As more ensembles perform and record Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, its status as a minimalist masterpiece is increasingly affirmed. Ensemble Signal's 2015 release on Harmonia Mundi is one of several amazing performances that have matched Reich's original ECM New Series recording in technical brilliance and expressivity, and it has even earned the composer's approval for being, "…fast moving, spot on, and emotionally charged." Under the direction of Brad Lubman, Ensemble Signal maintains a relentlessly steady pulse and articulates the interlocking patterns with absolute precision, though the shifting tone colors are perhaps a little clearer in this performance than in other recordings. The microphone placement is not so close that individual instruments stand out, but there is enough separation of parts to allow some sense of direction and the orientation of the smaller sub-groups of pianos, xylophones, marimbas, strings, clarinets, and voices. This is a mesmerizing performance that will transfix listeners, and the music is so compelling that it will linger on well after the CD stops. Highly recommended.
2008 release of this '60s recording by the American Jazz drummer Kenny Clarke and Belgian pianist Francy Boland, leading one of the finest Jazz ensembles ever assembled outside of the U.S. Had it not been for the post-war migration of many top American Jazz musicians to Europe, it is quite likely that the legendary Clarke-Boland Big Band might never have come into existence. As it happened, when Gigi Campi set up the first Big Band record date in Cologne in 1961, he was able to call upon such distinguished self-exiled Jazz stars as Benny Bailey (originally from Cleveland, Ohio), Sahib Shihab (Savannah, Georgia), Jimmy Woode (Boston, Massachusetts) and, of course, Kenny Clarke (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania).