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RBSProds "rbsprods" (Deep in the heart of Texas)
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Slightly Latin (US Import)
Slightly Latin (US Import)

5.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER ROLAND KIRK RARITY: "SLIGHTLY LATIN" IS AN OUTSTANDING KIRK PERFORMANCE, 26 Mar. 2015
"With three horns in his mouth and flutes and whistles protruding from every pocket, he is a sight to behold. He seems to generate music like a dynamo creating electric energy."

Five HIP Stars! "Slightly Latin" is a recording by jazz Hall of Fame multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk in the prime of his career with an outstanding group that includes the piano excellence of Horace Parlan, a great cameo by trombonist Garnett Brown on "Juarez", the Kirk rarity of a vocal group harmonizing in the background on a few tracks (which sounds great and seems to encourage Kirk's already amped-up solos), and for the most part mixing in latin beats from the rhythm trio of Sonny Brown on drums, Montego Joe on congas, and Manuel Ramos on percussion. Kirk also adds bagpipes to his arsenal of reeds. The `best of the best' begins with Kirk backed by an R&B vocal group on "Nothing But The Truth", a nod to the Beatles with "And I Love Her", the thrilling singular "sheets of sound" solos by Kirk on his horns during "Raouf", and finally the soaring tribute to the marvelous border city of "Juarez" Mexico, with Kirk nailing a stupendous rare `circular breathing' solo appearance on baritone saxophone, adding in Virgil Jones' 'mariachi'-like trumpet, Garnett Brown's excellent trombone solo and quote, and sounds imitating a 'bull ring' with Kirk's "Ole" encouragements for more Mexico atmospherics, clearly one of Kirk's best performances in a great career. This is a rare recording that has slipped into almost complete obscurity and it's high time it is brought back to the attention of the jazz public. My Highest Recommendation. Five MARVELOUS Stars! (9 tracks; Time-37m:55s. Note: over on YouTube a new generation of jazz fans are re-discovering the incredible musicianship of Rahsaan Roland Kirk.)


Schubert String Quartet-Alban Berg [VHS]
Schubert String Quartet-Alban Berg [VHS]
VHS

5.0 out of 5 stars THE ABQ's MARVELOUS PERFORMANCE OF SCHUBERT's "DEATH AND THE MAIDEN" & MORE, 26 Mar. 2015
Five WONDERFUL Stars! This 1996 DVD film by the esteemed documentary filmmaker and violinist Bruno Monsaingeon captures the legendary Alban Berg Quartett (ABQ) giving another great dynamic interpretation of the popular 1824 String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, D810 (taking its sobriquet "Death and the Maiden" from the 'Andante con moto' movement) by the prolific star-crossed genius composer Franz Schubert. This edition of the ABQ consisted of Günter Pichler, violin I; Gerhard Schulz, violin II; Thomas Kakuska on viola; and Valentin Erben on cello. This performance came over 26 years into the ABQ's 38 year existence and a decade after their initial EMI LP recording and at a time when they felt they offered audiences something unique to this oft-played musical work. The DVD also comes with a short documentary film that gives the background on why the ABQ chose to finally record this beautiful, tragic work of musical art and shows the quartet giving a highly-detailed 'masterclass' on this very work to the rising stars of the now well-established Artemis Quartett at the Lubeck Music Academy. And to complete the circle, there is a short performance of the "Death and the Maiden" song by special guests: soprano Julia Varady and pianist Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, the song itself based on the 1817 poem by Matthias Claudius.

