The sound is excellent and it now gains from the immensely improved surfaces which the companies produce, absolutely silent in fact. A Song of Summer is fairly well known; but the North Country Sketches have been lacking in the catalogue since the Beecham version was deleted (the Groves was also deleted shortly after the Beecham). These are Delius at his more austere but, like Life's Dance, they never lack the 'Delius touch' for long. Performances are most sympathetic(Gramophone, June 1984)
Walton has been heralded as the most important composer of the 20th century. I knew little of his work and wanted to 'hear' for myself. His musical range is impressive and I feel that he has influenced many contemporary composers.
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Charles McPherson delves into a number of standards in this collection of timeless ballads, well accompanied by pianist Steve Kuhn, bassist David Williams, and drummer Leroy Williams. The alto saxophonist's tone has a bit of a bluesy edge throughout the sessions, as if he is reminiscing about a past love. His heartfelt rendition of "My Ideal" stands out, as do his two interpretations of songs by Nicholas Brodszky, "Be My Love" and "Love Letters." McPherson picks up the tempo with "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," though his tone doesn't shift to a lighter mood. The relaxed mood makes this release perfect for late-night listening. The only drawback with this CD is the ugly cover photo, which McPherson denounced as very tasteless during a 2007 interview.
Ray Charles was the musician most responsible for developing soul music. Singers like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson also did a great deal to pioneer the form, but Charles did even more to devise a new form of black pop by merging '50s R&B with gospel-powered vocals, adding plenty of flavor from contemporary jazz, blues, and (in the '60s) country. Then there was his singing; his style was among the most emotional and easily identifiable of any 20th century performer, up there with the likes of Elvis and Billie Holiday. He was also a superb keyboard player, arranger, and bandleader. The brilliance of his 1950s and '60s work, however, can't obscure the fact that he made few classic tracks after the mid-'60s, though he recorded often and performed until the year before his death.