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BEST OF 2014

Dear Readers,

As always, we offer suggestions about recordings and give praise to the most memorable performances, as best we can.  We can’t hear every CD, attend every show, nor be everywhere in the world.  We wish we could.  Let’s doff our hats and open our ears to our Best of 2014.

Steve Koenig,

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New York State
Managing Editor

Ah, what a love/hate thing compiling this list each year proves to be.  Love, for the artists and many great recordings from which to choose.  Hate, in that it seems impossible to narrow the list down to any less than about 75 discs.  The concept of a “top 10” went out the window years ago, so these are but 35 of the recordings that moved me this year.

Allman Brothers Band - The Final Concert Beacon Theatre 10-28-14.   Hittin’ The Note.

Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio & Peter Evans - The Freedom Principle.  No Business

Bobby Avey - Authority Melts From Me.  Whirlwind

David BinneyAnacapa.  CrissCross

Brian Blade Fellowship - Landmarks.  Blue Note

Johnathan Blake - Gone, But Not Forgotten.  CrissCross

Anthony Branker & Word Play - The Forward (Towards Equality) Suite.  Origin

Peter Brendler - Outside the Line.  PosiTone

Jeff Davis - Dragon Father.  Fresh Sound New Talent

John Escreet - Sound, Space and Structures.  Sunnyside

Orrin Evans' Captain Black Big Band - Mother's Touch.  PosiTone

Joe Fiedler's Big Sackbut - Sackbut Stomp.  Multiphonics Music

Stephen Gauci, Kirk Knuffke, Ken Filiano - Chasing Tales.  Relative Pitch

Brian Groder Trio - Reflexology.  Latham

Ross Hammond - Humanity Suite

Eric Harland - Vipassana.  GSI Records

Taylor Haskins - Fuzzy Logic.  Sunnyside

Russ Johnson - Meeting Point.  Relay Recordings

Adam Lane's Full Throttle Orchestra - Live In Ljubljana.  Clean Feed

James Brandon Lewis - Divine Travels.  Sony Okeh

Tony Malaby's Tamarindo - Somos Agua.  Clean Feed

Michael Mantler - Jazz Composers Orchestra Update.  ECM

Ross Martin, Max Johnson, Jeff Davis - Big Eyed Rabbit.  NotTwo

Mario Pavone - Street Songs.  Playscape

Eric Revis - In Memory Of Things Yet Seen.  Clean Feed

Jason Roebke Octet - High Red Center.  Delmark

Daniel Rosenboom Quintet - Fire Keeper.  Orenda

Jochen Rueckert - We Make The Rules.  Whirlwind

Samo Salamon Bassless Quartet2ALTO.  Steeplechase

Kendra Shank & John Stowell - New York Conversations.  TCB

Wadada Leo Smith - The Great Lakes Suites.  TUM

Wadada Leo Smith - Red Hill.  Rare Noise

Mark Turner Quartet - Lathe Of Heaven.  ECM

Ken Vandermark - Nine Ways To Read A Bridge.  NotTwo

Peter Van Huffel - Boom Crane.  Fresh Sound New Talent

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New York
Poet, Music Maven

(event of the year)

david murray at tribute to ornette at prospect park, brooklyn, june.,

performances (in no particular order)

tony malaby trio at cornelia street café, ny, november.,

peter brötzmann at the vision festival, roulette, brooklyn, june.,,

evan parker/ paul rogers/ mark sanders at les instants chavirés, paris, october.,,

jim hall trio at the jazz standard, ny, june.,

kris davis/ tom rainey/ tony malaby at cornelia street café, ny.,,,

ingrid laubrock trio at spectrum, brooklyn.,

mary halvorson / tom rainey / ingrid laubrock at cornelia street café, ny.,

mary halvorson / jon irabagon / nasheet waits at cornelia street café, ny.,

keiji heino solo and trio gigs at the wick and the knitting factory, brooklyn.,

best venues, new york city

issue project

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Ethnomusicologist, composer, improviser

In alphabetical order:

ABKHAZIAThe Sounds of Abkhazia.  Recordings of traditional music from this disputed territory with a population of 243,000.  Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Nauru recognize its independence, but Georgia still claims it as hers.  Includes a capella choral singing and instrumental music.  Released October 2013.

AYLER, AlbertThe Albert Ayler Story.  Brooklyn, New York: ESP Records.  ESP-4072. Michael D. Anderson’s terrific compilation provides a listener-friendly journey through Ayler’s recordings, transformed into a narrative by organizing spoken interviews according to the chronological events of Ayler’s short life.  Although you may already own all of the music recordings, having them organized into an organic whole and connected with delightful comments by the musicians who played with Ayler and those who recorded him, makes this 68-track compilation well worth the price of admission. 

BEETHOVEN, Ludwig vanRage Over a Lost Penny - Rondos and KlavierstückeComplete Works for Solo Piano, Volume 13.  Ronald Brautigam, fortepiano.  The latest volume in this terrific series. Includes Opuses 51, 129 Rondos; Op. 77 Fantasie; Op. 89 Polonaise; and several works without opus numbers.  Akersberga, Sweden: BIS. BIS-1892.  Released 2014.,

COLTRANE, JohnOffering: Live at Temple University.  It’s really remarkable to finally hear this concert nearly half a century after it was recorded.  The music is powerful, making it on a par with the raw energy of Live in Seattle.  It also includes perhaps the only recording of Coltrane singing.  Essential.  Santa Monica, CA: Resonance Records. B0019632-02.  Released 2014.

