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Reviews Written by
simon mack "digital media artist etc" (UK)

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Original Jazz Classics
Original Jazz Classics
Price: 4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars good if brief overview of sax colossus Rollins, 19 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Original Jazz Classics (Audio CD)
This review is from: Original Jazz Classics (Audio CD)

a recent bargain buy on amazon as looking to expand my jazz collection (started 20 years ago) and in particular that of Sonny Rollins - remarkably ,like Ornette Coleman ,still playing live across the globe some 50 or so years on.

the good news here is that this cheap collection is a fine bargain price introduction to one of the sax legends with mostly easy going but uptempo hard bop tunes aided + abetted by top notch side men (alas unlisted on this OJC release). running time is short at just 40 minutes (like the OJC/Ace Eric Dolphy release - also reviewed + worth your attention, but recordings are all fine with clear sound, not bootleg status at all. i will delve deeper into who played what on these diverse tracks but for now - be assured that this OJC compilation offers a fine collection of Rollins - the swinging bop player, standards dismantler, lyrical player + exploratory sax icon. most tracks are late 1950's / early 1960's tracks in decidely approachable swinging standards/bop mode.

for me though- this collection is greatly enhanced by 4th + 6th tracks "the cutting edge" + "poinciana" (from "next album") that as a fan of the later 1960's new thing (Coltrane,Shepp,Art Ensemble etc) offers Rollins here on one track -on soprano unusually, in freewheeling more adventurous group live context that explores the free-er 60's new thing without losing lyrical contact. excellent.

recommended as bargain basement price intro for Sonny newcomers + old jazz hands alike. better still + still good value is "Definitive Sonny Rollins" of his prestige label etc years : ASIN: B003VSTBI0 . an excellent dbl cd compilation.

50 Bauhaus Icons You Should Know
50 Bauhaus Icons You Should Know
by Josef Strasser
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars bauhaus - total design eye candy here, 14 Jan 2013
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extract from intro text by joseph straSer: was not the past but the future that was the focus,a future in which the combination of art and crafts was to lead to exemplary objects, builidings and spaces for a new, more humane society." and who could possibly argue against that admirable ethos i ask ? and so to "50 Bauhaus Icons"..

a brand bargain amazon purchase after a recent flurry of research into this key 20th C design school. "50 Bauhaus Icons you should know" printed in 2009 by prestel with text by Josef StraSer is a visual joy. measuring 9 1/2" x 8 " the emphasis here is on complete visual delight as 50 key selected designs are presented in immaculate often nearly A4 size colour reproductions that offer an exhilarating visual record of the 1919-1933 german based but internationally oriented design institution. a half decent index + 2 page intro text by StraSer are concise if hardly extensive with interesting dedicated page text + sharp images per design.

however, its the sheer quality and selection of the 50 designs here that range from architecture, poster /graphic design, furniture,textiles and associated artworks by the likes of Kandinsky,Maholy-Nagy,Klee, Breur, Anni Alber etc that is a total joy. want to see where much 20thC modernism originated ? look no further.

a marvellous visual as well as concise text overview to the literature on this hugely influential design collective. i'd also recommend Frank Whitford's more in depth socio-political insights in his book by thames and husdon for those wishing to delve deeper. Magdalena Droste's taschen (basic editions) book is a worthy if slightly dry volume also that focuses ore on the architectural innovations + personal histories.

50 Bauhaus Icons by StraSer though - is highly recommended.

Watching My Life Go
Watching My Life Go
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 11.95

4.0 out of 5 stars emotional - vocal/guitar Hedges, 10 Jan 2013
This review is from: Watching My Life Go (Audio CD)
listening again this morning to Micheal Hedges solo guitar lp "aerial boundaries" that a good friend miraculously introduced to in the late 1980's - i see no review of this extraordinary guitarist's guitar /vocal lp "watching my life go by" on amazon uk + so...

"WMLGB" on windham hill is a bit of a curates egg really in the Hedges recorded canon as it essentially features fairly traditional (for Hedges) troubadour guitar songs of Hedges in a plaintive ,Neil Young pitched singing style,with MH's usual dazzlingly technical yet powerful solo guitar work taking a back seat here. many songs hit the emotional spot certainly ,but in the context of his deservedly acclaimed guitar lps - WMLGB is not essential. emotional , soulful collection of songs that many will appreciate but the best of MH's multi-facted work is better represented elsewhere . go for "aerial boundaries" or "live on the double planet" first i would say for the real deal on this major talent, sadly no longer with us.

String Quartets 11-13
String Quartets 11-13
Offered by FlorenciumBear
Price: 9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars essential music - but lacks intensity here, 8 Jan 2013
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This review is from: String Quartets 11-13 (Audio CD)
i bought the Brodsky teldec cd of Shostakovich's 7,8 + 9th quartets some ten years ago to compare against my cd s of the Fitzwilliams,Eders + Borodins + here with Qrts 11,12 + 13 : the same reaction prevails. flat..

i have now listened to ,+ heard performed live many times -this extraordinary 20thC quartet cycle since the early 1990s and am unfortunately a very picky fan of this music when it comes to the best recordings. here - the uk s Brodsky's play a little like the overrated Emerson Shostakovich (DSCH) cyle - with impeccable intonation + ensemble playing but with flawed emotional + psycholigical insight.

perfectly fine as a bargain basement intro cd to DSCH newcomers but pretty soon you would want to hear more coruscatingly intense + moving versions, then - go for as listed already - the Borodin Qrt, Eders or Fitzwilliams. this complex later quartet music of this enigmatic composer needs total understanding and commitment- alas the Brodsky's fall a little short here. the music strikes at the heart of the Soviet era though.

