John McLaughlin & Paco de Lucia: Paco and John - Live at Montreux 1987 it's truly a shame that, all too often, artists with diverse careers become pigeon-holed, defined by the primary genre in which they first achieved notoriety. Take guitarist John McLaughlin, for instance. Ask most jazz fans about him and what will first come out of most of their mouths will include either the words "fusion," "jazz-rock" and/or Miles Davis, in any permutation/combination (not that there's anything wrong with that). Those a little further in the know might also be aware of his longstanding investigation into the nexus of eastern and western music with his Indo-collaboration, Shakti.
This expertly performed "Stabat Mater" compilation includes two important 16th-century works: the Eton Choirbook setting by John Browne, a sumptuous-if-not-solemn fantasia for six-part choir; and Palestrina's serene double-choir setting, performed one-voice-per-part with improvised embellishments–as Renaissance singers commonly did. Pärt's "Stabat Mater" for vocal trio and string trio (performed stunningly on ECM by the Hilliard Ensemble and, among others, Gidon Kremer) is performed here by three voices and viol sextet. The string playing on the ECM disc was, within the confines of Pärt's somewhat abstract style, very emotional. The viols can't replicate the violin family's intense singing tone and dynamic range; consequently, the expression of grief in the music is yet more abstracted. Technically, Andrew Parrott's singers are at least equal to the Hilliard Ensemble, possibly better. Not necessarily an ideal performance, but worth investigating.Matthew Westphal
Running on Empty is the fifth album by American singer-songwriter Jackson Browne. Released in 1977, the album reached #3 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart in 1978 and stayed on the charts for 65 weeks. The single for the title track, "Running on Empty", peaked at #11 and the follow-up single, "The Load-Out"/"Stay", reached #11 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart. The song "Running on Empty" was included in the film Forrest Gump. On November 15, 2005, Elektra/Rhino issued a remastered version with the following additional tracks: 11. "Cocaine Again" and 12. "Edwardsville Room 124" on Disc 2 of the package, which is a DVD Audio version of the album's track lineup that features a 5.1 surround sound mix, among other bonus items, such as video montages and lyrics. Disc 1 is a remaster of the original album's song list only. The remaster is missing the first 25 seconds of audience ambience that, on all other previous editions of the album, led into the beginning of the album's title track. For reasons unknown, this snippet, which included the sounds of the musicians' count into the song's opening, was edited out on this version, though curiously the Disc 2 DVD Audio version includes the 25 seconds missing on Disc 1.
This four-disc box from London's JSP Records collects an astounding 100 songs recorded by John Lee Hooker in Detroit from the years 1948 to 1952, including his first two sides ever, the signature tunes "Boogie Chillen" and "Sally Mae." Most of the tracks here are done solo, with Hooker's ever-present foot-stomping, although a few feature other musicians on loose-limbed blues boogies. Since Hooker never significantly altered his style during his long career, these first recordings set the stage for all that came after, and he arguably never sounded fresher or better. Four discs worth of this throwback Mississippi bluesman will be severe overkill for casual listeners, but diehard Hooker fans will find this box set absolutely essential.
One of his finest '90s recordings, Chill Out balances the guitar-glitz of Carlos Santana's guest shot on the karmic title cut with a handful of profoundly deep Hooker solo performances. Among those are new versions of his standards "Tupelo" and "Annie Mae," and the soulful "If You've Never Been in Love," where expert slide-man Roy Rogers provides subtle accompaniment to Hooker's spontaneous storytelling. The band numbers that bookend the album are weak, relying on Hooker's strong vocal presence to overcome sketchy writing. Van Morrison, pianist Charles Brown, and M.G.'s leader Booker T. Jones also lend a hand. But Hooker doesn't need anybody's help to get to the passionate heart of his blues. One last note: Anton Corbijn's CD-booklet photographs of ol' Johnny Lee are terrific.
Get ready for a whole new approach to Masada music! Expressive and passionate, Basya Schecter, Ayelet Rose Gottlieb, Malika Zarra and Sofia Rei Koutsovitis are four of the most creative vocalists around. Each the leader of a dynamic band of their own, they come together here in an intimate a cappella setting to interpret eleven songs from Zorn's remarkable Book of Angels. With lyrics in Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, French and Arabic drawn from Rumi, Fernando Pessoa, The Hebrew Bible and more, the Masada vocal project is perhaps the most hauntingly beautiful installments in the entire Angels series. Dynamic and evocative New Jewish Music from four powerful women vocalists!