BEST OF 2019
Start off by reading Craig Nixon’s 2019 faves, and then
Robert Reigle’s 2019 list of new releases and back-catalog
discoveries. Then mine. Yes, I have a lot of
recommendations, but compared to the sheer quantity of
excellent albums released this year, it’s just a drop in
the proverbial bucket.
Next, audition these at your favorite streaming sites,
and then, most important: support the artists by buying
from their own or their label’s websites, and better yet,
attend concerts and buy directly from the artists.
Keep our independent record stores like DowntownMusicGallery.com
alive. They fertilize artistic communities.
* * * * * * * * *
As it is every year,
recordings are a trove of riches. It's always next
to impossible to narrow it down... the first draft gets it
down to about 100 recordings. In addition, choosing
the best really implies you've heard all the rest.
Lifelong record nerd that I am, that was pretty much true
in years past, not as much any longer. Of the dizzying
myriad choices, these are 20 that particularly moved me
JOHNATHAN BLAKE - Trion (Giant
Step Arts) https://johnathanblake1.bandcamp.com/releases
MATT BREWER - Ganymede
MARC COPLAND - Gary (Illusions
JOSEPH DALEY - The 7 Heavenly Virtues
& The 7 Deadly Sins (JoDa Music)
THOMAS HEBERER, TERRENCE McMANUS, MICHAEL BATES,
JEFF DAVIS - X Marks the Spot (OutNow)
JAMES BRANDON LEWIS - An Unruly
Manifesto (Relative Pitch) https://jamesbrandonlewis.bandcamp.com/releases
MARK A. LOMAX – 400: An Afrikan Epic,
vols. 1-12 (CFG Multimedia) https://marklomaxii.com/400-an-afrikan-epic_album
LAGE LUND - Terrible Animals
SIMON NABATOV QUINTET - Last
Minute Theory (Clean Feed)
QUINSIN NACHOFF - Path of Totality
OGJB QUARTET (Oliver Lake, Graham Haynes,
Joe Fonda, Barry Altschul) - Bamako (TUM) http://tumrecords.com/050-bamako/music
JEFF PLATZ, STEPHEN HAYNES, DAMON SMITH, MATT
CRANE - Theory of Colors (Umland) https://umlandrecords.bandcamp.com/album/theory-of-colors
CHRIS POTTER - Circuits (Edition)
MARIO PAVONE DIALECT TRIO -
Philosophy (Clean Feed)
ENRICO RAVA-JOE LOVANO - Roma
CHRISTOPHE ROCHER, JOE FONDA, HARVEY SORGEN
- New Origin (NotTwo) https://www.nottwo.com/mw985
JAMIE SAFT QUARTET - Hidden
Corners (Rare Noise)
MATTHIAS SPILLMAN TRIO - Live at the
Bird's Eye Jazz Club (Clean Feed)
CHRIS STAMEY and the ModRec ORCHESTRA -
New Songs for the 20th Century (Omnivore) https://omnivorerecordings.com/shop/new-songs-for-the-20th-century/
DAVID TORN, TIM BERNE, CHES SMITH - Sun
Of Goldfinger (ECM) https://www.ecmrecords.com/catalogue/1542813822/sun-of-goldfinger-david-torn-tim-berne-ches-smith
JOHN YAO'S TRICERATOPS - How We Do
(See Tao Recordings)
Long Beach, California
Ethnomusicologist, composer, improviser
BEST DISCOVERIES OF 2019
As always, I include a handful of items of outstanding
interest that I only recently discovered, though they were
published before 2019.
The Vinyl Frontier: The Story of the Voyager
Golden Record. Jonathan Scott.
London: Bloomsbury Sigma. Published 2019.
AYLER, Albert (1936-1970).
Quartets 1964-Spirits to Ghosts Revisited. Recorded
February 24 and September 14, 1964. Remastered
2019. Liner notes by Art Lange. Released by
permission of the Albert Ayler estate. Originally
issued on Debut as Spirits and Ghosts, then reissued on
various labels as Witches and Devils and Vibrations.
Basel, Switzerland: HatHut Records. Released
CENTURIES OF SOUND - James
Errington. An extraordinary website featuring
podcasts of music and culture going back to 1853.
