This single CD from 1998 has all of the music from boogie-woogie pianist Meade Lux Lewis' two Verve LPs of 1954-1955. The earlier date is a set of duets with drummer Louie Bellson, while the later session finds Lewis accompanied by bassist Red Callender and drummer Jo Jones. The packaging is perfect, and with 76-and-a-half minutes of playing, the amount of music is generous. The only problem is that there is a definite sameness to the 14 selections (which mostly clock in between four and seven minutes), the majority of which are medium-tempo blues romps. None of the melodies (all Lewis originals) are at all memorable. The romping momentum of the music overall is difficult to resist, but it is advisable to listen to this set in small doses.
Sweet and sexy sounds from William Sheller – a rare French set from the early 70s – and a record we'd rank right up there with the best work by Serge Gainsbourg and Jean-Claude Vannier! Sheller's got a similar groove here – a way of compressing the instrumentation right down to the core, and slipping it around slinky rhythms and spacey production – both of which make familiar instruments sound really way-out! There's also a bit of darkness to the set too – which comes from Sheller's process of recasting a mass structure into a new sort of vision – and a few points feature vocalizations alongside the way-out instrumentation.
Lux Aeterna is an orchestral work in five movements, with featured parts of trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg and Rypdal himself. It is filled with that curious melancholy which distinguishes contemporary Nordic music on both sides of the jazz-classical divide: trailing wisps of melody and harmonies moving with glacial slowness. But then, just as you are beginning to lose patience with it, in comes Mikkelborg's trumpet, with a tone half-note and half-breath, and the effect is utterly magical. And that is as close as I can get to answering the question of whether this is jazz or not. Just be patient and listen.
From a composer whose vast output plunders the stylistic gamut of western musical history and then some, here is a single movement requiem full of clean lines and troubled introspection. Et Lux is a 2009 composition for voices and string quartet in which Rihm dwells on certain phrases of the Latin death mass – particularly the notion of eternal light, which he calls “comforting yet deeply disturbing”. The same could be said of Et Lux as a whole. Tropes waft in from across the ages: this music treads the line of tangibility, with sudden rushes of anger or fondness and the messy half-memories that come with grief. The strings complete phrases that the singers can’t seem to summon. Conductor Paul van Nevel doubles the vocal parts to create broad, generous textures that sound lovely and lush against the strings’ icy clarity – all qualities that ECM’s engineers are expert at capturing.