Chip Davis didn't have to look far for inspiration on Fresh Aire 7, using the occasion to indulge a long-standing interest in the number seven. The result is rather strict program music: the seven chakras are aligned to seven unique works, the seven colors (or "colours" if you live in the U.K. or Nebraska) of the rainbow are transcribed into seven separate notes/instruments, a seven-part rondo is recorded between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on a single day, etc…
With a tremulous voice, poetic lyrics, and a fine band, Robin Holcomb put together an impressive debut album. A lot of credit for the distinctive sound of this record must be laid at the feet of organist (and Holcomb's husband) Wayne Horvitz and guitarist Bill Frisell, both alumni of John Zorn's Naked City. The playing of Horvitz and Frisell fits in beautifully with Holcomb's otherworldly voice, one that at times evokes Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins.
This is a very pleasing assortment from among Grieg's 66 short Lyric Pieces, written between 1866-1891. There were 6-8 pieces in each of the 10 "books", and this collection of 30 pieces contains selections from 9 of the books (there is no selection from Book 62 for some reason). Each and every one presented here is a pure delight, and represent Grieg's life-long desire to create a true Norwegian music genre derived from the folk music, dances, stories and natural environment of Norway. Every piece is evocative and the entire disc is delightful, thanks to the colorful and imaginative piano of Balazs Szokolay.
Brendel has now recorded the work three times for the gramophone. At first, on Vox/Turnabout in the early 1960s, he was the brilliant iconoclast before his deeper realization of the work's essentially comic energies. And here I use 'comic' both in the narrow sense of the term (the Diabe/li is, after all, full ofjokes, many of them with the staying-power of the finest Wildean epigrams) and in the broader sense: what Susanne Langer has called, comedy "as an image of human vitality holding its own in the world amid the surprises of unplanned coincidence".
Dee Dee Bridgewater's move to France awhile back has resulted in her having a relatively low profile in jazz. This excellent live set should help restore her reputation. Whether it be a three-song Horace Silver medley, the warhorse "All of Me," Jobim's "How Insensitive," "Night in Tunisia" or the rarely performed "Strange Fruit," Bridgewater (who is backed by a French rhythm section) is in top form, singing with swing and sensitivity.
Narciso Yepes was one of the finest virtuoso classical guitarists of the twentieth century, generally ranked second after Andrés Segovia.
The songs that Kathleen Battle chooses for her recital mostly eschew deep drama for sheer lyricism. If you want an album that explores the lyric impulse in Schubert songs, then, this is certainly for you. Battle sings these pieces with unfailingly beautiful vocal production, plus a winning charm and insouciance that border on the–well, girlish, one wants to say, if that isn't entirely politically incorrect. Her voice is a beautiful instrument, no doubt about it…By M. C. Passarella
By the time David Lindley made his move to a solo career, he was already a legend. Having toured and recorded with such names as Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, and Crosby & Nash, his reputation as a multi-instrumentalist (on almost any stringed instrument) was awesome. Lindley scored a contract with Elektra Records and put together an excellent band that was able to keep up with his eclectic vision. Combining blues, rock & roll, Cajun, Zydeco, Middle Eastern music, and other elements, his debut album is an absolute joy.
…The Threepenny Opera was first performed at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in Berlin in 1928. Despite an initially poor reception, it became a great success, playing 400 times in the next two years. The performance was a springboard for one of the best known interpreters of Brecht and Weill's work, Lotte Lenya, who was married to Weill…