Philips's collection of major works that have propelled Gavin Bryars to New Music stardom is an effective overview of his music. The longest work is his Cello Concerto, handsomely played by Julian Lloyd Webber with a big, colorful tone and sustained intensity throughout its contemplative half-hour. A comparable mood pervades the bright tintinnabulating textures of the whimsically titled One Last Bar, Then Joe Can Sing. Similar as well, in their attractive serenity and suppressed sadness, are many of the other works here, prime among them the viola concerto in all but name, The North Shore, a tone painting of the rugged cliffs of northeast England. Adnan Songbook, settings of six poems by Lebanese poet Etel Adnan, are beautifully sung by soprano Valerie Anderson and delicately scored for a small ensemble. Bryars's biggest hits, The Sinking of the Titanic and Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet, have inspired him to numerous reworkings and capsuled fragments. They're represented by Titanic Lament, depicting a hymn tune dissolving into gray, watery textures, and two very different four-minute versions of Jesus' Blood, both with Tom Waits.
New visions and colorful dreams emanate from the horn and pen of trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire. You would expect the first place winner of the 2007 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition to come out with his horn a-blazing, voraciously showing his chops. While he does have the honored award and sharpened abilities, his debut recording, Prelude: to Cora, is one that walks quietly yet carries a huge stick of inspiring, focused and enlightened music that is well beyond his youthful expectations.
Rhythmic Designs expands on the groundbreaking polyrhythmic, polymetric concepts covered in Harrison’s previously published Rhythmic Illusions, Rhythmic Visions and Rhythmic Horizons books and videos by offering detailed analysis and transcriptions of twenty drum tracks from the recent Gavin Harrison & 05Ric albums “Drop” and “Circles” (featuring guitarist Robert Fripp and keyboardists Dave Stewart and Gary Sanctuary). Along with the 204-page book of note-for-note transcriptions and practice exercises, the double-sided companion DVD features more than two-and-a-half hours of video packed with descriptions and discussions of the drum parts, set-ups, tuning and recording process—plus six minus-drums, play-along tracks.