The performances within each movement are absolutely, uniformly wonderful and distinct from their 1986 EMI recording Schubert: String Quartets. From the well-known elegant, stark, dramatic 5-note motif of the Allegro movement to the sad, seductive thematic Andante con moto movement, through the furious Scherzo: allegro motto-Trio movement to the final Presto movement, the ABQ is superb in its unison and individual work, made all the more enlightening with director Monsaingeon's use of light and shadows through a number of stage level and overhead cameras. He pulls in very tight on the performers faces and hands as they exchange 'eye cues' between lead violinist Pincher and his cohorts, and uses other dramatic camera techniques to highlight (or darken) the musicians, keyed to the score. After viewing the documentary, it is interesting to re-watch the Berg's performance to shed new light on certain sections that they stressed for the Artemis Quartett during the master class. The ABQ retired in 2008 after 38 years, 3 years into their third iteration which had violist Isabel Charisius who had replaced her mentor, the late Thomas Kakuska. One of the top string ensembles in history, captured on clear non-HD film in stark, dramatic images on a pristine Dolby soundscape. My Highest Recommendation. Five IMPRESSIVE Stars!
(Note: Color, Running time: 58 minutes. Linear PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.0, Stereo DTS 5.0; DVD 5; NTSC System 4.3: "This DVD Video disc does not contain Regional Coding, but will play on NTSC system compatible players only"-it plays just fine on my BlueRay player. Subtitles in English, French, and German (for the documentary only). Franz Schubert died just short of 32 years of age having composed over 600 musical works.)


That Old Black Magic: A Piper Donovan Mystery (Piper Donovan/Wedding Cake Mysteries)
That Old Black Magic: A Piper Donovan Mystery (Piper Donovan/Wedding Cake Mysteries)
by Mary Jane Clark
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.05

5.0 out of 5 stars WELL-CRAFTED PIPER DONOVAN WEDDING CAKE MYSTERY IN THE CRESCENT CITY (WITH RECIPES), 26 Mar. 2015
Four and a half WICKED Stars! In "That Old Black Magic", author Mary Jane Clark skillfully drops Piper Donovan into New Orleans this time and she runs smack into murder, voodoo (or is it hoodoo?), interesting characters, and possibly a career change or enhancement. As with previous novels in this niche series, the charming but deadly Wedding Cake Mysteries draw their fascination for the reader from 27 year old Piper the well-meaning protagonist, her family (sadly there is a new development), her policeman 'significant other', the travelogue aspect (in this case, we are given a tour of well-known Crescent City areas), the wedding cake tie-in, occasionally her non-cooking aspirations, and even a local food recipe or two: all of which author Clark skillfully blends with mysterious deaths that stand out even in New Orleans. Piper can't escape being an astute amateur sleuth and concerned citizen in trying to solve this puzzling 'who done it' beyond police involvement. In the last novel, Piper narrowly escaped a harrowing death in Sarasota Florida, only a month ago on this novel's timeline, which reverberates across the landscape of this novel. Along the way we meet: danger awaiting in unusual forms particular to the New Orleans culture, fortune tellers, muffulettas, greed, family intrigue, voodoo spirits, suspects with motives, a citizen fanning the flames of concern, and Piper, as usual, innocently blundering into the wrong place at the wrong time. Piper fans will probably be intrigued by Clark's latest page-turner installment in the series; I certainly enjoyed it. Highly Recommended. Four and a half ABSORBING Stars (371 pages, reviewed in Kindle text-to-speech mode)


Left & Right
Left & Right
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars THE JAZZ MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST MASTER DELIVERS A WILD MAGNUM OPUS, PLUS BALLADS,, 26 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Left & Right (MP3 Download)
"With three horns in his mouth and flutes and whistles protruding from every pocket, he is a sight to behold. He seems to generate music like a dynamo creating electric energy."

Four and a half JAZZY Stars! This is a wide-ranging recording from the highly productive Atlantic Records phase of Rahsaan Roland Kirk's career. Featuring a 12 person orchestra on one side of the original vinyl long-playing record and an 'octet with strings' on the other, Kirk continues to amaze with the listener with his wide-ranging compositions, his "multiple-horns at the same time" playing & solo inventiveness, and his arrangements.