DENMARK, GREENLAND, and the FAROE ISLANDSEarly & Late: Gaman.  Traditional folk music side-by-side with three modern works by Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, Sunleif Rasmussen, and Rune Glerup.  Copenhagen: DaCapo Records. 6.220640.  Released 2013.,

ENSEMBLE MUSIKFABRIKGraffiti.  Works by Unsuk Chin, Olga Neuwirth, and Sun Ra.  Performers include the great Marco Blaauw on trumpet and Frank Gratkowski on saxophones.  By including the Sun Ra work, this album opens a new chapter in the adoption of jazz composers by virtuoso modern music ensembles.  Mainz: Wergo. WER-68612.  Released 2014.

ESTONIASongs of Siberian Seto.  Series: Recordings from the Estonian Folklore Archives, Volume 7.  A fantastic album of traditional music performed by descendants of Estonians who emigrated to Siberia in the late 19th or early 20th century.  Available as two CDs, DVD, and booklet, or for free viewing on the web, including the complete 230-page booklet (in Estonian, English, and Russian), audio, and video.  Tartu, Estonia: Estonian Literary Museum. EKMCD-009.  Released 2012.

HODGKINSON, TimOnsets.  This splendid album of works for various ensembles, with and without electronics, reveals the composer’s profound understanding of living sound.  Each work opens a window to a new world of vibration.  In four of the works, Hodgkinson augments Iancu Dumitrescu’s Hyperion Ensemble variously with members of the Talea Quartet and the Bergersen Quartet, Gustavo Aguilar, and himself.  The fifth work is performed by Ne(x)tworks.  New York: Mode Records.  Mode-266.  Released 2014.

HOLSKY, Adriana.  Wie ein glasernes meer, mit feuer gemischst. Intense organ music.  Good liner notes, including seven pages of commentary by Ingo Dorfmüller.  Mainz: Wergo. WER-67892.  Released 2014.

HOSOKAWA ToshioQuintets and Solos. “Landscapes II, V,” “Threnody,” “Fragmente II,” “Small Chant” (2012), and “Elegy.”  Performed by the Arditti Quartet, Mayumi Miyata, et al.  Mainz: Wergo. WER-67692.  Released 2014.

IRAN.  Gosan Parsi: Some Examples of the Melodious Tale in Iran, Volume 7.  Includes music from Turkmen, Baluchi, Kurdish, Bakhtiari, and Hormozgan ethnic groups.  Tehran: Barbad Music. (in Farsi)

LACHENMANN, Helmut. Complete String Quartets. The JACK Quartet.  New York: Mode Records. Mode-267.  CD & DVD.  Released 2014.

LATIN AMERICA.  Latin American Electroacoustic Music Collection.  Ricardo Dal Farra.  Fantastic resource with 558 works available to the public, some with score and/or sonogram.  Also some written texts, pictures, and video interviews with composers.  Includes works by many composers, including Jorge Antunes, Juan Blanco, Jocy de Oliveira, Orlando Jacinto Garçia, Alcides Lanza, and Mesias Maiguashca.  Elsewhere on the foundation’s site are multimedia works by many artists, including Michael Snow.  Montreal: La Fondation Daniel Langlois.

LATVIAN RADIO CHOIR.  Mythes Étoilés.  A diverse and splendid selection of modern works traversing the sound palette of modern choral composition.  Ligeti’s “Lux Aeterna” and Cage’s “Four2” provide a familiar grounding for more recent works: Lasse Thoresen’s setting of a poem by Giacinto Scelsi, Toivo Tulev’s beautiful “Tanto Gentile,” Anders Hillborg’s remarkable “Mouyayoum,” and Martins Vilums’ microtonal “gaw ek-dad kard.” Includes a 20-page booklet with excellent notes by the great discoverer of unheralded composers, Malcom MacDonald, who, sadly, passed away in May of this year. Also from the liner notes: “The Concrescence Project is an aesthetically orientated research project that intends to bring about innovations in vocal practise and composition.  It was initiated by Lasse Thoresen and the Norwegian Academy of Music in 2004.  Through stimulating the synergy between highly different, seemingly contradictory vocal traditions - ethnic as well as contemporary - new musical expressions come into existence. So far the project attempts to combine Western classical singing with harmonic chant (”diphonic” chant) and Scandinavian traditional singing styles (kveding, kulning, etc). To these sources is added a spectromorphological perspective (derived from the French Musique Concrčte). Further reflection on the compositional possibilities of these elements makes evident the need for a theoretical understanding of microtonality and the series of harmonics (‘JustIntonation’).”  Oslo: Aurora.  ACD-5083.  Released 2014.

LIM, LizaThe Navigator (2008).  Brilliant, wonderful, modern. The composer has provided the link to the complete opera (90 minutes), and the production and recording are excellent.

NAKHJAVÂNI, Sânâz.  Rehavi: Practical Comparison of Iranian and Turkish Music.  A fascinating double album that juxtaposes Iranian and Turkish classical musics, providing a new perspective on their commonalities and differences.   The nine-piece ensemble, directed by Ehsân Zabihifar, consists of both Iranian and Turkish musicians. Includes liner notes in Farsi and English, by three authors.  Tehran: Mahoor Institute of Culture and Art. M.CD-350.  Released 2013. 

