Composer Claude-Bénigne Balbastre came at the end of the French Baroque keyboard tradition that produced François Couperin and Jean-Philippe Rameau. Composed in 1759, these pieces look back toward the tradition of French harpsichord music, with its individual piece titles designating various members of the French nobility and their individual personalities. Thirty years after Couperin announced the reunification of French and Italian tastes, they show only light influence of Italian style; the clearly diatonic, periodic Allegro tune of "La Laporte," track 16, is the exception. Nor does Balbastre attempt to take after the intellectual density and harmonic complexity of Rameau's keyboard music. Instead his little musical portraits have a mostly pleasant, pastoral mien, with harmonic touches that are unusual and evocative rather than difficult.
Producer Bob Belden has turned reinventing the music of Miles Davis into a cottage industry, taking Davis to India for 2008’s Miles from India, and more recently Belden has given us Asiento, which re-imagined Bitches Brew as a slice of electronica. Now he gives us Miles Español, which finds Belden pairing veterans of Davis' various bands with musicians from Spain, Morocco, and Latin America on classic tracks from Davis' Sketches of Spain and Kind of Blue albums. Hearing Davis compositions with oud, bassoon, accordion, and bongos is certainly exotic and interesting, but one longs for the elegant, stately grace of the original albums.
An Evening with Dave Grusin is essentially the soundtrack to the Blu-Ray DVD product, and an app for the iPad, both of which have loads more features. The composer, arranger, and pianist conducts the 75-piece Henry Mancini Orchestra in a live program of his own music – tunes written for cinema – as well as the works of composers Gershwin, Bernstein, and Mancini. The show was co-produced by Grusin's longstanding business associate and collaborator Larry Rosen and Phil Ramone.
Ethereal Magic is a concept and compilation by one of the UK’s most highly regarded and longest serving DJ and member of the UK soul music community, Tony Monson. Tony started DJ-ing on ZBM Radio in Bermuda from 1963-1967; then briefly was with offshore pirate Britain Radio 355 in 1967. In 1971-76, co-owner of Sound Unlimited in Brighton, which had the best selection of soul 7″ in the South outside London; then had his own shop at Worlds End, London, called Disc Empire from 1978-1981. From1981-1989; then more recently, from late 1998 onwards – he has exclusively involved with Solar Radio – first on analogue, and later on Sky and the net. Along the way he created a trademark feature of his radio show, ‘Ethereal Magic’, a time to take it easy, relax and indulge in some of the most breataking mellow moments, this first CD collection offering moments both exclusive and for the first time on CD alongside tracks by classic artists.
A totally wonderful little compilation – one that starts with a great array of 70s and 80s spacey soul, then throws in a few sweet AOR cuts, and even a few contemporary numbers too – all in this laidback, mellow-grooving style that's totally great! The whole thing's way different than the usual funk or soul compilation – and different than some of the recent AOR retrospectives, too – in that compiler Tony Monson really goes for a special vibe here, and hangs together tracks you wouldn't expect to fit so well – thanks to lots of jazzy currents and a deep blend of electric and acoustic elements.