“Centuries of Sound is an attempt to produce an audio mix
for every year of recorded sound.” The podcasts won
a bronze British Podcast Award for 2019. https://centuriesofsound.com/
GESUALDO, Carlo (1566-1613). Secondo Libro di
Madrigali. Performed by La Compagnia del Madrigale,
three female and three male singers. Escorial,
Spain: Glossa Music. Released 2019. http://www.glossamusic.com/glossa/default.aspx
HOSOKAWA Toshio (born 1955).
Gardens. Vienna, Austria: Kairos Music.
0015017KAI. Released 2019. https://www.kairos-music.com/
IRAN. Music of Baluchistan (Regional Music of Iran
75): From Rapture to Ecstasy: Baluchi Songs.
Research, recording, and notes: Jean During. Tehran:
Mahoor Institute. MCD-572. Released 2019. https://www.mahoor.com/en
KOREA. Jindo Island-Funeral and Shamanic
Chants. Paris, France: OCORA (Office de Coopération
Radiophonique)-Radio France. C560271. Released
KOREA. Pansori-Sugyeong-Nangja-Ga. World premiere
of a p’ansori that had vanished from the repertoire and
now reconstructed. Vincennes France: Buda
Musique. Released 2019. https://www.budamusique.com/en/
JOSQUIN des Prez (1450/1455-1521), and Noel
BAULDEWEYN (1480-1513). Missa Mater patris; Missa da
pacem. Tallis Scholars, directed by Peter
Phillips. Oxford, United Kingdom: Gimell Records.
CDGIM-052. T he website has links to scores of the two
masses. Released 2019. https://www.gimell.com/
LAMB, Catherine (born 1982). Atmospheres
Transparent/Opaque. Brooklyn: New World
Records. 80806. Released 2019.
NETTI, Giorgio (born 1963). Necessità
d'interrogare il cielo. Patrick Stadler, solo soprano
saxophone. Vienna, Austria: Kairos Music.
0015058KAI. Released 2019.
OBRECHT, Jacob (1457/8-1505). Masses.
“Fortuna Desperata” and “Maria Zart.” Beauty Farm:
Bart Uvyn [countertenor], Jon Etxabe Arzuaga and Florian
Schmitt [tenor], Joachim Höchbauer [bass]. Wien,
Austria: Fra Bernardo. FB-1905157. Two discs.
Released 2019. http://frabernardo.com
OCKEGHEM, Johannes (c.1420-1497). Complete
Songs Volume 1. Blue Heron ensemble, directed by Scott
Metcalfe. West Newton, MA: Blue Heron Records.
BHCD-1010. Released 2019. http://www.blueheron.org/
POMERIUM, directed by Alexander Blachly.
Musical Games of the Renaissance: A Century of Musical
Ingenuity, 1410-1510. Works by Isaac, Cordier,
Busnoys, Anonymous, Du Fay, Ockeghem, Josquin, and from
Regensburg 4307. New York, NY: Old Hall
Recordings. Released 2019.
QUELL, Michael (born 1960). Chamber
Music-Volume 2. Munich, Germany: NEOS Music.
NEOS-11904. Released 2019.
RIGBY, Joe (1940-2019). For Harriet,
quartet with bagpipes, percussion, and drums. First
50 copies included an additional disc of solo tenor and
soprano saxophone and flute, More Music, recorded in
November, 2009. Joe Rigby was a remarkable
saxophonist who made only a handful of recordings.
He influenced and performed with Milford Graves, and can
be seen with him in a video on YouTube. He also
recorded with Steve Reid, and more recently with Ras
Moshe. France: Improvising Beings ib05/05ltd.
Label closed, albums out of print. Released
2011. Information: https://www.homeboymusic.co.uk/
RORE, Cipriano de (1516-1565).
Missa vivat felic Hercules & Motets. Weser-Renaissance
Bremen, Conducted by Manfred Cordes.
Georgsmarienhütte, Germany: CPO Records.
777989-2. Released 2019.
SANI, Nicola (born 1961). Dove
arrivano le nuvole più vaste. Roberto Fabbriciani-flute;
Vidolin Alvise-electronics. Milano, Italy:
Stradivarius Records. STR37120. Released
TAYLOR, Cecil (1929-2018).
Mysteries: Untitled. 50 minutes of solo piano from
1976, previously unreleased in licensed form.
Tucson, AZ: Black Sun Music. 15049-2. Released
TIBET. Tibet. “These recordings illustrate
various facets of the religious activities of the Bonpos
through their chant and their psalmodic recitation.”
Paris, France: OCORA (Office de Coopération
Radiophonique)-Radio France. C-583016. Released
TRAVERSA, Martino (born 1960). Hommage.