NONO, Luigi.  Seguente.  Berlin: Edition RZ. 1031-32. “Rerelease of ed. RZ 1004 LP plus three legendary recordings.”  Two compact discs.  Released 2014.,2,0.html

NŘRGĹRD, Per.  Symphonies 1 & 8.  World premiere recording of Symphony 8 (2011).  Copenhagen: DaCapo Records. 6.220574.  Released 2014.,

RUDHYAR, Dane. Four Pentagrams.  Aucourant Records.  See my review in this magazine.  Released 2014.

SIMAKU, Thomas.  String Quartets 2 and 3.  Albanian-born British composer with a strong, original voice. This is a beautiful album. The most surprising discovery of my year.  More, please. Hong Kong: Naxos. 8.570428.  Released 2008.

SLAVENSKI, Josip. Religiophonia (Simfonija Orijenta). An extraordinary composition from 1934, in seven movements: Pagans, Hebrews, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Free Thought, and Hymn of Toil.  The first work to integrate an Islamic singer into a Eurogenetic orchestra (in movement 5).  Originally published on London Records in the 1950s (LL-1216). Hong Kong: Naxos Digital Services. 9.80116 (download only). Released 2008. (Not available in the United States, Australia, and Singapore.)

TALLIS, Thomas.  Missa Puer natus est nobis.  Sung by The Cardinall’s Musick, with excellent liner notes by Andrew Carwood. London: Hyperion Records. 68026. Released 2014.

TULVE, Helena.  Arboles Lloran por Lluvia.  Munich: ECM Records 2243.  Released 2014.

VANUATU.  Music of Vanuatu: Celebrations and Mysteries.  Splendid album surveying different types of music and instruments; 128-page booklet (in French and English) with many beautiful color photographs. 
Paris: Inédit.  W-260147.  Released 2013.

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New York

Discoveries Of The Year:

Like Columbus, I am late to a show that’s been running for aeons.  

I have finally discovered both Nick Cave (a cross between Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits; Wiki noting his obsession with “religion, death, love, and violence”) and Current 93 (a cross between The Tiger Lillies, Pearls Before Swine.  and Gnostic Christian drone music), as well as much of their tremendous, in quality as well as quantity, back catalogues.  

On the classical front, Erwin Schulhoff, despite being a victim of the Nazis is still a force to be reckoned with.  His influences are jazz, Dada, Late Romanticism and a Poulenc-like Gallic humor and charm.  The young Russian-American Lera Auerbach has a very different soundworld, tender and tough at the same time, sometimes reminiscent of Kurtág.


Record Of The Year:  
Darius Milhaud.  L'Orestie d'Eschyle.
(The Oresteia of Aeschylus)  I. L'Agamemnon.  II. Les Choéphores  III. Les Eumenénides.

University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Kiesler,
Choirs of the University Musical Society, University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble,

This first complete recording of Milhaud’s masterwork using Paul Claudel’s translations.  I first became aware of this from Leonard Bernstein’s LP of Les Choéphores, which riveted me.  Forget Carmina Burana (which I’ve always disliked); for sheer thrills and great drama, this is drama is your dram.  Giant orchestra, lots of percussion, and very French-style pitched singing.  That composer William Bolcom was able to get the U. of Michigan to present this mega-production, and for Naxos to record it, most richly, is our major release of the year.  Naxos’ booklet has lots of information including a detailed synopsis, plus the names of the entire cast of a third of a thousand.  They offer a free PDF download of the Claudel text with side-by-side English translation.
Naxos 8.660349-51, 3CDs.

J. S. Bach.  Goldberg Variations.  Jeremy Denk, piano.  A truly spell-binding performance which holds up to repeated listening.  Nonesuch 535452 CD/DVD with a video lecture, here called the “liner notes.”,

Raoul Björkenheim.  eCsTaSy.  Where the Finnish guitarist’s prog quartet is also a jazz quartet in a very satisfying way.  The album title is the group’s name as well.  Cuneiform RUNE 373.  The track “El Puebo Unido” can be heard at,,

Matthias Boss.  koans I-VI.  Solo violin.  The booklet notes:  “the questions were unanswerable so i played on them.”  He got some boss answers, and the .pdf booklet reproduces Boss’ own Zen-influenced paintings, titled koans 1-8, which are strikingly beautiful.

Anthony Braxton & Taylor Ho Bynum.  Duo (Amherst) 2010.  This pair of 45-minute duo sets is well-filmed and gripping.  New Braxton House DVD (with flac/mp3 download card) NBH 902.,

Anthony Braxton, Tomas Fujiwara, Tom Rainey.  Trio (New Haven) 2013.  New Braxton House NHB904, 4 CDs.,,

Anthony Braxton.  12 Duets (DCWM) 2012.  Four discs with each: violinist Erica Dicker, vocalist Kyoko Kitamura and bassoonist Katherine Young.  New Braxton House NHB903, 12 CDs.

