The violin concertos of Belgian-born composer/virtuoso Henri Vieuxtemps have been recorded by various players, including the young Russian-American virtuoso Misha Keylin heard here. But these shorter pieces, which would have been the stock-in-trade of Vieuxtemps' active touring life (during one American tour he made 121 appearances in six months, without benefit of planes, automobiles, or in many cases trains), are a good deal rarer. They don't have the main virtue of the concertos, which is that there's a certain amount of structural interest to go with the Paganini-like fireworks, but they're a great deal of fun.
When Dutch pianist, composer and humorist Misha Mengelberg, one of the heroes of the "new Dutch swing," got together with Dave Douglas for a couple of duo gigs, they enjoyed it so much they decided to expand things to a quartet with New York bassist Brad Jones (who performs regularly with Dave and is on Misha's Avant CD Who's Bridge) and Misha's longtime colleague Han Bennink on drums.
Musical chess master Misha Mengelberg versus four worthy opponents. A German trumpeter and drummer, a French tuba player, and an American-born, French-resident (since 1972) saxophonist. Three nights in Köln, at Loft, matching wits in duets and trios. One can study the Maestro taking on all contestants, approaching the music as a game of strategy, a set of moves and countermoves. Chess is also a suitable metaphor for the Dutchman's approach to instant composition because it has no final or definitive form, no absolute and irrefutable game-plan.
This 70th birthday tribute to Dutch pianist Misha Mengelberg opens with a track that appeared on the first album that he appeared on back in 1964, Eric Dolphy's Last Date (there it was entitled "Hypo Xmas Tree Fuzz"). The affectionate twiddle he inserts into the theme here is like a conniving wink to an old friend. On Senne Sing Song, his third John Zorn-produced trio album after 1994's Who's Bridge (Avant) and 1997's No Idea (DIW), Mengelberg is joined by the remarkably responsive rhythm team of bassist Greg Cohen and drummer Ben Perowsky.