CD: Paoli Mejias

Paoli Mejias, Transcend (PMCD). A gifted 37-year-old percussionist, Mejias has been an admired figure in Latin music for years. Now, like some of his colleagues on this stimulating CD, he is breaking through to a wider audience. Miguel Zenón is on a couple of tracks, another talented young alto saxophonist, Jaleel Shaw, on others. Zenón's rhythm section--Luis Perdomo, Hans Glawischnig and Antonio Sánchez--give strong support, but the fiery Mejias is clearly in charge. … [Read more...]

CD: Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra, A Voice In Time (1939-1952) [Legacy]. The four CDs in this elegant black box begin with "All Or Nothing At All" and end with "I'm A Fool To Want You." They encompass a large percentage of what Sinatra recorded for Columbia and RCA Victor, first as the boy wonder of band singers, finally as a mature solo performer setting standards of musicianship and taste that singers will be trying to meet for decades longer than you or I will be around to listen. … [Read more...]

DVD: Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan Live In '58 & '64 (Jazz Icons). In the earliest of these European concerts, the divine Sarah is girlish and shy. By 1964, she had more confidence on stage and occasionally slid into grand vocal mannerisms. In all cases, she was magnificent, one of the most spectacularly gifted vocalists in history. For a complete Rifftides review of this essential DVD, go here. … [Read more...]

CD: Andras Schiff

András Schiff, Ludwig Van Beethoven, The Piano Sonatas, Vol. V (ECM). This leg of Schiff's journey through the 32 Sonatas finds him in Beethoven's middle period. Of the four included here, those given names as well as opus numbers are the most famous; "The Tempest," "The Hunt" and "Waldstein." The brilliant Austrian plays them with grace, passion and his celebrated touch and dynamic sense. But I find myself going back to the earliest of the set, number 16 in G-Major, for the unexpected treasure … [Read more...]

Book: Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin, All What Jazz (FSG). Perhaps I was too harsh when I called the late British poet and jazz critic a troglodyte. It must be admitted, however, that he found it difficult to say anything favorable about modern jazz without backing into the compliment. "I never liked bop," Larkin wrote. It seemed to me a nervous and hostile music, at odds with the generous spirit of its predecessors. But it had its masters. One of these was Clifford Brown..." Still, even his most wrong-headed … [Read more...]

New Picks

If you go to the right-hand column and scroll down to Doug's Picks, you will find five new recommendations. To browse back through more than a year-and-a-half of recommendations, click on "More Picks" at the end of the current batch. … [Read more...]