Tom Chang.  Tongue and Groove.  The quartet of guitarist Chang with tenor sax Jason Rigby, alto sax Greg Ward, bassist Chris Lightcap and drummer Gerald Cleaver offer a coherent album of quirky, wriggling compositions including a take on Anton Webern’s Variations for Piano which is very successful. So is the addition of Indian percussionist and vocalist T.H. Subash Chandran on several tracks.  Raw Toast Records.

The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club.  Volumes 1 and 2.  Superb anthologies of exciting funk and soul cuts from the ‘60s through today.  Only a few bum tracks, and the rest are must-owns.  Freestyle FSRCD100 and FSRCD101, available only separately.

Jeff Colella and Putter Smith.  Lotus Blossom.  In the great piano-bass duo tradition of mainstream jazz, Colella and Smith.  Nothing effete here, just two minds in sync for a savory hour.  American Jazz Institute/Capri Records.,

John Coltrane.  Offering: Live at Temple University.  Had it on bootleg; this has more of it, with much better sound.  Alice Coltrane’s piano sparkles.  Impulse!/Resonance B0019632-02, 2 CDs.,

Jacques Coursil with Alan Silva.  FreedomJazzArt: Sessions For Bill Dixon.  The trumpeter and bass player explore sound, silences and pathways over the course of three suites dedicated to the late trumpeter Bill Dixon, with whom they both played at different times.  RogueArt ROG-0052.

Jack DeJohnette.  Live In Chicago.  With Roscoe Mitchell, Muhal Richard Abrams, Larry Gray, Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threadgill live from the 2013 Chicago Jazz Festival.  Roscoe's “Chant” and “This,” then one piece each by DeJohnette, Abrams, and Threadgill, concluded by one group improvisation.  To be released early 2015.  ECM 2392.

Bob Dylan and The Band.  The Basement Tapes Complete.  Columbia Legacy 88750161222, 6 CDs and book.

Michael Finnissy.   Unknown Grounds; `A Propos de Nice; Kritik der Urteilskraft.  Richard Jackson, baritone; New Music Players.  Métier msv28536.

Ferenc Fricsay, conductor.  Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon, Vol. 1: Orchestral Works.  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, et al.  This lesser-known gem of a conductor gets a well-deserved big-box treatment, expanding on the 9-disc set A Life In Music from a decade ago.  Samples on the link.  Deutsche Grammophon 0289 479 2691 7, 45 CDs.

Alexander Gavrylyuk, piano.  Mussorgsky: Pictures at an ExhibitionSchumann: Kinderszenen.   I am a Pictures freak with over 30 piano versions alone in my collection.  This one blew my head apart.  I’ve never been so transfixed by every single individual promenade and (pun permitted) movement.  Perhaps not for all tastes, but you’d be remiss to not sample this, as well as Gavrylyuk’s other discs, which I’ve consequently acquired.  The PianoClassics label also has boxed reissues of Sergio Fiorentino as well as Bruce Hungerford’s (Vanguard) Beethoven recordings, and they have amazing customer service.  PianoClassics PCL0063.,

Jimmy Giuffre 3 & 4.  New York Concerts.   Top-notch performances we would now call free improv.  Giuffre grooves the multiphonics.  Judson Hall 1965Sept3 Richard Davis and Joe Chambers.  Wollman Auditorium, Columbia University. 1965May19 Don Friedman, Barre Phillips, Joe Chambers.  Elemental Music 5990425, 2 CDs with 26-page booklet.

David Greilsammer, piano.   Scarlatti : Cage : Sonatas.  It’s uncanny how well these sonatas, interwoven, complement each other, and how well Greilsammer performs them, but not surprising after how well his earlier disc held Baroque Conversations between contemporary pieces and baroque keyboard works.  Sony 8883762402.

Ida Haendel, violin.  Prague Recordings 1957-1965.  Until now, I’d only heard of her.  Now I’ve bought all I can get my hands on.  In this box: three Beethoven sonatas and two Romances.  Ravel, Bartók, Stravinsky and many others in smaller pieces.  Riveting Sibelius, Wienawski and Beethoven concerti plus Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole with Karel Ancerl, and Glazunov with Smetacek at the podium.  Good stuff.  Click on the link for sound samples.  Supraphon SU 4162-2, 5 CDs.

Phil Haynes’ No Fast Food is a new stalwart trio with saxophonist Dave Liebman (here also on flute) and bassist Drew Gress.  Individually leaders, collectively they make a wonderfully tasty ensemble.  No fast food indeed.  Their double disc In Concert should be high on your shopping list.  CornerStoreJazz Records 0107/0108.

Peter Hill, piano.  La Fauvette Passerinette: A Messiaen Premiere.  His complete Messiaen from Unicorn in the 1970s remains among the top.  This 11-minute piece flutters happily among works by Sculthorpe, Ravel, Murail, Takemitsu, Stockhausen, et al.  Delphian DCD34141.,

Tokio Hosokawa.  Orchestral Music, Volumes 1 and 2.  Jun Markl, conductor.  Royal Scottish National Orchestra or the Orchestre National de Lyon.  The works here are derived from Japanese traditional music, such as gagaku and Buddhist Shômyô singing.  Not as avant-garde as some other Hosokawa, but not not, either.  Riches abound.  Naxos 8.573239 and 8.573276.

