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Steve Harris  |  Dec 08, 2010
Probably Europe’s most sought-after bassist, Jasper Høiby has an authority and impact that grabs your attention and holds it. Here his trio Phronesis are heard live at The Forge in London, but with a different drummer: regular Anton Eger couldn’t make the dates, so Høiby drafted in American Mark Guiliana, with spectacular results. From the start, in the opening ‘Blue Inspiration’, Guiliana and the very fine pianist Ivo Neame push each other to greater heights around the sonorous pivot of a simple repeated bass figure. Then, typically, Høiby opens out and the piece blossoms into new shapes.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 08, 2010
There have been blues prodigies in the past, young kids who defy their age with a sound conveying wisdom, experience and other abilities which suggest the passage of time. But quite how Knox managed to ingest the anima of a 60-year-old in a 17-year-old’s mind/body is part of the mystery that makes this LP so compelling. Had you heard the album before being told this, his interpretation of Willie Dixon’s ‘You Need Love’ would have you convinced the guy had been playing juke joints for decades. When you realise that he composed nearly all of the material, you’ll want to see his birth certificate.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 08, 2010
Never content to stand still, Clarke offers another new concept and striking new sonics. His is still the dominant voice, especially leading with his Alembic tenor bass, yet there’s an emphasis on group contributions, the tunes direct and even lyrical. Behind him is regular keyboardist Ruslan Sirota, but the main guest is Hiromi, whose pianism soars effortlessly over the electric soundbed on ‘No Mystery’ and three other tracks. You also hear singer Cheryl Bentine, guitarists Charles Altura and Rob Bacon, and saxist Bob Sheppard.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 08, 2010
While the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean successfully co-opted the ‘surf’ genre by adding vocals, its inventor was Dick Dale, aka ‘King of the Surf Guitar’. Dale launched the genre with ‘Let’s Go Trippin’’ from 1961, which kicks off this set, developing a sound he forged to reflect the sensations of the sport. Along the way he directly influenced so many guitarists (eg Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen) that he’s even credited by some with inventing heavy metal. What these 28 mono tracks reveal are ingenious techniques that dazzle and frighten in equal measure 50 years on.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 08, 2010
Growing up in Oklahoma, Cassity got her first alto saxophone for Christmas at age nine. She moved to New York in 1999 and completed her masters’ at Juilliard in 2007. Her 2008 debut Just For You, on DW Records, was standards-based, but this time she brings her great energy and technique to originals which enliven their straightahead genre with dextrous metrical trickery. Guest horns swell the ranks on some tracks, but the core quintet includes long-time musical partner Michael Dease, a virtuoso trombonist still imbued with the melody and whimsy of an earlier era.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 08, 2010
Not one but two recent biopics of John Lennon have taxed the patience of the hardcore, but the consensus is that this beats BBC4’s Lennon Naked hands down, despite Christopher Eccleston’s uncanny, note-perfect, award-worthy portrayal in the latter. This covers Lennon’s pre-Hamburg youth, so the two form a natural pairing (or a chronological trilogy, with Backbeat in the middle), but the depth and sensitivity of this entry strikes the viewer as somehow more authentic. All three suffer the sort of anachronistic details that will have the fanboys’ knickers in a twist, and they also beg the real need for fictional accounts of events so recent, but this one is perhaps worth a viewing for its cinematic value. Sound Quality: 83% .
Johnny Black  |  Dec 08, 2010
This Portland, Oregon, trio have released three albums prior to Mines and, I’m ashamed to say, I haven’t heard any of them. That’s all going to change though, because this is a corker. At first listen, Mines might seem a bit angular and disjointed, so may I suggest that you start your listening experience with the most instantly mind-obliterating tour de force, ‘Oh Pretty Boy, You’re Such A Big Boy’. With its triphammer percussion, melodramatic keyboard riff, mood switches and powerhouse vocal surges, it’s one of the album’s several stratospheric high points.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 08, 2010
Yes, a mono SACD, as if to remind us that it’s sound quality rather than multichannel capability which keeps this much under-appreciated format alive. Although this is hardly the best-sounding recording Charles ever issued, musically it’s one of his milestones, showing absolute mastery of yet another genre. Instead of re-interpreting hoary old chestnuts, Charles recorded seven originals to complement five standards, showing that he could not only sing the blues, he could also write them. The sound is uptown, not rural, suggesting that he could have carved out as big a career in the blues – had he so desired – as Bobby Bland, Jimmy Witherspoon or any of the other more urbane practitioners.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 08, 2010
Fresh (well, relatively fresh) out of San Diego, California, comes the ace second album by this spirited, soulful Americana quintet who subtly combine elements of straightforward Jayhawksy country rock with hints of the experimental tendencies of Wilco. Known for their use of unconventional instrumentation, including trash-can lids, orchestral bass drums, drones and quirky choirs, Delta Spirit are blessed with a belter of a vocalist in former busker Matthew Vasquez, but the whole band is tight as all get out and the songs demand that you sing along after just a couple of listens. So that’s my in-car listening sorted until the last of the summer sun is gone. Sound Quality: 90% .
Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 08, 2010
Memorable Dvořák Sevenths we have had from Kubelík, Schmidt-Isserstedt, Monteux, Rowicki and (Sir Colin) Davis. I am not sure that Ivan Fischer’s ousts any of theirs but he’s always an interesting, individual conductor (visit the Berliner Philharmoniker website to see him in Haydn) and there’s enormous warmth in this DSD recording. But what makes this SACD significant is the way he brings to life the five-movement Suite: analogous to Brahms’s two Serenades – that is, delightful music neglected in favour of the symphonies. Ex-Philips, the Budapest Dvořák Symphonies 8 and 9 SACD coupling is now on Channel Classics.

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