Kirk throws down the musical gauntlet on the Kirk-style Magnum Opus "Expansions" after the humorous but true string-laden intro about the "stolen black notes mystery". Featuring musicians such as Richard Williams on trumpet (the harsh beauty of "A Dream of Beauty Reincarnated", Pepper Adams' very important baritone sax anchoring the ensemble passages (and solo on "Frisco Vibrations"), the talented Ron Burton on piano, and Alice Coltrane's heavenly harp on "Celestialness", this is pure, rambunctious, unpredictable Kirk at his best. Compositionally, the emphasis is on group dynamics, with few Kirk solos, as "Expansions" surges through the various sub-themes and variations, with an obvious nod to Charles Mingus. Side two features a 16 person string section with Charles McCracken in residence, and Julius Watkins and Jimmy Buffington on french horns. The octet includes Roy Haynes on drums and Frank Wess on reeds. Ballads are the order of the day on this session with magnificent versions of "Lady's Blues" with Kirk using a unique flute style that has influenced jazz and rock and classical flautists alike, Mingus's "IX Love" (tenor sax), Quincy Jones' "Quintessence" (manzello), Strayhorn's "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing" (strich), and the best of the session, an awesomely beautiful version of the Dizzy Gillespie-Gil Fuller standard ballad "I Waited For You" (tenor sax) with an excellent Gilbert Fuller string arrangement inter-twining with Kirk's soaring horn. Highly Recommended. Four and a half AMAZING Stars! (8 tracks, Time-38:56)


Trem Azul: Serie Reviva by Regina, Elis [Music CD]
Trem Azul: Serie Reviva by Regina, Elis [Music CD]

5.0 out of 5 stars ELIS REGINA'S FINAL RECORDED PERFORMANCES: 'THE HURRICANE', LIVE & WONDERFUL, 26 Mar. 2015
Four Stars for the overall CD. Five HUGE Stars for the final recorded performace by Elis Regina, the immortal Brazilian super diva. She is in great form, fronting a hot brass, reed, and guitar combo. In front of a boisterous crowd, she rips through 25 fast-paced songs, some of which are short, while others are abbreviated intros to full songs (Ivan Lins' "Começar De Nova" is just a tantalizing one verse transition). This is a bootleg recording made before the tragic accident that took her life in 1982 at age 36, plunging Brazil into a state of mourning that persists to this day. The tracks were remastered as much as possible from a pirated 8-Track master: it has a sharp, clear sound to it, delivering her every breath, but the 'recorded behind the curtain' aspect is still there. This is my 20th recording by Elis and she was as vital a performer at the end of her career and throughout, as she was in her first recordings at age 16 which can be found on the CD "". She serves up songs by famous composers, many of whom were good friends and had their careers enhanced by her recordings of their works: Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil, Lô Borges, Caetano Veloso, Rita Lee, Ivan Lins, and Beto Guedes, among others.

The show has some initial up-tempo numbers to get the audience set up, but then she delivers pure, undiluted, top-drawer 'furacão'. The 'Best of the Best' begin with the Lô Borges/Ronaldo Bastos title track,' "O Trem Azul" (The Blue Train) which is delivered near the beginning of the show and is repeated at the very end. Both versions are touching mid-tempo renditions of one of her favorite songs, which harkens back to the landmark CD by Mr Nacimento & the 'Clube da Esquina'. "Vento De Mao" (Winds of May) is pure joy to hear. The 'voice with guitar' waltz, " Valsa De Euridice", is overpoweringly beautiful with Elis hitting those incredible mid-range notes that only her voice could produce. "Menino do Rio" (River Boy) is hilarious. "Caxangá" (Crab) & "Maria, Maria", as a ballad that accelerates, are excellent. And the final recorded performance of her career, "O Trem Azul," is the show closer, pushing the envelope as Elis is overcome with emotion. To some Elis Regina was an acquired taste, but to me, and all of Brazil, she ranks with the finest female singers of all time: Maria Callas, Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, Sarah Vaughn, Ella, Kiri Ti Kanawa, Angela Gheroghiu, Alessandra Coletti, Jessye Norman, whoever: consider Ms Regina for your personal list. This performance is very reminiscent of the current shows by her daughter, Grammy-winner Maria Rita who has 100% of her mother's vocal DNA: unique, high energy, touching, nuanced, and very personal. All sung in sensual Brazilian Portuguese. HIghly Recommended as an ESSENTIAL recording for Elis Regina completists with the caution on the sound. Four OVERALL Stars for the CD, Five REMARKABLE Stars for Elis. She truly was Furacão (the hurricane) and "pimentinha" (little pepper).
(Audio CD, 1 disc: total time of 73:43, with short abbreviated Portuguese notes and a poem. Remastered, but some muffled sound problems persist.)


