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.
Spectacular arrangements of Masada compositions by mad alchemist Trey Spruance, mastermind of Secret Chiefs 3 and one of the most brilliant musicians around. Drawing upon an astonishing array of musical styles from Exotica and Surf to Ethiopian Funk and Gypsy Swing, Trey ’s colorful orchestral arrangements perfectly compliment the lyricism and dynamic rhythmic complexity of Zorn ’s evocative Book of Angels. Featuring some of the best musicians from the Bay Area, LA and Seattle scenes, this is one of the most compelling installments in the entire Masada series.