Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Teddy Wilson - Stompin' at the Savoy

Strange as it seems, Teddy Wilson only made one record as a leader during 1960-66. His playing had not declined in the slightest, but the veteran swing pianist's style was overlooked in favor of newer players, and although still a household name in the jazz world, he was somewhat neglected. In 1967, with this excellent CD and its companion, Air Mail Special, Wilson returned to a more regular recording schedule. Recorded in London, this studio session finds Wilson joined by some fine English musicians (including clarinetist Dave Shepherd and vibraphonist Ronnie Gleaves) for a spirited runthrough of swing standards. Although the date on the CD says 1969, it is definitely 1967.
Scott Yanow

Source : http://www.allmusic.com/album/stomping-at-the-savoy-mw0000081382

Teddy Wilson
Stompin' at the Savoy


1 Stompin' at the Savoy (Goodman, Razaf, Sampson, Webb)  4:16
2 Moonglow (DeLange, Hudson, Mills)  4:30
3 As Time Goes By (Hupfeld)  2:26
4 Honeysuckle Rose [take 1] (Razaf, Waller)  4:01
5 Flying Home (Goodman, Hampton, Robin)  4:35
6 I Can't Get Started (Duke, Gershwin)  2:21
7 Sometimes I'm Happy (Caesar, Grey, Youmans)  4:00
8 Body and Soul (Eyton, Green, Heyman, Sour)  4:33
9 I'll Never Be the Same (Kahn, Malneck, Signorelli)  7:36
10 Easy Living (Rainger, Robin)  3:07
11 On Green Dolphin Street (Kaper, Washington)  2:10
12 Honeysuckle Rose [take 2] (Razaf , Waller)  4:04


Teddy Wilson - p
Dave Shepherd - cl
Ronnie Gleaves - vb
Peter Chapman - b
Johnny Richardson - dr

Recorded at Chappell Studios, London ; June 18, 1967

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Clifford Brown & Max Roach Quintet

According to the original 1955 liner notes to Clifford Brown and Max Roach, the announcement that Clifford Brown and Max Roach had begun recording and playing together sent shock waves throughout the jazz community and predictions ran rampant about how the two might shape bop to come. The last duo to really shape the music had begun over ten years earlier, with the relationship between Bird and Diz. This recording was early fruit from a tree that would only live as long as Clifford Brown was around to water it (1956, the year of his tragic auto accident). The result is by far some of the warmest and most sincere bebop performed and committed to tape. Brown's tone is undeniably and characteristically warm, and he keeps the heat on alongside Roach's lilting vamps and pummeling solos. What really keeps this record on the orange side of things (other than the decidedly orange cover) is the solo work of saxophonist Harold Land, who plays part Bird and part Benny Goodman. His tone is as delightful as it gets on the sultry "Deliah" and as bop-expressive as it gets on "The Blues Walk" and "Parisian Thoroughfare," where he and Brownie go head to head blowing expressive runs of sheer New York-style jazz. This collection of songs runs a nice gamut between boplicity and pleasant balladry. It represents bop at its best and is recommended for collectors and casual fans alike. [This 2000 Verve reissue includes alternate takes of "The Blues Walk," "Daahoud," and "Joy Spring."]
Sam Samuelson

Source : http://www.allmusic.com/album/clifford-brown-max-roach-mw0000187907

Clifford Brown
Max Roach


1 Delilah (Mason, Reed, Young)  8:06
2 Parisian Thoroughfare (Powell)  7:19
3 Daahoud (Brown)  4:05
4 Joy Spring (Brown)  6:50
5 Jordu (Jordan)  7:50
6 The Blues Walk (Brown)  6:47
7 What Am I Here For ? (Ellington, Laine)  3:11
8 These Foolish Things (Link, Marvell, Strachey)  3:48
9 The Blues Walk [alt. take] (Brown)  6:54
10 Daahoud [alt. take] (Brown)  4:09
11 Joy Spring [alt. take] (Brown)  6:43


Clifford Brown - tp
Harold Land - ts
Richie Powell - p
George Morrow - b
Max Roach - dr

Recorded at Capitol Studios, Hollywood & New York City ; August 3 & 6, 1954 & February 24, 1955

