The style and the class of these two sacred monsters of music, is best expressed in these very special performances in an unusual but extremely involving duo! A great record!
Later in his career, Roscoe Mitchell kept a toe in contemporary "classical" circles in addition to his avant-garde jazz groups and his continued participation in the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Four Compositions gives listeners some examples of his work in this genre, with mixed though intriguing results. "Nonaah," which Mitchell has recorded in a wide variety of contexts and instrumentations, is here given a reticent, almost too-polite reading with little of the punch the piece is capable of generating.
With his chocolaty cool, soulful Memphis croon and sure sense of melody, Robert Cray has never been considered a straightahead bluesman. His often interchangeable albums have instead stayed closer to R&B, adding compact, stinging lead guitar to songs about matters of the heart. That formula remains, with minor variations, on Cray's 14th release, rather confusingly named Twenty. The title track, a gripping, emotional anti-war ballad of the experience of a GI in Iraq (that, incidentally, doesn't contain the word "twenty") shows the singer/songwriter shifting his emotionally charged storytelling lyrics to the political arena. It's a brief but confident detour from his usual M.O. of relationships on the brink of collapse or in general disrepair, typically related in the first person. Subtle yet effective forays into loungey jazz on "My Last Regret" and even reggae on the opening "Poor Johnny" indicate a healthy tendency to push his established envelope, if only gently, into other genres. But Cray sticks to his established bread and butter for the majority of this sturdy album, effortlessly churning out shoulder-swaying, foot-tapping R&B accompanied by a clean, clear tenor voice and a road-hardened band that finesses these songs with the perfect combination of fire and ice. Old fans won't be disappointed, and newcomers can start here and work backwards.
The "100 Years of Italian Opera" series released by Opera Rara is unique in the annals of opera recordings. However, this installment is especially exciting as it documents the evolution of Italian opera during the 1820's, the decade when romanticism truly began to come into its own on the operatic stage. Opera Rara has lovingly compiled a variety of arcana written by composers famous and forgotten. Included is everything from overtures to arias, duets, ensembles, and entire scenes.