Alfred Schnittke's Second Concerto Grosso is a different creature than his First. While the 1977 Concerto Grosso No. 1 for 2 Violins, Strings and Keyboards is a lithe, vicious, often comical work, the Second, finished five years later, is a weightier affair. The soloists are now violin and cello; the Baroque band is now a full orchestra with electric guitar, drum kit, and brake drum; there are four large movements rather than six smaller ones; the entire work is imbued with an air of sincere tragedy, albeit with mud on its shoes. Schnittke dedicated the work to its premiere soloists, husband-and-wife duo Oleg Kagan (violin) and Natalia Gutman (cello); famed for their flawless ensemble, the couple inspired in Schnittke a musical air of companionship – a single soul in two instruments.
Playlist: The Very Best of Quiet Riot features 15 tracks defined on the back jacket as "the life-changing songs, the out-of-print tracks, the hits, the fan favorites everyone loves, and the songs that make the artists who they are." While it may boast little in the way of rare, live, unreleased, or "out-of-print" material, it certainly eclipses 1996's Greatest Hits collection as the most listenable Quiet Riot overview on the market. All 14 tracks (15 is a CD-ROM cut) are culled from the group's three biggest albums – Metal Health (1983), Condition Critical (1984), and QR III (1986) – and while many listeners may only know the group's breakout hit, a cover of Slade's "Cum on Feel the Noize," the band consistently turned out its own quality pop-metal during its mid-'80s heydays.
Terence Blanchard's 2013 return to Blue Note, Magnetic, built upon his decades-long history of post-bop dynamism with a forward-thinking approach that blended edgy, modal improvisation with a sophisticated, genre-crossing compositional style. It was a concept he had been investigating on his previous efforts Bounce (2003), Flow (2005), and Choices (2009), and, though it had been years since Blanchard was considered a young lion, the eclecticism of the album matched the work of many of his younger contemporaries like trumpeter Christian Scott and pianist Robert Glasper, the latter of whom even played on Bounce.
With Rain Dances, Camel began exploring shorter, more concise songs, but it wasn't until its follow-up, Breathless, that they truly made a stab at writing pop songs. Although they didn't completely abandon improvisational prog rock – there are several fine, jazzy interludes – most of the record is comprised of shorter songs designed for radio play. While the group didn't quite achieve that goal, Breathless is nevertheless a more accessible record than Camel's other albums, which tend to focus on instrumentals. Here, they try to be a straightforward prog rock band, and while the results are occasionally a little muddled, it is on the whole surprisingly successful.
Is there an early rock & roller who has a crazier reputation than the Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis? His exploits as a piano-thumping, egocentric wild man with an unquenchable thirst for living have become the fodder for numerous biographies, film documentaries, and a full-length Hollywood movie.