To round out this 3-CD set, the final disc contains the original album presentation featuring Silvestri's unique edits and assemblies including some dialog omitted from the complete presentation on the first two discs.
Alarm Will Sound's recording of Steve Reich's monumental orchestral/choral works The Desert Music and Tehillim, released on the Cantaloupe label in 2002, greatly benefits from the group's close connections with the composer: the ensemble's conductor, Alan Pierson, and several of the performers studied at the Eastman School with Brad Lubman, a conductor frequently enlisted by Reich. Also, Pierson's arrangements, which reconcile the chamber and orchestral versions that exist for both works, were prepared in close consultation with the composer; thus, this may well be the definitive recording of these pieces. Brilliantly sonorous in their climaxes – the burst of light near the end of Desert Music, the "Alleluias" that close Tehillim – the players also articulate Reich's intricate canonic textures with nimble precision. Voices and strings are always an Achilles heel within Reich's percussive textures (leading him to eliminate part doublings in favor of giving each line to a lone, amplified performer), but here the singers and strings maintain an impressive rhythmic vitality. This knack for precision carries over to the pristine recording, as well, which, for good or ill, was digitally recorded and heavily edited. Still, it makes up in energy and clarity what it might lack in performative spontaneity.
With its title originating from an Isaac Asimov novel, I Robot's main concept is one that deals heavily in the field of science fiction. The album's idea is based around Parsons' concern with the onslaught of machinery and its inevitable takeover of man, both in a physical sense and a spiritual one. As one of the Alan Parsons Project's strongest efforts, its wise blend of keyboard-dominated instrumentals partnered with the warmth of the vocals during the lyrical songs emblazons the man-vs.-machine idea. The mechanical-sounding title track is the opening song, setting the tone for the album's futuristic motif. Man's regret for his mechanical creations sweeps through "I Wouldn't Want to Be Like You," with a passionate Lenny Zakatek singing lead.
Alan Pasqua's My New Old Friend is mostly a set of sensitive and relaxed trio improvisations. Pasqua, bassist Darek Oles and drummer Peter Erskine, three of the top jazz musicians based in Los Angeles, perform subtle reshapings of five standards which alternate with six of Pasqua's generally introspective originals. One is reminded of Bill Evans (particularly on the standards) in Pasqua's sophisticated chord voicings and the close interplay of the musicians, but that is only a point of reference rather than a direct copy. However fans of Evans' treatments of ballads will certainly enjoy this accessible and thoughtful effort.
Alan Broadbent has long been appreciated as a fine pianist and arranger, talents he combines on this studio effort with bassist Brian Bromberg and drummer Kendall Kay, along with background color by the Tokyo Strings. "Autumn Variations" is a superb workout of the chord changes to the standard "Autumn Leaves." The pianist's lyrical setting of the longing ballad "Bess, Oh Where's My Bess" and the sparse treatment of "Last Night When We Were Young" are simply masterful. Broadbent's scoring of notable jazz compositions proves to be equally effective. He sets up a very deliberate tempo for the ballad "Lover Man," alternating the piano and the strings in the foreground as the rhythm section plays sparingly. But his best effort may be his lush arrangement of the modal masterpiece "Blue in Green."
The Definitive Collection is 2 CD release by Sony Music consisting of many of the best known works from The Alan Parsons Project, along with two songs taken from Alan Parsons' first solo album.