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More jazz than not. (The Music).

John Adams: Naive and Sentimental Music Los Angeles Philharmonic/Esa-Pekka Salonen (Nonesuch 79636-2)

Although not designated as such, Naive and Sentimental Music is for all practical purposes a three-movement symphony. The first movement, titled "Naive and Sentimental Music," starts off with music that almost sounds as if it could be based on an old Canned Heat riff, but things get wild and woolly as the music progresses. The second movement, "Mother of the Man," features a prominent part for electric guitar; curiously, the guitarist is not named in the liner notes. The music of this movement is quiet and reflective. The finale, "Chain to the Rhythm," chugs and churns, sounding something like a more developed version of the composer's The Chairman Dances. With plenty of energy and a real sense of motion, this movement brings the recording to a rousing close (albeit on a harmonically ambiguous note). The sound quality is clean and dynamic; if you have some appreciation for contemporary orchestral music, you really ought to hear this recording.

Eden Atwood: Waves--The Bossa Nova Session (Groove Note GRV1012-2)

Quite a band has been assembled to back Eden Atwood on this recording: Bill Cunliffe on piano, Derek Oles on bass, Joe LaBarbera on drums, Anthony Wilson on guitar, Scott Breadman on percussion, and--most exciting of all--Pete Christlieb on tenor sax and flute. Sadly enough, all is pretty well for naught, subverted by the singer. This kind of music should have subtlety, but Atwood takes everything over the top. What a shame ... (Bossa nova fans, though, can take heart, because a couple of truly excellent recordings are reviewed below.)

Faure: Requiem; Four Nocturnes; Trois Melodies Emile Naoumoff, piano (Sony Legacy JK 89791)

Pianist Emile Naoumoff presents here a performance of his piano transcription of the Faure Requiem. No, it does not really make an adequate substitute for the original choral version (which itself has been variously arranged for various forces, such as chorus and orchestra and chorus with organ), but it certainly does entertain and inspire in its own right. Chances are, if you listen to this recording you will want to pull one of your choral recordings off the shelf and give it a listen, too--and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. But you probably will want to listen to Naoumoff's piano version again, too, either to gain more insight into the compositional structure of the Requiem, or perhaps just to enjoy the beautiful piano arrangement itself.

The disk continues with four on Faure's Nocturnes for piano, which are lovely pieces, and then concludes with three piano transcriptions by Naoumoff of songs by Faure. No, this is not your run-of-the-mill piano recital, but yes, it is really enjoyable, and should appeal to a wide variety of music lovers.

Dave Holland Big Band: What Goes Around (ECM 1777 440014 002-2)

Over the past few years Dave Holland has released several first-rate recordings with the Dave Holland Quintet (Chris Potter on saxophone, Robin Eubanks on trombone, Steve Nelson on vibes, Billy Kilson on drums, and Holland on bass). On What Goes Around, Holland has chosen to augment his basic unit by adding Antonio Hart on alto sax and flute; Mark Gross on alto sax; Gary Smulyan on baritone sax; Andre Hayward and Josh Roseman on trombone; and Earl Gardner, Alex Sipiagin, and Duane Eubanks on trumpet and flugelhorn. Holland did all the composing and arranging, and the end result is a swing, colorful, tight outing that really does sound like an expanded version of the Quintet rather than something completely different.

Holland has an amazing knack for composing music that sounds complex but never overly complicated. No matter how tricky the rhythms may get, the music always has a pulse, with Holland and Kilson driving things along with fire and purpose. There are solos to be heard from the various players, but you never get the sense that the solos are the highlight--the music always has a sense of balance and proportion. To be honest, I am not much of a fan of big band music, and I approached this recording with some trepidation, but soon found myself realizing that Dave Holland had come through once again with a dynamite recording.

Antonio Carlos Jobim: Stone Flower (Epic/LEGACY EK 61616)

When I think of '60s music, I of course think of the Beatles, the Stones, Dylan, the Byrds, the Airplane, etc.--but I also think of Antonio Carlos Jobim, to whom I was turned on by Jim Mancilla, a friend from high school to whom I shall forever be indebted for enriching my life. I can still remember sitting on the floor in his small bedroom listening to Wave on his little portable record player. It was hardly sound of audiophile quality, but it was certainly a musical experience of great quality indeed.

Stone Flower, which was originally released as an LP on the CTI label in 1970, featured quite a band: Jobim on guitar, piano, and vocals; Eumir Deodato (who also did the arranging) on guitar; Joe Farrell on soprano sax; Hubert Laws on flute; Urbie Green on trombone; Ron Carter on bass; Harry Lookofsky on violin; and Airto Moreira, Everaldo Ferriera, and Joao Palm on percussion and drums. The arrangements were pretty well straight ahead, the music sounding elegant but not prettified. The overall sound was clean and clear, especially for a 1970 studio job, and it still sounds OK today. Rock fans may recall the melody of the title cut, "Stone Flower," which was covered by Santana, while movie buffs my recall the melody of "Brazil" (a song not written by Jobim) from the Terry Gilliam film.

All in all, Stone Flower is quite an enjoyable album, and Sony should be commended for making the effort to bring this hidden gem back to the marketplace in this fine CD re-release. Jobim fans should snap this one up before it disappears from the shelves, if it has not already.

