French saxophonist Sophie Alour's Opus 3 is not only her third album as a leader, it is also her first in a trio setting. The recipient of the French Django D'or award, Alour departs from the electric intensity of her previous release, Uncaged (Nocturne, 2007), to explore her voice as an instrumentalist. The 11 originals are tone poems bearing heavy western classical influences, with occasional peppering of other styles that showcase the leader on both tenor and soprano saxophones.
The twenty sonatas on this recording show Handel writing for the professional musicians of his London opera orchestra; they demand considerable skill and stamina both from the soloist and the continuo. Prominent bass parts give the sonatas a contrapuntal strength and vitality, and Handel keeps the elements of display and purely musical argument in admirable balance in these works. For this reason, they are among the most attractive Baroque solo sonatas and deserve their lasting popularity.
While organist Johnny "Hammond" Smith never attained the status of Jimmy Smith, he nonetheless fronted first-rate bands and accumulated a fine discography. Recorded in 1961, Opus de Funk brings together two Smith albums in one package, Stimulation and Opus de Funk. Since the same band – vibraphonist Freddie McCoy, guitarist Eddie McFadden, bassist Wendell Marshall, and drummer Leo Stevens – played on both sets, and since both albums aren't very long by contemporary standards, the pair fit snuggly on the same CD. The really unusual element here is the presence of McCoy, because one doesn't usually associate vibes with jazz organ combos.