John Lee Hooker's greatness lies in his ability to perform the same songs the same way yet somehow sound different and memorable in the process. He operates at maximum efficiency in minimal surroundings with little production or assistance. That was the case on a 1969 session for Black and Blue; it was just Hooker and his guitar moaning, wailing, and narrating on 10 tracks which included familiar ditties "Boogie Chillen," "Love Affair," "Big Boss Lady," and "Cold Chills." Evidence has now not only reissued these 10 but has added another six bonus cuts, bringing the CD total to 16. If you have ever heard any Hooker, you will not be surprised or stunned by these renditions; you will simply enjoy hearing him rework them one more time, finding a new word, phrase, line, or riff to inject.
A mind blowing and fiery new quartet featuring Ben Goldberg, one the true pioneers of Radical Jewish Culture whose groundbreaking group New Klezmer Trio proved an important influence on the Masada legacy. Turning his hand to Masada music in this fabulous all star quartet organized, arranged and conducted by Zorn himself, Ben plays like never before, displaying a sensitive virtuosity and a brilliant sense of sound and space. At times moody, intense, meditative, driving, lyrical and atmospheric, this is brilliant Jewish chamber music from four longtime and intimate members of the Masada family. Absolutely stunning!
This four-disc box from London's JSP Records collects an astounding 100 songs recorded by John Lee Hooker in Detroit from the years 1948 to 1952, including his first two sides ever, the signature tunes "Boogie Chillen" and "Sally Mae." Most of the tracks here are done solo, with Hooker's ever-present foot-stomping, although a few feature other musicians on loose-limbed blues boogies. Since Hooker never significantly altered his style during his long career, these first recordings set the stage for all that came after, and he arguably never sounded fresher or better. Four discs worth of this throwback Mississippi bluesman will be severe overkill for casual listeners, but diehard Hooker fans will find this box set absolutely essential.
Although highly productive and respected in his lifetime as a composer of Lieder, Robert Franz (1815–92) has since become a peripheral figure in music history. One reason may be that he avoids dramatic contrasts and instead aims at an emotional ambiguity: ‘My representation of joy is always tinged with melancholy, whilst that of suffering is always accompanied by an exquisite sensation of losing oneself’, he once wrote to Liszt. As a consequence his music appeals to those who are able ‘to admire the nuances of a charcoal drawing without longing for the colours of a painting’, to quote from Georges Starobinski’s liner notes to this recording. As they began to explore the songs of Franz, Starobinski and the baritone Christian Immler were moved by their findings to devise a programme which includes 23 of the composer’s often quite brief songs. Using the poet Heinrich Heine as their guiding star, they present these – all Heine settings but from different opus groups – in the form of two ‘imagined’ song cycles.