Ensemble Prometeo, conducted by Marco Angius. “He
studied with Luigi Nono from 1987 to 1989. In 1990,
he founded and managed Ensemble Edgard Varèse, with Luigi
Nono's support. In 1991, he launched ‘Traiettorie,’
an international festival of modern and contemporary
music. In 1999, Martino Traversa founded the
Prometeo Foundation, a resident laboratory of cultural
activities, related to physiques, arts, and
philosophy.” Vienna, Austria: Kairos Music.
0015054KAI. Released 2019.
VANDERMARK, Ken (born 1964).
Unexpected Alchemy. Seven CDs. With John Butcher,
Hamid Drake, Kent Kessler, Joe McPhee, Ikue More, Steve
Noble, Eddie Prevost, Mette Rasmussen, John Tilbury, and
Nate Wooley. Solos (McPhee and Noble only, none by
Vandermark), duos, trios, and quartets. Recorded in
2017 and 2018. Krakow, Poland: Not Two Records. MW
993-2. Released 2019.
Bill Frisell, guitar and bassist Thomas Morgan.
Catch them live, if you can, and on their two ECM
releases. Roulette, Brooklyn, NY. billfrisell.com, thomasmorgan.net,
Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn. The
Transitory Poems. Piano duo by masters.
Roulette, Brooklyn NY. vijay-iyer.com, roulette.org
Brandon Lopez, Steve Baczkowski, Gerald Cleaver.
“sun burns out your eyes trio and 4tet.” Double
bass, saxes, drums. The second-set addition of synth
didn’t add nor detract from the main trio’s work.
Roulette, Brooklyn NY. roulette.org, brandonlopez.nyc, roulette.org
[See recordings, below.]
Sylvano Bussotti. “The Music of Sylvano
Bussotti (Notte Sylvana #2).” Only sad I
didn’t know about Night #1. Frances-Marie Uitti, c;
Nicholas Isherwood, b (voc); Luciano Chessa, p, pc; Nicket
Hallett, voc; Zach Layrton, el g. Including
projections of some stunning graphic scores.
Roulette, Brooklyn, NY. sylvanobussotti.org,
Shayna Dulberger, bass. “Active
Projects.” Three sets, three ensembles. roulette.org/event/shayna-dulberger-active-projects/
Richard Goode, piano. Haydn:
Variation in F minor. Mozart: March in C
Major, K. 408; Allemande in C minor, K. 399; Courante in
E-flat Major, K. 399; Menuet in D Major, K. 355; Gigue in
G Major, K. 574. Beethoven: Sonata No. 26. Janáček:
In the Mist. Chopin: Impromptu in G-flat
Major, Op. 51; Four Mazurkas; Fantasy in F minor, Op.
49. Peoples’ Symphony Concerts, NYC. richardgoodepiano.com,
Juilliard String Quartet. Haydn: Quartet in
F Major, Op. 77/2; Bartók: Quartet No. 3; Beethoven:
Quartet in E minor, Op. 59, No. 2. Peoples’ Symphony
Concerts, NYC. juilliardstringquartet.org,
Vadym Kholodenko, piano. Medtner: Fairy
Tales; Beethoven: Bagatelles, Op. 33; Rondo a capriccio,
Op. 129; Godovsky: Studies on Chopin Etudes.
Peoples’ Symphony Concerts, NYC. vadymkholodenko.com,
Anaïs Maviel. “Time is Due.”
Not ‘world music’ but music that encompasses the
world. Maviel, Chiquita Magic, Rema Hasumi, Shahzad
Ismaily, Alexis Marcelo, Melvis Santa- all performers on
vox, keys, percussion. anaismaviel.com, roulette.org
Dianne McIntyre & Amina Claudine Meyers.
“If Not, When?” The great choreographer with two
other dancers weave with Myers’ riveting poetical
singing/chanting. Vision Festival 2019. diannemcintyre.com, aminaclaudinemyers.com,
Tobias Picker. Emmeline.
Manhattan School of Music, NYC. Picker’s Americana
opera brought to vivid life. tobiaspicker.com, msmnyc.edu
Giacomo Puccini. La Bohème.
