A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)

A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 15, 2017  |  0 comments
From the off, this set by bluegrass/New Grass mandolin player Sam Bush explodes with the kind of authenticity sorely missing from Cyndi Lauper’s recent ‘Detour’ into country. The tongue is firmly out of cheek here, and instead we get realism thanks to Bush’s rootsy approach to the heritage of American acoustic music. It’s a wonderfully upbeat and affirmative set, from the ever-so-slightly funky ‘Everything Is Possible’ to the defiant ‘Carcinoma Blues’. Meanwhile, the instrumental track ‘Greenbrier’ finds Bush and his band working out with almost quartz-locked precision and superb interplay, and the quieter ‘It’s Not What You Think’ is simply beautiful, and almost classical in its scoring and performance.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Feb 01, 2017  |  0 comments
This is the big-label debut by the young Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo, some of whose work may be familiar from recordings on the enterprising 2L label – for example, the ‘Ubi Caritas’ opening this set is also available as on his Piano Improvisations album [2L-082]. A former Classic FM album of the week (but let’s not hold that against it), this set sees Gjeilo’s work performed by some top-notch singers in the form of Tenebrae and Voces 8, with the strings of the title provided by the London Chamber Orchestra and the piano by Gjeilo himself. It’s a programme of unmistakably Nordic music, ranging from the sacred to the secular, and is treated to a wonderfully detailed and ethereal sound well-suited to the content, especially in the tracks evoking the landscape so familiar to the composer. Yes, perhaps it’s somewhat ‘classical-fusion’, but it’s definitely hugely enjoyable.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jan 01, 2017  |  0 comments
Undiscovered for almost 50 years, this recording is as remarkable for its sound as its provenance. In fact it’s the only studio recording made by the short-lived trio of Evans, bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette, and was recorded just a few days after the well-known live set was captured at the 1968 Montreux Jazz Festival. German jazz producer Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer took the trio into his studio in Villingen, in the Black Forest (hence the subtitle, The Lost Session From The Black Forest), and this set was recorded between tour dates. However, contractual matters at the time stopped the set being released, and nothing happened until the tapes were re-discovered in 2013.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jan 01, 2017  |  0 comments
This set by Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle started life as a series of gigs back in late 2014, and while it’s somewhat alarming to discover that the two performers are now heading for their bus-passes – both have hit the big six-oh – there’s an easygoing rapport between the two on this upbeat set of mainly jointly penned tracks. What’s even more remarkable is the way the two voices mesh together in flawless harmonies: they just fit like they’ve been doing this all of their professional lives. Even the cover versions here – among them Jagger and Richards’s ‘Ruby Tuesday’ – bring a fresh perspective to the songs, and while the recording isn’t by any means state-of-the-art or demo-quality, having a decidedly rough edge to it, it’s hard not to enjoy the ‘let’s just get together and share some songs’ freshness about it. It’s an album that’s difficult not to like.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jan 01, 2017  |  0 comments
Yes, that Cyndi Lauper – just in case you’d dismissed her as a novelty act after ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, here she is, now in her 60s, goin’ country. Yee-haw, and all that, with not a sign of newer Americana genres here, but instead a series of cover versions of tracks going back to the 1950s, supported by a roster of guest artists. This could so easily have turned into a mawkish set of near-parodies, and as camp as Christmas, but Lauper’s heart is clearly in the right place, and the recording has all the signs of being a labour of love throughout, both musically and in the quality of the recording. It’s just on the right side of being a novelty record, and duets with Willie Nelson (‘Night Life’) and Vince Gill (‘You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly’) work well enough; but the Alison Krauss harmonies blow Lauper out of the saddle on Dolly’s ‘Hard Candy Christmas’.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 01, 2016  |  0 comments
Bit of a dream team exercise, this Blue Note label debut by saxophonist Richardson: quite apart from Pat Metheny on guitar, he’s also brought together Jason Moran on piano and keyboards, with a rhythm section of bassist Harish Raghavan and Nasheet Waits on drums. It’s quite an assembly of talent, and it shows in this richly recorded set that nevertheless lets the musicians’ solo contributions shine through, from Metheny’s soloing on ‘Creeper’ to his attack on ‘Untitled’, while the building complexity of ‘Slow’ is handled deftly yet maintaining the almost stately tempo of the piece. But then that’s the way of this album: beautifully stated melodies breaking down into lyrical, challenging variation and improvisation, with Richardson and Metheny trading blows underpinned by that oh-so-tight engine-room of drums and bass. Lovely stuff, and the sound shines, too.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 01, 2016  |  0 comments
Don’t panic: this may be Euro-jazz – how else do you explain a lineup of trumpet, piano and accordians? – but it’s both persuasive and highly approachable, at least when you acclimatise to the slightly unfamiliar tonalities here. Yes, there are times when a conventional rhythm section wouldn’t go amiss, for example in the take on Erik Satie’s Gnossienne No 1, but it’s clear how well the three musicians work together on this, their second Mare Nostrum outing, recorded some seven years after the original. It’s an interesting mix of Northern and Southern European styles – trumpeter Fresu is from Sardinia, Galliano is French and pianist Lundgren Swedish – but the light and shade work well together, whether in the original tunes or the trio’s take on a Monteverdi madrigal, and is well served by a fine recording. AE Sound Quality: 85% Hi-Fi News Lab Report All the tracks here have a spurious tone at ~19.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 01, 2016  |  0 comments
This set may take its title from Erik Satie’s decidedly strange cantata, based on a translation of Plato’s Dialogues, but it opens with the composer’s romantic early love-songs, ‘Trois Mélodies’, setting the ravishingly beautiful tone of the entire album. If you’ve ever wondered what reviewers mean by an ‘intimate’ recording, here’s your benchmark: the gorgeous voice of Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan sounds like it’s not just in the same room but quite possibly on the same sofa as the listener. It’s so close-up you can almost feel every breath to spine-tingling effect, while accompanist de Leeuw maintains a discreet distance, seemingly to avoid breaking the mood. In the title work – which is either written straightfaced or a fine piece of deadpan humour – Hannigan may take a step back from the close-up magic, but this is still a glorious recording.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Nov 01, 2016  |  0 comments
Ummm, yes, so it’s a children’s album – and one the Canadian jazz singer (and high-school French teacher) says she made because some of her fans were already playing her music to their kids. So you have a set that’s pitched at the younger end of the ‘kids’ brief, and featuring the likes of Muppet favourite ‘The Rainbow Connection’ (which arguably Kermit performed better), ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’, a setting of A A Milne’s ‘Halfway Down The Stairs’, and the lullaby ‘Hushabye Mountain’, from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. There are probably ad types already getting misty-eyed and visualising Christmas campaigns while listening to this album, as Panton has just the right fragility and breathiness of voice. However, for all the lushness of the sound here – and it is beautifully recorded – I found the whole saccharine enterprise sleep-inducing.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Nov 01, 2016  |  0 comments
Your heart kinda sinks when you read that this, trumpeter Cohen’s principal artist début for ECM, is dedicated to his late father, and was written in the months following Cohen Sr’s passing. And when the album opens with the cheerily-titled ‘Life And Death’, which is all tinkling background piano and ponderous bass, brushed drums and muted horn, you get to thinking you’re going to be in for a long night of solemnity. However, while this set is undeniably contemplative and downbeat, it’s far from dull, not least due to the quality of musicians Cohen has assembled around him. These include Branford Marsalis sidesman Eric Revis on bass, and Nasheet Waits wielding the sticks, and a typically gorgeous ECM recording, which misses nary a detail.

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