Six trio selections by the Stanley Cowell Trio, featuring Stanley Clarke on bass and Jimmy Hopps on skins. Elastic and flowing best describe the mellow "Maimoun"; Cowell's crisp keyboarding is determined and feisty, and Clarke's dark, moody bass solo consummates the excursion. Cowell and Clarke display amazing technique on "Ibn Mukhtarr Mustapha," and Hopps' impressionistic drumming is head clearing.
The sweet voiced Polish girl continues to set the standard by which other, less inventive adult contemporary vocalists should be measured. Her tender yet powerful feelings take listeners' hearts to places with fascinating, sometimes surreal imagery. Basia and partner/producer Danny White's real gift is rhythmic diversity, and the tandem take the artsy route on a big, brassy tour through Brazil and Latin America, employing jazzy touches that keep even the most staid tune hopping. The ballads are sweet as well. Nobody in this crowded genre outclassed or outperformed Basia, but as welcome as this comeback after four years was, the singer never followed up with another full-length studio project.
Paranoid was not only Black Sabbath’s most popular record (it was a number one smash in the U.K., and “Paranoid” and “Iron Man” both scraped the U.S. charts despite virtually nonexistent radio play), it also stands as one of the greatest and most influential heavy metal albums of all time. Paranoid refined Black Sabbath’s signature sound — crushingly loud, minor-key dirges loosely based on heavy blues-rock — and applied it to a newly consistent set of songs with utterly memorable riffs, most of which now rank as all-time metal classics. Where the extended, multi-sectioned songs on the debut sometimes felt like aimless jams, their counterparts on Paranoid have been given focus and direction, lending an epic drama to now-standards like “War Pigs” and “Iron Man” (which sports one of the most immediately identifiable riffs in metal history).
Frédéric Chopin's songs, in Polish, certainly stand to one side of his piano repertory. The 19 songs presented here were composed for personal use, addressed either to friends and lovers or to emigrés who, like Chopin, sympathized with Polish nationalist causes. There was no market for Polish-language songs in Paris, and these were not published until after the composer's death. Yet they are recognizably products of his muse, and their specialized quality sheds the light of insight onto the composer's piano music.