There's nothing at all wrong with Maurizio Pollini's 2009 performance of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1. The Italian pianist's intellectual lucidity, interpretive clarity, and technical virtuosity are apparent in every prelude and fugue, and his probing insights and penetrating analysis inform every note. However, there is almost nothing right with the sound quality of the recording. The piano sounds too distant, making it hard to hear precisely what Pollini is doing, but oddly, the ambient sound is too present, making every extraneous noise too loud. One should not hear the pedals being pressed and lifted, much less the clatter of the hammers and the twanging of the strings above the sound of the music. Worse yet, one can hear what sounds like every breath Pollini takes nearly as loudly as every note he plays. These are all grievous flaws that should have been eliminated, and their presence fatally undermines the brilliance of Pollini's performances. A reengineered version of these performances would be most welcome, but the present recording is so flawed that it virtually destroys Pollini's playing.
In Memoriam. Horace Parlan RIP. We’ve lost another great jazzman. Horace Parlan died on Thursday evening peacefully in his sleep in Denmark where he lived since 1973. By adding guitarist Grant Green and tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin to his standard rhythm section of bassist George Tucker and drummer Al Harewood, pianist Horace Parlan opens up his sound and brings it closer to soul-jazz on Up and Down. Green's clean, graceful style meshes well with Parlan's relaxed technique, while Ervin's robust tone and virile attack provides a good contrast to the laid-back groove the rhythm section lays down.
Formed in 1997, The Cracow Klezmer Band is a phenomena. Through their spectacular combination of impeccable musicianship, imaginative arrangements and passionate performances they have been universally acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, developing into one of the most successful and exciting acoustic groups in the world. Here they are joined by the lush sound of strings, as Bester turns his prodigious arranging skills to eight new songs from Zorn’s fabulous and varied Book of Angels. Also featuring the Cracow String Quartet this is their best CD to date.