Fans generally acknowledge the classic era of Tangerine Dream as coinciding with their Virgin years, which this collection rounds up nicely, opening with two landmarks, Phaedra and Rubycon, then including the group's broadening of scope and direction with the live Ricochet, Stratosfear, and Cyclone. This was directly after the early avant-garde years, consisting of experimental, arrhythmic work like Atem and Electronic Meditation, and before the Hollywood years, when Edgar Froese and co. began composing work for movie scores like Risky Business. Phaedra and Rubycon have not dated at all since their early-‘70s recording, despite Froese, Peter Baumann, and Chris Franke’s early adoption of Moog technology, along with Mellotron and other electric or electronic instruments. Along with the full LPs in their most recent remastering, the collection also rounds up single edits and 7” versions when they were originally available.
Throughout his career, Count Basie was modest about his own abilities as a pianist, and his success at streamlining his style to the bare essentials often made listeners underrate his playing talents. This 1974 session was a rarity, an opportunity for Basie to be featured in a trio setting (with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Louie Bellson), during which he provides enough variety to hold one's interest and enough technique to lead many to reassess his piano skills.
Lee Konitz has been a constant explorer throughout most of his career, never satisfied with a standard approach or falling into a rut with a particular instrumentation. This 1974 duo session with bassist Red Mitchell, which focuses exclusively on the works of Cole Porter, is one great example. With an inventive accompanist like Mitchell spurring him on, the alto saxophonist is able to work magical variations of the familiar Porter works, while Konitz retains his remarkable dry signature tone.
Ginger Baker's mid-'70s profile took another unexpected turn following Cream's blues-rock blood and thunder and his Afro-beat matchups with Fela Kuti. He formed this straight-ahead power trio with the guitar- and bass-playing brother team of Adrian and Paul Gurvitz, who'd briefly lit up the '60s U.K. charts as Gun (of "Race With the Devil" fame). Such a step might have seemed subversively normal for Baker, but he and the brothers had an undeniable chemistry; not surprisingly, their debut album is a self-assured, aggressive affair…