On the heels of two very intriguing CDs (Painter's Spring and Mayor of Punkville), luminary bassist William Parker let loose another for 2000 on his own Centering Music label. O'Neal's Porch, a tribute of sorts to Parker's late uncle, features a quartet with Rob Brown on alto sax, Lewis Barnes blowing trumpet, and Hamid Drake, Parker's compatriot since 1998, banging drums. While Brown and Barnes are familiar playing with the bassist (both have performed in his large ensembles), Parker and Drake comprise the best rhythm section in jazz; together, they should go down in the history books as one of the most fruitful and interesting musical relationships this side of Ellington and Strayhorn, Diz and Bird, and Miles and Trane.
The String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Opus 11, was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's first completed string quartet of three string quartets, published during his lifetime. (An earlier attempt had been abandoned after the first movement had been completed.) Composed in February 1871, it was premiered in Moscow on 16/28 March 1871 by four members of the Russian Musical Society: Ferdinand Laub and Ludvig Minkus, violins; Pryanishnikov, viola; and Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, cello.
Franz Liszt, writing about Grieg's String Quartet No 1, declared: 'It is long time since I have encountered a new composition, especially a string quartet, which has intrigued me as greatly as this distinctive and admirable work by Grieg'. Grieg himself said that his quartet '… aims at breadth; to soar, and above all at a vigorous sound for the instruments for which it is written.' In 1891, Edvard Grieg started his second quartet, but sadly lacked inspiration and time to finish the last two movements. Levon Chilingirian of the Chilingirian Quartet has studied the original manuscripts of the first two movements (which have many clarifying instructions added by Julius Röntgen in preparation for their printing by C F Peters in 1908) and prepared the third and fourth movements especially for this recording. This is therefore a first recording of the completed String Quartet No 2.
A special studio recording project fully produced by William Parker for his own Centering Records imprint and dedicated to his Aunt Carrie Lee & Uncle Joe (who is pictured on the album cover) – they celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on August 6th, 2010. William really wanted to get this done in time for that auspicious date and he did. Seven of the songs on this CD were written in December 2009 especially for this recording session which took place on January 22, 2010; Ennio's Tag and Oasis were previously written and they fit in perfectly.
The great thing about William Parker is that he doesn't stop looking for new approaches to music, as long as they're acoustic and based on genuine interplay between real musicians. On this CD he brings a double quartet, his usual band consisting of himself on bass, Rob Brown on alto sax, Lewis Barnes on trumpet and Hamid Drake on drums, augmented with Mazz Sqift on violin, Jessica Pavone on viola, Julia Kent on cello and Shiau-Shu Yu on cello. Leena Conquest guests on vocals on "Natasha's Theme" and "Natasha's Theme 2". Or, if you want, a male quartet and a female quartet.
This was one of the stranger recordings issued by Konnex at the time, in that the band listed as playing 4,4,4 (in five parts) isn't the only band on the record. After the quartet's five selections are played through, a new band consisting of Stevens with violinist Nigel Coombes and guitarist Roger Smith improvises "Surfaces" for over 23 minutes! There is no information on the front cover to denote such a thing. Oh well, those Brits. As for the seasoned quartet on "4,4,4," strange, haunting, and beautiful are the words that describe the result of their latest collaboration.
Live Bird lives! On February 22, 1953, the great Charlie Parker recorded a concert with Joe Timer’s Orchestra at Club Kavakos in Washington, D.C. Elektra Musician released the live show thirty years later. The eight tracks from that record are reissued here on The Washington Concerts. When it was originally released, Lundvall included an interview he conducted with Parker’s former trumpet player Red Rodney, which is also included here.
The Aeolian Quartet's epic cycle, originally released in the Seventies, was one of the gramophone's major contributions to Haydn's cause. Listening to the performances anew I find they have lost none of their freshness: they were based on the latest research, and the playing itself is always intelligent and thoughtful, with Emanuel Hurwitz's sweet-toned violin-playing a great asset throughout. (Misha Donat)