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Le Cortege
Le Cortege
Price: £14.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Singularly unimpressed, 30 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Le Cortege (Audio CD)
Having had prior experience of Westbrook's work ("Metropolis", "Citadel" among others) I was quite looking forward to this, as I thought it may be similar to his other extended work in my collection, "Marching Song".

Oh brother, how disappointed I was.

Two-and-a-quarter hours of modern jazz I can quite happily live with (as anyone who has looked at my music collection could tell you), but overly-theatrical, neo-operatic foreign-language droning and squalling just doesn't do it for me.

I can't fault the musicianship - in fact if this was an all-instrumental album I would give at least four stars, but the rating's knocked down to two because of the over-abundance of vocals.

I realise many people feel this is a classic of modern UK jazz, but I think I'll stick with "Marching Song".


Alan Hovhaness: Mysterious Mountains
Alan Hovhaness: Mysterious Mountains
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £12.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Mystic's Odes to the Mountains, 30 Jan 2012
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As the title suggests, mountains are the inspiration behind the four works on this disc. There are three symphonies and a short tone poem (one of the composer's earliest works). Having read some rather sarcastic comments about Hovhaness's music in the press, I was unsure what to expect, but in the end I was very pleasantly surprised.

There is much to enjoy in these works - lyricism, moments of great beauty and high drama (particularly in Symphony no 50, "Mount St Helens"), and it's all performed by the wonderful Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under the American maestro Gerard Schwarz, both of whom do the music full justice. The recording is excellent, but we have of course come to expect this from our friends at Telarc.

Don't be put off by any negative publicity you may read about this composer - if you buy this disc you will enjoy it. This would make an ideal introduction to the orchestral music of Hovhaness and his sound world. Investigate without fear - highly recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 2, 2012 3:37 PM GMT


Live at the Berlin Philharmonie
Live at the Berlin Philharmonie
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £8.95

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A night of magic created by two jazz legends, 29 Jan 2012
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This has to be one of the finest jazz concerts I have ever heard. Two masters of their craft, at the height of their powers, recorded live at Philharmonic Hall in Berlin.

The spotlight rightly falls on Brubeck and Mulligan, but the supporting musicians (Jack Six on bass and Alan Dawson on drums) must not be overlooked as they both contribute excellent solo work throughout the concert as well as their usual rhythm roles.

Favourite tracks: "Blessed are the Poor", "Out of the Way of the People", "New Orleans" and "Indian Song".

If you are a fan of Brubeck, Mulligan, or small group jazz in general - buy and enjoy. It's all great music.


Rutland Boughton/Edgar Bainton: Orchestral Tone Poems
Rutland Boughton/Edgar Bainton: Orchestral Tone Poems
Price: £18.58

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More rare British music brought to light, 29 Jan 2012
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I have been aware of Rutland Boughton by reputation for a number of years, but this was my first encounter with his music. I have a Chandos disc which features a symphony by Bainton, so although not overly familiar with his work, I knew the type of music to expect.

What you have on this generously filled disc (77 minutes) are six tone poems, three by each composer. All are world premiere recordings by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Martin Yates, who rise to the occasion magnificently.

If lush, romantic music with grand, sweeping gestures (excellently recorded, I should add) appeals to you, then buy this disc.


Very Live at Buddy's Place
Very Live at Buddy's Place
Price: £21.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Buddy has done better, 29 Jan 2012
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It should be indicated at the off that this is not a recording of Buddy Rich's big band, but rather a septet recorded at his club during the 70s. The music is interesting, but I do feel a bit more of an effort could have been made, especially as the playing time is particularly ungenerous (41 minutes). OK, I know that it's a 1974 recording (and they didn't have 70-minute plus recording times in those days), but have the record companies never heard of bonus tracks?

The recording (for a live album) is acceptable, but I would suggest that this is a release for completists only. If you want to hear Buddy live, then try any of his Pacific Jazz albums, or the excellent BGO double-disc reissue of "Very Alive at Ronnie Scott's" which includes the much-vaunted "Milestones".


