This is a good record, though not the Leo Kottke album to start with, as it is not representative of his usual work – it's mostly a vocal record, and a very country-flavored record at that, with Kottke's baritone, reminiscent in some ways of Leonard Cohen (and even moving into what one might consider Jim Morrison territory), serving as the dominant instrument on six of the ten tracks. His flashy 12-string playing and Cal Hand's Dobro do come to the fore on "Tilt Billings and the Student Prince." Tom T. Hall and Ron Elliott of the Beau Brummels are among the songwriters represented. Among the intrumentals, "A Good Egg" is just the kind of light-fingered, light-textured virtuoso piece that one buys a Leo Kottke album expecting to find, and much of the rest shows off his talents in some unexpected directions. The sound on the One Way label CD reissue is first rate as well.
Since he released the completely solo For Alto in 1968, the accepted image of Anthony Braxton has been that he is more a theoretician and art music composer than a jazz musician. Therefore, it might seem strange that Mosaic Records is giving his Complete Arista Recordings one of their fabled box set treatments. But Braxton is both – and much more. This set – as well as the original Arista recordings – were produced by Michael Cuscuna, Mosaic/Blue Note label head. The sheer scope of these recordings is staggering. What we get in this amazingly detailed collection is the weightiest argument yet for Braxton's range and depth of field as a musical thinker and his role as a pillar of modern jazz.
Long-time occasional collaborators Wadada Leo Smith and Adam Rudolph perform improvised/composed duets from a 2002 performance live at Venice's Electric Lodge on Compassion, newly released on Rudolph's Meta Records. Both are masters of their mediums: Rudolph plays a variety of percussion instruments and at least one wind instrument to sonically shade, color, and texturize; Smith uses trumpet and flugelhorn in conventional and extended ways to complement him. With improvisers of this depth, the journey takes many unexpected turns, all rewarding.