Two gems from The Undisputed Truth – back to back in a single package. First up is Method To The Madness – a killer classic from the second chapter of the Undisputed Truth – that time when the group stepped away from their Motown home, and followed producer/creator Norman Whitfield to his own label in California. The shift of record companies also marks a cool shift in styles too – an approach that still has all the bold, bassy elements you'd know from the earlier hits – but one that also has some fuller, more cosmic elements too – which are hinted at by the image on the cover.
Some artists who evoke the styles of the past seem to have spent every waking moment of their adult lives struggling to sound as if they were born in a different decade. Pokey LaFarge, on the other hand, makes music that suggests he somehow passed through a wrinkle in time from 1929 to 2015, complete with his banjo in hand; LaFarge's music never seems forced, but flows from him naturally with an easy grace, a playful insouciance, and a confidence in his talent that stops well short of arrogance.
Antonín Dvorák's Stabat Mater, Op. 58, written in the aftermath of the deaths of three of his children, is a sober and powerful work, inexplicably neglected and unlike any other work of choral music from the 19th century. Perhaps most performances don't capture its full weight, but this live recording from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Mariss Jansons, does so. There are many deep pleasures here. The orchestra's choir is extraordinary: rich yet without a hint of wobble and utterly clear in its sense of the text. Jansons keeps things at a deliberate pace that lets the music breathe and the currents of personal experience rise to the surface. The soloists, none terribly well known, are fine in their individual numbers, but absolutely transcendent in ensembles, nowhere more so that in the sublime "Quando corpus morietur" finale (track 10); there are a couple of other strong recordings of this work, but it seems likely that no one has ever matched this conclusion. The live recording from the Herkulessaal in Munich is impressively transparent and faithful to the spontaneity of the event. A superb Dvorák release.
Reissue with the latest 2015 DSD remastering. Comes with liner notes. Pianist Denny Zeitlin is sporting a beard on the cover of this fourth album for Columbia Records – and his music here definitely reflects a bit of a change from his earlier cleaner-cut image! Denny steps a bit outside at times – never to much so to make the album a session of avant jazz, but definitely showing the listener at the start that he's able to stretch out in the same way as some of the more adventurous pianists of his generation – yet really sound best as a master of lyrical understatement, as on his previous few records! Zeitlin's command of chords is wonderful – these blocks of color and subtle sound in his hands – inspired by Bill Evans, but taken in a whole new direction – and set up here in two different trios, with either Charlie Haden or Joe Halpin on bass, and Oliver Johnson or Jerry Granelli on drums. The real star of the show is always Denny.
A collection of 13 studio albums by highly acclaimed Denver, Colorado-based blues guitarist and singer-songwriter.. He is a multi-instrumentalist whose talents include the guitar, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, and vocals.
Reissue with the latest remastering and the original cover artwork. Comes with a description written in Japanese. An overlooked gem from reedman Sam Rivers – and a set that's surprisingly soulful, given that most of his other work from this stretch is much more outside! The album's got a laidback groove on most numbers – with rhythm from Daryll Thompson on guitar, Rael Wesley Grant on bass, and Steve McCraven on drums – often in this midtempo mode that has the electric currents providing a subtle bounce, which opens up as Rivers solos on tenor, soprano sax, and flute! The style's a few steps down from funky fusion, but not that far away, either – and Sam proves to be an expressive soloist in the setting, in ways we really wouldn't have expected. Titles include "Swirl", "Chant", "Coral", "Lazuli", "Ripples", "Dandelions", "Devotion", "Beatrice", and "Sprung".