Russian pianist Denis Matsuev has established himself as one of the most dynamic and virtuosic performers of his generation, and his program on this RCA album with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic is ideally suited to his extraordinary abilities. The pairing of Sergey Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor and George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue is a natural one, particularly because of the works' shared post-romanticism (note Rachmaninov's influence on Gershwin's slow theme in the Rhapsody), as well as for the dazzling writing for the piano in both works. Of course, the challenge for Matsuev is to make his part appear effortless, and he succeeds so well in both performances that listeners may be a bit blasé about his playing, taking it in without really considering what knuckle-busters these pieces really are.
Box set in ECM’s acclaimed Old & New Masters series reintroduces Arild Andersen’s first three leader dates for the label – Clouds In My Head, Shimri, and Green Shading Into Blue. Recorded between 1975 and 1978, none of these albums has previously been issued on compact disc, and this edition is eagerly awaited. The music traces Andersen’s personal evolution from ‘free’-inclined bassist to bandleader-composer and introduces some players who would prove important for the future of the music – amongst them an 18-year-old Jon Balke on the “Clouds” session.
Reissue with the latest remastering. Features original cover artwork. The 1978 Jazz Messengers was one of Art Blakey's strongest groups in years, although it would soon be overshadowed by its successor (which introduced a young Wynton Marsalis). With trumpeter Valerie Ponomarev, altoist Bobby Watson and a tenor saxophonist forming a potent frontline and new material from each of the principals (plus pianist James Williams) in addition to a lengthy ballad medley, this is a fine all-around set, last available on LP.
"…A lot of bang for the buck."
When guitarist Al Caiola (1920) moved to New York after graduating he was quickly hired as a staff musician by CBS, where his skill and adaptability guaranteed him a heavy radio and TV schedule until he left in 1956; he was, in fact, one of the busiest, most successful and respected session men in New York City throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In 1955, at the peak of his success, he recorded “Deep in a Dream” and “Serenade in Blue” for Savoy Records, two albums which focused on a meticulous and reverent treatment of a collection of well-known standards and of his own originals. Technically impeccable, on these Caiola is backed by an excellent rhythm section, with pianist Hank Jones demonstrating his usual warmth and skill, aided by drummer Kenny Clarke and bassist Clyde Lombardi.
This is one of Thelonious Monk's most important records, even though it was his last studio session. He went out with a bang, with old friends Art Blakey and Al McKibbon on board in late 1971. (Any Monk record made after this is a concert bootleg with reluctant participation by Thelonious.)