A Child's Christmas - Jazz Suite
A Child's Christmas - Jazz Suite

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and evocative, 29 Jan 2012
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Stan Tracey returns to Dylan Thomas for inspiration in the present suite, based upon "A Child's Christmas in Wales". Hearing this I was instantly transported back to the English Literature classes at college where we studied this work.

The music, as with "Under Milk Wood", fits in nicely with the story, the quartet excel themselves, and the recording is excellent. The narration which is placed between each section (spoken by Ben Tracey) is an additional delight.

All that remains for me to say is - if you liked "Under Milk Wood", you'll love this. Thanks very much to Stan and all involved in the recording.


Under Milk Wood: Jazz Suite
Under Milk Wood: Jazz Suite
Price: £13.36

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A genuine British classic, 28 Jan 2012
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I had the original radio broadcast of the "Under Milk Wood" play (the one with Richard Burton dating from 1954) on double vinyl many years ago, and I have been trying to find a copy of Stan Tracey's jazz version, but without success - until now.

This must stand as one of the first original major works of the British jazz scene, and still sounds marvellous almost 47 years after it was first recorded. All I can say is that the music perfectly matches the characters and situations in the play. The quartet have done an excellent job, and the recording is outstanding.

I can only echo the sentiments of the other reviewers and urge anyone with an interest in British jazz to investigate this masterpiece.


Citadel/Room 315
Citadel/Room 315

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mike Westbrook - Citadel/Room 315, 27 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Citadel/Room 315 (Audio CD)
This is the third of Westbrook's extended works that I have had the opportunity to hear, the others being "Metropolis" and the double album "Marching Song Vols 1 & 2".

The music in this recording, written in response to a commission from Swedish Radio for an extended piece featuring John Surman as soloist, does not seem to be as intense as the music on the other two albums. This shows a more restrained, contemplative side of Mike's writing, and some of the lyrical passages are quite beautiful. My favourite is the eighth section, "Pastorale".

Highly recommended to those who like modern British jazz.


Bremen to Bridgwater
Bremen to Bridgwater
Price: £19.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Man! What a Blast!, 27 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Bremen to Bridgwater (Audio CD)
I became interested in Chris McGregor's music because I spent fifteen years living in South Africa, although I only heard about him once I had returned to England. This live double album is my first experience of his music, and it blew me away.

The music is a mixture of hard-swinging big band, African township jazz and free-form avant-garde jazz, enthusiastically performed and equally enthusiastically received by the various audiences (Bremen 1971 and two dates from Bridgwater, Somerset 1975). I was very impressed by the rhythm section, especially the drumming of Louis Moholo.

Cuneiform Records must be congratulated on providing us with an important document of this under-represented band at the height of their powers. It's a fitting memorial to so many good musicians who sadly are no longer with us.

I know some may question the recording quality, but anything of Chris McGregor's is worthy of investigation, so buy this disc, turn it up, and let the music take you where it will.

Highly recommended.


New Horizons: Volume 1
New Horizons: Volume 1
Price: £20.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful live performance from Mr Kenton and the Neophonic Orchestra, 25 Jan 2012
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This review is from: New Horizons: Volume 1 (Audio CD)
I have heard some of the studio material that Kenton recorded with this orchestra for Capitol, so was delighted to have the chance to hear the group in a live setting. And what a show this premiere performance is.

Most of the music is completely new to me, so I do not feel qualified enough to comment on the technicalities - all I can do is give you my initial reaction to the music.

This concert covers just about the whole range of jazz from big band through swing, bebop, hard bop and sometimes verging on "third stream" music (For the uninitiated, that's a combination of jazz and classical writing).

The performances are thrilling, and the audience is most certainly enthusiastic. The show's closer has to be heard to be believed - Concerto for Band and Piano No 2 by Friedrich Gulda with the composer at the piano. This is a stomping 30 minute piece which is about as far removed from the piano concertos of Beethoven or Rachmaninov as you could hope to get. Nevertheless, it's very exciting, is cheered to the echo and the third movement is repeated as an encore.

Put aside any concerns you may have about the recorded sound (I found I had to increase the volume slightly) - if you love Stan Kenton, or jazz in any form, give your ears a treat and invest in a piece of jazz history.


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