Brett Dean is not shy about revealing what his music is ‘about’. Whether inspired by certain individuals (as in Epitaphs), or by an ecological or human disaster (as in his String Quartet No. 1, on the now all too topical plight of refugees), Dean’s works are usually – perhaps invariably – driven by extra-musical narratives. Rather than tease out any innate structural puzzles or tensions, his music typically falls into short little dramatic narratives – no movement on this disc lasts as long as eight minutes, many of them rather less than five. The most obviously successful work here is Quartet No. 2, ‘And once I played Ophelia’, effectively a dramatic scena. Its soprano soloist is no mere extra voice (as in Schoenberg’s Second Quartet) but the leading protagonist. Allison Bell’s genuinely affecting performance is backed by the Doric Quartet’s expressionist scampering and sustained harmonies, the strings occasionally coming to the fore in the manner of a Schumann-style song postlude.
Originally recorded in 1957, these sessions turned out to be the last the legendary Big Bill Broonzy would record; only a little over a year later, he succumbed to lung cancer. This collection consists not of fan or producer favorites, but Broonzy favorites, and includes a variety of blues, folk, and devotional music. Though he was instrumental to the development of the blues and the Chicago sound, much of the material on this three-disc set reaches back to the music that the blues came from, with a lot of drop-in help from Broonzy's friends, of which there were many. That makes these recordings not only recordings, but documentation, a testament to a bluesman who was at once musician and historian.
The groove is loose and deep on these studio sessions recorded as backing music for the original Bill Cosby Show sitcom in 1969. Despite the title, Bill Cosby appears on only one track here, the vocal version of "Hikky-Burr," where he improvised his entire part. Quincy Jones directed these sessions with bassist Ray Brown acting as bandleader on all but one cut (the Cosby selection). Other players came from a revolving cast that included Joe Sample on Fender Rhodes; pianists Les McCann, Clare Fischer, and Monty Alexander; drummers Paul Humphries and John Guerin; bassist Carol Kaye; guitarist Arthur Adams; vibists Milt Jackson and Victor Feldman; saxophonists Eddie Harris, Ernie Watts, and Tom Scott…
ESOTERIC RECORDINGS imprint Cocteau Discs, the home of BILL NELSON’s catalogue between 1971 and 2001, continues their series of on-going releases with the newly remastered and expanded release of his 1986 album "GETTING THE HOLY GHOST ACROSS”. Released in 1986, the record was Bill’s sole album for the Portrait label, and was a superbly realised work. Previously released on CD as strictly limited edition of 500 copies on Bill’s Sonolux label, the album is hugely sought after on CD by collectors.