With Mbókò, pianist-composer David Virelles – based now in New York but born and bred in Cuba – has taken the folkloric rhythms of Afro-Cuban religious ritual and transmuted them into a 21st-century music resonating with mystery and meaning. The main title, Mbókò, can mean “fundament” or “sugar cane” or “The Voice,” not the human voice but The Voice that is believed in Abakuá culture to be the voice of a spirit, or spirits. Sound is an element revered in this culture, and that idea – the worship of sound itself – was a shaping force in the performances of Virelles’ compositions on Mbókò.
From the title it's fairly obvious that Stanko is dedicating this work to his former boss and compatriot, the late Kryzsztof Komeda, who had passed a few years before. But it's difficult to believe that this was recorded in 1970. Stanko's quintet was so fully versed in the free jazz aesthetic and pursued to fuse it to the European classicism and avant-gardism of his native Poland. There are five tracks here, all part of a larger suite that is opened and closed by a theme. Stanko's writing is for a large harmonic palette realizable by two saxophones and his own trumpet with a rhythm section.
This is the most beautiful of Mozart playing, his last piano concerto given here by Emil Gilels with total clarity. This is a classic performance, memorably accompanied by the VPO and Böhm. Suffice it to say that Gilels sees everything and exaggerates nothing, that the performance has an Olympian authority and serenity, and that the Larghetto is one of the glories of the gramophone. He's joined by his daughter Elena in the Double Piano Concerto in E flat, and their physical relationship is mirrored in the quality, and the mutual understanding of the playing: both works receive marvellous interpretations. We think Emil plays first, Elena second, but could be quite wrong. The VPO under Karl Böhm is at its best; and so is the quality of recording, with a good stereo separation of the two solo parts, highly desirable in this work.
Moving to Capitol/EMI after a one-off record at Island/Universal, Jennifer Lopez seizes the opportunity of a new label to jump-start her career with A.K.A. It isn't quite a complete reboot, however. Its executive producer is RedOne, who worked on 2011's Love?, but this record attempts to push J-Lo further into modern dance, by having her duet with T.I., Pitbull, and Rick Ross, not to mention Iggy Azalea, who was the hottest rapper in the U.S. upon the June release of A.K.A. Iggy's showcase arrives on "Acting Like That," one of several tracks produced by Leon Youngblood, and his contributions – which also include the title track and "So Good" – are the moments on the record that get it right, balancing the heavy club throb with pop hooks that rely on feel as much as Lopez's vocals…
"Tunnel" is Buckethead's third album under the name Death Cube K (an anagram for Buckethead) and the first to not feature Bill Laswell. Instead, it is one of the first collaborations of Buckethead and keyboardist Travis Dickerson. The album was released on July 10, 1999 by TDRSmusic and co-produced by Dickerson. It is in a different genre of Buckethead's work, pushing a dark ambient sound, while still being within the experimental genre.