There are two English Davises, both conductors: Colin and Andrew–no relation. Colin recorded a landmark Messiah which is still available on Philips at budget price. This one is another matter entirely. Andrew Davis certainly knows this music, and he hits the big moments with gusto. But Messiah is more than big moments, and despite an excellent cast of soloists, there's too little involvement with the music (especially from Kathleen Battle) in the arias and more intimate moments to make this a clear recommendation. It's not bad, but the competition is just that much better. –David Hurwitz
Andrew Hill has been, in the gentlest of cases, an idiosyncratic player, composer, and bandleader. But often, reviews of his work have been quite strident and refer to him as an iconoclast. That's okay; some critics thought of Monk and Herbie Nichols that way, too. Time Lines has Hill back – for the third time in his long career – with Blue Note, the label that gave birth to his enduring classics like Black Fire and Judgment!. But Hill is still every bit the creative and technically gifted musician he was back in the day; perhaps more so. His band features seasoned veteran Charles Tolliver on trumpet, saxophonist Greg Tardy (who also triples on clarinet and bass clarinet, and beautifully, to say the least), and a rhythm section composed of bassist John Herbert and drummer Eric McPherson.
The great avant-jazz drummer Andrew Cyrille – whose associations have ranged from a long collaboration with Cecil Taylor to co-leading the collective Trio 3 with Oliver Lake and Reggie Workman – makes his ECM leader debut with The Declaration of Musical Independence. Featuring a quartet with guitarist Bill Frisell, keyboardist Richard Teitelbaum and bassist Ben Street, the album kicks off with an artfully oblique interpretation of John Coltrane’s “Coltrane Time,” led by Cyrille’s solo drum intro.
This release offers a pair of fairly early Delius works; they may not be instantly appealing to those making a start with this idiosyncratic English impressionist, but confirmed fans will love them. The roots of Frederick Delius’ Appalachia lay in his experiences as an orange plantation manager in Florida in the late 1880s, where he heard the singing of African-American laborers and, according to his own testimony, first began to think about becoming a composer. The work is subtitled “Variations on an Old Slave Song with Final Chorus for baritone, chorus, and orchestra,” and everything about it is intriguingly confused. Florida is not part of Appalachia. Nor is the Mississippi River delta, which Delius claimed was the inspiration for the work, but which he apparently never saw.