recommendations: December 2008 Archives

Ernestine Anderson, Hot Cargo (Fresh Sound).   

In these 1956 sessions, Anderson's early singing has lost none of its naturalness, musicality or appeal. HHot Cargo.jpger accompaniments by Harry Arnold's big band and Duke Jordan's trio sound equally fresh. I wrote earlier that this was one of the best vocal albums of the 1950s. I am revising that assessment. It is one of the best vocal recordings of the last half of the twentieth century. Sweden's Metronome label originally released this perennially new collection as It's Time For Ernestine. Mercury issued the LP in the US two years later and called it Hot Cargo, despite the disapproval of its producer, Börje Ekberg, and Anderson. Whatever the title, it is still time for Ernestine.

December 12, 2008 1:06 AM | | Comments (0)
Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet, Tabligh, (Cuneiform).  stalwart of the avant garde forWadada.jpg nearly four decades, Smith continues at the head of the pack in free jazz. In this set of four moody, barely-structured pieces, the trumpeter frequently evokes late-period Miles Davis. He sometimes takes the horn below its natural range to explore pedal-tone territory that Davis never visited. Pianist Vijay Iyer, bassist John Lindberg and drummer Shannon Jackson have developed an uncanny ability to react to Smith's flights of unrestrained imagination. The sidemen also have impressive solo moments. Iyer's virtuosic turns are notable. On the long title track, the four interact with astonishing energy and empathy.

December 12, 2008 1:05 AM | | Comments (2)

Alexander String Quartet,

Retrospections (Foghorn Classics).


The ASQ plumbs the seriousness, assertiveness and sense of glee in quartets 1, 2 and 3 of the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Wayne Peterson. Peterson draws on inspiration from sources as varied as samba, bluegrass, the bebop of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and predecessors including Bartok and Ives. He integrates those influences in spirit, not letter. Played by the Alexander String Quartet with deep understanding, Peterson's pieces take the listener to unanticipated places. This music is not for background to household chores, dog-walking or doing your taxes. It rewards listening with your feet up, your head back, your eyes closed, a glass of something good nearby and your imagination ready to soar.

December 12, 2008 1:04 AM | | Comments (1)
The Bobby Shew Story (Skyhigh Films). The great trumpeter talks about his career -- stumbling into a jam session at age fifteen and discovering that he had the gift of improvisation -Shew.jpg- deciding to give up studio work: "I realized I was on a chain like a pet monkey" -- the joy of losing his fear of playing incorrectly: "I'm not afraid of sticking my neck out any more." Interspersed with the interview segments are sequences of Shew performing at the Jazz Bakery with the Chris Walden big band. They include his scintillating exchanges with fellow trumpeter Kye Palmer on Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring." The DVD production is rudimentary, but the video quality and sound are excellent, and Shew's insights are often profound.
December 12, 2008 1:03 AM | | Comments (1)
Delta Blues.jpgTed Gioia, Delta Blues (W.W. Norton). Those who think that their musical sophistication places basic blues beneath consideration are likely to benefit from Gioia's exhaustive, deeply informative study. He concentrates on Mississippi Delta blues and its heroes including Robert Johnson, Son House, Mississippi John Hurt and B.B. King. Gioia traces the evolution of the blues from the plantation work songs that were also one of the roots of jazz. He is persuasive on the role of economics in driving the early bluesmen. He avoids the political and cultural posturing that has flawed some previous books on the subject. This is a welcome, helpful and rly written volume.

December 12, 2008 1:02 AM | | Comments (0)

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the recommendations category from December 2008.

recommendations: October 2008 is the previous archive.

recommendations: January 2009 is the next archive.

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lies like truth
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For immediate release: the arts are marketable
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No genre is the new genre
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David Jays on theatre and dance
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Paul Levy measures the Angles
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Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
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innovations and impediments in not-for-profit arts
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Foot in Mouth
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
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Tobi Tobias on dance et al...

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Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
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Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
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Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds
The Unanswered Question
Joe Horowitz on music

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Drama Queen
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Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
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