For many decades, African-American churches have worried about losing their best singers to secular music. And inevitably, many of them will, in fact, explore secular music instead of devoting 100 percent of their time to gospel. Al Smith is a perfect example. The obscure singer's roots were gospel, but he favored a jazz-influenced approach to blues and soul when he recorded two albums for Prestige/Bluesville: Hear My Blues in 1959 and Midnight Special in 1960. Recorded at Rudy Van Gelder's famous New Jersey studio, Midnight Special finds Smith backed by a rock-solid quintet that consists of King Curtis on tenor sax, Robert Banks on organ, Jimmy Lee Robinson on electric guitar, Leonard Gaskin on acoustic bass, and Bobby Donaldson on drums.
Tomas Luis de Victoria and Josquin Desprez were not contemporaries, they lived and worked in different countries, and perhaps shared little in terms of abstract compositional style. Yet throughout Europe, generations of musicians recognized them as kindred spirits, and tablature versions of their masses and motets circulated amongst lutenists. For John Potter, this is “the secret life of the music – in historical terms its real life.” In this characteristically creative project Potter - joined by Trio Mediaeval singer Anna Maria Friman and three outstanding vihuela players - explores “what happens to music after it is composed.”