Recent Listening

I have a backlog of CDs that I’ve not yet mentioned here, will try to catch up a bit. Here are three recent items:

UnknownJohn Zorn: The Mysteries – Bill Frisell, guitar; Carol Emanuel, harp; Kenny Wollesen, vibraphone, chimes.

I was disappointed in this album. While the instrumentation guarantees a certain degree of prettiness – perhaps too much; and while Frisell – who is the focus here – is a master of varied guitar colors, the music itself is mostly rather square and bland, built on simplistic ostinatos. A few tracks have more rhythmic or harmonic or textural interest, but the dreaded phrase “new age” came to mind.

Unknown-1Estampies & Danses Royales – Hesperion XXI, Jordi Savall.

Instrumental music from the late 13th and early 14th centuries, in imaginative realizations, sensitively played. The flavor is rather folky, a bit heavy on percussion, and includes a good bit of improvisation. In Savall’s nice phrase, this is an example of “historically creative performance”.


imagesThe Complete Blue Note Recordings – Thelonious Monk.

George Rochberg used to complain that highly chromatic music usually ended up in some darkly expressionist emotional realm. But here’s a body of work that is often angular and chromatic, yet decidedly joyous and vital. This 4 disc set includes the classics that you heard in jazz history class, but offers a much fuller picture, including alternate takes as well an entire disc devoted to a live recording with Coltrane. Other musicians heard here include Art Blakey, Milt Jackson, Kenny Dorham, and Max Roach, to name just a few. As I have said before, those of us who write (mostly) notated music have much to learn from the classic (and contemporary) music of our composing/improvising brethren.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.