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4.0 out of 5 stars Touching solo piano music, 19 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Ascending (Audio CD)
Patrick Noland has recorded several albums for the Naim label but, for some reason, this one has been out of print for a while so if you want it, it's either second-hand or not at all.

Here, you get 12 tracks - just over an hour - of solo piano recorded in 1998. Noland's style is contemporary, melodic and tends to the thoughtful and wistful; no technical showing-off nor self-indulgence, just some very touching music. Good for background or more concentrated listening.

Noland's other Naim albums are still available, so you might want to get some of those first to try. Track 1 is available on a Naim compilation album called the True Stereo Sampler, which is available quite cheaply.

Eye Witness
Eye Witness
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 9.73

5.0 out of 5 stars Great jazz trio work from a master, 19 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Eye Witness (Audio CD)
I originally came across David Newton because of his recordings for Linn records, whose main line of business is as a high-end hi-fi company. This is the second of three recordings he made for them in the early 90s, the other two being Victim of Circumstance (1990) and Return Journey (1992). Sadly, all are long out of print on CD, though you can download CD-quality versions from the Linn website. If it's the CD you want, you'll have to wait for a secondhand version at a price you like.

Eye Witness was recorded in 1990, just a few months after Victim of Circumstance, but there's no sense that he's short of ideas. Bass and drum duties are taken care of by a different crew than the earlier recording: here, it's Dave Green on bass and Allan Ganley on drums. The trio interplay is marvellous, with all the relaxed friendliness necessary in such a situation coming through in the music. Three of the 8 tracks are Newton's own compositions and the remainder are standards, albeit not the best-known examples. My jazz piano teacher regards David Newton as the best British jazz pianist there is, and I have little difficulty disagreeing.

Only criticisms would be that the cover photography is rather dated and egotistical (ironic, given that the music is anything but), and that the title track is the sort of speed jazz that I personally don't enjoy. Otherwise, though, this is a great bit of jazz trio work from a great pianist who deserves to be better known.

Catholic Collection III
Catholic Collection III
Price: 9.65

4.0 out of 5 stars I'm quite proud of this, 20 Aug 2013
This review is from: Catholic Collection III (Audio CD)
I must start with a hands-up confession: I sang on this recording. I'll now leave it up to you whether or not to trust anything else I have to say about it.

I have previously sang on several vaguely similar recordings, and I must say that this is the one I enjoy listening to independently of the fact that I have a stake in its existence. The naturalness of the recording is especially enjoyable, the Calrec Soundfield microphone accurately capturing the fabulous acoustics of the Abbey (and yes, it is every bit as delightful to sing in as it sounds).

The two central pieces of music on this disc are Mass settings by John Sanders and Colin Mawby which were written for us. At the time of recording (June 2011), we'd been singing the Mawby for a while, and the Sanders had just been written a short while ago. For what it's worth, I prefer the Mawby to the Sanders, but I know people who feel differently.

My memories of the recording are varied, but one of the most fascinating was working with Adrian Peacock, the producer. I'd never worked with a professional producer (he also sings with the BBC singers and Tenebrae) and I really think he wrung the very best out of us in the sessions.

Why only four stars? Modesty, I suppose. False modesty perhaps? You'll have to buy it and find out for yourself, won't you?

Triple Play [BOX SET]
Triple Play [BOX SET]
Price: 28.10

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic music making, and great value, 21 May 2013
This review is from: Triple Play [BOX SET] (Audio CD)
I bought all three of these discs separately years ago, and have loved them so much that I must recommend them as a boxed set.

After Hours was the first to be recorded in 1989, and consists of relatively slow numbers (the liner notes explain why...). Uptown (1990) is similar, though with one fast number (It don't mean a thing...). Old Friends (1991) is a live recording and consists almost entirely of new numbers (Over the Rainbow is also on Uptown) and with a rip-roaring Sweet Georgia Brown to finish with. There is quite a bit of applause, including during songs in recognition of solos, but this is accepted jazz audience etiquette so we shouldn't complain.