See the complete artwork

Teddy Wilson - Airmail Special

Teddy visited Europe on several occasions and towards the end of 1967 played in Britain at the Jazz Expo concerts. At the beginning of the following year he toured with the Dave Shepherd Quintet, a unit dedicated to the musical style of the Benny Goodman small group. This album was made during the tour and features the full group on four numbers associated with Goodman, namely Airmail Special, Seven Come Eleven, Avalon and Poor Butterfly. Wilson was, of course, very much at home in this context with Shepherd constructing flowing clarinet phrases and Ronnie Gleaves getting very close to the sound and style of Lionel Hampton. It is due very largely to the presence of Wilson that the unit succeeds in generating such a free-flying swing ; Teddy's careful attention to detail behind the soloists is as noteworthy as his own solo choruses. On Love, Take the 'A' Train and Ain't Misbehavin', Wilson reverts to the trio format with Peter Chapman's bass surging through to good effect on the latter track. It is Chapman alone who assists Teddy on Neal Hefti's charming Li'l Darlin', a reminder that the Wilson programme in latter years often took in new tunes such as Satin Doll and Shiny Stockings. The short medley (Stella by Starlight and Laura) and the attractive film theme Second Time Around together with I'm Thru' with Love are solos in the true sense of the term and prove yet again that Teddy had a strong left hand when it came to taking over the role of rhythm player...
Alun Morgan, from the booklet

Teddy Wilson
Airmail Special


1 Air Mail Special [take 5] (Christian, Goodman, Mundy)  4:33
2 Love [take 4] (Blane, Martin)  4:33
3 Medley : Stella by Starlight (Washington, Young)/Laura (Mercer, Raksin)  2:47
4 Seven Come Eleven (Christian, Goodman)  3:42
5 Lil' Darlin' [take 2] (Hefti)  3:36
6 Take the "A" Train [take 2] (Strayhorn)  5:01
7 Avalon (DeSylva, Jolson, Rose)  5:28
8 The Second Time Around (Cahn, Van Heusen)  2:28
9 Poor Butterfly (Golden, Hubbell)  6:38
10 Ain't Misbehavin' [take 1] (Brooks, Razaf, Waller)  2:30
11 I'm Thru With Love (Kahn, Livingston, Malneck)  2:22
12 Air Mail Special [take 4] (Christian, Goodman, Mundy)  4:25


Teddy Wilson - p
Dave Shepherd - cl
Ronnie Gleaves - vb
Peter Chapman - b
Johnny Richardson - dr

Recorded at Chapell Studios, London ; June 18, 1967

Friday, December 12, 2014

Emil Gilels Plays Beethoven & Early Recordings (1935-1955)

Emil Gilels died suddenly in 1985. Together with Sviatoslav Richter he was one of the unquestionably great Russian pianists of the postwar Soviet era, and part of an outstanding generation of players from around the world, even though, compared with Richter, Gilels's art was not fully represented on disc. He would have been 90 this year, and Deutsche Grammophon has marked the anniversary with three major reissues. The most important of them are his hugely distinguished accounts of the Beethoven piano sonatas, a cycle that remained unfinished at his death with five sonatas, including the first and last, Op. 2 n° 1 and Op. 111, still to be recorded, and there is also a Mozart set that contains a recital Gilels gave in Salzburg in 1970 and the two concertos he recorded with Karl Böhm and the Vienna Philharmonic three years later, the B-flat Concerto K 595 and the Concerto for two pianos K 365, in which he is partnered by his daughter Elena.
Most revealing of all though is the collection of early recordings from 1935 to 1955, even if they are not, as the set cover claims, all appearing on CD for the first time. They show the young Gilels as a steely virtuoso, dazzling in period showpieces by Godowsky and Tausig, and driving his way though Schumann's Op. 7 Toccata with ferocious power and control, and treating a group of Scarlatti sonatas with the same brilliance and technical precision. Sonatas by Beethoven (Op. 2 n° 3) and Medtner, Sonata n° 3, show that fearsome technique came with an equally acute sense of musical architecture, but when that 1952 account of the Beethoven is compared with the one made as part of his Beethoven cycle more than 20 years later, it shows how the steeliness became tempered with a more spacious humanity. The technique remained as imperious as ever — in the Hammerklavier for instance, there's no trace of strain — but it had become a means to a much higher, infinitely more thoughtful musical end. If Gilels's Mozart now seems a little stiff and expressively unyielding — Böhm's heavy-legged accompaniments don't help either — then his Beethoven still remains peerless ; it's one of the greatest sonata cycles ever recorded, and though incomplete, should be a part of everyone's Beethoven collection.
Andrew Clements