Ideal Bread.  Beating the Teens: Songs of Steve Lacy.  The band birthed by baritone saxist Josh Sinton to give further life to Lacy’s compositions does yet another superb set here.  Kirk Knuffke on cornet, drummer Tomas Fujiwara and bassist Adam Hopkins complete the quartet.  I know Steve Lacy would have appreciated knowing that my spell-check suggested I call this “Sarongs of Steve Lacy.” Cuneiform RUNE 386/387, 2CDs.,,

Jon Irabagon.  It Takes All Kinds.  Total winner of a live performance with saxist Irabagon (perhaps best known from Mostly Other People Do The Killing) in tandem with drummer/percussionist Barry Altschul and bassist Mark Helias, masters all.  Jazzwerkstatt 139.,

Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden.  Last Dance.  Standards.  Farewell, Charlie.  ECM 2399.

Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette.  Somewhere (Live In Lucerne 2009).  Standards, plus two Jarrett originals which play off of their pairings: Miles Davis’ “Solar” in a medley with Jarrett’s “Deep Space”; Bernstein/Sondheim’s “Somewhere” with Jarrett’s “Everywhere.”  2013 release, but I just hear it now.  ECM 2200.

“Jazz On Disques Vogue: The Perfect Collection: 35 Original Albums.”  This box of French discs tops most reissue boxes from Sony or anyone else.  Classic performers on discs little-known in the US.  Each of the 20 CDs has an original jacket and back, and printed spines, but the discs are filled in with relevant material, usually 10-inchers (hence the 35 of the title), with all color photos and data in a well-printed booklet.  Even the box’ graphics are redolent of 1960s France.  These albums were recorded in France by Monk, Diz, Clifford, Mulligan, Jaspar, Hampton, Gryce, Eldridge, Schifrin, Pettiford, Konitz, Raney, Django, Bechet, Mary Lou Williams, Roy Haynes and French worthies Henri Renaud, René Thomas, André Hodeir, Martial Solal and, especially, Barney Wilen.  Sony/Vogue/Legacy 88725443772-04

Kaze.  Tornado.  This standing quartet of trumpeters Christian Pruvost and Natsuki Tamura, pianist Satoko Fujii and drummer Peter Orins blew me away in concert at The Stone.  Treat yourself to some that you can have at home.  Circum-Libra 202.,,

Keller Quartet.  Ligeti SQ1 (Métamorphoses nocturnes), SQ2; Barber SQ: Molto adagio.  The Kellers had already proven their mettle with their Teldec set of the Bartók quartets and ECM’s Kurtág collection.  Two kinds of luscious in one disc.  ECM New Series 2197.

Victor Kissine.  Between Two Waves: Concerto for piano and string orchestra.  Andrius Zlabys, piano; Kremerata Baltica; Roman Kofman, conductor.  Duo (after Osip Mandelstam).  Daniil Grishin, viola; Giedre Dirvanauskaite, cello.  Barcarola for violin solo, string orchestra and percussion.  Gidon Kremer, violin; Andrei Pushkarev, percussion; Kremerata Baltica.  The Duo, especially, is a high-tension wire where things could fall apart at any second.  Barcarola is an our-times La Mer, which the composer describes as a “concerto in watercolour” which may be so for the colors, but the lines are sharply etched.  ECM New Series 2312.

Jan Klusák.  Inventions 1-10; Dreams: III: Perished Happiness.  Multiple Czech orchestras and conductors.  Supraphon SU 4163-2, 2CDs.

Karen Mantler.  Business Is Bad.   Karen Mantler’s songs insist on grabbing your attention and a snippet of lyric or a deceptively simple tune remain in your head even after one listen. Business Is Bad is the best yet of her infrequent solo albums.  Doug Weiselman, guitar, bass clarinet; Kato Hideki, bass.  XtraWatt/3 - ECM 839 093-2.

Michael Mantler.  Jazz Composers Orchestra Update.  ECM 2391.
If you already know his music, you’ll love this.  If new to Mantler, you’ll find mesmerizing, richly-textured tapestries of jazz-orchestra sound, with electric guitar, amplified string quartet, and Mantler’s trumpet prominent.  Excellent interview by Steve Lake in the booklet.,

Walter Marchetti.  De Musica Inversa.  An LP-sized 4CD box set including La Caccia, In Terram Utopicam, Per La Sete Dell'orecchio, Natura Morta and Vandalia.  The music ranges from acousmatic to noise to cinema pour l’oreille.  Each of the discs is now available individually, but this large-box reissue includes a large-format new book by Marchetti, De Musica Inversa.  alga marghen nmn 076cd.

Olivier Messiaen.  Turangalîla.  Angela Hewitt, piano; Valérie Hartmann-Claverie, ondes Martenots; Hannu Lintu, conductor; Finnish RSO.  Ondine ODE 1251-5, hybrid SACD.

Charlotte Moorman.  Cello Anthology.  The notorious “naked  cellist” performs Cage, Earle Browne, Bussotti, MacLow, Ichiyanagi, Nam June Paik, et al.  Each of the four CDs are available separately.  alga marghen nmn 064box.,,

Juan Antonio Nieto.  Shortcut.  Very successful electronic music blended with sound derived from electronics plus modified “everyday objects, much more clean and recognizable.”  Excellent use of spatial (stereo) soundstage.  Free download but donate anyway. 

