London-born composer Tarik O'Regan was only 30 when the second CD devoted to his choral music, Threshold of Night: Music for Voices and Strings, was released. The works collected here show him to have an assured, individual voice; consummate technique as a choral composer; and an ability to create complex music that's not "difficult," that has an immediately sensual appeal. O'Regan's harmonic language is rooted in tonality, but it is richly saturated with chromaticism. He uses dissonance in the old-fashioned way, creating tension that finds satisfying, if unconventional, resolution.
Despite its title, this set does not feature trumpeter Jan Allan at the age of seventy. Actually, it consists of a couple sessions from 1968-1969 that were originally released as an LP in 1970 that gained very good reviews in Europe at the time. Allan is featured with a Swedish orchestra that plays six originals (three by Nils Lindberg) and includes on various selections altoist Arne Domnérus, pianist Bobo Stenson, guitarist Rene Gustafsson, and bassist Palle Danielsson in the personnel. The music is tonal and generally swinging but unpredictable in spots, challenging Allan to play at his best. Well worth searching for.
The Best of the Island Years is a 4-disc digest version of last year’s, definitive 18 disc set covering John Martyn’s classic years with Island Records between 1967 and 1987. All 56 tracks on the 4-disc edition capture Martyn at the height of his creativity on the label; all of them have been chosen from the out-takes, unreleased songs and rare live recordings that were first included on The Island Years 18CD Box Set. This collection features the best of the rarities from The Island Years and creates an exceptional collection of recordings for fans who have everything but the complete box set.
Formed in 1968 in Warwick, England, the Edgar Broughton Band were part of the late 60s British underground blues boom. Led by the Broughton brothers, vocalist/guitarist Edgar Broughton and drummer Steve Broughton, and fleshed out by bassist Arthur Grant and guitarist Victor Unitt (who also briefly served with The Pretty Things), they were contemporaries of Groundhogs, Hawkwind, and The Pink Fairies, but were unique within the movement due to their radical political consciousness. In May 1971 they released possibly their finest work: their eponymous third album, which contained the classic "Evening Over Rooftops" (with strings by David Bedford which Edgar Broughton called "stunning"). Mike Oldfield also featured on "Thinking Of You".
Back in 1975, prog-rock virtuoso Rick Wakeman, at the time also an ‘on-off’ keyboardist with the group Yes, released the third of his solo albums. Like the previous two albums (The Six Wives of King Henry VIII (1973) and Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1974)) it was not short of ambition, planning to tell, in musical form and mood, the story of King Arthur, Queen Guinevere and the Knights of the Round Table…