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.
A fantastically hip performance from trumpeter Kenny Dorham – a never-heard live set, recorded for radio at a time when he was really stretching out! The group is as compelling as the performance – and features the excellent Sonny Red on alto, hitting some of those incredibly edgey notes he'd play with Donald Byrd – plus a young Cedar Walton on piano, John Ore on bass, and Hugh Walker on drums – the latter an overlooked genius on the kit, who gave us some great work with John Patton and Harold Mabern! This group is featured in a 1966 performance that takes up most of the CD – with long performances of the titles "Jung Fu", "Spring Is Here", "Somewhere In The Night", "Straight Ahead", and "The Shadow Of Your Smile" – with a few interview snippets by announcer Alan Grant. Grant also presents the remaining three tracks on the set – material from a 1962 date that is equally great, but also shows just how much Dorham had evolved in the four years that led up to the later recording. Kenny blows trumpet with Joe Farrell on tenor, Walter Bishop Jr on piano, Larry Gales on bass, and Stu Martin on drums – on "Woody N You", "If I Should Lose You", and an incomplete performance of "Au Privave".
Anyone listening to this admirable set will gain an accurate impression of David Oistrakh’s overall playing style, his poise, composure, interpretative finesse, velvety tone and highly sophisticated musicianship. Various of the works programmed are - or have been - available in alternative Oistrakh recordings (the Tchaikovsky and Brahms concertos in around six versions apiece), but Melodiya’s selections are, in general, judiciously chosen.
For his third ECM release as a leader, Chris Potter presents a new acoustic quartet that naturally blends melodic rhapsody with rhythmic muscle. The group includes superlative musicians well known to followers of ECM’s many recordings from New York over the past decade: keyboardist David Virelles, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore, who each shine in addition to the leader on multiple horns. The Dreamer Is the Dream features Potter on tenor saxophone the instrument that has made him one of the most admired players of his generation in the striking opener “Heart in Hand” and such album highlights as “Yasodhara,” as well as on soprano sax (“Memory and Desire”) and bass clarinet (the title track).