A beautiful album of spiritual soul and Brazilian influenced jazz from Azar Lawrence – and a pretty rare one we're thrilled to have! Lawrence is a stellar sax player with a sound that's a bit like Gary Bartz, which means that he fits in perfectly with the Fantasy-era Prestige Records sound – but the sounds on this set are uncommonly rich and globally influenced. The set's predominantly acoustic, with lots of modal grooves in kind of a Strata East vein – and angular post-Coltrane playing that's very similar to Bartz's work on the Libra album from his early days. Players include Raul De Souza on trombone, Ron Carter on bass, Billy Hart on drums, Dom Salvador, who is really allowed to shine on piano on a few tracks, and drummer & percussionist Guilherme Franco, who brings a world of wonderful percussion on a couple of numbers.
In terms of the scale of his compositions, John Adams' career is somewhat anomalous for a contemporary composer. While the usual pattern tends to be for a composer to begin a career writing smaller pieces (which have a far likelier chance of being performed) and then expanding to larger forms as his or her reputation grows, Adams (with very few exceptions) was writing large-scale operas and orchestral and choral works starting in the early '80s and didn't begin devoting himself to chamber music with any regularity until the mid-'90s.
Of Rossini’s thirty-nine operas Il barbiere di Siviglia is the only one to have remained in the repertoire since its composition. When the composer met Beethoven in Vienna the great man told Rossini to only compose buffa operas like Il Barbiere. Verdi was also a great admirer of the work as he was of Rossini’s opera seria and particularly his William Tell. Il Barbiere was one of the works Rossini squeezed in during his contract as Musical Director of the Royal Theatres at Naples and where he was supposed to present two new works every year.