The best Bohème I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard
many. Every main-role player was breath-taking as
both singer and actor, except for a Mimì who didn’t
impress me. The real star, however, was the Met
Opera Orchestra conducted by Marco Armiliato, whose
lustrous textures and pointing clarified the score’s
inclusion as true 20th Century music simultaneously being
Romantic. Metropolitan Opera, NYC. metopera.org
Quatuor Danel. Beethoven: Quartet No. 6; Shostakovich:
Quartet No. 6; Weinberg: Quartet No. 6. I
love their complete recordings of the complete Weinberg
and complete Shostakovich quartets, and this concert
confirmed their intellect and emotion. Peoples’
Symphony Concerts, NYC. quatuordanel.eu, pscny.org
Resonant Bodies Festival 2019: Stephanie Blythe;
Arooj Aftab with Vijay Iyer & Shahzad Ismaily; Erin
Gee. Blythe, a/k/a Blythely Oratonio and therefore
not the famous singer, is a marvelous tenor/mezzo (how
deliciously appropriate!) who stole the show with a
musical sense of humor, going seamlessly from Verdi to
Queen (the group) and back again in multigender
garb. Nonetheless, the marvelous Erin Gee continues
to impress in the closer, from her series Mouthpieces.
resonantbodiesfestival.org, erin-gee.com, roulette.org
Schlippenbach Trio. Evan Parker, saxes;
Alexander von Schlippenbach, p; Paul Lytton, perc.
Roulette, Brooklyn, NY. avschlippenbach.com,
Skride Piano Quartet. Mahler: Piano Quartet in A
minor; Mozart: Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, K. 478;
Brahms: Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 25. Peoples’
Symphony Concerts, Town Hall, NYC. pscny.org, mkiartists.com/artists/skride-piano-quartet/
Beetlejuice: The Broadway Musical with music and
lyrics by Eddie Perfect. Never saw the film; who
knew what delicious and adult delights awaited?
Winter Garden Theatre, NYC. beetlejuicebroadway.com
Boesman and Lena by Athol Fugard. The
Signature Theatre, NY, continues its ongoing presentation
of plays by the South African playwright. As always,
top-notch acting and directing. signaturetheatre.org
Burn/This by Lanford Wilson. The Hudson
Theatre, NYC. With Adam Driver and Keri
Russell. Adan Driver intense, as fits the part, but
not stealing scenes.
The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth. Brian
D’Arcy James (Quinn), Emily Bergl (Amy). Visceral
immersion into the life and politics of an extended rural
Irish family. Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, NYC.
The Great Society by Robert Schenkkan. Brian
Cox becomes LBJ for the year leading up to his declining
the nomination for a second term. Excellent use of
multimedia and actors playing many roles. Vivian
Beaumont Theater in Lincoln Center, NYC. robertschenkkan.com
Fefu And Her Friends by Maria Irène Fornés.
Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune by
Terrence McNally. Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon
bring this Broadway revival to vivid display of a tenuous
romantic relationship. Broadhurst Theatre,
Henry IV, Part 1 by William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London. shakespearesglobe.com
I Due Figaro. Music by Saverio Marcadante,
libretto by Felice Romani. Delightful sequel to
Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, performed with
panache. Manhattan School Of Music, NYC. msmnyc.edu
The Inheritance: Part One by Matthew Lopez.
Ethel Barrymore Theatre, NYC. Three and a half hours
go by in a blink in this riveting and moving, seriously
funny tale of interconnected friendships, sex, love and
HIV. Can’t wait for Part Two. theinheritanceplay.com
Paul Taylor Dance Company. “Celebrate The
Dancemaker.” Troilus and Cressida
(reduced), Last Look, Beloved Renegade.
Lincoln Center, NYC. ptamd.org
Slave Play by Jeremy O. Harris. Brilliant
play, the title being a pun, about three pairs of
interracial couples and how race informs their
relationships. One gasps in laughter and/or horror
throughout. Golden Theatre, NYC. jeremyoharris.me
Why? written and directed by Peter Brook and
Marie-Hélène Estienne. A funny and serious
work about what theatre is for and the current and
historical events interacting with theater. Theatre
For A New Audience, New York. newspeterbrook.com, tfana.org
Young Man From Atlanta by Horton
Foote. Funny/sad Foote, as usual.
Revival of the 1995 Pulitzer winner for drama.
Signature Theatre, NYC. signaturetheatre.org
J.S.Bach. Sonatas and Partitas for Violin
Solo. Thomas Zehetmair plays Baroque
violin on his second traversal of the S&P. I
haven’t heard the previous recording, but this new set has
a flow and joy which draws you in; you enjoy rather than
analyze. ECM New Series 2551. ecmrecords.com
Steve Baczkowski, Brandon Lopez, Chris Corsano.
