Although guitarist Barney Kessel interprets seven standard ballads on this CD reissue (a trio set with bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Jake Hanna), this is not a ballad album. Most of the songs are taken at faster than usual tempoes with the emphasis on Kessel's chordal (rather than single-note) solos. The guitarist was in peak form around this era as can be heard on a romping version of "I Love You," "Star Eyes," "Like Someone in Love" and "Get Out of Town." In addition he contributes one of his finest originals, "Seagull," a song that deserves to be revived. This underrated set is well worth exploring.
In Concert 1972 is a double live album by sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar and sarodya Ali Akbar Khan, released in 1973 on Apple Records. It was recorded at the Philharmonic Hall, New York City, in October 1972, and is a noted example of the two Hindustani classical musicians' celebrated jugalbandi (duet) style of playing. With accompaniment from tabla player Alla Rakha, the performance reflects the two artists' sorrow at the recent death of their revered guru, and Khan's father, Allauddin Khan. The latter was responsible for many innovations in Indian music during the twentieth century, including the call-and-response dialogue that musicians such as Shankar, Khan and Rakha popularised among Western audiences in the 1960s.
Pianist Eliane Elias follows her Latin Grammy win for 2017's magnificent Dance of Time with this set of tunes from the iconic musical Man of La Mancha. During the mid-'90s, Elias was approached by Mitch Leigh, the Tony-winning composer of her musical; he'd followed her career and greatly admired her work. Accompanied by Neil Warner, arranger for the original musical, he commissioned the pianist to rearrange songs from the show. Elias was given complete freedom to choose which songs she wished to record. She hired two rhythm sections: One featured drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Eddie Gomez; the other bassist Marc Johnson, drummer Satoshi Takeishi, and master percussionist Manolo Badrena (who plays with both groups). Elias and her sidemen recorded nine songs live in studio. Unfortunately, the completed album was shelved due to contractual issues and seemed doomed to obscurity. Leigh passed in 2014 and never saw its release. Concord rescued the album and added it to their catalog some 23 years after recording.
Blues People, is a modern day version of the Kansas City Blues, Black American Music, and Rock & Roll tradition. In being such, consequently this documentation is an accumulation of experiences, and influences that have given way to a fresh sonic fusion of sound that calls on the genetic DNA of the forefathers of modern popular music.
Harvey Mason's 2014 effort, Chameleon, is an expansive and funky album that finds the journeyman jazz drummer exploring the space between the '70s post-bop/fusion albums that marked his early career and the contemporary smooth jazz work that has defined the latter half of his career. Having started out playing with the masterful pianist Erroll Garner, Mason eventually join Herbie Hancock's legendary Headhunters ensemble, with whom he recorded the original version of this album's title track. And while he went on to a successful career working with a bevy of artists including Lee Ritenour, George Benson, and others, it is primarily his work with Hancock that is Mason's focus here.
For her entry into the increasingly popular Great American Songbook subgenre, Diane Schuur de-emphasizes the vocal histrionics that in the past have come close to spoiling some of her recordings and maintains a steady, clear, exuberant tone. Good move: one of Schuur's gifts is her multi-octave range, but she has often over-relied on it at the expense of whatever song she was singing. Here, she takes to the classic compositions of George and Ira Gershwin, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, and the like with a respectfulness and glee that allow her to frame and expose these culturally embedded lyrics and melodies without beating on them.