Assembled to mark the centenary of Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013), this collection of recordings, produced over a period of nearly 60 years, is unrivalled in its scope. Equally remarkable is its array of performers; among them are such dedicatees of the composer’s works as Mstislav Rostropovich, Renée Fleming, Seiji Ozawa and Paul Sacher. Quintessentially French, Dutilleux captured the imagination of audiences around the world with his iridescent, yet formally coherent scores, which engender narratives filled with memories and mystery.
This eleven CD box set from Korean violinist Kyung-Wha Chung combines her complete Warner Recordings produced in the period 1978/2000. Just to be clear: these are her recordings on EMI and not those released on Decca. Kyung-Wha Chung is an outstanding artist deserving of her elevated ranking in the pantheon of violinists and this set is a confident reminder of why she is so highly placed.
Produced with loving care by Claude Nobs, founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, with no edits or overdubs, this document of Miles Davis's Montreux performances shows through never-before-released material how Miles and company transformed his music live, with their fire, invention, and interplay. The list of sidemen on these dates is a who's who of today's superstars, including saxophonist Dave Liebman, guitarists John Scofield and Robben Ford, keyboardists Adam Holzman and Kei Akagi, bassist Michael Henderson, and percussionist Mtume. Most of the music on these discs features versions of Davis's fusion "hits." The funky and R&B-ish ditty "Ife" and the bouncy "Calypso Frelimo" are rendered with more gusto than their studio versions, as are the in-the-pocket, mid-'80s tunes "Star People" and "New Blues." A package this big has more than a few surprises, however. Chaka Khan lends her powerful pipes to Davis's unique cover of the Michael Jackson sleeper, "Human Nature," and "Al Jarreau" is an upbeat (though too short) tribute to the great vocalise master.
Brazil's former minister of culture is enjoying himself. Freed from the constraints of office, the country's best-known singer-songwriter is clearly determined to show that his voice, guitar work and range are as impressive as ever. His last studio album, Banda Larga Cordel, showed he was still willing to experiment, and this new live set is a further reminder of his ability to develop. His lengthy career has included playing a key role in the rock-influenced Tropicália movement, the establishment of a Brazilian reggae scene, and excursions into anything from forró to electronica. On this album he is backed by his own acoustic guitar, with just a little help from his sons Bem and José, adding additional guitar, percussion and occasional bass.
Blake Shelton veered toward the somnolent on the quite pleasing Bringing Back the Sunshine so it's not entirely surprising its 2016 sequel, If I'm Honest, is a bit crisper and livelier. Some of this brightening in attitude may be due to him lightening his load following a much-publicized 2015 divorce from singer Miranda Lambert – certainly the title suggests it's time for the singer to get down to what's real – but the electronic sheen and good times also feel like a reaction to Shelton sliding too deeply into softness. If If I'm Honest is indeed a divorce album, it's a Back in the High Life, not a Blood on the Tracks: Shelton is seizing the day, embracing his new lease on life with renewed vigor and a new love, who just happens to stop by to sing "Go Ahead and Break My Heart." Gwen Stefani's presence offers a reminder that Shelton stars on the televised singing competition The Voice, and If I'm Honest is targeted more at the mainstream audience attracted by the show than country radio proper.