Source : http://www.theguardian.com/music/2006/dec/22/classicalmusicandopera.shopping5

Emil Gilels

The Piano Sonatas


Piano Sonata n° 2 in A, Op. 2 n° 2
1 I. Allegro vivace  7:08
2 II. Largo appassionato  7:37
3 III. Scherzo (Allegretto)  3:29
4 IV. Rondo (Grazioso)  7:31

Piano Sonata n° 3 in C, Op. 2 n° 3
5 I. Allegro con brio  10:09
6 II. Adagio  8:50
7 III. Scherzo (Allegro)  3:00
8 IV. Allegro assai  5:33

2 "Electoral" Sonatas

Sonata in E-flat major WoO 47 n° 1
9 I. Allegro cantabile  4:02
10 II. Andante  3:59
11 III. Rondo vivace  2:47
Sonata in F minor WoO 47 n° 2
12 I. Larghetto maestoso  5:03
13 II. Andante  6:39
14 III. Presto  3:36


Cd. 2

Piano Sonata n° 4 in E flat, Op. 7
1 I. Allegro molto e con brio  8:49
2 II. Largo, con gran espressione  10:00
3 III. Allegro  5:51
4 IV. Rondo (Poco allegretto e grazioso)  7:58

Piano Sonata n° 8 in C minor, Op.13
5 I. Grave - Allegro di molto e con brio  9:11
6 II. Adagio cantabile  5:46
7 III. Rondo (Allegro)  5:03

Piano Sonata n° 10 in G, Op. 14 n° 2
8 I. Allegro  8:06
9 II. Andante  8:05
10 III. Scherzo (Allegro assai)  3:47


Cd. 3

Piano Sonata n° 5 in C minor, Op. 10 n° 1
1 I. Allegro molto e con brio  7:01
2 II. Adagio molto  11:45
3 III. Finale (Prestissimo)  4:58

Piano Sonata n° 6 in F, Op. 10 n° 2
4 I. Allegro  8:55
5 II. Allegretto  5:26
6 III. Presto  3:52

Piano Sonata n° 7 in D, Op. 10 n° 3
7 I. Presto  6:58
8 II. Largo e mesto  10:49
9 III. Menuetto (Allegro)  2:49
10 IV. Rondo (Allegro)  4:14


Cd. 4

Piano Sonata n° 11 in B-flat, Op. 22
1 I. Allegro con brio  8:08
2 II. Adagio con molto espressione  11:18
3 III. Menuetto  3:49
4 IV. Rondo (Allegretto)  7:20

Piano Sonata n° 12 in A-flat, Op. 26
5 I. Andante con variazioni  8:37
6 II. Scherzo (Allegro molto)  2:50
7 III. Marcia funebre sulla morte d'un Eroe  6:23
8 IV. Allegro  2:26

15 Piano Variations and Fugue in E-flat, Op. 35
"Eroica Variations"
9 Introduzione col Basso del Tema: Allegretto vivace  3:01
10 Tema  0:42
11 Variation 1  0:37
12 Variation 2  0:51
13 Variation 3  0:39
14 Variation 4  0:32
15 Variation 5  0:53
16 Variation 6  0:33
17 Variation 7 Canone all'Ottava  0:38
18 Variation 8  1:02
19 Variation 9  0:39
20 Variation 10  0:38
21 Variation 11  0:45
22 Variation 12  0:41
23 Variation 13  0:45
24 Variation 14 Minore  1:43
25 Variation 15 Maggiore. Largo  3:43
26 Coda  1:13
27 Finale. Alla Fuga. Allegro con brio  4:44

Cd. 5

Piano Sonata n° 13 in E-flat, Op. 27 n° 1
1 I. Andante - Allegro - Tempo I  5:50
2 II. Allegro molto e vivace  1:40
3 III. Adagio con espressione  3:11
4 IV. Allegro vivace - Tempo I - Presto  5:35