Old Smoke. Saxes, double bass and
drums. Proof that you can play “high energy” music
without having always to be loud and fast, though they do
that too. Striking cover photo, too. Relative
Pitch RPR 1078. relativepitchrecords.com,
The Beatles. Abbey Road: 50th Anniversary
Super Deluxe Edition. 2019 remix by Giles
Martin and mix engineer Sam Okell. These
Beatles remixes have been a delight for we fans, showing
old favorites in a new light, by “simply” spotlighting
certain strands which previously had been lost in the
mix. For example, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is
not better than the original but very different, with the
overwhelmingly wonderful white-noise whoosh at the end
(when playing this, I always feel as if I’m drowning in
the sea) lowered so that the guitar and drum strands and
Billy Preston’s piano are in high relief. Fans will
need both original and 2019 editions.
The two CDs of studio outtakes, demos and alternates many
fans will already have, but not with this sound
quality. The Blu disc holds this new 2019 stereo mix
as well as the same in 5.1 surround, both high resolution,
96 kHz, 24-bit. It’s silly that they didn’t also put
the 2 CDs worth of outtakes on the Blu in Hi-Rez as
well. Of the seven vinyl and silver Abbey Roads in
my collection, only the Mobile Fidelity LP comes close to
the sonic clarity and frisson of this edition.
Apple/Universal 0602577921124, 3 CDs, 1 Blu-Ray, 100-page
hardcover book, 12x12” hard slipcase (which actually fits
on LP shelves), 4 different glossy (but flimsy) picture
sleeves which fit in pockets embedded in the inner book
covers. Oddly, no lyrics. After this, you,
unfortunately, will also feel the need to acquire the
Super Deluxes of Sgt. P. and ‘The
White Album.’ (Also available in a vinyl
Beethoven. String Quartet 1-16; Grosse Fugue.
Guarneri String Quartet. Recorded in the late
1960s, the Guarneris lay down a set of the Great 16 for
RCA which are fluid, fun, emotional, hits all the right
spots for a budget-box price. A nice complement to
my more contemporary favorites (Alexander II (Foghorn),
Belcea and Artemis). Red Seal/Sony (Europe)
Beethoven. String Quartets 7 & 8
(“Rasumovsky” op. 59/1,2). Quatuor Ébène.
In their series called “Beethoven Around The World,” this
CD, labelled and recorded in “Vienna,” proves once again
that the Ébène can excel in more than just Gallic
works. Erato 190295396022. quatuorebene.com, erato.com
Paul Bley/Gary Peacock/Paul Motian. When
Will The Blues Leave. Live in Italy,
1999, this well-known trio delivers a set with balls, not
the often-wistful pastels they have sometimes
offered. ECM 2642. ecmrecords.com.
Jaimie Branch. Fly Or Die II: Bird Dogs Of
Paradise. I haven’t heard Volume 1 yet, but
I’m sure going to. I’ve been hearing trumpeter
Branch in various ensembles lately and her playing has
always stood out even with much better-known musicians,
with a sound I can only describe as “proud,” and sometimes
skittering. The 12-minute “Prayer For Amerikka”
reveals Branch to be a powerful writer and performer of
vocal incantation as well as a master on trumpet, synths,
and “sneaker squeaks.” This CD would make an
excellent listening-session pairing after Charlie Haden’s
Liberation Music Orchestra. International Anthem
IARC0027. jaimiebranch.com, intlanthem.com
Danish String Quartet. “Prism II.”
Schnittke: SQ3. Beethoven: SQ13. Bach: Fugue
in B minor. The Bach a charming aperitif,
the Schnittke perfectly ferocious, the Beethoven
simultaneously sighing and frolicking until the Grosse
Fugue does the same thing in a more Schnittke-like
attitude. ECM New Series 2562. danishquartet.com, ecmrecords.com
Tylor Ho Bynum 9-tette. The Ambiguity
Manifesto. Squiggly, slinky, sexy
numbers thanks to musicians Bill Lowe, Jim Hobb, Ingrid
Laubrock, Ken Filiano, Tomas Fujiawara, Mary Halvorson,
and Tomeika Reid. Firehouse 12 FH12-04-08-032.
Chick Corea Trio. Trilogy 2.
With bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian
Blade. A totally swinging (even the slower ones)
compilation of performances from around the world.
