Live podcasting from the Strand Friday evening will be yours truly.
I and three other 33-1/3 authors—Amanda Petrusich, Christopher Weingarten, and Ryan Leas—will be guests of boice-Terrel Allen for his Talk Music with boice podcast. We’ll be talking about Miles Davis, Nick Drake, LCD Soundsystem, and Public Enemy. Come on down (or up) for the coolness and a signed copy.
Another excellent value collected from RCA’s vaults, and a box that I consider essential for a classical music library. This gathers together the important recordings of music by American composers that Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony made in the 1990s.
The contents speak for themselves—there are things like Ives’ and Copland’s Symphony No. 3s, but Copland is expanded through great works like the Short Symphony, the Dance Symphony, the Orchestral Variations and some fine soundtracks, and there are leading interpretations of William Schuman, Walter Piston, and others.
At the time these albums were being released individually, they made a statement about the stature of American music. More than just arguments, these are fine albums through and through, and only $23 for 13 CDs!.
Don Cherry was one of the most wonderful musicians of the 20th century, an artist who could communicate to anyone on earth by cherishing every type of roots music he could find and returning it to the listener as the most sociable kind of gift. There’s a lot of lip service paid to music as a universal language—it is in the abstract, but music as a practice does not consistently cross cultural borders. Except that is when Don Cherry played.
If don’t know Home Boy (this reissue expands it as Home Boy, Sister Out, with extra tracks), it’s Cherry’s funk record, for lack of a better term. It stretches from rhythm and blues to hip hop tinged tracks, and Cherry doesn’t play but sings. The amount of charm here is immense, the songs are a joy, and the sincerity and earthiness make it deep. One of my favorite records ever, make it yours.
Seriously, order this right now: $25 for a 15 CD complete Mahler cycle, including both Symphony No. 10 and the “Blumine” movement tacked onto the CD with Symphony No. 1.
This is not just dirt cheap but a superior value. Zinman’s cycle is an excellent middle of the road one, and that is in no way a pejorative—this is clear, balanced, straightforward Mahler, and the playing and recording quality, which are exceptional, delivers the music with both detail and depth. These are some of the loveliest sounding Mahler recordings I’ve heard and are a pleasure for that alone. The emotions are at an uusual one step removed quality, not bad but different. The performances of Symphony No. 3, Symphony No. 5, and Symphony No. 9 are in good company with Abbado, Chailly, and Tilson Thomas.
This makes for a good choice for a first Mahler set, and belongs in every Mahlerian’s library. I will also take this opportunity to point out that my favorite single conductor cycle, the one from Bertini on EMI, is well priced at $36.50 which, considering the excellent music making, is an amazing value.
Do you dig music? Do you dig good writing about music?
Then come to the Strand Bookstore Friday, July 20,7 p.m., for a brief but hopefully intense and fulfilling appearance by yours truly in the company of three other writers, all talking about our 33-1/3 books. We—myself, Amanda Petrusich, Christopher R. Weingarten, and Ryan Leas—will be recording a live, in-person podcast with boice-Terrel Allen, producer of “Talk Music with boice,” interviews with music makers and thinkers.
We’ll be talking about Bitches Brew, Pink Moon, Sound of Silver, and It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Should be awesome, hope to see you all there.
Zoë Keating is a friend and a musician I worked with way back when I had no idea what I was doing. Some things don’t change, but Zoë’s career absolutely has, and I’m happy that her unique way of making music has touched so many people. She does the great thing that is available to—but infrequently tapped by—solo artists, which is to dig deep into one’s own personality and share what you find with the audience. Her music inspires devotion beyond the simple beauty and sonic force.
She has new EP out, Snowmelt, made in her new home of Burlington, Vermont. Maybe its winter music, but if you hold a piece of ice long enough, you’ll feel plenty of heat. Get it at Bandcamp—don’t shop for it anywhere else—and while you’re at it pick up her full discography in digital for a little more than $12, which is an unreal value.
In case you might have missed it elsewhere, there is a new “old” John Coltrane album being issued this Friday on Impulse!—Both Directions At Once.
This is a session that was recorderd at the Van Gelder Studios in 1963 with his mainstay group of that era, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones. Apparently, after the day’s recording was done, Coltrane took the tapes home where they were put away somewhere (the tapes were not the master—one was never found and I would surmise that having just laid down the tracks that day, no master had yet been made—but the reference tape is reported in excellent condition).
The discovery of unheard/unknown ’Trane from a complete studio session (unlike some badly registered live recording) is, as Sonny Rollins put it, “Like finding a new room in the Great Pyramid.” There’s already been a comprehensive look at it in the Times, which had the privlege of an early promo that your humble corresepondent did not enjoy. I think what Russonello points out in that article is that this is a good Coltrane album, which means a good thing to have in general, but it’s no revelation, there’s nothing on it that the man had not yet done, nor would never do again. But put it in your library anyway, jazz fans.