There are several reasons to own this Vox Box 2CD set. For the first, it includes five great violin concertos in some of the very best performances in their discography. For the second, Ivry Gitlis (born 1922) is a great living violinist and these recordings made in early 1950s show his art in the best way, when Ivry's violin sounded powerful and brilliant.
Originally on the Galaxy label, this CD reissue is a rare solo outing by pianist Hank Jones. The emphasis is on ballads and his treatments of these songs (which include three religious pieces) are respectful, melodic and lightly swinging. There is not much variety here but the music (within its limitations) is enjoyable.
Critics thought the pairing of Gerry Mulligan and Thelonious Monk a strange one when this 1957 session was originally released, Mulligan's light baritone saxophone strongly identified with the cool school and Monk's percussive piano, fractured rhythms, and dissonant tunes the last word in bop. It's an interesting combination, though, with Mulligan's melodic focus actually working fairly well with Monk and his regular band, drummer Shadow Wilson and bassist Wilbur Ware.
It might be tempting to dismiss this Ralph Towner effort as New Age fluff, but the music is so gorgeous that any such considerations fall to the wayside. Yet the wayside is precisely where Towner sets his sights, which is to say that his interest lies in edges where musical idioms meet. He explores these lines, not unlike the blotted cover, with an ease of diction at the fret board that is recognizable and comforting. Drummer Peter Erskine shares the bill, but Towner adds a few synth touches for broader effect, as in “The Sigh,” which opens the session in a cleft of fluid energy.
Pretty much exactly what it says it is – a combination of the two releases, the Bloodied But Unbowed compilation and the War On 45 EP, on one compact disc. The remastering job is fine, the cover art is all reproduced, and there are even complete lyrics, with one or two exceptions. Anyone wanting to give these guys a listen should start right here.