Piano Sonata n° 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27 n° 2
5 I. Adagio sostenuto  6:06
6 II. Allegretto  2:32
7 III. Presto agitato  7:08

Piano Sonata n° 15 in D, Op.28
8 I. Allegro  12:11
9 II. Andante  8:38
10 III. Scherzo. Allegro vivace  2:20
11 IV. Rondo. Allegro ma non troppo  5:51


Cd. 6

Piano Sonata n° 16 in G, Op. 31 n° 1
1 I. Allegro vivace  6:45
2 II. Adagio grazioso  11:07
3 III. Rondo (Allegretto)  6:44

Piano Sonata n° 17 in D Minor, Op.31 n° 2
4 I Largo - Allegro  9:20
5 II. Adagio  9:23
6 III. Allegretto  7:25

Piano Sonata n° 18 in E-Flat, Op. 31 n° 3
"The Hunt"
7 I. Allegro  9:04
8 II. Scherzo (Allegretto vivace)  5:17
9 III. Menuetto (Moderato e grazioso)  4:55
10 IV. Presto con fuoco  4:22


Cd. 7

Piano Sonata n° 19 in G Minor, Op. 49 n° .1
1 I. Andante  6:01
2 II. Rondo (Allegro)  3:31

Piano Sonata n° 20 in G, Op. 49 n° 2
3 I. Allegro ma non troppo  5:02
4 II. Tempo di Menuetto  3:48

Piano Sonata n° 21 in C, Op. 53
5 I. Allegro con brio  11:04
6 II. Introduzione (Adagio molto)  4:38
7 III. Rondo (Allegretto moderato - Prestissimo)  9:19

Piano Sonata n° 23 in F minor, Op. 57
8 I. Allegro assai  11:07
9 II. Andante con moto  6:29
10 III. Allegro ma non troppo  7:53

Piano Sonata n° 25 in G, Op. 79
11 I. Presto alla tedesca  4:49
12 II. Andante  3:37
13 III. Vivace  1:46


Cd. 8

Piano Sonata n° 26 in E-flat, Op. 81a
"Les adieux"
1 I. Das Lebewohl (Adagio - Allegro)  7:20
2 II. Abwesenheit (Andante espressivo)  4:03
3 III. Das Wiedersehen (Vivacissimamente)  6:00

Piano Sonata n° 27 in E minor, Op. 90
4 I. Mit Lebhaftigkeit und durchaus mit Empfindung und Ausdruck  5:41
5 II. Nicht zu geschwind und sehr singbar vorgetragen  8:17

Piano Sonata n° 30 in E major, Op. 109
6 I. Vivace, ma non troppo - Adagio espressivo - Tempo I  4:08
7 II. Prestissimo  2:39
8 III. Gesangvoll, mit innigster Empfindung (Andante molto cantabile ed espressivo)  2:32
9 Variation I: Molto espressivo  2:02
10 Variation II: Leggiermente  1:43
11 Variation III: Allegro vivace  0:29
12 Variation IV: Etwas langsamer als das Thema  2:31
13 Variation V: Allegro, ma non troppo  1:04
14 Variation VI: Tempo I del tema  3:53

Piano Sonata n° 31 in A-flat major, Op. 110
15 I. Moderato cantabile molto espressivo  7:30
16 II. Allegro molto  2:20
17 III. Adagio ma non troppo - Fuga (Allegro ma non troppo)  12:15


Cd. 9

Piano Sonata n° 28 in A, Op. 101
1 I. Etwas lebhaft und mit der innigsten Empfindung (Allegretto ma non troppo)  4:19
2 II. Lebhaft, marschmäßig (Vivace alla marcia)  6:14
3 III. Langsam und sehnsuchtsvoll (Adagio ma non troppo, con affetto)  3:27
4 IV. Geschwind, doch nicht zu sehr und mit Entschlossenheit (Allegro)  7:32

Piano Sonata n° 29 in B-flat, Op.106
5 I. Allegro  12:24
6 II. Scherzo (Assai vivace - Presto - Prestissimo - Tempo I)  2:53
7 III. Adagio sostenuto  19:51
8 IV. Largo - Allegro risoluto  13:38


