There is no string quartet that has ever been written that can compare length and diversity with Terry Riley's Salome Dances for Peace. Morton Feldman has written a longer one, but it is confined to his brilliant field of notational relationships and open tonal spaces. Riley's magnum opus, which dwarfs Beethoven's longest quartet by three, is a collection of so many different kinds of music, many of which had never been in string quartet form before and even more of which would – or should – never be rubbing up against one another in the same construct. Riley is a musical polymath, interested in music from all periods and cultures: there are trace elements of jazz and blues up against Indian classical music, North African Berber folk melodies, Native American ceremonial music, South American shamanistic power melodies – and many more. The reason they are brought together in this way is for the telling of an allegorical story. In Riley's re-examining Salome's place in history, he finds a way to redeem both her and the world through her talent.
The two enticingly swinging sessions brought together here find pianist Paul Smith in typically well-crafted form, with “The Big Men” a joyously engaging date in which he is heard performing solo or in a trio. Much skill, considerable feeling, and unceasingly ebullient energy transform this album into a thoroughly listenable program of modern jazz, throughout which his lines show strong classical influence and clear indication of his imposing compositional talent (Theme for Theda). The playing of the trio is crisp and knowing, and there are moments of brilliant musicianship by Smith with the fine support of Vinnegar and Levey, two swingers who keep the pulse vibrant.
"…The Hagens play with almost impossibly precise technique, virtually spotless intonation, and a fluid sense of balance that allows every line and every note of Janácek's scores to easily be heard. What's more, they brilliantly convey the emotional, autobiographical nature of the two works in such a way that even someone unfamiliar with their origins can sense the tension, drama, and angst. The disc concludes with an equally enjoyable performance of Hugo Wolf's Italian Serenade." 5/5 ~allmusicguide
The Brodsky Quartet here turns to the sunshine, bright colours, and deep-set passions of the South, performing Latin-inspired music for string quartet by composers who all possessed a strong connection to the ‘South’, whether it was the Mediterranean or South America.
Hugo Wolf is best known today for his extraordinary and highly popular Lieder; his small body of compositions for orchestra and chamber ensemble are, sadly, performed and recorded far less. However, the works for string quartet recorded on this disc reveal the seriousness with which Wolf approached this small-scale genre.
The "Wiener Streichquartett" remained in its first successful form until 1926. After that, three musicians joined the ensemble in the course of a year, whom Kolisch himself described as the "definitive" members of the quartet: Felix Khuner, second violin, Eugene Lehner, viola, and Benar Heifetz, violoncello. In his letters to Schoenberg, Kolisch raved over the tireless enthusiasm with which his young quartet colleagues studied the repertoire… Eugene Lehner describes it "When Heifetz and I joined the quartet, the whole day was one rehearsal. We met at about ten o'clock in the morning in Mama Kolisch's apartment, and practiced till late in the evening…. When rehearsing, whether alone or in the presence of the composer, the idea of time never came into anyone's head. What could anyone do other than play quartets?"
Warren Wolf, born in Baltimore in 1979, is the first young jazz vibraphonist with star quality to burst onto the scene since Stefon Harris. For his sophomore release from the Japanese M&I label, the producer surrounded him with an awesome set of talents – pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, and the results are explosive!
On the strength of his membership in ensembles led by Christian McBride and Aaron Diehl and his own auspicious Mack Avenue debut in 2011, Warren Wolf appears on a path to stardom as arguably the most exciting bop vibraphonist since Bobby Hutcherson. For Wolfgang, his followup collection on Mack Avenue, Wolf said he wanted to showcase his writing skills and provide more melodies that people can remember. For precisely those reasons, Wolfgang suffers by comparison with his previous work.
The reference to some exquisitely dressed man in the title of this release also conveys the stylistic bent of pianist Aaron Diehl's noteworthy debut on Mack Avenue. He is among a list of rising jazz pianists which include Gerald Clayton and Aaron Parks. The recording brings to life a project that was conceived in Indianapolis after Diehl, 26, earned first place in American Pianists Association's 2011 Cole Porter Fellowship.