Guitarist Lenny Breau's short life (1941-1984) is a movie waiting to be made. Before his still unsolved murder, he was able to bring a new voice to the guitar by adapting country fingerpicking technique to the intricacies of modern jazz. A Breau hallmark was his highly developed ability to play bass, chords and single notes concurrently - in effect having a trio in his right hand. The newly re-released Complete Living Room Tapes, with clarinetist Brad Terry, is a 2-CD close look at Breau in peak form, circa 1979. It contains four new bonus tracks and presents a comprehensive picture of his influences and virtuosity.
Naxos’ exciting and important American Classics series now includes music of the present day, in this case three recent works by Philip Glass. The Violin Concerto, a work that (surprisingly) adheres to classical conventions, lures us in with beautiful, seductive harmonies. Glass relies both on his trademark arpeggiated technique (sounding in the first movement somewhat like Vivaldi’s “Winter” concerto) and on his favorite harmonic progressions to suggest a sustained melodic line. In the first two movements Glass’ carefully timed harmonic and rhythmic shifts keep you in a happy daze. He breaks the mood in the finale, however, leaving the soloist to practice arpeggios at length until the quiet, serene coda steals in. Adele Anthony, who plays with the kind of skill and grace we would expect in a Mozart concerto, brings off Glass’ work with consummate, convincing musicianship. Company (music for Becket’s prose) for string orchestra is in four movements, characterized by stimulating changes in time signature and rhythm.
Live at the Royal Albert Hall features British vocal sensation Adele performing at the storied venue during her promotional tour for her 2011 studio effort, 21. Backed by her rock ensemble as well as a string section, Adele runs through most of 21 while adding in earlier hits off her 2008 debut, 19, including "Chasing Pavements," "Hometown Glory," and "My Same." Primarily, however, Adele focuses here on material off 21, including such cuts as "Rumour Has It," "Turning Tables," "Someone Like You," the über-ballad "Take It All," and the funky hit "Rolling in the Deep." In perfect vocal form here prior to her 2011 throat surgery, Adele is the epitome of a burnished soul diva with a singer/songwriter's heart. Beautifully recorded and performed, Live at the Royal Albert Hall conveys all the drama of Adele's music and is the perfect companion piece to 21.