Emil Gilels - p

Recorded between January 1972 & September 1985

See the complete artwork


 Emil Gilels
Early Recordings


 Cd. 1

Jean-Baptiste (John) Loeillet
[Transcr. Leopold Godowski

1 Gigas  2:03
(arr. from Suite for Harpsichord n° 1 in G minor)

Jean-Philippe Rameau

2 Le Rappel des oiseaux  2:36
(Premier Livre de Pièces, n° 15, Suite en mi)

Robert Schumann
[Transcr. Carl Tausig

3 Der Kontrabandiste  1:44
(Spanisches Liederspiel, Op. 74 n° 10)

Robert Schumann

4 Toccata, Op. 7  4:43

Felix Mendelssohn

5 Duetto  3:09
(Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 38 n° 6)

Robert Schumann

6 Traumes Wirren  2:17
(Fantasiestücke, Op. 12 n° 7)

Serge Prokofiev

7 March  1:30
(from The Love for Three Oranges, Op. 33)

Frédéric Chopin

8 Ballade n° 1 in G minor, Op. 23  8:19

Franz Liszt

9 Paganini Etudes S 141, n° 5 in E major  2:33
10 Hungarian Rhapsody n° 9  10:24
"Pesther Carneval"

Domenico Scarlatti

11 Sonata in C major K. 159  1:58
12  Sonata inB minor K. 27  4:15
13 Sonata inG major K. 125  2:10
14 Sonata in E major K. 380  5:04
15 Sonata in A major K. 113  3:47


Cd. 2

Ludwig Van Beethoven

Piano Sonata in C major, Op. 2 n° 3
1 I. Allegro con brio  9:18
2 II. Adagio  8:04
3 III. Scherzo: Allegro  2:50
4 Allegro assai  5:00

Nicolai Medtner

5 I. Tenebroso, sempre affrettando  7:07
Allegro assai
6 II. Interludium. Andante lugubre  3:53
7 III. Allegro assai  5:38


