• A Month of Listening, April (and a Recording of the Week)

    This entry is part 14 of 14 in the series Recording of the Week

    My listening pace for new releases slowed drastically in April—19 recordings—and I blame it on the blues. Early in the month, I filled out my ballot for the DownBeat critic’s poll, and when I got to the Blues Album/Artist categories, I had a lot of catch-up listening to do. And what a pleasure it was!(…)

  • Thread(ing) the Words, the World

    This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Essentials

    As a reader interested in the state of contemporary music, you’ve likely already seen that Henry Threadgill won this year’s Pulitzer Prize in music, specifically for his 2015 album on Pi, In For a Penny, In for a Pound. Personally, I’m overjoyed. I’ve been following Threadgill since I first heard one of his records with(…)

  • Recording of the Week: Blooddmist, Sheen

    This entry is part 13 of 14 in the series Recording of the Week

    Bloodmist: Sheen In a way, I’ve been waiting for a record like this since I first heard the Last Exit debut album back in 1986. The record was notable for being free improvisation played in the style of metal and hardcore. It opened up a door that John Zorn, most prominently, went through, with bands(…)

  • A Month of Listening: March 2016

    This entry is part of 13 in the series Best Of

    First, the stats: 32 new releases in 31 days 147 new releases for the year UPDATED: With embedded document to see if it solve downloading problems. Current pace is for me to get through 588 recordings this year, which is holding pretty steady from the 2015 mark. The Recording of the Week series continues to(…)

  • Recording of the Week: Third Coast Percussion, Steve Reich

    This entry is part 1 of 14 in the series Recording of the Week

    Third Coast Percussion: Steve Reich Mallet Quartet; Sextet, Nagoya Marimbas, Music for Pieces of Wood New recordings of the music of Steve Reich are easy to recommend: he’s arguably the most important composer of the last fifty years, and because he’s a contemporary, every new release adds to our understanding of his work. That is(…)

  • Recording of Easter Week: René Jacobs, RIAS Kammerchor, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, soloistsBach: St John Passion

    This entry is part 2 of 14 in the series Recording of the Week

    Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, RIAS Kammerchor, René Jacobs Bach: St John Passion, BWV 245 (1739 version) The only thing wrong with this release from Harmonia Mundi is that, even though this is a Passion piece, the CDs won’t actually be available until Friday, April 1, a full week after the Easter weekend. Jacobs previously(…)

  • Recording of the Week: Kristian Bezuidenhout , Mozart: Keyboard Music Vols. 8 & 9

    This entry is part 3 of 14 in the series Recording of the Week

    Kristian Bezuidenhout, fortepiano This two disc set is the conclusion of Bezuidenhout’s series of recordings of Mozart on the fortepiano, all on Harmonia Mundi. Bezuidenhout has not recorded all of Mozart’s piano compositions, but the series amounts to a substantial body of music: the eighteen sonatas, concertos K. 453 and K. 482, a good helping(…)

A Month of Listening, April (and a Recording of the Week)

This entry is part 14 of 14 in the series Recording of the Week

My listening pace for new releases slowed drastically in April—19 recordings—and I blame it on the blues. Early in the month, I filled out my ballot for the DownBeat critic’s poll, and when I got to the Blues Album/Artist categories, I had a lot of catch-up listening to do. And what a pleasure it was!(…)

Thread(ing) the Words, the World

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Essentials

As a reader interested in the state of contemporary music, you’ve likely already seen that Henry Threadgill won this year’s Pulitzer Prize in music, specifically for his 2015 album on Pi, In For a Penny, In for a Pound. Personally, I’m overjoyed. I’ve been following Threadgill since I first heard one of his records with(…)

Recording of the Week: Blooddmist, Sheen

This entry is part 13 of 14 in the series Recording of the Week

Bloodmist: Sheen In a way, I’ve been waiting for a record like this since I first heard the Last Exit debut album back in 1986. The record was notable for being free improvisation played in the style of metal and hardcore. It opened up a door that John Zorn, most prominently, went through, with bands(…)

A Month of Listening: March 2016

This entry is part of 13 in the series Best Of

First, the stats: 32 new releases in 31 days 147 new releases for the year UPDATED: With embedded document to see if it solve downloading problems. Current pace is for me to get through 588 recordings this year, which is holding pretty steady from the 2015 mark. The Recording of the Week series continues to(…)

Recording of the Week: Third Coast Percussion, Steve Reich

This entry is part 1 of 14 in the series Recording of the Week

Third Coast Percussion: Steve Reich Mallet Quartet; Sextet, Nagoya Marimbas, Music for Pieces of Wood New recordings of the music of Steve Reich are easy to recommend: he’s arguably the most important composer of the last fifty years, and because he’s a contemporary, every new release adds to our understanding of his work. That is(…)

Recording of Easter Week: René Jacobs, RIAS Kammerchor, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, soloistsBach: St John Passion

This entry is part 2 of 14 in the series Recording of the Week

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, RIAS Kammerchor, René Jacobs Bach: St John Passion, BWV 245 (1739 version) The only thing wrong with this release from Harmonia Mundi is that, even though this is a Passion piece, the CDs won’t actually be available until Friday, April 1, a full week after the Easter weekend. Jacobs previously(…)

Recording of the Week: Kristian Bezuidenhout , Mozart: Keyboard Music Vols. 8 & 9

This entry is part 3 of 14 in the series Recording of the Week

Kristian Bezuidenhout, fortepiano This two disc set is the conclusion of Bezuidenhout’s series of recordings of Mozart on the fortepiano, all on Harmonia Mundi. Bezuidenhout has not recorded all of Mozart’s piano compositions, but the series amounts to a substantial body of music: the eighteen sonatas, concertos K. 453 and K. 482, a good helping(…)

Recording of the Week: Melissa Aldana, Back Home

This entry is part 4 of 14 in the series Recording of the Week

Melissa Aldana, Back Home Aldana, tenor saxophone; Pablo Menares, bass; Jochen Rueckert, drums   Let’s get the labels out of the way first: saxophonist Aldana won the 2013 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, making her the first (non-singer) woman to earn the award. Now is the time to acknowledge the generations of sexism on the(…)

Recording of the (Last) Week: Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto/Stravinsky: Les Noces

This entry is part 5 of 14 in the series Recording of the Week

Teodor Currentzis, MusicaAeterna, Patricia Kopatchinskaja Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto/Stravinsky: Les Noces There are too many recordings of classical music, and the last thing the world needs is another performance of a war horse like Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. I’m not the only critic or composer (or even musician) to think that. Which is why this new album(…)

A Month of Listening: February 2016

This entry is part 1 of 13 in the series Best Of

A short month perhaps, but no concessions the number of days: in this year’s leap-month of February, I listened to 38 recordings, making a total of 94 for the year so far. My current pace will have me covering 564 records that are new/recent releases for this year, a little under what I heard last(…)