Stretch/Concord Jazz CJA-35685-02. concord.com/labels/concord-jazz/,
Moppa Elliott. Jazz Band/ Rock Band/ Dance
Band. The MOPDtK bassist’s triumphant
triple of all-original compositions in various styles,
cleverly arranged, and with three different small
ensembles, which variously include Jon Irabagon, Ava
Mendez, Sam Kulik, Ron Stabinsky (whose solo piano disc
made my list last year), David Taylor, and Mike
Pride. Hours of pure joy. Hot Cup
888295840552, 3 CDs. moppaelliott.com
Satoko Fujii and Joe Fonda. Four.
A superb session by the piano/bass (and flute) duo, their
second CD and just as strong. Trumpeter Natsuki
Tamura joins of two of the seven tracks, including the
hypnotic 22-minute “Stars In Complete Darkness.”
Long Song LSRCD151/2019. satokofujii.com, joefonda.com,
Satoko Fujii, Joe Fonda, Gianni Mimmo. Triad.
The above duo is joined by soprano saxophonist Gianno
Mimmo, recorded in Milano on Fujii 59th birthday, and
released as part of her 60th anniversary 12-album,
month-by-month, release. There’s the expansive
40-minute “Birthday Girl,” but perhaps even more delicious
are the shorter, witty-as-their titles “No More Bugs” and
“Joe Melts The Water Boiler.” satokofujii.com, joefonda.com,
Gesualdo. Madrigali, Libri Primo e Secondo.
Les Arts Florissants, Paul Agnew. Ravishingly
beautiful voices, all in the service of the texts.
Booklet with Italian text and translations in English,
French and German, intelligently laid out. Superb
engineering. Harmonia Mundi HAF 8905307.08, 2-CD
Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi. There
Is No Other. Now I hear what all the
fuss is about this North Carolinian. What a
wonderful voice and perfect delivery of Appalachian and
other folk ballads. Recorded in Dublin. The
2-LP version, which I haven’t heard, has four extra
tracks. Nonesuch 591336-2. rhiannongiddens.com,
Michael Gielen Edition, Vol. 8: Recordings
1954:2013. Schoenberg, Berg, Webern.
This well-annotated 12-CD box contains eight discs of
Arnie, and two each of Anton and Alban. Gielen’s
expertise in this music is marvelous, and although the
audio quality varies depending upon date of recording,
this is the most satisfying collection of the Second
Viennese School since the magical four-disc Ernest Bour
set from Astrée in 1991, which has one disc of
Bartók. Also not to be missed is the four-disc RIAS
Second Viennese School Project 1945-1965 on the
Audite label. Gielen died this year and will be
sorely missed. SWR Music SWR19063CD. swrmusic.de
Iro Haarla’s Around Again. The Music of
Carla Bley. Haarla, piano; Ulf Krokfors,
bass; and drummer Barry Altschul, drums. The album
starts out very easy going, but Bley’s compositions always
hold one’s attention. Higher octane builds with each
track, including some of Bley’s “greatest hits” like “King
Corn,” “Ida Lupino,” and “And Now, The Queen.”
TUM CD 054. tumrecords.com, irohaarla.net
Jimi Hendrix Experience. Electric Ladyland:
50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition.
Hardback large-format, 48-page book with pockets
containing the 2019 remaster CD and CD of early takes
called “At Last … the Beginning: The Early Takes” demos
which Hendrix recorded on his own Teac in his NY hotel,
plus Blu-Ray (the latter in 5.1 surround and 96 kHz,
24-bit; documentary “At Last … the Beginning, The Making
Of Electric Ladyland” which has been expanded by 40
minutes; demos), with sparklingly clear audio. This
is the best in detail, clarity and soundstage this magical
album has ever sounded, both CD and Blu. Add to this
another CD, “Live at the Hollywood Bowl.” The book
contains lots of photos, essays, and Jimi’s handwritten
lyrics. Experience Hendrix/Sony Legacy
190758590228. (Also available in a vinyl
Jimi Hendrix and Band of Gypsies. Songs For
Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts.
Five sets, New Year’s Eve 1969 and the following
night. New mixes by Eddie Kramer. I confess
BoG is not my favorite Hendrix, but this remains
fascinating. Experience Hendrix/Sony Legacy
19075982772. 5 CD or 8 LP. jimihendrix.com
Heinz Holliger, oboe. Zwiegespräche.
