Violinist Jenny Scheinman's instrumental companion recording to her eponymously titled vocal-emphasized effort of the same time period in 2008 is both an opposite reaction to pop styles and an extension of orchestral music with modern-day twists and turns. It reflects her time working with electric guitarist Bill Frisell, who appears on this date, and also gives a bigger picture of her classical influences via a huge string ensemble, while hinting at the modern creative jazz where her violin voicings take a firmer grip at the core.
The quirky music of the Microscopic Septet defies classification, other than it is swinging jazz blended with R&B and a host of other influences, full of twists and turns, yet remaining very catchy and accessible. Their debut LP originally came out on the Press label and was finally reissued as a Koch CD in 1998. Much like the musicians that made up Spike Jones' City Slickers in the 1940s, only some very talented players could follow these demanding charts; yet unlike the comparison to Jones' records, there is nothing that is obviously or purely cornball about this music.
The Merry Frolics of Satan is a recording of eight scores for the amazing silent films of George Méliès , the French pioneer of the fantastic. They are performed by The Transparent Quartet, and were originally premiered with the films at the Walter Reade Tjeatre at Lincoln Center in New York City on Nov. 15, 1997. They have subsequently been performed at the Clevelan Institute of Art, the Wexner Center, the Teatro Verdi in Florence, the Erie Art Museum, and Etnafest in Catania, among others. This CD was originally released on Koch Jazz, but has now gone out of print. It is the second CD released by The Transparent Quartet.
The Needless Kiss was the first CD by Phillip Johnston's Transparent Quartet, the drummerless quartet he formed in the late 1990s after leading The Microscopic Septet and Big Trouble. It was released in 1998 on Koch Jazz, but is now out-of-print, due to the corporate downsizing of that label. In addition to originals by Johnston and pianist Joe Ruddick, the group played distinctive arrangements of tunes by a variety of composers, for instance on this CD, Frederic Chopin & Raymond Scott.
Same Train, Different Time is Merle Haggard's affectionate tribute to Jimmie Rodgers. Haggard provides narration between the songs, offering tales of Rodgers' life and music. While the album is rooted in the past, the key to its success is how Haggard updates these traditional songs without losing sight of their roots. There are contemporary folk, country and blues influences scattered throughout the record, adding depth to the music and proving that Rodgers' music is indeed timeless.
I’m honored to discuss this CD. I found Fred Ho’s Monkey: Part One a glorious surprise, and this second section of his musical setting for the trickster tale is no disappointment. The ensemble’s personnel has few changes, notably Francis Wong as tenorist; but its spirit remains dramatic, flexible and visionary as Ho achieves tremendous range from trombone, three saxophones (including his own baritone), bass and drums, and several performers on Chinese traditional instruments.
Hot on the heels of his commercial breakthrough Touchdown, which contained the monster hit "Angela (Theme from Taxi)," Bob James teamed up with acoustic guitarist Earl Klugh for the first of two hit duet albums. One on One is not strictly a duet side, however. The pair is accompanied by a band of crack studio types that includes James' former CTI mates acoustic bassist Ron Carter and drummer Harvey Mason and a host of others as well as string and woodwinds sections. The fare is light, breezy, and barely there in places. Out of these sessions came "The Afterglow," which lit up the charts right after "Angela" did, making James the hottest jazz commodity on the scene.