Ed Palermo Big Band.  Oh No!  Not jazz!!  Palermo continues his rich exploration of the Zappa catalog with clever arrangements of “Dog Breath Variations,” “Uncle Meat Variations,” “Lumpy Gravy,” and an especially noirish “Chunga’s Revenge.”  Add a batch of non-Zappa works to fill two CDs, including Palermo originals such as the Ellington-inflected “Prelude To An Insult,” and the Lennon/McCartney “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” with too many good soloists to name here.  Cuneiform RUNE380/381.,

Evan Parker, Paul Dunmall, Tony Bianco.  extremes.  Before you ask, yes, you do need another Parker and Dunmall disc.  Both play tenor here and, with the prodigious Tony Bianco on drums, offer two extended improvs and a five-minute digestif.  On the great Canadian label Red Toucan RT9349.

Ivo Perelman.  Enigma.  The intrepid saxist’s quartet with Matthew Shipp, Whit Dickey and Gerald Cleaver continues Leo’s spate of Perelman records, all of them more than worthy, only some of them on this list.  Enigma has passion and interesting compositions; great free-improvisation.  Leo CD LR 683.,

Ivo Perelman and Mat Maneri.  Two Men Walking.  The tenor and the violist play rings around each other, or is it cat and mouse.  Whatever you call the game, it’s fun, and nutritious at the same time.  Leo CD LR 696.,

Ivo Perelman.  Book Of Sound.  Trio with William Parker and Matt Shipp.  The expected depth.  Leo CD LR 697.,

Ivo Perelman and Matt Shipp.  The Art Of The Duet, Vol. 1.  Spellbinding from first note to last.   If you have to choose just one of the recent Perelmans.  Leo CD LR 665.

Libor Pesek, conductor.  The Gold Collection.  A mid-price, high-adventure trip by this undervalued Hungarian through La Mer, a razor-sharp Daphnis, the Elgar cello and Scriabin piano concerti, Bruckner 7 and two major Suk works, A Summer’s Tale and Fairy Tale.  Sound samples at the link.  Supraphon SU 4132-2, 4 CDs.

Josef Rheinberger.  Complete Organ Works.  Rudolf Innig, organ. MD+G MDG 3171864, 12 CDs.

Akos Rózmann.  Tolv Stationer (Twelve Stations) for piano and voices.  This electro-acoustic work is fascinating across all seven CDs.  Idiologic Organs/Editions Mego SOMA021.,

Camille Saint-Saëns.   Complete Works for Violin & Orchestra and Cello & Orchestra.  Soloists of the Queen Elizabeth Music Chapel; Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Ličge, conducted by Christian Arming.  I never expected to be delighted by the music of CS-S.  What Poulenc-like riches here.  Zig-Zag Territoires ZZT 335.

Erwin Schulhoff.  Concertos for: Piano and Small Orchestra op43; Double for Flute, Piano, String Orchestra, and two Horns; String Quartet and Wind Ensemble.  Beethoven (arr. Schulhoff: Rondo a capriccio “Rage Over A Lost Penny.”  Capriccio C5197,,

Robert Schumann.  Symphonies 1-4.  Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor.  Deutsche Grammophon 0289 479 2437 1, 2 CDs.

Pavel Sporcl, violin.  Dvorák: Violin Sonata, Op 57 B106. Nocturne, Op 40 B48a. Slavonic Dances (arr. Kreisler), Op 46 No 2; Op 72 Nos 2 & 8.  Josef Suk: Four Pieces, Op 17.  Pavel Sporcl, violin; Petr Jiríkovský, piano.  Supraphon SU 3884-2.

Richard Strauss.  Complete Lieder for Voice and Piano.   8 CDs, boxed with a large book of notes and complete German texts and English translations.  TwoPianists TP1039312,  book, boxed.,

Sun Ra Arkestra.  3rd September 1988 Chicago.  
Fine-sounding 80-minute broadcast with all the attendant thrills.  I only wish some of the money would go to Marshall Allen and Sonny’s estate.  Klondike KLCD 1511.

Sun Ra and his Intergalactic Research Arkestra.  It’s After The End Of The World: Live at the Donaueschingen and Berlin Festivals.  One of my longtime favorite Sun Ra LPs has now made it onto silverdisc.  “It’s after the end of the world.  Don’t you know that yet?”  MPS/Edel 0209744MSW.

Natsuki Tamura and Alexander Frangenheim.  Nax The versatile trumpeter joins German bassist Frangenheim, new to me, in a set of improvisations which play with space and silence, intensity and the unexpected.  Creative Sources CS 280.,, 

Erkki-Sven Tüür.  Piano Concerto, Symphony No. 7.  Laura Mikkola, piano; Paavo Järvi, conductor, Frankfurt RSO; NDR Chorus.  The concerto is well-crafted post-war modernism with a dark start which offers shimmers of light.  The choral symphony, titled “Pietas” although using mostly Hindu scriptures, starts with twinkles and swirls of scraped strings, celeste, and shifting tectonic plates of strings reminiscent of Ornette Coleman’s Skies of America. It ends with percussive artillery and ends in a slow fade.  ECM New Series 2341.,

Velvet Underground.  Velvet Underground: 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition.  Six discs in a hardbound large-format book, same as the others in this series.  Only gluttons require three CDs of variant mixes, one of studio sessions, and two of Live At The Matrix; I am one of them.  Polydor B0021752-02.

