Jimmy Smith wasn't the first organ player in jazz, but no one had a greater influence with the instrument than he did; Smith coaxed a rich, grooving tone from the Hammond B-3, and his sound and style made him a top instrumentalist in the 1950s and '60s, while a number of rock and R&B keyboardists would learn valuable lessons from Smith's example.
Two glorious Czech masterpieces are presented on this 2014 release from Alpha, performed on period instruments by the exceptional Anima Eterna Brugge, directed by Jos van Immerseel. Considering that Antonín Dvorák's Symphony No. 9 in E minor, "From the New World" was completed in 1893, and Leos Janácek's Sinfonietta dates from 1926, and the period instruments movement mostly has been concerned with Baroque and Classical era works, original instrumentation might strike some listeners as odd. Yet performances in the late 19th and early 20th centuries called for instruments that differ substantially in construction and tone quality from modern models, and the variety of timbres was much greater with handmade instruments than the homogenized sounds of today's mass-produced woodwinds and brass.
"Tony Bennett Celebrates 90" is an album by Tony Bennett, released by Columbia Records on December 16, 2016. Guest artists include Andrea Bocelli, Michael Bublé, Billy Joel, Elton John, Diana Krall, Lady Gaga, k.d. lang, Leslie Odom Jr., Kevin Spacey, Rufus Wainwright, and Stevie Wonder. It will be followed by the television special Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best Is Yet to Come, set to air on NBC on December 20, 2016.
Following the ‘Gramophone Record of the Year’ award-winning set of the Brahms Symphonies, Riccardo Chailly turns his “rare talent for transforming music ripe for rediscovery” to Brahms’s Serenades. This exquisite recording renews these unjustly neglected and rarely performed works in performances of “trademark clarity” (Gramophone Record of the Year 2014) and marks the first Decca recording of these works since Kertesz in 1968.
What did it mean for Guillaume Du Fay (ca. 1397-1474), chameleon-like expert in every musical genre of his day, to compose four settings of the Mass Ordinary toward the end of his life? Looking back from the vantage point of the next generation, when the polyphonic mass reigned supreme, it might be tempting to interpret these works as a self-conscious summa of Du Fay’s career – an achievement akin to Haydn’s London Symphonies or Beethoven’s late string quartets. On a purely musical level these comparisons are apt. Each mass stakes out unique musical terrain; they are often strikingly experimental; and the entire set is shimmeringly beautiful from beginning to end, revealing a composer at the height of his powers.
These performances come from the first ever complete set of the Mozart symphonies, dating from the 1960s, and they still represent 'big orchestra' Mozart at its most congenial. The contrast here between Bohm's sparkling Mozart, both elegant and vigorous, and the much smoother view taken by Karajan with the same orchestra, works almost entirely in Bohm's favour. Interpretatively, these are performances very much of their time, with exposition repeats the exception (as in the first movement of No. 40) and with Minuets taken at what now seem lumbering speeds. Yet slow movements flow easily, and finales bounce along infectiously. Consistently they convey the happy ease of Bohm in Mozart, even if the recording is beefy by today's standards, not as transparent as one now expects in this repertory, whether on modern or period instruments.