New Soil wasn't the first session Jackie McLean recorded for Blue Note, but it was the first one released, and as the title suggests, the first glimmerings of McLean's desire to push beyond the limits of bop are already apparent. They're subtle, of course, and nowhere near as pronounced as they would be in just a few years' time, but – as with the 1959 material later issued on Jackie's Bag – hints of Ornette Coleman's stream-of-consciousness melodic freedom are beginning to find their way into McLean's improvisations. His playing is just a touch more angular than the ear expects, especially given the very bluesy nature of pieces like McLean's 11-minute vamp "Hip Strut," and pianist Walter Davis, Jr.'s infectious boogie-woogie "Greasy." Coleman's influence is most apparent on McLean's "Minor Apprehension," where the freewheeling, Coleman-esque main theme is paralleled by trumpeter Donald Byrd in a definite nod to Don Cherry. What's more, drummer Pete LaRoca takes a surprisingly free solo of significant length toward the end of the track.
The world was hardly clamoring for another recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons violin concertos, but the Australian Chamber Orchestra has evolved into one of the world's top concert attractions, and it's natural that their fans would want to hear them in this ubiquitous work. Violin soloist Richard Tognetti plays a 1743 Guarneri instrument with a powerfully flashy tone, and he gets a large variety of sounds from it. These are complemented by the inclusion in the booklet of the four sonnets included by Vivaldi in the score (and possibly written by the composer himself). This is always desirable, for the Four Seasons are programmatic in a way that's hard to pick up from the music alone, and the inclusion of the texts is remarkably rare…
Vocalion favourite Paul Mauriat makes a welcome return with a further two albums, Penelope (1972) and Holidays (1973), which presented quadraphonic remixes of 24 titles culled from his back catalogue. Originally produced for the Japanese 4DX series, this reissue makes them widely available for the first time.
Love broadened their scope into psychedelia on their sophomore effort, Arthur Lee's achingly melodic songwriting gifts reaching full flower. The six songs that comprised the first side of this album when it was first issued are a truly classic body of work, highlighted by the atomic blast of pre-punk rock "Seven & Seven Is" (their only hit single), the manic jazz tempos of "Stephanie Knows Who", and the enchanting "She Comes in Colors", perhaps Lee's best composition (and reportedly the inspiration for the Rolling Stones' "She's a Rainbow"). It's only half a great album, though; the seventh and final track, "Revelation", is a tedious 19-minute jam that keeps Da Capo from attaining truly classic status.