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
A superbly atmospheric John Barry score effectively conveyed the mood of swinging London for this 1965 film by Richard Lester. Usually playing around with variations of the haunting main theme, Barry used vivacious horns, melancholic strings, and above all a groovy jazz organ (played by Alan Haven). A couple of the tracks don't work well in isolation: the vaudevillian "Something's Up!," and the vocal version of the main theme (not used in the film) by mediocre singer Johnny De Little. But overall, it's got a consistently captivating groove, rating as one of Barry's best scores.
Ever curious, courageous and endlessly creative, virtuoso guitarist and musical mastermind Pat Metheny takes on John Zorn’s Masada songbook to create some of the most soulful and adventurous sounds yet heard in the Book of Angels series. Turn up the volume and revel in the breadth of imagination in these remarkable arrangements featuring Pat on a huge arsenal of instruments, and the powerful Antonio Sanchez on drums. Pat Metheny continues to surprise and experiment with new musical frontiers well into the 21st century. Released in coordination with Nonesuch, this is a match made in Heaven—essential!
The two albums John Hartford recorded for Warner Bros. in the early '70s stand as two of the most influential and groundbreaking albums in modern country music. For 1971's Aereo-Plain, Hartford and fiddler Vassar Clements, dobroist Tut Taylor, guitarist Norman Blake and bassist Randy Scruggs played a set of mostly original tunes that fused the irreverent hippie aesthetic with the hallowed bluegrass tradition, thereby more or less singlehandedly inventing the "newgrass" genre. And 1972's Morning Bugle built on Aereo-Plain's breakthrough with a stripped-down line-up of Hartford, Blake and jazz bassist Dave Holland. This two-CD set contains both albums with eight unreleased bonus tracks-four from each session.