The chamber works on this recording encompass a variety of instrumental groupings and a range of moods from the humour and lightness of the Serenade to the serious magnificence of the Piano Quintet, a five-movement ‘memorial’ developing the tradition of so great a work as Shostakovich’s single-movement work for this combination. The Three Madrigals set a three-language cycle of miniature poems by Francisco Tanzer, poems which themselves encapsulates much that is distinctively Schnittke through their epigrammatic atmosphere of cryptic completeness.
In the 1970s, Harvey Mason was one of those busy L.A.-based sessions players who had one foot in jazz and the other in R&B. The drummer backed his share of soul heavyweights (including Earth, Wind & Fire, Aretha Franklin, James Brown and the Brothers Johnson), but he never lost his jazz chops. Recorded in 1976, Earthmover is among the mostly instrumental albums that Mason provided during his stay at Arista. This self-produced LP, which finds him trying to balance commercial and creative considerations, is a mixed bag. Some of the material is strong, especially the cerebral fusion item "No Lands Man" (which boasts Jan Hammer on keyboards) and the funky "Bertha Baptist." And the contemplative "First Summer" is an enjoyable track that reminds the listener of the underrated Hawaiian funk/fusion outfit Seawind, which isn't surprising because it was co-written and arranged by Seawind's Bob Wilson.