Bauhaus (Taschen Basic Art Series)
Bauhaus (Taschen Basic Art Series)
by Magdalena Droste
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.03

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good Bauhaus overiview - but lacks eye candy.., 8 Jan 2013
as a proud owner of a repro Bauhaus chair by Marcel Breur (a pristine s/h bargain charity shop buy - but i digress) i started to delve into the history of the chair (a B2) + then the rich legacy of the entire Bauhaus school of architecture + design. and so to this inexpensive nicely presented taschen softback book.

measuring 9" x 7 1/2" with a well written concise history, as well as political context of the origins + eventual dissolution of the school : Magdalene Droste is informative if not as detailed as Frank Whitford in his bauhaus book for thames + hudson. this taschen book offers many fine + fascinating images of the people in situ during this time , along with a more architectural emphasis, as well as the key people :Gropius,Meyer, Mies van Rohe but also the start at least of a gender egaliterian nature far ahead of its 1919-1933 era, although Droste is critical still of the still male dominated school "masters"at the Bauhaus.

my headline comment of not enough "eye candy" may seems crass but this edition does not contain many colour illustrations of key design / art works : be it exhibition flyers,furniture or textile designs -so that is a shame. however ,Droste's is a well written book that just lacks a little visusal "oomph" for me. Whitford's thames and hudson book (similarly priced) goes deeper into the historical-social context and offers more colour illustrations. or - for total eye candy overload in glorious large images go for the budget price "50 Bauhaus Icons You Should Know" (prestel) which makes up for the rather monochromatic taschen basic art volume here.

20th Century Photography (Taschen 25)
20th Century Photography (Taschen 25)
by Museum Ludwig Cologne
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars in a word - fabulous, 3 Jan 2013
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Taschen - 25th Annivesary edition - 2007

with such a detailed review here already i will spare prospective amazon readers some time after wading through the main review and give a brief overview. this quite small yet heavy weight paperback version is absolutely excellent . why ? print quality of the hundreds of landmark,iconic image here are first rate,as is the selection featuring a mind boggling diverse range of key photographers from the Museum Ludwig in Cologne.

ideally 20th C photography would have been a little larger (its just 6 x 8" but 2" thick mind) as the images would benefit from larger reproductions ,but that would make it somewhat more expensive of course particularly in hardback.

as a reviewer of several other taschen art,photography books - i can certainly attest to the quality of reproduction ,binding + layout + 20th C Photography here -is no different. excellent with literally hundreds of eye poppingly good images.
the extended coverage given to key photographers such as Man Ray,Ansel Adams,Rodchenko together with contemporary masters such as Tillmans etc with up to 8 images each is another bonus + at a fraction of the cost of many heavyweight hardback versions. shame there's no Eggleston,or McCullin here + a lack of artist index is also a shame also but at this price, the sheer breadth of what IS included more than compensates. as a another reviewer mentioned - a little heavy on german photographers in this collection, with no latin american (no Salgado for example)or african or arabic works but for sheer quality of reproduction and price 20th C Photography is still a fabulous collection of images leading up to the early nineties.

buy without hesitation. one of the best photo collection books i've seen so far.

Making Orange Things
Making Orange Things
Offered by Books-and-Sounds
Price: 4.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a miss for Aaron F .., 3 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Making Orange Things (Audio CD)
canadian beats monster - mr.Aaron Funk (aka Venetian Snares) has come undone here on "making orange things" a collaboration with fellow planet u labelmate Speedranch on this 40 minute release. possibly his most intense ,unlisteneable + unfocused release with scattershot gabba,breakcore breaks yes but nothing lasts long enough before speedranch adds his often lacklustre samples + noise segments to make "mot" a bit of a mess. and a headache.

if you want prime time Venetian Snares - theres a rich back catalogue of cds to choose from - where his intense,inventive brand of breakcore + textures makes sense but here Speedranch, merely messes up the beats + momentum. disappointing. Speedranch + Jansky Noise's planet mu cd :"migrate" from 2003 is a much better showcase of their avant noise/sample world.

go for "Rossz Csillag Alatt Született", "Detrimentalist" or "Cavalcade of Glee" etc instead, and also fellow legends Squarepusher's early work + japanese noise legend - Merzbow for a total assault on your senses.