Live In An American Timespiral
Live In An American Timespiral

5.0 out of 5 stars GEORGE RUSSELL'S SPECTACULAR NEW YORK JAZZ BAND, RECORDED LIVE, 26 Mar. 2015
Five INSPIRED Stars! "Live in An American Time Spiral" captures legendary composer, arranger, educator, NEA Jazz Master, and 'MacArthur Fellow' George Russell, who created the highly-praised and innovative "Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization" music theory, in a live performance by his 14 piece orchestra in NYC circa 1982. With a group of young but well-seasoned rising stars, Russell presents one of his jazz standards, along with the multi-tempo, mercurial "Time Spiral" which was commissioned by the Swedish Radio Broadcasting System and finally the intriguing, atmospheric "DC Divertimento", commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Jazz Festival. And the performances are spectacular, from all aspects of compositions, arrangements, and solos. And the `cham-peen' of the night is one of the best versions ever of Russell's jazz standard composition "Ezz-thetic", written for heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles, featuring blazing, memorable solos from ascendant 'youngsters' Marty Ehrlich on tenor sax, Tom Harrell on trumpet, Ray Anderson on trombone and Victor Lewis on drums, based on a marvelous arrangement by saxophonist/educator Jerry Coker, who 'raises the stakes' near the end with marvelous unison statements and 'trades' between soloists. The soundscape has a 'here-there' feel to it among the orchestra sections with the saxes closer to the mike and the trumpets farther away, but it's acceptable and the solos are on mike in the orchestra. The single track "Ezz-thetic" is worth the price of the CD alone, which is very reasonable. George Russell: one of the great jazz composers and band leaders. My Highest Recommendation. Five BLAZING Stars! (3 Tracks; Time-49:12)


Voices
Voices

5.0 out of 5 stars A MAGNIFICENT MELLOW PERFORMANCE BY THE TENOR SAX TITAN: WITH VOICES & QUARTET, 26 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Voices (Audio CD)
Five MELLOW Stars!! The magnificent Hall of Fame tenor sax legend Stan Getz and the 'Quartet +' is in great form on this concept recording of Getz & Company with wordless voices, mostly in a latin vein. The "voices" part, however, is little more than pretty 'window dressing' most of the time. Tracks where the wordless vocal backings work best are on the 'Pieces De Resistance': beginning with Horace Silver's classic "Nica's Dream" where the voices are minimal (an all-time favorite Getz song of mine that has jumped from vinyl record to reel-to-reel tape to 8 track tape to cassette tape formats, and finally to iTunes digital format in my collection.). Then there is the theme from the eponymous motion picture "I Want To Live" (where the vocal group heats up considerably), and the bossa nova "Little Rio" after the bridge and on the coda. The voices do provide a nice cushion for each song, but they usually arise late in each song and ultimately contribute little, in and of themselves. But it's Getz who is absolutely ON FIRE, improvising with mellow aplomb, totally in need of no 'concept', spinning each song on it's thematic sonic edge, pushed on by his bandmates.

Getz is supported by a 'quartet plus percussion' which consists of Herbie Hancock or Hank Jones (piano); Jim Hall (guitar); Ron Carter (bass); a fiery Grady Tate (drums); with Artie Butler, Bill Horwath, and/or Bobby Rosengarden on percussion. Claus Ogerman conducts the voices. The tracks are 4 minutes or less, so there is little or no solo opportunities for this wonderful support group of jazz all-stars but they provide great propulsion and meaningful background commentary for each song. It's Getz who gets the "Focus" and he makes the most of every opportunity. Five SMOOTH Stars!!!


Honeymoon For One: Traveling Alone to Scotland for Christmas
Honeymoon For One: Traveling Alone to Scotland for Christmas
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars HONEYMOON FOR ONE IN SCOTLAND PROVIDES TWO SURPRISES, 26 Mar. 2015
Author Jenny Davis writes in a fast-paced and charming manner that pushes the storyline along briskly. This is the story of Anna who was very much in love and was preparing for her wedding to a man who seemed aloof and was always busy while she was working hard on the wedding preparation. Then the unexpected happens and she goes to Scotland alone at Christmas to an unknown future. I very much enjoyed this book, although there is a plot hole that may or may not bother the reader, if they consider it a problem at all. This is a very good short story by a talented up-and-coming author. Four ABSORBING Stars! (35 pages, PDF text provided for an impartial review.)


