Because the personnel include Louis Armstrong, Lillian Hardin, and Johnny and Baby Dodds, the 1923 recordings of King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, originally made for the Gennett, OKeh, Columbia, and Paramount labels, have been reissued numerous times as formats have changed and technology has improved. Here, the Canadian label Off the Record (distributed in the U.S. by Archeophone Records) puts 37 tracks on two CDs, having made transfers from the most pristine 78-rpm discs available.
Oliver Nelson makes a great appearance here with the Sharps & Flats group of Nobuo Hara – an excellent Japanese ensemble who are clearly inspired by Nelson's soulful arrangements of the 60s! Oliver's the reed soloist on the album, not the leader – and it's great to hear him getting a bit of his own sort of treatment while stretching out as an individual voice – free to remind us that he's also a hell of a soloist when he wants to be, with reed talents that work perfectly with the larger sense of tone from the bigger group! Nelson plays soprano sax wonderfully on a few cuts.
For her first collaboration with the period ensemble Il Giardino Armonico, violinist Isabelle Faust performs the five Violin Concertos of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, along with three shorter concertante works. This is an extraordinary set, for the historically informed performances, the polished sound of the group, the almost palpable presence of the players, which Harmonia Mundi has captured with superior engineering, and for the unrepressed joy in the music. Faust is the center of attention, naturally, and her refined and expressive playing immediately pulls the listener in. These are far from the most demanding concertos in the repertoire, so Faust is less concerned with technical execution than with conveying the pure feeling of the music, which is delightfully buoyant and uplifting. Under the direction of Giovanni Antonini, the group provides warm and sparkling accompaniment that gives Faust all the support she needs, but there's no doubt that she sets the emotional tone for these exquisite recordings. Highly recommended, especially for devotees of Classical style at its finest.
The Blu-ray version of the release 'Tango!' by the Isabelle van Keulen Ensemble features a video of the studio performance of several of the Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla's most popular pieces, including Verano Porteno, Oblivion, and Libertango. Accompanied by a special documentary, 'Music from the Heart', which presents interviews with ensemble members and behind-the-scenes footage of the studio recording process. The Isabelle van Keulen Ensemble was formed in January 2011 by the critically acclaimed Dutch violinist and violist Isabelle van Keulen especially for a series of concerts in Haarlem's Concertgebouw which showcased the music of Ástor Piazzolla.
Although the musical Oliver! was a successful musical (both in London and the U.S.), pianist Bob Dorough was one of the few (maybe only) jazz musicians who saw the possibilities to improvise upon its music. Omitting vocals on this occasion, Dorough examines both the dramatic nature of the 11 songs as well as finding humor within some of them. "Boy for Sale" is very moody, featuring Al Schackman on bouzoukee (not exactly an instrument heard on the common jazz date), while he switches to classical guitar for a bossa nova arrangement of the normally plaintive ballad "Where Is Love?" and sticks to electric guitar on the rest of the date…