Sunday, November 6, 2011

Corea, Levin, Budd and More - Backlog of New Music

I listen to music a lot: in my offices at work and at home, in the car (except when listening to audiobooks), and on my computer right now as I type this (Pandora & Google Music). Oddly, when I need to focus on something at work, turning up the volume helps. (Borrowing a Marillion lyric, "a halo of distortion aborting pregnant conversation.") Lately I've been fortunate to get some really good new tunes. In no particular order they are:

Forever by Corea, Clarke & White - at
Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White are 3 of the original members of Return to Forever, the awesome fusion group. They've reunited to tour and release this recording of some jazz standards and their own tunes. Forever starts off great with the jazz classic On Green Dolphin Street and gets better from there. The trio's sound on the live numbers is wonderfully warm and open and whereas Clarke's bass as captured on the recent RTF Anthology collection is pretty severe here it is much more refined (for example, the new take on Senor Mouse). I wonder why guitarist Al DiMeola wasn't included in this revival.

Live in Russia by TU - at
Live in Russia by TU (pronounced "two"), a duo of drummer Pat Mastelotto and touch guitarist Trey Gunn (both King Crimson alums) was nothing like I expected. Instead of progressive bombast from this rhythm section (perhaps I was expecting something like Tony Levin's Liquid Tension Experiment) I got an almost ambient improvisational experience that was so richly detailed I had to keep reminding myself it was only two guys playing live. My Father He Is The Factory stands out as a favorite.

WTC 9/11 by Steve Reich (composer) and Kronos Quartet (performer) - at
Upon hearing of the pending release Steve Reich's WTC 9/11 I knew I was going to buy it. Reich's minimalist compositions are always awesome exercises of rhythm and tonality and therefore his treatment of 9/11, my generation's Pearl Harbor, was certain to be excellent. I was not disappointed. Reich's work combines recorded voices from that day's events with the Kronos Quartet's performance. The voices don't just sit on top of the tracks, they are fully integrated musically with a result that's solemnly haunting.

In the Mist by Harold Budd - at
Ambient music is an acquired taste ("squeaks and rattles" as a friend described it). But I've grown very fond of Harold Budd's piano work and In the Mist is no exception. I often think that Budd's work is best listened to outdoors. A breeziness and alternating patches of sunlight and shadow are the effects of the first two tracks, Haru Spring and The Whispers.

Mutopia by Exo 4 - at CD Baby
Think of Exo 4 as a jam band from outer space and Mutopia as trippy and experiential.  The track Doctor K rockets along with a pulsing beat. Sometimes Floydish, sometimes ambient. I'm told they have to been seen live to be truly experienced.

In the Court of the Crimson King (remastered) by King Crimson -  at
Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) and Robert Fripp's 2009 remastering of King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King is exactly what the doctored ordered. This classic work, often cited as the genesis of the progressive rock genre, has been uncompressed, cleaned up, and given room to breath. The original recording was often muffled and muddy with so much dynamic range that the pianissimo was rendered virtually unhearable. Now the ring of every cymbal, the breathiness of the flute passages, the full thump of every tom strike is awoken. If you like the original, you'll love this remix.

The Look of Love by Diana Krall - at
Diana Krall has been a guilty pleasure ever since I saw her perform Cry Me a River in her Paris concert on Ovation TV.

Disclaimer: I received no compensation for these reviews. No one in their right mind would want my endorsement.


Francis Shivone said...

Don't know the others but I I do like Diana Kroll

John said...

If I remember correctly, a co-worker's wife's parents are friends with Diana Krall's parents. Or something like that. Krall's band is excellent.