In a Jazz Tradition
In a Jazz Tradition

5.0 out of 5 stars RON CARTER PRODUCES A SWINGING ERIC GALE-LED SESSION, 26 Mar. 2015
This review is from: In a Jazz Tradition (Audio CD)
Four and a half SWINGING Stars! Guitar master Eric Gale was one of the consummate jazz, blues, and Rhythm and Blues guitar sessions players of all time. He appeared on over 150 recording sessions over the decades that covered jazz, rock, pop, and soul recordings. Occasionally soloing with his very distinctive sound and technique, his luminous guitar always colored the proceedings with 'bent notes' that are unmistakable to the ear. He leads this session which is produced by Hall of Fame jazz bassist Ron Carter under the title "Eric Gale: In A Jazz Tradition". The all-star group includes Gale, Carter, tenor saxophone stylist Houston Person, excellent drummer Grady Tate, and Dr. Lonnie Smith on organ whose sound turns this group into an old-style, late-night, rip-roaring tenor-organ-sax group.

The 'best of the best' begins fittingly enough with the swinging, funky "Eric's Gale" kicked off with a great intro and solo from Person, an excellent solo from Gale with a nice "C C Rider" quote that becomes his improvisational vehicle, as Carter provides some stellar bass work. Tadd Dameron's "If You Could See Me Now"is a beautifully rendered ballad with a dreamy late night feel with scintillating solos from Gale, Dr Smith, and Person. Charlie Parker's "Bloomdido" becomes a blowing session conduit for all concerned, with Gale and Person especially standing-out over nice 'comping' from Dr Smith. "Lover Man" humorously gets a "Makin' Whoopee" intro from Dr. Smith before Person takes the theme statement and solos with gusto, followed by Gale. Duke Pearson's "Jordu" gets a rousing, facile bass solo from Carter and a crackling drum solo from Tate. Carter's own "Loose Change" is the challenging piece of the recordings with Gale unfurling a wonderful, funky solo, with Person punctuations throughout, as they head towards the door. Carter's "Blues for Everybody" is remarkable for the blues solos of Person and Gale, but Carter's booming walking bass line is outrageous, especially in conversation with Dr. Smith. This is an excellent all-star date starring guitarist Eric Gale under the production of Ron Carter. Four and a half BLUESY Stars (7 tracks. Time-49:49)


I And I
I And I
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars INGRID LAUBROCK's CANDID DEBUT: A SCINTILLATING, LATIN-TINGED "I and I", 25 Mar. 2015
This review is from: I And I (MP3 Download)
This track is from the 1998 Candid debut album of avant-garde tenor, alto, soprano, and baritone saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock. She was born in Germany, established herself with educational credentials and performances in London, was mentored by Dave Liebman, and now is a part of the very active New York avant-garde jazz scene. On this recording, "Who Is It?", we find Laubrock on her first recording in a more conventional straight-ahead post bop setting than she has done since this recording with her "Sleepthief" group on `Laubrock/Noble/Rainey Sleepthief Mainstream Jazz' (with Tom Rainey and Liam Noble) as well as recording with the likes of Anthony Braxton's Diamond Curtain Wall Quintet and Mary Halvorson. She performs "I and I" on soprano saxophone over a bouncy latin beat provided by Tolentino on guitar, keyboardist/accordionist Kim Burton, Davide Mantovani on bass, and percussionist Helder Pack. She shows delightful inventiveness using a bright buoyant soprano sax tone. Highly Recommended! Four and a half ENJOYABLE Stars! (1 MP3 track. Time 5:21. Ingrid Laubrock is one of the rising stars on tenor sax (8) and soprano sax (2) in the 62nd Annual DownBeat International Jazz Critics Poll for 2014.)


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