Erstwhile 10,000 Maniacs frontwoman Natalie Merchant continues her highly successful solo career with LIVE IN CONCERT, a show that was recorded at New York's Neil Simon Theater. The set opens, somewhat appropriately, with one of the songs that got Merchant's solo career off to a blazing start, "Wonder." As she usually does in live performance, Merchant plays with the lyrical phrasing of the song to add unexpected melisma and daring tonal gambits. Merchant lends the dark and ephemeral "San Andreas Fault" a lightly sultry quality not found on the studio version. Other familiar favorites include "Beloved Wife," "Carnival," and "Ophelia." Merchant revisits the Maniacs' catalog only once, for a rousing take on "Gun Shy." Two unexpected covers spice the middle of the set: a haunting and powerful reading of David Bowie's "Space Oddity," and a beautiful take on Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush".
This average effort from Sonny Rollins and his regular sextet is most notable for two numbers ("For All We Know" and "I Should Care") that find Branford Marsalis joining Rollins in a quintet with pianist Tommy Flanagan. Unfortunately Marsalis makes the fatal error of trying to imitate Rollins (instead of playing in his own musical personality) and he gets slaughtered. Much better are Rollins's romps on "Tennessee Waltz" and "Falling in Love with Love."
Box set in ECM’s acclaimed Old & New Masters series reintroduces Arild Andersen’s first three leader dates for the label – Clouds In My Head, Shimri, and Green Shading Into Blue. Recorded between 1975 and 1978, none of these albums has previously been issued on compact disc, and this edition is eagerly awaited. The music traces Andersen’s personal evolution from ‘free’-inclined bassist to bandleader-composer and introduces some players who would prove important for the future of the music – amongst them an 18-year-old Jon Balke on the “Clouds” session.
Reissue with the latest remastering. Features original cover artwork. The 1978 Jazz Messengers was one of Art Blakey's strongest groups in years, although it would soon be overshadowed by its successor (which introduced a young Wynton Marsalis). With trumpeter Valerie Ponomarev, altoist Bobby Watson and a tenor saxophonist forming a potent frontline and new material from each of the principals (plus pianist James Williams) in addition to a lengthy ballad medley, this is a fine all-around set, last available on LP.
"…A lot of bang for the buck."