Drummer Billy Cobham was fresh from his success with the Mahavishnu Orchestra when he recorded his debut album, which is still his best. Most of the selections showcase Cobham in a quartet with keyboardist Jan Hammer, guitarist Tommy Bolin, and electric bassist Lee Sklar. Two other numbers include Joe Farrell on flute and soprano and trumpeter Jimmy Owens with guitarist John Tropea, Hammer, bassist Ron Carter, and Ray Barretto on congas. The generally high-quality compositions (which include "Red Baron") make this fusion set a standout, a strong mixture of rock-ish rhythms and jazz improvising.
Violinist Irvine Arditti, pianist Claude Helffer, and the Spectrum ensemble conducted by Guy Protheroe produce consummate performances of the Greek avant-gardist's unwieldy chamber music. If you're familiar with Xenakis's career you'll know he was trained in mathematics and enjoyed a successful career as an architect. Such background might prepare you for the music's preoccupation with line, volume, and form in an unusually abstract way, but it won't prepare you for its visceral, almost primitive power. On Akanthos, the singer Penelope Walmsley-Clark must cope with what is surely one of the most ridiculous soprano parts ever written.
Spectrum were by far Australia's best known prog band of the 70s. The funny thing is that, just like the Madder Lake, Spectrum weren't all that prog, at least not by hardcore British prog standards of the day…
Violinist Benjamin Beilman makes his debut as an exclusive Warner Classics artist with Spectrum, an album uniting works by Schubert, Janáček, Stravinsky and Kreisler. With his regular duo partner, pianist Yekwon Sunwoo – a fellow alumnus of Philadelphia’s prestigious Curtis Institute – Beilman explores a multitude of colours and expressive possibilities, evoking them with the finest technical nuances.
Billy Cobham, the pioneering jazz-rock fusion drummer who left all his rivals and imitators in the dust when he surfaced in the 1970s, always sounded like a complete musician rather than simply a technical miracle. Approaching 70, he still does. Cobham and a hard-rocking quartet are at Ronnie Scott's, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the drummer's bandleading debut album, Spectrum, by playing most of the music from it, and a little new material besides.
What made this flat-out show so much more than a routine tribute-band trot through a famous tracklist was the enthusiastic drive of the band.