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:
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.
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”.
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.