews, before Shaw embarks on his linear exploration of the number which is filled with energy and […]

Adam Meckler Quintet – Wander – Shifting Paradigm

Adam Meckler Quintet – Wander – Shifting Paradigm

Trumpeter Adam Meckler is on the move. Adam Meckler Quintet – Wander [TrackList follows] – Shifting Paradigm 78:54 [4/23/16] ****: (Adam Meckler – trumpet, Flugelhorn, producer; Nelson Devereaux – tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone (tracks 2-9); Joe Mayo – tenor saxophone (track 1); Zacc Harris – guitar; Graydon Peterson – bass; Greg Schutte – drums) Adam Meckler is among a handful of jazz artists who are helping put Minneapolis on the map as a jazz/improv scene worth a road trip. Meckler’s nine originals on his sophomore album, Wander, follow a progressive, explorative route and are peppered by elements from RnB, pop, indie rock and more. Groove is paramount on many cuts, as is impeccable melodicism, underlying lyricism, and rhythms which seem straightforward but often are not. Meckler (who also uses flugelhorn on some tracks) is joined by other Twin City jazz players. Nelson Devereaux is on tenor sax and soprano sax; the rhythm section comprises drummer Greg Schutte and bassist Graydon Peterson; Zacc Harris is on guitar; and tenor saxophonist Joe Mayo guests on the opening number. Movement—going from destination to destination—is the CD’s clearest aesthetic connection. Meckler states, “I’ve spent a lot of time on the road over the last […]

SCHUBERT: Arpeggione Sonata in a minor, D. 821; String Quintet in C Major, D. 956 – Matt Haimovitz, cello/ Itamar Golan, p./ Miro String Quartet – Pentatone

SCHUBERT: Arpeggione Sonata in a minor, D. 821; String Quintet in C Major, D. 956 – Matt Haimovitz, cello/ Itamar Golan, p./ Miro String Quartet – Pentatone

Two classic collaborations from cellist Matt Haimovitz enjoy sonic glory in these restorations from Pentatone.  SCHUBERT: Arpeggione Sonata in a minor, D. 821; String Quintet in C Major, D. 956 – Matt Haimovitz, cello/ Itamar Golan, p./ Miro String Quartet – Pentatone multichannel SACD PTC 5186 549, 76:55 (6/10/16) [Distr. by Naxos] ****: From the opening piano chords in Schubert’s 1824 Arpeggione Sonata – the obsolete instrument’s having been supplanted by the modern cello – we find ourselves enthralled by Itamar’s seductive keyboard and the sympathetic sonority of the Matt Haimovitz instrument, a 1710 Matteo Gofriller cello. The original recording (30 October 2001) enjoys the remastered sonics that project the glories of Schubert’s lyric genius to full advantage. The music blends a Bohemian ethos into a three-part song that asks of the solo part flurries of bravura filigree interspersed with broken chords, both arco and pizzicato.  The first movement, Allegro moderato, projects a resigned, autumnal nostalgia that we must attribute to the composer’s awareness of his fateful mortality.  The Adagio presents a quiet, intimate lied of rarified beauty, a sentiment that transforms into a slow, darkly-hued waltz marked by plangent, low tones in the cello. The tempo becomes virtually funereal […]

Cory Healey’s Beautiful Sunshine Band – Beautiful Sunshine – Shifting Paradigm

Cory Healey’s Beautiful Sunshine Band – Beautiful Sunshine – Shifting Paradigm

Forecast calls for modern jazz which traverses many influences. Cory Healey’s Beautiful Sunshine Band – Beautiful Sunshine [TrackList follows] Shifting Paradigm SP-117, 58:06 [4/17/16] ****: (Cory Healey – drums, electronics, AM radio; Erik Fratzke – electric bass; Zacc Harris – guitar; Jake Baldwin – trumpet; Brandon Wozniak – tenor saxophone) With a band and an album title called Beautiful Sunshine, listeners might expect covers of Stevie Wonder’s “You Are My Sunshine” or the standard “Smile.” But drummer/composer Cory Healey is just having some fun. This isn’t overtly bright material, but rather modern, comprehensive instrumental jazz which melds bebop, free jazz, ambient moments, rock, indie pop and more. This is music which swerves like a car on an icy road, sometimes in a straight line and sometimes veering wildly. Healey explains, “The name Beautiful Sunshine is tongue in cheek, considering how dark some of the pieces get. The overall theme is that the music is approached with a sense of humor and playfulness.” The story goes that on a cold, April 2014 evening Healey and his new band were performing at a Minneapolis venue, and he decided his group should have a name like “Unique Beautiful Snowflake.” An audience member asked […]

