The debut recording from McCoy Tyner's big band features the pianist's all-star 15-piece unit romping through five of his originals (including "Blues for Basie") plus Steve Turre's "Lotus Flower." With such fine soloists as tenors Junior Cook and Ricky Ford, trumpeter Kamau Adilifu, trombonist Turre, and the leader, the ensemble (which includes John Clark's French horn and the tuba of Howard Johnson) had quickly gained its own sound and the results are quite memorable and frequently exciting. Recommended.
Downtown Train is a 12-track distillation of Rod Stewart's four-disc box set Storyteller, but instead of containing early hits, it concentrates on '80s singles like "Passion," "Young Turks," "Infatuation," "People Get Ready," and "Forever Young," adding a few '70s songs ("Stay with Me," "Tonight's the Night," "Killing of Georgie," "I Don't Want to Talk About It") and the new hit single "Downtown Train" for good measure. It may not have a wide scope, but it's a good sampler of his latter-day work for casual fans.
After composition student Ellis Ludwig-Leone graduated from Yale in 2011, instead of giving in to post-college feelings of aimlessness and "what next?" confusion, he set about to work on the epic master statement that he dubbed San Fermin. The self-titled debut is a massive collection of densely layered orchestral pop stuck between the technical tendencies of classically trained musicians and the summery electro-pop curiosity of chamber-leaning indie acts like Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, and Sufjan Stevens. Ludwig-Leone acts in a "man behind the curtain" fashion for San Fermin, conducting more than a dozen musicians and vocalists through his songs and only contributing piano and keyboards himself.