On its debut CD, KNEE DEEP IN THE NORTH SEA, Mercury Prize-nominated combo the Portico Quartet delivers an unusually meditative brand of world music-influenced jazz that matches a minimalist classical music vibe with a pop/jam band-informed compositional sense. Centered on repeated figures played on the hang (a type of steel drum) and soprano saxophonist Jack Wylie’s Wayne Shorter-esque improvisational explorations, Portico Quartet’s music should appeal to fans of Weather Report and the Dave Matthews Band alike.
This recording of a live performance of MEISTERSINGER from Bayreuth 1957 definitely merits five stars. For those of you who don't already know this, Gustav Neidlinger (PeaceBeUponHim) was the undisputed master of Wagner's "howling-and-spitting" villain roles, Alberich and Klingsor, from the early 1950s until the mid 1970s. He sang with unmatched sulfur, cannon-ball density, huge volume, dark tone, and powerful dramatic interpretation. He sang more spontaneously and from-the-gut than most singers. He was the first of his generation to sing these roles with musical line and connected legato, rather than as a series of isolated shouts, grunts, and bellowings. He was typecast for these villainous roles as soon as he set foot on the stage, and almost never performed as a good-guy.