Widely considered the creative apex of television scoring, Basil Poledouris' sweeping Lonesome Dove remains the most compelling and effective orchestral music ever written for the small screen – it's also the best Western score to appear in any medium in the last quarter century, with an eloquence and slap-leather authenticity all its own. Poledouris' beautifully poignant score captures the fading grandeur of the American West in vivid detail – while its panoramic arrangements evoke the wide-open spaces of a land not yet overrun by highways, skyscrapers, and strip malls, Poledouris is most effective when exploring the rugged yet tender character of the men and women who made the frontier their own. Sonic Images' soundtrack contains roughly one-third of Poledouris' complete four-and-a-half-hour score – perhaps someday a box set will assemble Lonesome Dove's music in full, but for now this highlight reel does the trick.
Sakamoto's unnerving soundtrack for John Marbury's portrait of British artist Francis Bacon was at least as important as the film's oft-noted cinematographic dexterity was in capturing the complex psychological landscape of the famous painter. With a palette consisting of little more than chirps, clicks, muted cries and the odd bit of disembodied piano, Sakamoto's score helped give shape to the raw chaos surrounding both Bacon's life and the figures depicted in his paintings. Hardly essential, but no less worthwhile for it.
Lewis, the director of the Modern Jazz Quartet until his death in 2001, moved away from improvisation into composition when he formed Orchestra U.S.A. for this 1963 recording. John Lewis formed Orchestra U.S.A. as a vehicle to potentially explore any composed or improvised music, blending elements of jazz and classical music by recruiting some first-rate players from both worlds. The result is one of the more successful third stream recordings. There are two string quartets, plus woodwinds, brass, and a rhythm section present. Collaborating with Gunther Schuller, who conducted the group and did some of the orchestrations, Lewis expanded his work "Three Little Feelings" from its original chart for brass, featuring outstanding solos by alto saxophonist Phil Woods and guitarist Jim Hall.
Kavakos played like a dream eliciting an almost physical pleasure from the trueness of his intonation and the way in which certain phrases, certain chords landed. ~ Deutsches Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin / Ingo Metzmacher, BBC Proms, The Independent, August 2010
Are You Shpongled? builds on the ambient-trance aspirations of Shpongle's debut recording, the 20-minute opus "…And the Day Turned to Night," which is included here. It’s an album of high and lows, of tension and release. Shpongle has mastered the art of their genre leaving many psychedelic bands in the dust with their complex rhythms, intense production, or the softness of Raja’s flute breaking over the top. This is an album which much of the electronic/psychedelic world has hailed as one of the greatest pieces of work.
Manau in turn made their commercial recording debut in 1998 with the single "La Tribu de Dana," a Celtic rap song whose catchy refrain is an interpolation of the melody from Alan Stivell's 1971 rendition of the Breton folk standard "Tri Martolod." One of the biggest hits of 1998, "La Tribu de Dana" topped the French singles chart for 12 consecutive weeks and spent 23 weeks overall in the Top Three. In the wake of this breakout success, Manau made their full-length album debut with Panique Celtique (1998), which topped the albums chart and spawned a series of follow-up singles including the chart-topping hit "Mais Qui Est la Belette?," the Top Ten hit "Panique Celtique," the Top 30 hit "L'Avenir Est un Long Passé," and the Top 40 hit "La Confession."
In his debut recording, Al Somma introduces a distinctive and very personal approach to some of the classics of the American popular songbook––with a bow to major influences like Louis Armstrong, Nat “King” Cole and Frank Sinatra.
By restoring many of the introductory verses of these classic songs, Somma has helped a growing audience discover—or rediscover––the saucy wit and sheer romance of American popular standards. In Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience, Al Somma explores the songs of seeming polar opposites such as Irving Berlin and Thelonious Monk in order to tell us of the complexities of the human heart.