The title translates as “Dialogues.” Many brief and
exquisite works, many in memoriam, all by Holliger or by
Gyorgy Kurtág, most for oboe solo. Whether wistful
in aspect or using extended techniques, all are worthy of
repeated close listening. HH, ob, Eng hn, p;
Marie-Lise Schüpbach, Eng hn, ob; Sarag Wegener, soprano;
Ernesto Molinari, b cl, contrabass cl. ecmrecords.com
Chrissie Hynde and the Valve Bone Woe Ensemble.
How Glad I Am. The versatile
singer (The Pretenders, etc.) turns in a clever set of
standards interspersed with this moody (but not jazz)
ensemble’s instrumental tales on jazz classics such as
Mingus’ “Meditation On A Pair Of Wirecutters” and
Coltrane’s “Naima.” Very clever album art in the
style of 1960s classic Columbia Brubeck and Mingus
covers. BMG 538504482. chrissiehynde.com
Keith Jarrett. Munich 2016.
This solo concert starts out deliciously abstract, working
its way through many styles including stride, but it’s all
clearly Keith Jarrett, but totally fresh. Dessert is
three encores of standards. ECM 2667/68, 2
Konstrukt + Ken Vandermark. Kozmik Bazaar.
This Turkish free-jazz ensemble joins the omnipresent
saxophonist on an exciting 31-minute excursion.
Karlrecords KR065. karlrecords.net, kenvandermark.com
Erich Korngold. Symphony. Theme and
Variations. Straussiana. Sinfonia
of London, cond. John Wilson. The main course here
is the 45-minute Symphony. The composer of scores
for such classic films as The Sea Hawk and The
Adventures of Robin Hood here offers lots of
excitement rather than schmaltz in this work composed
twenty years after the films mentioned above.
Chandos CHSA 5220, hybrid SACD. chandos.net
Jeanne Lee with Ran Blake. The Newest Sound
You Never Heard: European Recordings 1966/1967.
Newly unearthed Belgian broadcast masters studio of the
lamented singer with the underpraised, savory
pianist. A real treat. A-Side Records 0005, 2
CDs. ranblake.com, necmusic.com
Charles Mingus. Mingus Ah Um.
Columbia/Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs MFSL UDSACD 2208,
hybrid SACD, limited to 3,000 numbered copies. An
aside: Decades ago, when I worked in Doubleday Books’
Record Dept., frequently customers would ask if I could
recommend a jazz album for someone who didn’t know
anything about jazz. I lived dangerously, telling
them to buy Mingus Ah Um and if they didn’t like
it, I’d refund their money. Over 20 sold, no
This 2019 remastering of the 1959 Mingus classic has
sound very different from the 1998 Columbia/Legacy
reissue. Fans will need to have both. The MoFi
has opened up the soundstage, every instrument clear and
individual. You lean your head to take in all those
instruments. The Columbia is tighter, more solid; it
wraps its arms around you. Taking “Fables Of Faubus”
as our specimen, the Columbia sounds as if it was recorded
in a cozy room, where the MoFi sounds like a much larger
space. Both editions are painfully shy on bass, but
in “Faubus” the Columbia’s bass is firmer, the MoFi is
more resonant; you can hear the wood and the slap in the
bass. The same goes for “Jelly Roll.” The
Columbia features three bonus tracks totaling 15
Quinsin Nachoff’s Flux. Path of Tonality.
The saxist/composer presents six delicious tracks of jazz,
using David Binney (saxes), Matt Mitchell (piano, keybs),
Nate Wood (drums), Kenny Wollensen (drums, Wollensonic
percussion) plus guest artists, delivering fascinating
compositions, some incorporating analog synthesizers
(never kitsch). Totally original and deeply
satisfying. Whirlwind WR4733. whirlwindrecordings.com,
Paal Nilssen-Love and Ken Vandermark. Screen
Off. The percussion/sax duo offers a
21-part suite (collection?), each approximately two
minutes, which allows you (and them) to concentrate your
listening. PNL Records PNL041. paalnilssen-love.com,
Larry Ochs, Nels Cline, Gerald Cleaver. What
Is to Be Done. A pair of 20-minute high
energy pieces surround a six-minute palate cleanser.
The sax (tenor, sopranino)-electric guitar-drums combo is
felicitous to the ear. Clean Feed CF500CD.
cleanfeed-records.com, ochs.cc, nelscline.com
Parmerud. Zeit aus Zeit. Mirage.
