Essentially, this 17-track album is a second-volume Queen's Greatest Hits, picking up the story from that album's 1981 release and taking it to the end of Queen's career. But the album also contains a few tracks – "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Keep Yourself Alive," and "Under Pressure" – that appeared on that first set, as well as a couple – "Stone Cold Crazy" and "Tie Your Mother Down" – from the same era…
The Blues Masters series, much to Rhino`s credit, adopts an expansive definition of blues, allowing the likes of Count Basie, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Muddy Waters and even Louis Prima admission. There is none of the purist`s quibbling over strict 12-bar form or the relative significance of prewar and postwar styles.
What Rhino delivers instead is the blues in all its myriad guises. This music is old and new, black and white, acoustic and electric, folksy and jazzy, performed by women and men, and yet it is all still blues at its core.
Just about all of the seasonal favourites are here on a disc of carols that exudes a decidedly Christmassy glow. What makes this one stand out from the crowd of festive offerings is the standard of the performances from the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, which sings with a superb sense of ensemble, perfect tuning and crystal clear diction under Richard Marlow. The solo treble who begins "The Holly and the Ivy" gently eases the listener in to the 80-minute-long programme. Marlow takes an almost devotional approach to some carols (notably "Away in a Manger" and "While Shepherds Watched"). The account of "God rest ye merry, gentlemen" is warm and affectionate, traits that could be said to characterise the disc as a whole. The various arrangements by David Willcocks are as familiar and welcoming as an old pair of slippers: one never tires of their imagination and finesse. A disc of traditional Yuletide offerings, this disc is admirably recorded and performed with real affection by one this country's top choirs.
Issued in 1970 as his second album for Creed Taylor's CTI label, Hubert Laws' Afro-Classic is a classic for the manner in which Laws, with brilliant assistance from arranger Don Sebesky, melded the jazz and classical worlds – not to mention pop – into a seamless whole. Laws was the first artist signed to Taylor's imprint. His debut for the label, Crying Song, won critical notice, but it was Afro-Classic that established a new role for the flute in contemporary jazz. Herbie Mann may have been the first, but Laws explored jazz and all the sound worlds that informed it – especially in the electric domain – with the kind of grace and innovative vision that made him a mainstay.
Despite his very erratic lifestyle, altoist Art Pepper never made a bad record. This collection is better than most. The first four titles team together Pepper with tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh, pianist Ronnie Ball, bassist Ben Tucker, and drummer Gary Frommer for generally intriguing explorations of four standards. One can feel the influence of Lennie Tristano (with Pepper in Lee Konitz's place), although Pepper had his own sound and a more hard-swinging style.