Charles Lloyd: Lift Every Voice (ECM 1832/33440018 783-2)

September 11, 2002, was a day of emotion and reflection for many Americans. That morning, I attended a moving memorial service on the Oval at The Ohio State University. I can still recall hearing nothing but the gentle wind in the trees and some quiet sobbing as hundreds of men and women of various ages, races, and religions stood together in silent repose.

When I arrived home that evening, there was this new release from Charles Lloyd, and when I heard cut 3, "Amazing Grace," and a bit later, cut 5, Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?," I took some measure of comfort. Over the next few days I played this two-CD set over and over, realizing that as much as I loved Charles Lloyd's music, and as much as I was looking forward to listening to it when it arrived, I was enjoying it even more than I thought I would. What a wonderful, joyous, rewarding, recording this is!

Lloyd is joined on Lift Every Voice by Geri Allen on piano, John Abercrombie on guitar, Billy Hart on drums, and Marc Johnson or Larry Grenadier on bass. In the past, I have not felt that Abercrombie's guitar playing has really fit in completely with Lloyd's music; however, on this outing, Abercrombie and Lloyd sound wonderful together. Perhaps this is because pianist Geri Allen does not have a strong solo presence, and Abercrombie seems to have become more assertive and involved. In any event, the band sounds great.

Many of the cuts are originals by Lloyd. Particularly impressive is "East Virginia, East Memphis," on which Lloyd and Abercrombie just burn. The opening cut, "Hymn to the Mother," has a unique sonority, largely due to Abercrombie's dirty guitar, that sounds like nothing else I have heard Lloyd do. There are also some covers and some traditional tunes, all enhanced by the arranging prowess and soulful playing of Lloyd and his fellow musicians. The sound quality is exemplary, making Lift Every Voice in every regard a surpassingly beautiful and truly uplifting musical experience.

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet: LAGQ Latin (Telarc CD80593)

The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet comprises John Dearman, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant, and Andrew York. As you might have already guessed from the title of their new release, what we have here is an album of Latin-flavored music, with music from composers ranging from Sting ("Fragile") to Bizet (a suite from Carmen). This generously filled CD (69:05) is a delight from start to finish; even those who do not necessarily favor guitar arrangements might be pleasantly surprised at how entertaining and natural this all sounds.

[Morelenbaum.sup.2]/Sakamoto: Casa (Sony Classical SK 89962)

A recording devoted to the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim might seem a strange thing to find on Sony Classical, but that is what we have here, and it is a marvelous, magical, magnificent recording. [Morelenbaum.sup.2] /Sakamoto is the trio of Paula Morelenbaum, voice; Jaques Morelenbaum, cello; and Ryuichi Sakamoto, piano. This basic trio is augmented on several of the cuts by some other musicians, and much of the music was recorded in the late Antonio Carlos Jobim's home in Brazil, with Sakamoto playing Jobim's piano.

The idea of a cello in Jobim's music might seem a bit odd, but Jaques Morelenbaum brings a singing quality to his playing that sounds just right for this music. Paula Morelenbaum sings mostly in Portuguese, partly in English, and always with a real feel for this music. Sakamoto at times reminds us of Jobim's one- and two-finger style of playing, but at times plays with a rich and full style.

If you are at all a fan of bossa nova in general or the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim in particular, you really must get this recording. Making it was clearly a labor of love for all involved; "Tom" would surely approve.

Arvo Part: Orient & Occident Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Swedish Radio Choir/Tonu Kaljuste, conductor (ECM New Series 1795 289 472980-2)

Those who think of Part as a minimalist will be surprised to encounter the richness and expressiveness of this recording, which 'contains three of his compositions: Wallfahrtslied/Pilgrims' Song, which was originally composed in 1984 for male voice and string quartet and then arranged for men's choir and string orchestra in 2001; Orient & Occident, a piece for string orchestra written in 2000; and Como cierva sedienta, performed here in a version for women's chorus (with Helena Olsson, soprano) and orchestra, written in 1998.

The two compositions with vocals feature texts taken from Psalms, No. 121 for Wallfahrtslied/Pilgrims' Song and Nos. 42-43 for Como cierva sedienta. The music of Wallfahrtslied/Pilgrims' Song has something of a searching quality to it, which is certainly appropriate to the text. The music of Orient & Occident seems to blend both groundedness and motion, portraying that which is both deeply rooted and outward-directed. The music of the final piece, Como cierva sedienta, is the most complex, with a rich variety of sound. Overall, this is music that would be equally at home in cathedral or concert hall, and thanks to the miracle of recording, we can enjoy it at home.

Vivaldi: Late Concertos for Violin, Strings, and Basso Continuo Giuliano Carmignola, baroque violin/Venice Baroque Orchestra/Andrea Marcon (Sony Classical SK 87733)

The robust, energetic sound emanating from these period instruments is a refreshing sonic tonic that may make you forget the prim and proper "sewing machine" Vivaldi performances that you have heard all too often. If you enjoy The Four Seasons and would like to hear some really well-played and well-recorded music in a similar vein, this is the CD for you.

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Publication:Sensible Sound
Date:Dec 1, 2002
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