This trio (whether with Joe Pass on guitar on After Hours, or Mundell Lowe on the two later discs) is seriously good. Ensemble is tight, solos are tasteful and don't overstay their welcome and the Telarc sound quality is just wonderful. Any of these three discs is great for listening to intently, or as sophisticated background music for your next dinner party.

At less than 8 per disc, how can you say no?

p.s. Do avoid the recording they made in 1992 with Kiri te Kanawa: it's utterly atrocious. I've reviewed it separately if you want to know why.

Kiri Sidetracks
Kiri Sidetracks
Offered by Quick Discount Sales
Price: 5.13

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A real shocker: buy Previn's other jazz instead!, 21 May 2013
This review is from: Kiri Sidetracks (Audio CD)
I'm glad to say I don't own this, but I did borrow a friend's copy and was shocked at how bad it was. I was really disappointed because I already had Previn's three jazz trio discs which were recorded in the years leading up to this release (After Hours (1989), Uptown (1990) and the live Old Friends (1992)) and they really are fabulous. I'm afraid this disc suffers, as the other 1-star reviewer says, from Dame Kiri's leaden singing and almost pathological inability to swing or make these fantastic songs sound like they're fun. A first-rate opera singer she may be, but just like Jamie Cullum doesn't try to sing Wagner, dear old Kiri should have given this one a miss.

My very strong recommendation would be for you to buy the three instrumental albums I've listed above (you can get them for less than a tenner each): the latter two feature exactly the same trio as accompanies DKtK on this disc, but they are able to show just what sophisticated fun jazz can be without having a totally inappropriate singer dragging their timing down.

Musicall Dreame
Musicall Dreame
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 38.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elizabethan delights, 19 May 2013
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This review is from: Musicall Dreame (Audio CD)
If you like your Elizabethan poetry, you'll have a great time with this. Two countertenors (aka male alto singers) sing various short songs, mainly from from Robert Jones' fourth book of airs but other composers - most notably Dowland - make an appearance. Accompaniment is in the form of lute, harp and/or viol, and there are some instrumental numbers as well.

Of course, there are a lot of fains and faiths and fa-la-la-la-las, but that was very much the in thing in 1609. The singing in particular is excellent - both Chance and Cordier are clear and pure just like countertenor should be.

A note for audio geeks: this was engineered by the great Tony Faulkner so the sound quality is something to write home about. Of course, you don't get any great audio fireworks in this sort of music, but as an exercise in simple purity of recorded sound, it's top notch.

Organ Concertos
Organ Concertos
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 14.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only recording of these works, 14 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Organ Concertos (Audio CD)
This is quite an oddity. Bach didn't really write any Organ Concertos (at least none that we have scores for today) - he did arrange a handful of Vivaldi concerti for solo organ, but they are not concertos in the usual sense of the word, i.e. organ with orchestra. However, he did rearrange many of his pieces as concertos - the D minor double violin concerto was rearranged as a double harpsichord concerto, for example.

Schureck has rearranged - conjecturally in some places - three organ concertos from extant works and they were recorded for this CD in 1988 and, as far as I can tell, have not been recorded since. To fill up, you have two Sinfonias for organ and orchestra which are rarely performed, including that from Cantata 29, which is itself a rearrangement of the Prelude from the E major solo violin partita. The latter is actually my favourite track - I love the original and the Rachmaninoff piano arrangement, but this everything-but-the-kitchen-sink arrangement is exuberantly delightful.

On a personal note, I also like this CD because it was recorded in the concert hall (named embarrassingly after Jack Lyons, the Guinness crook) of my alma mater, including its 1960s organ. The organ actually sounds convincingly appropriate considering its playing music from over 200 years earlier and the acoustic is warm and clear.

Seen One Earth
Seen One Earth
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 22.95

4.0 out of 5 stars An 80s concept album?, 14 Mar 2013
This review is from: Seen One Earth (Audio CD)
I bought this speculatively in 1987 on vinyl, and enjoyed it so much, I finally got hold of a copy on CD many years later. I had/have a love of instrumental electronic music which, in the late 80s, meant Jarre/Tangerine Dream/Kraftwerk/Vangelis etc (well, it did to me anyway). I bought this based largely on the list of keyboards used and was pleasantly surprised.

