B. Willis (Music); P. Miller (Lab)

B. Willis (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Nov 27, 2017  |  0 comments
Steve Hicks is the kind of guitarist who can keep a crowd entertained for hours. This sweetly varied collection covers popular tunes reaching back to ‘Hungarian Dance No 5’ and ‘Maple Leaf Rag’ and forward into the modern era. His deft interpretation of ‘Funeral March Of A Marionette’ is as much fun as his conflation of Led Zeppelin and Mozart in the closing piece ‘Stairway To Mozart’, but he ventures into darker territory with ‘Bohemian Three-Step’. Here and there, he can’t help quoting melodically related tunes.
B. Willis (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Nov 20, 2017  |  0 comments
Cellist Metcalf and pianist Varga coax great drama from eight classical pieces, playing off each other with amazing sensitivity and awareness of the other. ‘First Day’ opens with a composition by José Bragato reminiscent of tango master Astor Piazolla, then segues into the sometimes mournful ‘Variations On A Slavic Folksong’ by Martin? – not a logical choice, but one that makes perfect dramatic sense. The tracks are carefully chosen so that each seems to lead to the next, making the assemblage a musical artform of its own. The overall mood is darkly contemplative but never depressing, with undercurrents of wonder and mystery.
B. Willis (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 09, 2017  |  0 comments
The title implies a haunted existence – by whom or by what we cannot tell from the imploring nature of this collection of often lengthy jazz instrumentals, some murky and meandering (‘Abandoned Reminder’, ‘The Great Silence’) and others quirky and upbeat (‘New Glory’). Taborn and crew tentatively explore a musical netherworld, here and there casting light into the shadows – ‘Ancient’, for example, opens with an extended, almost inarticulate bass solo, before other instruments reluctantly enter the fray. The repeated, intensifying figures near the end of this piece do achieve an intellectual resolution, if not an emotional one, while the sweetly mournful ‘Jamaican Farewell’ has the listless ambience of a sailing venture undertaken on a nearly windless morning. ‘Phantom Ratio’ follows a similar trajectory, while ‘The Shining One’ provides a bumpier ride.
B. Willis (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 02, 2017  |  0 comments
This collaboration with Sylvain Luc, André Ceccarelli, and Philippe Aerts delivers nearly 90 minutes of traditional French jazz – by definition, a genre featuring virtuoso accordion playing in every piece. What fun it is – mostly upbeat, very energetic, and totally engaging. The rollicking title track sets the tone for what proves to be a wide-ranging musical tour – from moody (‘Giselle’, ‘Nice Blues’, ‘Ballade Pour Marion’ and ‘Love Day’) to exhilarating (‘Fou Rire’, ‘Waltz For Nicky’ and ‘Viaggio’) to dramatic (‘Azul Tango’). This album achieves the near impossible in that every track – and there are 18 – is excellent, and the recording quality consistently excellent too.