Lambchop have made a number of outstanding albums as they've evolved from "Nashville's most f–ked-up country band" to a singular chamber pop ensemble during a career that lasted nearly two decades, but one of their finest works is not really a Lambchop album at all. Vic Chesnutt recruited Lambchop to serve as his backing band on the 1998 album The Salesman and Bernadette, and the results were a marvelous fusion of the group's broad but emotionally intimate approach and Chesnutt's witty, skewed, and perceptive gifts as a songwriter. Chesnutt and Lambchop's Kurt Wagner seemed like kindred spirits, fellow Southerners who married oblique yet telling poetry to melodies that were strong yet fluidly graceful, and it should surprise no one that Wagner was hit hard by Chesnutt's death in late 2009. Lambchop's first studio project since Chesnutt's passing, 2012's Mr. M, is dedicated to Wagner's friend and collaborator, and though the songs don't deal explicitly with Chesnutt, there's a sense of sorrow in these songs that's deeper than what we've come to expect from Lambchop, infused with an air of reflection and regret that's impossible to miss.
This is an oddity: a Christmas album incognito. Save a red and green stripe on the back cover, the outside packaging is conspicuously devoid of the usual holiday trappings, leaving the astute person to deduce from the track listing Three Ships' true intent. Further complicating matters is the fact that half of the songs are new compositions from Jon Anderson, none of which have holiday-related titles (unless "Forest of Fire" warms your holiday chestnuts). On listening to this, the songs themselves do little to clear up the confusion; while the traditional tunes ("Three Ships," "The Holly and the Ivy") are obviously Christmas songs, the new compositions are spiritual in Anderson's typically general sense and rarely address Christmastime directly…
This out-of-print EmArcy LP consists of lengthy versions of "Our Love Is Here to Stay" and an original blues, "Air Conditioning." Trumpeter Maynard Ferguson is heard jamming with an all-star group of West Coast players consisting of altoist Herb Geller, Bob Cooper on tenor, baritonist Bob Gordon, trombonist Milt Bernhart, pianist Claude Williamson, bassist John Simmons and drummer Max Roach. Although the music contains no real surprises, this album has its exciting moments and will be enjoyed by bebop fans.
This single-disc Concert in Japan by John Coltrane's 1966 quintet is a reissue of the original double LP that was released as IMR 9036C in 1973. Its three selections include two long instrumental pieces and a spoken introduction of the musicians in Japanese. These performances are compiled from two Tokyo dates. This set is not to be confused with the four-disc document that includes both Tokyo concerts in their entirety. The band here performs a 25-minute "Peace on Earth," a ballad that Coltrane wrote especially for the tour, to express his empathy and sympathy for the nuclear destruction Japan experienced during WWII. The tune moves outside, but stays well within the realm of spiritual boundary-pushing that the band was easily capable of.