When Marcia Griffiths' Play Me Sweet and Nice arrived in 1974, "Jamaica's First Lady of Song" had just left the hitmaking duo of Bob & Marcia – best known for "Young, Gifted and Black" – but was still a year away from forming the I-Threes with Rita Marley and Judy Mowatt. Released in Jamaica on the Wildflower label, the album launched her solo career with what was considered an instant classic back home, but liberties were taken – different cover art, a rearranged track list, and a new, less risqué title, Sweet Bitter Love – when the U.K. label Trojan released their version later that same year.
This disc strikes me as an ideal introduction to the music of Turkey’s greatest composer. Ahmed Adnan Saygun’s style might be described as “Szymanowski with a primal rhythmic feel.” If you love the composer’s First Violin Concerto then you will find here a very similar exoticism, nocturnal atmosphere, and love of voluptuous textures. The harmonic style is intensely chromatic, but also highly melodic. Like Bartók in his last period, Saygun’s handling of tonality mellowed toward the end of his life, which makes the Cello Concerto more consonant than the Viola Concerto, but both works are absolutely gorgeous and masterpieces of their kind. It’s positively criminal that no one plays these pieces regularly in concert. The performances here are excellent. Tim Hugh is a well-known cellist, and he pours on the tone with all of the rhapsodic abandon that Saygun requires. Mirjam Tschopp also is a superb violist, with a big, beefy tone that never gets swamped by the intricate orchestration. It’s also very rewarding to hear a Turkish orchestra in this music–and to find that it plays beautifully under Howard Griffiths.
Philip Jones Griffiths first visited Vietnam in 1966. It was an experience that would profoundly shape his career. Griffiths captured incredible images of the victims of war from innocent civilians to young soldiers caught up in the conflict. His 1971 photo journal, VIETNAM INC. transformed forever our understanding of this terrible conflict. Featuring interviews with some of those closest to him; family and friends and colleagues including John Pilger, Don McCullin and Professor Noam Chomsky, this beautifully shot documentary gives fascinating insight into the life and legacy of a man who was a true humanitarian and whose pictures are classics of photojournalism, as powerful today as the day they were taken.