Track 1: Seascape. A laid-back 6/8 swing feel with drum machine and plenty of keyboards.
Track 2: Man Alive. A more driving rhythm, plenty of percussion and synth soloing. Similar to a few late-80s Tangerine Dream tracks.
Track 3: Seen One Earth. Slower, faint drums and lots of synth noodling. Closer in style to late 70s Vangelis, perhaps.
Track 4: Home Thoughts. A pleasant solo piano piece with some ethereal electric guitar soloing.
Track 5: Prelude. Pure mid-80s instrumental synth work. Very similar to late 80s Vangelis.
Track 6: In Dreams. Where did this come from? A 6/8 rock rhythm section - bass/drums/guitar and some vocals. This apparently got a lot of airplay on US AOR radio stations.
Track 7: The Stargate. A slightly less frenetic companion piece to track 2.
Track 8: Many Happy Returns. A short reprise of track 1. Quite a lot of sampled sax solo which sounded cool in the 80s, but just silly now!

You can definitely hear Bardens' prog-rock pedigree, as opposed to Jarre's classical background, for example. The use of conventional rhythm section-type scoring sets him apart from most other electronic instrumentalists working at the time. Although I've put lots of comparisons above to music you might know better, it's still different to all of them. On the basis of this, I also bought his next album (Speed of Light) which features Mick Fleetwood on drums!

Friendly As a Hand Grenade
Friendly As a Hand Grenade
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 17.95

5.0 out of 5 stars The best TACK>>HEAD album, 3 Feb 2013
I would beg leave to differ with the reviewer who says that Strange Things is better than this, and instead say the exact opposite. They're both good, and if you like one you'll like the other, but this disc represents TACK>>HEAD's peak.

On a personal note, these guys were indeed great live - I saw them in Manchester, just after this album was released, when I was 15 (no idea how I got into the club at that age) and it still ranks as one of the best gigs I've been to, not least because you were free to mosey on up to the mixing desk and stand next to Adrian Sherwood as he went beserk on the pots and faders.

But I digress. What you get here is rather short on quantity (36 minutes) but with plenty of quality. All tracks are written by the group, except the short Prince Buster cover Ska Trek which bookends the album amusingly. Mind and Movement, Stealing and Ticking Time Bomb are the standout tracks, managing to combine imaginative and satirical use of samples with shattering original beats, Wimbish shaking the place with his bass and Skip McDonald fuzzing his guitar to pieces. The addition of Bernard Fowler for this album really brings them together as a group compared to Tackhead Tape Time which was more of an experimental contruction of samples and beats. Here, the experiments are over and you get more fully crafted tracks.

Happy Anniversary Charlie Brown: Tribute to the Peanuts Characters
Happy Anniversary Charlie Brown: Tribute to the Peanuts Characters
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 8.33

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice music, shame about the synths, 6 Jan 2013
Straight away, let me say that the David Benoit 'Jazz for Peanuts' compilation does much the same as this disc, but much better. That's not to say that this disc is dreadful, just that the Benoit is better.

The positives on this disc are the re-recording of Linus and Lucy (the original Guaraldi recording suffering from a rather 1960s lo-fi recording, if you care about that sort of thing), the BB King track and the other tracks which don't use synths.

Downsides are the rather cheesy vocal tracks from Joe Williams and Patti Austin (tracks 5 and 9), the Kenny G (track 7) and the tracks which use synths - these haven't aged well and sound terribly 80s even to my ears, and I had a lot of fun playing synths in the 80s. The final nail in the coffin is the last track, which has four people doing their best Charlie Brown voice-overs on top of the same recording as the first track. They needn't have bothered.

I'm probably being a bit harsh: if you've already got Jazz for Peanuts and want some more then by all means get this, but don't expect it to be quite as good.

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