On the Outside
On the Outside
Offered by themusicmerchant
Price: 18.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Sonny does "free" - his way.., 31 Dec 2012
This review is from: On the Outside (Audio CD)
originally releases as "our man in jazz" on rca label - it was re-released as "on the outside" in 1991 .part live / part studio outakes from 1962+63. sonny rollins - sax,don cherry-cornet,billy higgins-drums,bob cranshaw/henry grimes-bass. link: [...]

i've enjoyed this cd since the 1990's when first initially the big name horn players + Sonny Rollins is certainly one of the legends. here this excellent cd features Rollins on usual tenor, with Ornette Coleman's semi-regulars including don cherry on cornet in essentially free-ish post bop loose limbed workouts that really swing along nicely. an extended "doxy" one of Rollins standard live own tunes gets a full 15 minute workout in a marvellously swinging version. cherry is a great ascerbic soloing counterpoint to Rollins giant sax tone . a great performance. final live track "dearly beloved" really swings also.

only Rollins other tune "oleo" oustays its welcome at 25 minutes with soloing losing its focus despite great rhythmic back-up. the other shortish tracks are studio the studio dates continue the playful, typically Rollin-esque takes on standards,bop + calypso tracks given swinging yet again free-ish treatment for all . tasty morsels of the standout - "doxy" (Branford Marsalis recorded a great version on his excellent sultry trio date "trio jeepy)

"On the Outside" is tasty 1960's post-bop Rollins - for the fun loving,swinging jazzers in us all.

Pathe Sessions, The [European Import]
Pathe Sessions, The [European Import]
Price: 7.77

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great AEof C -in Paris.but not 5 stars.., 31 Dec 2012
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the other two reviews are variously very good in conveying the joy that is listening again to arguably the most underrated group in modern jazz - the Art Ensemble of Chicago, here taken from Paris sessions in 1969 + 70.

firstly the positive - the first 6 tracks are variously funky, free, fun, wild, instrospective, afro-experimental as the AEofC play a dazzling range of adventurous post-bop free-ish, afrocentric/avant jazz. that's quite a wide category i know,but with messrs Bowie,Roscoe,Mitchell et al - it just about fits. such was their breadth of vision + exploratory playing.

the first track alone the now posthumous "hit" on youtube + in more discerning bars,is the fantastic groove laden track "theme de yoyo" with the sadly just passed away singer Fontella Bass. this track lays down a groove that James Brown,Bootsy etc would be proud of with soulful ms.Bass make this track alone - a certifiable essential piece of jazz/soul crossover monster. that good yes.

tracks 2-6 are variously - as described in the first paragraph - a tour de force of the finest elements of later AEofC releases such as the ECM era "full force" etc : adventurous,fun,swing/free-ish nuggets of post-bop jazz. marvellous.

the negative for me is the final 40 minutes taken up by the decidely rambling ,almost zen like minimal avant-gardish "people in sorrow" that really doesnt go anywhere. the track from "magg zelma" from the 1984 lp "full force" is a similar, yet a more focused version .

sound quality is first rate, booklet notes are informative + for less than 8 to you door - well worth your money. for the adventurous out there wishing to go beyond Duke,Mingus,Marsalis. genius - but flawed genius all the same.

Samuel Barber: Piano Concerto, Violin Concerto, Adagio for Strings, Second Essay for Orchestra & Overture to "The School for Scandal"
Samuel Barber: Piano Concerto, Violin Concerto, Adagio for Strings, Second Essay for Orchestra & Overture to "The School for Scandal"

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Barber - a good budget price collection, 29 Dec 2012
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Samuel Barber - US composer
(1910-1981: neo-romantic,tonal composer)

a brand new amazon purchase as needed to have at least the violin concerto in my collection after being very impressed some ten years ago. a little late i know..
this sony music collection at budget price is certainly a very affordable collection of this 20th C US composer whose popularity remains assured via his ubiquitous Mahler-esque,if still very moving "Adagio for Strings".

full listing:
Concerto for Violin (isaac stern - violin/bernstein: conductor)
Concerto for Piano (john browning - piano/szell : conductor)
Adagio for Strings (philadelphia orch / ormandy :conductor)
Second Essay for orchestra (as above)
Overture (NYPO / schippers :conductor)

the "Violin Concerto" here starts the cd off very well with a heady late/post-romantic sweep,fine if slightly over-sweet vibrato laden playing by stern for my tastes.a powerful,heart tugging work in the Rach/Prokofiev mode. fine but joshua bell's or gil shaham's 1990's versions would get my first choice. a fine spiky final movement by Stern + cohorts here, still makes this work a key 20th C work.

the "Piano Concerto" again is another fine work albeit with much less of a romantic sweep + more emphasis on angularities with very fiery,manic playing from the dedicatee - browning i.e. Prokofiev meets (almost)Nancarrow in places. a little over forward in sound but excellent. the "Adagio for Strings" (which you all must know by now) is given a fairly luscious rendition here but still conveys its emotionalism well. the kronos quartet version goes deeper though i feel. final two works - "Second Essay" + "Overture" (for orchestra) - are short fairly involving orchestral pieces but let this collection down a little in comparison to the concertos + "Adagio". shame the "Cello concerto" wasn't included and the lesser known orchestral works omitted perhaps, but hey for this price you have no complaints.

a fine collection of all US performances made in the 1960's ,with good sound quality + booklet notes.

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