This CD reissue has rarities from three different Eric Dolphy sessions. "April Fool" and the alternate take of "G.W." are drawn from Dolphy's initial date as a leader, a quintet outing with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and pianist Jaki Byard. "Don't Blame Me" is taken from a Copenhagen concert but it is the two remaining numbers ("Status Seeking" and an unaccompanied rendition on bass clarinet of "God Bless the Child") that are of greatest interest.
Beat Avenue is 60-year-old Eric Andersen's most ambitious album, a 90-minute tour de force that encapsulates his musical and lyrical concerns over a lifetime. The music is often-dense rock dominated by a rhythm section led by guitarist Eric Bazilian of the Hooters. Equally dense is Andersen's highly poetic versifying, which he sings in his gruff baritone. Andersen is world-weary in these songs, roaming the globe haunted by the past and fearful of the future. He confesses to a reckless youth, but acknowledges that he can no longer afford such license. "What once was Charles Bukowski," he sings in "Before Everything Changed," referring to the free-living beat poet, "is now Emily Dickinson." The ballads and love songs "Song of You and Me," "Shape of a Broken Heart," "Under the Shadows," and "Still Looking for You" are rendered tenderly, but they are also full of regret and loss, past-tense reflections that recount memories of love long gone. The first disc of Beat Avenue is complete and formidable unto itself, but there is a second CD consisting of two lengthy songs. The title track, running more than 26 minutes, is a beat poem with jazzy accompaniment by Robert Aaron in which Andersen recalls a poetry reading he attended as a 20-year-old on the day President Kennedy was assassinated.
Well into his 30th year of recording, Eric Andersen picks up where his 1989 masterpiece Ghosts upon the Road left off. His 15th album was eight years in the making, pieced together from collaborations with Rick Danko, Richard Thompson, Benmont Tench, Howie Epstein, and Bob Dylan bassist Tony Garnier. It demonstrates the virtues of patient songwriting in sensual love lyrics, sprawling wanderer's laments, and Beat-poetry-inspired litanies of sins and ecstasies. "He thought of his mother / He thought of the automat / The space shuttle / Jersey cows and poison lollipops / As the dry heaves rose in his chest," he intones over a smoky, funky groove. Of all the folksingers to find their way out of the '60s, only Dylan and Joni Mitchell have remained as restless and provocative as Andersen. His imagination has grown ever more sure, his voice has become an unearthly, stately whisper, and his songs are still shapes by a singular, exceptional artistic will.
Christiane Oelze is one of the leading German sopranos to have emerged in the latter decades of the 20th century. Her repertory includes a broad range of works in the operatic, concert, and lieder realms by composers, including J.S. Bach, Mozart, Richard Strauss, Schubert, Brahms, Mahler, and Schoenberg. She possesses a bright, somewhat delicate voice whose graceful quality makes her style both uniquely appealing and easily recognizable.