What the world needs more of is intelligently planned, stupendously played, and brilliantly recorded collections like this one. These two discs contain all the piano works of Michael Tippett, works that come from every period of the composer's very long life except his very last. It includes the youthful, tuneful Piano Sonata No. 1 written between 1936 and 1938 and revised in 1941, the massive Fantasia on a Theme of Handel from 1941, the exuberant Piano Concerto from 1955, the experimental Piano Sonata No. 2, the gnomic almost Beethovenian Piano Sonata No. 3 from 1973, and the gnarly post-Beethovenian Piano Sonata No. 4. It features a bravura performance by pianist Steven Osborne that makes the best case for all the music, no matter how outré or recherché its harmonic proclivities or rhythmic audacities. Osborne has the emotional enthusiasm, intellectual clarity, physical strength, and sheer willpower to make listeners believe that Tippett is a major English composer and make them wonder why they ever doubted it. With the superlative accompaniment of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Martyn Brabbins in the Concerto and the Fantasia and the sparkling recording by Andrew Keener for Hyperion, this disc marks a major step forward in the Tippett discography.
Tracks from three recently discovered 1960s concerts, by the celebrated arranger, pianist & experimental theorist, George Russell, released here for the very first time - and from the same period as his famous Ezz-Thetics album (1961) with Eric Dolphy. The first, in Lennox Massachusetts, includes Al Kiger, Dave Baker, Chuck Israels & Dave Young; the 2nd, from the 1964 Newport Jazz Festival features Don Ellis, John Gilmore, Steve Swallow, Pete La Roca & Sheila Jordan. The third, a single track, is from a 1964 European date, with Thad Jones, Joe Farrell, Al Heath & Garnett Brown. Included are new versions of the Russell classics: Stratusphunk and The Outer View.
Percussionist/bandleader/composer Johnny Blas is a New York native who has performed and recorded in the world of Jazz and Latin music for over 25 years. He is one of the few conga players on the West Coast who leads his own band. "Indestructible Spirit", Johnny's first record in the 21st century, swings hard in places, is funky throughout, and never stops grooving whether on an uptempo mambo or a jazz ballad with layers of percussion.
The release of 'Unleashed' on r.a.r.e. complements the band's original classic 'Growers of Mushroom', a legendary 1970s album, reissued on Repertoire in 2005. This newly recorded set of high-octane performances features powerhouse vocalist Peter French - after spells with Cactus and Atomic Rooster - now back with a new line-up featuring fleet fingered guitarist Luke Rayner, Ed Pearson (bass) and Jimmy Rowland (drums). Dynamic tracks such as 'One hundred and five degrees', 'Barricades' and 'Too many rock'n'roll times' epitomise the band's allegiance to the legacy of Cream, Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Outstanding cut 'Breakthrough' is a new version of a song originally sung by Peter French with Atomic Rooster in the 1970s.