Premiata Forneria Marconi (or P.F.M.) were arguably the finest Italian Progressive rock band of the 1970 s and certainly one of the most well known. A successful act in their home land, they came to international attention when they signed to Manticore label in 1973, recording a series of albums with English lyrics, some penned by Elp and King Crimson lyricist Pete Sinfield. Over the next four years they released four studio albums and a live recording for the label, and it is from these albums that this 2CD anthology is drawn. In addition, four previously unreleased live recordings from the Manticore vaults also grace this collection, along with the CD debut of a rare B-side to a UK single.
Arvo Pärt: A Portrait, a collection of performances by Canadian violinist Angèle Dubeau and her string ensemble La Pietà, is easily among the finest recordings devoted to Pärt's instrumental music. It includes his best-known works for strings, with the exception of Fratres, in performances of exceptional purity that get at the heart of his uniquely simple, chaste, and directly communicative music.
After decades of recording for RCA Victor, Atkins switched labels; this 1985 effort is a summit meeting of sorts with young guitar hotshots like Larry Carlton, George Benson, Mark Knopfler, Steve Lukather, and Earl Klugh, plus session A-teamers like Boots Randolph, Larrie Londin, David Hungate, Mark O'Connor and others. Atkins' tone is, as usual, faultless, and his playing superb. If the "meetings" don't always come off, it's usually due to the overzealousness of the other guitar players (Lukather's over-the-top style screams '80s big hair, for instance), not Chet, whose playing always exercises the utmost in restraint in every situation. All in all, a good modern-day Chet Atkins album, but not the place to start a collection.
Herbie Hancock's V.S.O.P. project with his former bandmates from the Miles Davis Quintet – Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams – and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard was a band that almost single-handedly tried to re-establish acoustic jazz in the United States. And though they made three recordings, all of which were favorably reviewed and heralded by true jazz fans, none of them sold very well, and the band could find few gigs in the United States. The 1978 tour of major cities was thought to be a triumph at the time, but the unit could find few gigs afterward, and so its various members all went back to their other projects. In 1979, they got the opportunity to tour Japan and jumped at the chance. Sony, Hancock's Japanese label, recorded the two evenings, and the first, which took place during a furious rainstorm, was broadcast live on national television! Live Under the Sky marks the first time that this album has been available in the United States in any form.