David Virelles.  Mbókň: Sacred Music for Piano, Two Basses, Drum Set and Biankoméko Abakua.  Vital Cuban jazz, con sabor.  ECM 2386.

Michael Vlatkovich Tryyo.  Pershing Woman.  Electric cellist Jonathan Golove and drummer Damon Short (who has some neat discs of his own) join the veteran trumpeter for a set of very witty improvisations on compositions by Vlatkovich, with very witty titles.  Another winner from Vlatkovich and from pfMentum, the little label that could.  pfMENTUM CD071.

Mieczysław Weinberg.  Symphony 10; Solo Violin Sonata 3; Sonatina for violin and piano; Concertino for violin and string orchestra.  Kremerata Baltica, directed by Gidon Kremer.  ECM New Series 2368/69, 2 CDs.

Mieczysław Weinberg, Benjamin Britten.  Violin Concertos.  Linus Roth, violin. Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.  Challenge Classics CC 72627, hybrid SACD.,

Mieczysław Weinberg. Complete Works for Violin and Piano.  Linus Roth violin; José Gallardo, piano.  Challenge Classics 72567, 3 CDs.

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PERFORMANCES: Music and Theater

Performance Of The Year:

Long Day's Journey Into Night by Eugene O'Neill.  Directed by Angie Bolivar.  Cast: Nikki Chawla, William Sours, Chris Austin, Jon Gennari, Mickele Hogan.  Nikki Chawla stuns as Mary Tyrone, drawing upon a kaleidoscope, albeit subtle, of emotions and reactions.  She rivets your attention the moment she steps onstage.  This hardscrabble production from a tiny company in the tiny Roy Arias Theatre on W. 43rd, reconfirms that off-off-Broadway’s intimacy can often best the Big Names currently invading Broadway.  (To non-New Yorkers: The terms Off and Off-Off Broadway pertain to the number of seats in the theater, not the location.)

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In no particular order:

A Tribute To Robert Ashley.  Roulette, Brooklyn.  September 11.  Tom Hamilton, Joseph Kubera, Pauline Kim Harris, Conrad Harris, JD Parran and members of the SEM Ensemble.  All the performances and all the pieces were first rate, with the exception of the one originally composed for MIDI orchestra.

Note: In theater, I make no apologies for the quantity of plays from the Signature Theatre on this list.  They nurture new and also noted playwrights, and the audiences need pay only $25 due to generous supporters.

Kung Fu by David Henry Hwang.  The Signature Theatre, NY.  Hwang’s biographical play about Bruce Lee was revelatory to this writer, who knew nothing of Lee or his circumstances until this play, and it resonates well beyond the specifics of one man’s life.  Directed by Leigh Silverman.  Choreography by Sonya Tayeh.  Fight Direction by Emmanuel Brown.  Chinese Opera Movement Direction by Jamie Guan.  Cast: Emmanuel Brown, Clifton Duncan, Bradley Fong, Cole Horibe, Francis Jue, Peter Kim, Ari Loeb, Reed Luplau, Kristen Faith Oei, Jon Rua, Phoebe Strole, Christopher Vo.

Ray Anderson & Sarah Weaver – “The Point Being // Slideride.”
February 23 at Roulette, Brooklyn.  The Point Being by Ray Anderson and Sarah Weaver. Ray Anderson, trombone, voice; Sarah Weaver, conductor; Jane Ira Bloom, soprano saxophone; Oliver Lake, alto saxophone; James Zollar, trumpet; Uri Caine, piano; Mark Helias, bass; Gerald Cleaver, drums.  Slideride: Ray Anderson, Craig Harris, Art Baron, Earl McIntyre, trombones.

Appropriate by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.  The Signature Theatre, NY.  “The estranged members of the Lafayette clan have returned to Arkansas and their crumbling old plantation home to settle the accounts of their recently deceased patriarch. As they sort through a lifetime of hoarded mementos and junk, the discovery of a gruesome relic and a surprise visitor send the family into a spiral of crackling confrontations, repressed histories, and regret.”  Directed by Liesl Tommy.  Cast: Maddie Corman, Patch Darragh, Johanna Day, Alex Dreier, Mike Faist, Izzy Hanson-Johnston, Sonya Harum, Michael Laurence.

This Is Our Youth by Kenneth Lonergan.  The Cort Theatre, NY.  Directed by Anna D. Shapiro.  Cast: Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin and Jessica Goldman.  These three prove, contrary to many expectations, to be consummate stage actors with acuity of timing, phrasing, and reactions.

