Rene Thomas was a Belgian guitarist who hoped to make it big on the international jazz scene following his move to Paris and a flurry of recording activity in the 1950s and early 1960s, though his goal ultimately eluded him. This CD in Verve's Jazz in Paris reissue series combines two separate dates originally made for Barclay and Polydor. For the most part, Thomas' approach to the guitar is rather laid back, particularly in his spacious arrangement to "All the Things You Are."
The recordings released in this series are devoted to the music of Bach, never a specialty among Russians, and they have the feeling of something extreme, developed in isolation. Feinberg plays Bach, perhaps, as Liszt might have heard Bach and played him – with maximum use of the pedals, a full range of dynamics, and an approach that in every way transforms Bach into an arch-Romantic. This disc, in the label's Feinberg series, is perhaps the most extreme of all, for here the artist tackles not only piano works but those for organ – the listener is treated not only to Feinberg's interpretations but also to his transcriptions. Sample the booming bass lines of the group of chorale preludes in the middle of the program. Of course, the line between transcription and interpretation in this case is not terribly clear. Taken as a whole, the Chromatic fantasia and fugue, BWV 903, leaves the impression that the music has been pushed nearly as far as in Busoni's Bach transcriptions; it's not Bach, really, but it's quite a thrill.
This reissue offers music lovers a golden opportunity to hear one of the truly great sets of Brandenburg Concertos. Listeners familiar with the fast, super-bright sound of certain famous British and German authentic instrument groups such as The English Concert or Musica Antiqua Kцln, will find much to savor in these warmly dark-toned versions. Gamba player turned conductor Jordi Savall treats each work with positively epicurean relish.
No composer looms over modern jazz quite like Johann Sebastian Bach, whose harmonic rigour seems to have provided the basis for bebop and all that followed. Listen to the endlessly mutating semiquavers tumbling from Charlie Parker’s saxophone and it could be the top line of a Bach fantasia; the jolting cycle of chords in John Coltrane’s Giant Steps could come straight from a Bach fugue and Bach’s contrapuntal techniques crop up in countless jazz pianists, from Bill Evans to Nina Simone. Bach certainly casts a long shadow over US pianist Brad Mehldau: even when he’s gently mutilating pieces by Radiohead, Nick Drake or the Beatles, he sounds like Glenn Gould ripping into the Goldberg Variations. Which is why it comes as no surprise to see Mehldau recording an entire album inspired by Bach. However, this is not a jazz album. Instead of riffing on Bach themes, as the likes of Jacques Loussier or the Modern Jazz Quartet have done in the past, After Bach sees Mehldau using Bach’s methodology. Mehldau plays five of Bach’s canonic 48 Preludes and Fugues, each followed by his own modern 21st-century response.
After leaving Detroit and arriving in Los Angeles, Gerald Wilson formed his first big band in 1944. By 1946 he was firmly established as a fine trumpet player, arranger, and composer, and was developing a style fit not only for modern jazz, but also eventually film scores. The dramatics apropos for both formats is evident on this second installment of Wilson's chronological recordings for the Classics reissue label, culled from recordings originally on the Black & White, United Artists, Excelsior, Federal, King, and Audio Lab labels. There are five different mid-sized orchestras with musicians from L.A., all quite literate and displaying different areas of expertise, and Wilson writes with each player's individual sound in mind…
This CD combines together two unrelated solo piano sets. The nine performances by Thelonious Monk are a bit familiar since these renditions (which are highlighted by "'Round Midnight," "Well You Needn't," "We See" and "Hackensack") had been previously reissued by GNP/Crescendo and Mosaic. However the 13 selections (including three alternate takes) by Joe Turner (no relation to singer Big Joe Turner) are much rarer. Turner, a talented American stride pianist who spent most of his life living in France, had only recorded ten songs as a leader prior to this 1952 session and is in top form for such numbers as "Hallelujah," "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea," "Wedding Boogie" and three versions of "Tea for Two." This CD is easily recommended to jazz piano collectors who do not already have the Monk selections.