Lullaby of Birdland – The Shearing Touch, Blu-ray (1994/2016)

Lullaby of Birdland – The Shearing Touch, Blu-ray (1994/2016)

A fine documentary rather than just a concert performance by the artist. Lullaby of Birdland – The Shearing Touch, Blu-ray (1994/2016) Cast: George Shearing, piano & vocals Director: Jill Marshall Studio: Monarda/ ArtHaus Musik [3/25/16] (Distr. by Naxos) Video: 4:3 color, 1080i HD color & b&w Audio: English PCM stereo Subtitles: English, German, French No region Length: 50 min. Rating: **** Shearing was a phenomenal jazz pianist and composer some of whose music took the world by storm. Like Marion McPartland he was also British, but in addition had been blind from birth. The nice thing about this documentary is that it is not just a concert performance, but a fascinating mix of commentary by Shearing himself plus excerpts drawn from from the six decades of his long career in music. It’s a pleasure to hear him telling about how he encouraged his mother to throw empty glass bottles out the window so he could hear the various frequencies as they hit the brick walkways. He sat next to me at a composition class in music school and mentioned how he always wanted to write a fugue in the style of Bach, but he often used familiar classical tunes as […]

The Stryker/Slagle Band Expanded – Routes – Strikezone

The Stryker/Slagle Band Expanded – Routes – Strikezone

A jazz journey from two artists who’ve been there, done that. The Stryker/Slagle Band Expanded – Routes [TrackList follows] – Strikezone 8813, 50:16 [2/5/16] ****: (Dave Stryker – guitar, co-producer; Steve Slagle – alto saxophone, soprano saxophone (track 2), flute (tracks 2, 6), horn arranger, co-producer; John Clark – French horn; Billy Drewes – tenor saxophone, bass clarinet (tracks 2, 3); Clark Gayton – trombone, tuba (tracks 3, 6); Bill O’Connell – piano, Fender Rhodes (tracks 2, 5-6); Gerald Cannon – bass; McClenty Hunter – drums) On the 50-minute Routes, frequent musical allies, friends and co-leaders Dave Stryker (guitar) and Steve Slagle (saxes, flute) explore journeys from place to place, past to present, and person to person. The two have collaborated for decades on each other’s projects, in other people’s groups, and as the mainstays of the Stryker/Slagle Band. This time around, Slagle and Stryker have lots to say about areas they’ve called home, musicians they’ve performed with or met along the way, and the passage from their past to their present. That spacious viewpoint also means an enlarged ensemble was needed, thus this nine-track outing utilizes the Stryker/Slagle Band Expanded. One tune features Slagle and Stryker’s traditional quartet setting, […]

WEINBERG: In search of freedom = Piano Quintet & 2 Quartets – Nikita Mndoyants, p./ Zemlinsky Q. – Praga Digitals

WEINBERG: In search of freedom = Piano Quintet & 2 Quartets – Nikita Mndoyants, p./ Zemlinsky Q. – Praga Digitals

Expert readings of the more elusive of Weinberg’s chamber music come to us in keenly-wrought sound. WEINBERG: In search of freedom = Piano Quintet, Op. 18; String Quartet No. 10, Op. 85; String Quartet No. 13, Op. 118 – Nikita Mndoyants, p./ Zemlinsky Quartet – Praga Digitals mutichannel SACD PRD 250 296, 78:47 (10/9/15) [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:   Common musical consensus claims that the style of Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919- 1996) derives from several influences: Bartok, Miaskovsky, Mahler, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich. Most of the 150 works of this Polish composer from the Warsaw Ghetto remains painfully autobiographical in nature, a kind of musical documentation of a beleaguered humanity. The Piano Quintet in f minor (1945) received its world premier in Moscow from Emil Gilels and members of the Bolshoi Theatre strings. In five movements, it parallels aspects of the Shostakovich Piano Quintet, though perhaps more bitter in affect. The two scherzos propel the work with a grueling angst. The first movement, Moderato, weaves a melancholy odyssey through the circle of fifths. In the first scherzo: Allegretto, the color effects call for trills and harmonics, as well as selective col legno. The viola part (Petr Holman) proves gripping. Hints of […]