Duke Ellington is featured in a complete performance at Basin Street East in New York City on this CD, as it was originally broadcast on WNEW, complete with his verbal exchanges with host William B. Williams. Unlike many of his concerts, there is no long medley of hits; instead, Ellington offers an interesting mix of old and new songs. The newer material includes his "gutbucket bolero," known as "Afro Bossa" (also titled "Bula"), featuring the gruff, muted trumpet of Cootie Williams, and the high-note theatrics of Cat Anderson. "Silk Lace" is a brisk rhumba featuring clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton, while the band (except for the rhythm section) sits out Ellington's masterful ballad "A Single Petal of a Rose."
While as an interpreter he is remembered most readily as an advocate of the piano music of Ludwig van Beethoven, Artur Schnabel's own favorite among the so-called "Great Masters" was Franz Schubert. Largely, Schnabel was able to record his little sips of Schubert in between great heaping gulps of Beethoven, and over a period of eighteen years managed to amass the 5 CDs worth of music that makes up Music and Arts' magnificent Artur Schnabel: The Complete Schubert Recordings. This set is "complete" in the sense that it includes every disc of Schubert that Schnabel made and approved for commercial release.
For his fourth Palmetto CD, Matt Wilson sends his regular quartet on a brief vacation and recruits Terell Stafford on trumpet, Larry Goldings on piano (not organ), and Dennis Irwin on bass. Previous efforts with the Matt Wilson Quartet and with Dewey Redman have gained Wilson a left-of-center reputation, but on Arts and Crafts the drummer confounds expectations altogether. He begins with Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Stompin' Grounds," a no-frills ride through "Stompin' at the Savoy" changes. Two tracks later, the band runs down Bud Powell's "Webb City," packing an enormous punch without exceeding four minutes.