Building on their work from the BBC detective show's two previous seasons, veteran composers David Arnold (James Bond) and Michael Price (Band of Brothers) offer up 23 more tracks of playful suspense on Sherlock: Music from Series Three. Employing a subtle blend of electro-infused themes, classically inclined mood pieces, and atmospheric piano backdrops, they've again found a way to complement the show's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in a modern, tech-savvy world with nods to both the character's and Britain's history. Working with a script that begins with Holmes' resurrection following Series Two's apparent suicide cliffhanger, there was plenty of tension and conspiratorial whimsy to inspire the new score, which introduces new thematic elements (Holmes' wedding gift composition "Waltz for John and Mary") while making well-placed references to the show's main running themes (the grandeur of "#SherlockLives" and the playfully techno "Stag Night"). Compelling on all fronts, the Sherlock series is a classy production and the musical score remains in good hands thanks to Arnold and Price.
Like Stevie Wonder and Allen Toussaint before him–and Prince and D'Angelo afterward–Shuggie Otis was a musical visionary whose early 1970s recordings showed he could do it all, writing, arranging, performing, and producing some of the decade's most satisfying, innovative, and, unfortunately, overlooked music. This reissue of his 1974 Inspiration Information album–a soulful song cycle that took three years to create and was worth every minute–ranges from early drum machine-driven experiments like "Xl-30" and "Aht Uh Mi Hed" (note the Sly Stone spelling influence) to Otis's most stunning pop confection ever, "Strawberry Letter 23." (The latter song, which ended up being a big hit for the Brothers Johnson, is one of four bonus tracks taken from Otis's 1971 Freedom Flight album). Otis, who once turned down an offer to replace Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones, continues to perform around the Bay Area on his own and with his father, bandleader Johnny Otis. Hopefully, the long-awaited resurrection of this material will help bring him the attention he deserves.
This is the third in a series of posthumous albums of previously unreleased recordings by Randy California and Spirit, drawn from California's archives and assembled by Mick Skidmore. As Skidmore explains in his detailed liner notes, California put together an album called Blues From the Soul around 1995, and even copyrighted its contents; but later opted to use some of the material on the final album he released with Spirit, California Blues, prior to his accidental death by drowning in January 1997. Other tracks from the proposed album were culled for the first posthumous release, Cosmic Smile. Skidmore has included all 13 of the songs California had intended to use on his version of Blues From the Soul, though he has substituted alternate takes or live recordings of tracks already issued. Of course, the album also has been vastly expanded to include 35 selections for a running time of two-and-a-half hours. But the basic concept remains the same, and that is to present a collection of folk and blues recordings.
This is the second of Brilliant's box sets devoted to Russian recordings from Evgeny Kissin. Labeled as early, these live concert performances from 1984 to 1990 carry us from the day after Kissin turned 13 (Mozart Cto. #12 K. 414) to age 18 (Mozart Cto. #20, K. 466), with most readings clustering in the range of 1985-89. Russians were well aware of the marvel in their midst; the pianist's American breakthrough occurred in 1990 when he debuted at Carnegie Hall's centennial season.
The viola was Hindemith's instrument (though he could play almost any), and he wrote some of his most expressive chamber music for it. This two-disc set includes all four of Hindemith's sonatas for solo violin and the three for viola and piano. I prefer the wildness of Hindemith's earlier music to the sometimes arid calm of his later music, so listeners like myself who like Hindemith can have a feast here as most of these are early works. They are played with energy and passion by an outstanding violist and a fine pianist.