This excellent disc brings together, as far as I know, all of Ravel's chamber music for the violin with various one-instrument accompaniment (and in the case of the sonata for violin and cello not merely accompaniment). It is, quite simply, a delight from beginning to end. To start with the shorter works, the Kaddisch and Berceuse are poignantly played and the Habanera is lightly and subtly varied in texture and color. Juillet's singing, smooth tone is as deliciously perfect as I could possibly imagine, and the playing is, even more importantly, exquisitely phrased.
Difficult as it may be for younger listeners to believe, there was a time when ECM released adventurous improvised music. Back near its inception in the early '70s, the label issued a wide variety and decent number of challenging avant-garde recordings that represented some of the most forward-looking musical thinkers of the time. One of these was Marion Brown, who, at the time of this session, was about midway between his extreme post- Coltrane explorations and the luscious, down-home evocations of Georgia that he would create for Impulse! over the next few years. He gathered 11 musicians, including a couple from the then current Miles Davis Bitches Brew band (Chick Corea and Bennie Maupin), the then little-known Anthony Braxton, Andrew Cyrille, and the late great vocalist Jeanne Lee for two side-long, wide-ranging pieces.
Boxing Gandhis is a retro-funk band formed in 1993 by lead singer and guitarist David Darling. The sextet released its second CD, "Howard," on Atlantic Records in 1996. The album has a classic-funk feel, reminiscent of Sly and the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, Prince and George Clinton's P-Funk. The group's debut music video won Billboard Magazine's 1995 Video Award for Best Jazz/Adult Contemporary video.
With their ringing, bagpipe-like guitars and the anthemic songs of frontman Stuart Adamson, Scotland's Big Country emerged as one of the most distinctive and promising new rock bands of the early '80s, scoring a major hit with their debut album, The Crossing; though the group's critical and commercial fortunes dimmed in the years to follow, they nevertheless outlasted virtually all of their contemporaries, releasing new material into the next century.
Ani DiFranco doesn't really expand her sonic palette on Dilate, but she doesn't need to. DiFranco racked up a dedicated cult audience on the basis of her conviction. There's not much melody on any of her songs, but there are messages and, thankfully, a fair share of humor. Dilate suffers from a bit too much repetition, but when DiFranco lands on a good hook – such as "Superhero" or "Done Wrong" – the results suggest that she could reach a wider audience.
During the three years that he recorded for Verve, flutist Herbie Mann's playing changed from straight bop to incorporating elements of Latin, African and South American music. This CD reissues all of the music from one former LP (Flautista) and several of the selections from two others (The Magic Flute of Herbie Mann and Herbie Mann's Cuban Band). Whether it be with a standard quartet, backed by a string section, jamming with a sextet that includes two percussionists or interacting with a brass section, the flutist is heard in explorative form, satisfying his fertile musical curiosity; he even plays bass clarinet and piccolo on one song apiece. Highlights of this excellent overview of Mann's Verve period include "Baia," "Oodles of Noodles" (Jimmy Dorsey's theme song "Contrasts"), "The Peanut Vendor," "Cuban Patato Chip" and "Caravan."