Simple and elegant genius from Zoot Sims – an overlooked quartet session recorded with George Handy on piano, Wilbur Ware on bass, and Osie Johnson on drums. Handy was the famous arranger for the Boyd Rayburn group in the 40s, and here he arranges the whole set – and also contributes a number of original tunes – making for a very fresh session that gets Zoot far past the usual bag of well-worn standards. And with Ware on bass, there's an extra depth to the set in the rhythm department that opens things up nicely – not dramatically, but enough to allow for some more emphatic playing on the part of Sims!
What the world needs more of is intelligently planned, stupendously played, and brilliantly recorded collections like this one. These two discs contain all the piano works of Michael Tippett, works that come from every period of the composer's very long life except his very last. It includes the youthful, tuneful Piano Sonata No. 1 written between 1936 and 1938 and revised in 1941, the massive Fantasia on a Theme of Handel from 1941, the exuberant Piano Concerto from 1955, the experimental Piano Sonata No. 2, the gnomic almost Beethovenian Piano Sonata No. 3 from 1973, and the gnarly post-Beethovenian Piano Sonata No. 4. It features a bravura performance by pianist Steven Osborne that makes the best case for all the music, no matter how outré or recherché its harmonic proclivities or rhythmic audacities. Osborne has the emotional enthusiasm, intellectual clarity, physical strength, and sheer willpower to make listeners believe that Tippett is a major English composer and make them wonder why they ever doubted it. With the superlative accompaniment of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Martyn Brabbins in the Concerto and the Fantasia and the sparkling recording by Andrew Keener for Hyperion, this disc marks a major step forward in the Tippett discography.