The classical works of Tan Dun typically fuse compositional elements from the East and the West, but for his soundtrack to Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, musical cultures aren't so much blurred as coexistent side-by-side. While the magical martial arts film doesn't boast music as stunning as its visuals, this soundtrack is still beautiful and elegant, a perfect complement to the movie's mysticism. Just don't expect epic, John Williams-inspired bombast here. On "A Wedding Interrupted," the riveting brass and string section introduction segues into soft-hued meditations; "Night Fight" boasts spiky percussion but sounds more reminiscent of Stomp than a kung-fu scene. That said, Dun's understated score–filled with Asian instrumentation, Romantic cello solos from Yo-Yo Ma, and a token theme song with vocals by Asian pop star CoCo Lee–is still a fascinating listen. Fans of Ma and Dun shouldn't pass this up.
Ben Harper's history with the Blind Boys of Alabama has been an evolving one that has moved from being a guest on their Higher Ground offering and touring with them in Europe, to the Blind Boys joining Ben and the Innocent Criminals on-stage at the front and back of their show. This album began as a series of rehearsals for collaboration on a Blind Boys of Alabama record. Recorded in two sessions, the vibe in the room was loose and creative enough that the two acts ended up with an album of material for a joint release.