In what was a giant undertaking (even for producer Norman Granz), pianist Oscar Peterson recorded ten Songbook albums during 1952-1954 and when his trio changed, nine more in 1959. Both of his George Gershwin projects (one from 1952 and the other from 1959) have been reissued in full on this single CD. The earlier date matches the brilliant Peterson with guitarist Barney Kessel and bassist Ray Brown, while the 1959 session has Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen. The Songbook series found Peterson playing concise (around three-minute) versions of tunes, and he always kept the melody in the forefront. The results are not innovative or unique, but they are tasteful and reasonably enjoyable. Since five of the songs are played by both groups, a comparison between the two units is interesting.
"Wet Wet Wet celebrate the 30th anniversary of Popped In Souled Out with a special remastered edition featuring extra bonus tracks. Having formed in 1982 after taking their name from a line in a Scritti Politti song, the band’s first single Wishing I Was Lucky was released in 1987, which started an incredible unbroken run of 27 Top 40 hits…
Valery Gergiev directs the Kirov Opera and Ballet in this dramatic staging of Tchaikovsky’s historical opera, based on Pushkin’s verse tale of the legendary Cossack chieftain. Tchaikovsky’s dark musical setting intertwines the political drama of Mazeppa’s ill-fated betrayal of the Tsar with the personal tragedy of his love for Maria, the young daughter of his hapless opponent, Kocubej.
One of the more imposing figures on modern blues scene, guitarist-singer Magic Slim serves up raw, passionate Chicago-style blues with his band The Teardrops on Scufflin’ (Blind Pig 5036; 40:53). Raucous, good-time romps like “Hole In The Wall,” Jimmy Reed’s “Down In Virginia” and Slim’s shuffle “Just Before You Go” sound like just another Saturday night at Florence’s on the South Side. And Slim imbues each tune with nasty licks from his trusty Fender Jazzmaster. Sloppy but powerfully intense, like the spirits of Albert King and Hound Dog Taylor mingling at a juke joint jam.
It is coming up to five years since Sarah Chang, then in her early teens, made her brilliant and moving concerto recording debut in the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto on EMI (12/93). Her concerto recordings for the label since then have been of brilliant showpiece works like the Lalo Symphonie espagnole (5/96) and the Paganini First Concerto (1/95) rather than of the central repertory. It is good here to have her remarkable artistry revealed again at full stretch in astonishingly mature interpretations of the Mendelssohn and Sibelius concertos.
Although he had been playing for years, it wasn't until the 1990s that R.L. Burnside's raw electrified Delta blues were heard by a wide audience. His new fans celebrated his wild, unbridled energy, so it made sense for him to team with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the warped indie rock band that's all about energy. However, the very purists who celebrate Burnside hate Spencer, believing that the latter mocks the blues. As the blistering Ass Pocket of Whiskey proves, Spencer may not treat the blues with reverence, but he and his band capture the wild essence of juke-joint blues. And that makes them the perfect match for Burnside, who knows his history but isn't burdened by it. Together, Burnside and the Blues Explosion make raw, scintillating, unvarnished blues that positively burns.
Savoy is a Norwegian-American indie rock trio formed in 1994 by co-singer/songwriter/guitarist Paul Waaktaar-Savoy (formerly Pål Waaktaar) of a-ha, along with his wife, Lauren Waaktaar-Savoy (formerly Lauren Savoy). Multi-instrumentalist Frode Unneland joined the couple as drummer. Warner Bros. released Savoy's debut album, Mary Is Coming, in 1996. Finding commercial success in Norway, it was followed by 1997's Lackluster Me for EMI. Though Savoy was formed during a hiatus for a-ha, the European synth pop icons reunited in 1998, and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy would continue to write, record, and tour for both bands over the next six years. Savoy won Spellemann Awards (Norwegian Grammys) for Best Pop Band for their third and fourth albums, 1999's Mountains of Time and 2001's Reasons to Stay Indoors, both issued by EMI.