The two enticingly swinging sessions brought together here find pianist Paul Smith in typically well-crafted form, with “The Big Men” a joyously engaging date in which he is heard performing solo or in a trio. Much skill, considerable feeling, and unceasingly ebullient energy transform this album into a thoroughly listenable program of modern jazz, throughout which his lines show strong classical influence and clear indication of his imposing compositional talent (Theme for Theda). The playing of the trio is crisp and knowing, and there are moments of brilliant musicianship by Smith with the fine support of Vinnegar and Levey, two swingers who keep the pulse vibrant.
Black holes are one of the most destructive forces in the universe, capable of tearing a planet apart and swallowing an entire star. Yet scientists now believe they could hold the key to answering the ultimate question - what was there before the Big Bang?
Art of Noise's first full album, (Who's Afraid Of?) The Art of Noise!, consolidated the future shock of the earlier EPs and singles in one entertaining and often frightening and screwed-up package. Rarely has something aiming for modern pop status also sought to destroy and disturb so effectively. The most legendary song is still "Close (To the Edit)," benefiting not merely from the innovative video but from its strong funk groove and nutty sense of humor in the mostly lyric-less vocals, not to mention the "hey!" vocal hook the Prodigy would sample for "Firestarter." Its close cousin, the title track, brilliantly blends a nagging bass synth, echoed drum, and percussion fills and constantly shifting vocal cut-ups, random noises, and strange melodies. They're just two highlights on this prescient release, though. Part of the thrill of Who's Afraid is the sense of juxtaposition and playing around, something still not very common in music and even less so in the pop music genre.