Rituals. The Norwegian composer probably
best known for his electroacoustic works presents three
here. Cikada is always a fine indicator of good
repertoire and performances. Kenneth Karlsson, p;
Bjørn Rabben, perc; Cikada ensemble. Lawo LWC
1161. 59:57. lawo.no, parmerud.com, cikada.no
Marc Ribot & Friends. Songs Of
Resistance 1942-2018. International
songs of freedom, with vocalists such as Fay Victor, Tom
Waits, Me’Shell NdegéOcello, and Syd Straw. Proceeds
to benefit The Indivisible Project. Anti-
87604-2. indivisible.org, marcribot.com, anti.com
Matana Roberts. Coin Coin Chapter
Four: Memphis. The
musician/composer/poet/artist (check out her graphic
scores on her website) continues her run of masterpieces,
a word I don’t use lightly, in this fourth of her Coin
Coin project, which she calls “panoramic sound
quilting.” It’s rare to find text so well-integrated
into music, although music is the majority of sound
here. This tentet includes trombonist Steve Swell
and percussionist Ryan Sawyer (vibes, drums, bells, jaw
harp). Add oud and fiddle, among other instruments,
to create a magical mélange of sound. If you see
she’s performing in your hometown, pounce!
Constellation CST145. cstrecords.com, matanaroberts.com
Nino Rota. The Fellini Album: Music For The
Films of Federico Felllini. 26 short
titles taken from Amarcord, 8 1/2, La Dolce
Vita, and suites from I Clowns and I Casanova.
So much more than salon or soundtrack music.
Filarmonica della Scala, cond. Riccardo Chailly.
Decca deccaclassics.com, filarmonica.it, riccardochailly.com
Robert Schumann. Myrthen. Song
cycle, Books 1-4. Christian Gerhaher, baritone;
Camilla Tilling, soprano; Gerold Huber, piano.
Gerhaher is one of my favorite male singers. (Get
his 13-CD Sony budget box The Art of Song: Lieder
Edition, which ranges from Haydn to Schubert, Mahler
and Schoenberg.) Sony Classical
(which, to their detriment, hasn’t been updated for at
least three years.)
Dmitri Shostakovich. String Quartets Nos. 2,
7, 8. Pavel Haas Quartet.
Passionate, riveting performances in fine sound.
Many find the PHSQ’s tone often grating, which I instead
find to be grinding; I find it so only when the music
calls for it, as it does in some parts of some of these
quartets. Supraphon SU 4271-2. supraphon.com, pavelhaasquartet.com
Tyshawn Sorey and Marilyn Crispell. The
Adornment of Time. The drummer and the
pianist interweave their playing, sometimes in reference
to each other and sometimes in contrast, in this 65-minute
live performance from NYC’s The Kitchen. Excellent
audio quality. Pi PI83. tyshawnsorey.com, marilyncrispell.com,
Alister Spence, composer. Imagine Meeting
You Here. Satoko Fujii Orchestra
Kobe. Five-part suite for jazz orchestra, done to
perfection by one of Fujii’s several long-term
orchestras. No dull spots. Alister Spence
Music ASM008. alisterspence.com, satokofujii.com
Swell. Music for Six Musicians: Hommage á
Olivier Messiaen. An extended
(78-minute) mostly-composed piece inspired by but not
imitating the French composer, with a fab sextet including
violinist Jason Kao Hwang and Rob Brown on alto.
Silkheart SHCD 161. silkheart.se, steveswell.com
Jacky Terrasson. 53. Sylvain Romano,
b; Thomas Bramerie, b; Gregory Hutchinson, dr; Lukmil
Perez, dr. No showboating here, just two trios,
sixteen tracks, each about four minutes, satisfying as a
winter stew. Blue Note 0808196. jackyterrasson.com, bluenote.com
Gianluigi Trovesi and Gianni Coscia. La
misteriosa musica della Regina Loana.
The great Italian saxophonist encounters a wonderful
accordion player. ECM 2652. gianluigitrovesi.com,
Sándor Veress. String Trio. Béla
Bartók. Piano Quintet. Barnabás
Kelemen, Vilde Frang, Katalin Kokas, Nicolas Altstaedt and
Alexander Lonquich. Both pieces start off,
considering each one’s date, on the Romantic side, but end
off going wild, the Bártók folklorically so, the Veress echt
modern. Alpha 458. outhere-music.com/en/labels/alpha