Dover String Quartet with Leon Fleisher.  March 16, Town Hall, NY.
Program:  Schubert: Rosamunde Quartet; Bach: Chaconne; Korngold: Suite for Piano Left Hand, Two Violins, and Cello, Op. 23.,

S.E.M. Ensemble & Ostravská banda, Petr Kotik, conductor. Ostrava Days in New York: Celebrating Christian Wolff’s 80th birthday.  March 26 at Roulette, Brooklyn.  Kamala Sankaram, soprano and Jeffrey Gavett, baritone; String Noise (Conrad Harris, Pauline Kim Harris, violin); OB-Trio (Conrad Harris, violin; Daniel Costello, horn; Daan Vandewalle, piano); Special Guest: George Lewis

Program:  Petr Kotik: There is Singularly Nothing; Christian Wolff: For Six or Seven Players (Music for Merce Cunningham); Martin Smolka: Autumn Thoughts; Idin Samimi Mofakham: Mirage; Iannis Xenakis: Mikka and Mikka “S”, Christian Wolff: Violin Duo for Petr; Petr Cígler: Über das farbige Licht der Doppelsterne; György Ligeti: Trio for Violin, Horn and,,

Ying String Quartet.  May 3 at Washington Irving H.S., NY.
Schumann: Quartet in F Major, Op. 41, No. 2; Lera Auerbach: Quartet No. 8, "Sylvia's Diary"; Brahms: Quartet in A Minor, Op. 51, No. 2; Encore: Randall Thompson: arr. Alleluia.  This was my fortuitous introduction to the music of Lera Auerbach, a young Russian-American composer whose quartet was aphoristic and yearning.,

Nancy Van de Vate's opera All Quiet on the Western Front.  May 24, Roulette, Brooklyn.  Philip Nuzzo, conductor, The Metro Chamber Orchestra.  A stunning performance of Ms. Van de Vate’s powerful opera, using projections, staged singers, and an orchestra of extraordinary finesse.  The singers were bone-chilling.  Until a DVD is available, I encourage you to buy the double-CD with complete libretto.

The Realistic Joneses by Will Eno.  Lyceum Theatre, NY.  Directed by Sam Gold.  Cast: Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, Marisa Tomei.

Sun Ra Arkestra + Nate Wooley, trumpet.  July 12, Roulette, Brooklyn.  Two separate sets, each invigorating in their own ways.,

Karen Mantler Trio.  July 31 at SubCulture, NY.  “Business Is Bad: Album Release Performance.”  The chanteuse presented her lounge-casual persona in a set of songs from her new CD, with some of her older songs woven in.  Delicious on wry.,

The Killer by Eugčne Ionesco.  Directed by Darko Tresnjak.  New translation by Michael Feingold.  Cast: Kristine Nielsen, Michael Shannon, Paul Sparks, Robert Stanton, and 20 more.  Theatre for a New Audience at Polonsky Shakespeare Center, Brooklyn.  This little-performed, three-hour Ionesco masterpiece would be significant even if it didn’t get this stunning production, but it did!

And I And Silence by Naomi Wallace.  Directed by Caitlin McLeod.  Cast: Trae Harris, Rachel Nicks, Emily Skeggs, Samantha Soule.  Young women from the wrong side of the tracks, in prison as youth, and struggling as adults.

Nude With Violin by Noël Coward.  The Theatre Fellowship of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, NY.  Delicious satire of the art world and human behavior.  Thanks always to small companies like this presenting obscure, worthy plays of the past, in this case 1956.

The Wayside Motor Inn by A. R. Gurney.   Directed by Lila Neugebauer.  The Signature Theatre, NY.  Cast: Kelly AuCoin, Jon DeVries, Quincy Dunn-Baker, Rebecca Henderson, Marc Kudisch, Jenn Lyon, Lizbeth Mackay, David McElwee, Ismenia Mendes, Will Pullen.

Federico Ughi and Yoni Kretzmer.  Drums and tenor sax duo.  Downtown Music Gallery Sunday Free Performance Series.  March 16.,

Open House by Will Eno.  Directed by Oliver Butler.  Signature Theatre, NY.  Cast: Hannah Bos, Michael Countryman, Peter Friedman, Danny McCarthy, Carolyn McCormick.,

The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard.  The Producers Club, Grand Theater, NY.  A marvelously witty and absurd revival of a play in the same vein.  Perfect timing by the cast.

Matana Roberts’ Anthem.  Kevin Tkacz, bass; Liberty Ellman, guitar; Ches Smith, drums.  December 3.  The saxist/composer presented yet another successful multimedia performance which had all engrossed.  That day she titled the piece “Black Lives Matter,” thought for a second, and said it’s “Black Lives Matter. All Lives Matter.”

Our Lady of Kibeho by Katori Hall.  Signature Theatre, NY.  Leading Role Actors: Nneka Okafor, Mandi Masden, Joaquina Kalukango, Starla Benford.  Hall is one of the younger playwrights whose work the Signature supports.  Kibeho is about a young girl in an African Catholic school who sees a vision of Mother Mary, and the effect it has on her village, her schoolmates, the clergy and the media.

Cobra by John Zorn.  November 29.  30th anniversary musical game/improv instructions, with Zorn conducting the cream of the crop: Cyro Baptista, Sylvie Courvoisier, Trevor Dunn, Mark Feldman, Erik Friedlander, George Lewis, Eyal Moaz, John Medeski, Ikue Mori, Marc Ribot, William Winant and Kenny Wollensen.  Roulette, Brooklyn.

… and last but not least, the Broadway musical Pippin, which I hadn’t seen before.  It had many elements in common with Bernstein’s Candide.  Although it has only three songs which stand on their own, the whole circus was nothing but kicks.  We also saw understudy Sam Lip as Pippin December 3rd, and the cast cajoled him throughout and everyone had a blast.  Pippin won the 2013 Tony Award, but closed after a relatively brief run of one year, although it’s now on tour.

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