As a leader, saxophonist and composer Gary Thomas is wildly ambitious. Throughout the 1980s and into the '90s, Thomas experimented with everything from free jazz and funk to heavy metal and hip-hop. Exile's Gate is another such exercise. There are two distinct bands accompanying him here. One is made up of Thomas on tenor with drummer Jack DeJohnette and guitarist Paul Bollenback with organist Tim Murphy and bassist Ed Howard. The other features the latter two musicians, Marvin Sewell on guitar and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. The first band plays Thomas' free-spirited and aggressive originals while the second plays standards for the most part. Only Thomas would think of putting the two approaches together on one record on alternate cuts.
A reduction in personnel rarely results in a broader musical expanse, but that's just what happened to Food, since trumpeter Arve Henriksen and bassist Mats Eilertsen departed in 2004. Molecular Gastronomy (Rune Grammofon, 2008)—Food's first duo recording, though the use of guests fleshed the group out to a trio—was Food's most accessible album to date, without sacrificing any of its inherent risk and sound of surprise. Quiet Inlet—Food's first for ECM, and featuring Austrian guitarist Christian Fennesz on three tracks and Norwegian trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer on four—follows Molecular Gastronomy's path, but remains equally traceable to earlier albums, including Food's quartet swan song, The Last Supper (Rune Grammofon, 2005). Even as a duo, Food generates a lot of sound. Strønen, in particular, combines bastardized drum kit, hand percussion and technology into a distinctive soundscaping approach, from pulse-driven to textural; spatially ethereal to jagged and dense. Ballamy's more economical playing is equally key in establishing a group sound, and based on its performance at Punkt 2006, Food could easily have continued on as a duo, but increases the unpredictability quotient by introducing a third player to the set.
A truly unusual project. Two musicians, Thomas Lemmer and Christoph Sebastian Pabst, 700 km apart, one in Osnabrück, the other in the surrounding area of Munich, met in 2004 in Marburg and then lost sight of each other. Their new work, a unique combination of two different and yet perfectly harmonizing worlds, is a beautiful example of how the Internet blurs borders and can bring musicians together even across great distances. Floating spheres, organic instruments, wonderful melodies, creative sound design, electronic rhythms and widening effects. The main elements used include a Chinese ruan guitar (Meeresleuchten), the Una Corda (Meeresleuchten [introduction]), an Erhu (Sandwirbeldüne), an electric guitar (Pastellstrand) and a Spanish flamenco guitar (Indigobrandung)…
This well-planned Naxos programme is carefully laid out in two parts, each of viol music interspersed with harpsichord and organ pieces and ending with an anthem. It gives collectors an admirable opportunity to sample, very inexpensively, the wider output of Thomas Tomkins, and outstandingly fine Elizabethan musician whose music is still too known. Though he is best known for hid magnificent church music, it is refreshing to discover what he could do with viols, experimenting with different combinations of sizes of instruments, usually writing with the polyphony subservient to expressive harmonic feeling, as in the splendid and touching Fantasia for six viols. Perhaps the most remarkable piece here is the Hexachord fantasia, where the scurrying part-writing ornaments a rising and falling six-note scale (hexachord). The two five-part verse anthems and Above the stars, which is in six parts, are accompanied by five viols, with a fine counter-tenor in Above the stars and a bass in Thou art my King.
Thomas Tafirenyika Mapfumo is a Zimbabwean musician known as "The Lion of Zimbabwe" and "Mukanya" (the praise name of his clan in the Shona language) for his immense popularity and for the political influence he wields through his music, including his sharp criticism of the government of President Robert Mugabe. He both created and made popular Chimurenga music and his slow-moving style and distinctive voice is instantly recognisable to Zimbabweans. Mapfumo's first LP remains a favorite. Made before he got heavily into reggae, this is street-Zimbabwean at its best, with Zairian and eastern African overtones.