Emil Gilels - p

Recorded in Moscow ; between 1935 & 1955

Wilhelm Kempff Plays Franz Liszt

The most unusual thing about Wilhelm Kempff is that there is, indeed, nothing usual about him. He is very much my kind of pianist – no rush, no banging, no cheap show-off, music always comes first – and it is not surprising that more or less all my encounters with his recordings have consistently range from delightful to unforgettable. Kempff's gentleness, some think, doesn't suit Beethoven's music, full of angst and passion, but I think his complete recordings of the sonatas and the concerti are some of the most satisfying in my admittedly limited listening experience. Kempff's Schumann I treasure even more, albeit with a few exceptions such as the C major Fantasie, and of Brahms' deceptively simple late opuses I have yet to hear a finer performances than Kempff's. As for the Schubert's Sonatas and Impromptus, though I have lots of affection for Bolet, Horowitz, Ciccolini or Joao Pires in certain pieces, for sheer quantity coupled with quality Kempff is my first choice, hugely preferable to Brendel.
So when I came to this CD – my first experience of Kempff on a Lisztian scale – I naturally had high expectations. Yet they were surpassed. It is a little difficult to believe that these recordings were made in 1974 and released in 1975, namely when Wilhelm Kempff was 79-80 years old. He had lost but little of his formidable technique and none of his magical ability to discover things that other pianists pass unnoticed.
The pieces here, indeed, are carefully chosen as not to require any pyrotechnics, but musicianship of a very high order all of them do require. And Kempff delivers splendidly. ''Sposalizio'' and ''Il Penseroso'' are as mystical and spooky, respectively, as anything, and without an ounce of exaggeration. ''Gondoliera'' demonstrates that Kempff still had very deft fingers, but this is something many pianists have; the peculiar rocking quality of the melody that makes you feel as you are lying in a gondola somewhere among the Venetian canals – now this is very rare, and Kempff has it. Similarly, he brings forward the jauntiness of ''Canzonetta'' so well that Salvator Rossa himself would probably have been mightily pleased. Too bad Kempff didn't record at least the ''Canzone'' from Venezia e Napoli; surely it was up to his fingers even in those late years and I am sure he would have done marvellous things with that ominous left hand and that constant tremolo in the right one that so enraged Louis Kentner (but that's another story).
By far the most idiosyncratic – to be read ''controversial'' – performances are the Petrarch Sonnets. The famous 104th is pretty fast – one of the fastest on record, actually (5:31) – and I shudder to think what will happen today with some innocent youth who ventures to offer similar performance at a piano competition. He'll probably be ostracized and his future career will be impossible. The other two sonnets are not quite so strange, but they are very different than anything you are likely to hear in the concert hall today, or on record for that matter. But before judging Kempff too harshly, we should remember that this man was born as early as 1895 and his formative years as an artist happened to be in times vastly different than our own. That said, the rather fast tempi and weird accents work surprisingly well in his hands. They remind me that Petrarch's sonnets are full-blooded pieces of poetry, torn asunder by love passions almost violent in nature. Though Kempff's recordings certainly don't erase memories of Bolet's extraordinarily poetic renditions, they are singularly convincing alternatives.
For me the greatest performances on the disc are the two Legendes, some of Liszt's most explicitly programmatic and most original works. Kempff evokes the singing of birds in the First Legende as few others do, suavely and with great subtlety. He builds the transition after the introduction with awesome power, pretty much like Arcadi Volodos in his recent recording for Sony. Only in the ''storm'' of the Second Legende does Kempff's advanced age show but slightly and insignificantly; it's a powerful performance with a superb sensitivity to the haunting main theme. As a set, the two Legendes easily withstand competition with far more virtuoso performances such as those of Howard or Ciccolini – who probably were twice younger when they recorded them.
The sound is surprisingly fine for DG. Though in no way exceptional, it is way better than the brittle stuff they provided for Lazar Berman when he recorded the complete cycle a few years later. The dynamic range here is not particularly impressive, but neither do the pieces require it, nor were great dynamic contrasts Kempff's cup of tea anyway. Still, the sonority of the piano is well captured, with beautifully deep bass and only slight harshness in the great climax of the Second Legende.
The booklet contains an appallingly purple essay by Jeremy Siepmann who describes Kempff's playing with a prose more flowery than Gibbon's in The Decline and Fall. Very much unlike Gibbon's, however, Siepmann's prose hardly makes any sense at all. Amidst lots of nonsense, he has little of any importance to say (such as reminding us that Kempff was also a prolific composer and fine organist) and he makes at least one stupendous historical mistake. Liszt spent that winter in Rome with his mistress, Marie d'Agoult, when some of the works on this disc were composed (at least their first versions) in 1839, that is not after the end of his stupefying virtuoso career but before that. Liszt's Glanzzeit did not start in the earnest until 1841.
Just grab the CD and enjoy piano playing of rare eloquence. The total timing is dismayingly short (less than 60 minutes) but with such artistry at such price this is of no consequence whatsoever.

Source : http://alexander-arsov.blogspot.fr/2013/05/franz-liszt-1811-1886-annees-de.html

Wilhelm Kempff
Franz Liszt


Années de pèlerinage
2ème année: Italie, S.161

1 I. Sposalizio  7:39
Andante — Andante queto — Più lento
2 II. Il Penseroso  3:59
3 III. Canzonetta del Salvator Rosa  2:51
Andante marziale
4 IV. Sonetto del Petrarca n° 47  5:54
Preludio con moto — Sempre mosso, con intenso sentimento
5 V. Sonetto del Petrarca n° 104  5:31
Agitato assai — Adagio
6 VI. Sonetto del Petrarca n° 123  6:23
Lento placido — Sempre lento — Più lento


Venezia e Napoli, S.162 (rev. version 1859)
Supplement to Années de Pelerinage, 2ème année: Italie (S.161)
7 I1. Gondoliera  5:24
Quasi Allegretto — (La biondina in gondoletta. Conzone del Cavaliere Peruchini)


Deux Légendes S 175
8 N° 1 Saint François d'Assise  10:07
La Prédication aux oiseaux
9 N° 2 Saint François de Paule marchant sur les eaux  8:52 


Wilhelm Kempff - p

Recorded at Beethovensaal, Hanover ; September 1974

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Claudio Arrau Plays Chopin - Nocturnes (1977/78)

Fryderyk Chopin certainly did not invent the Nocturne. That honour goes to the Irish composer John Field (1782-1837). It derives from the 18th century Notturno (also known as nachtmusik, serenade, night music) and consists of a melody wafting over a chordal baseline. It is usually slow, quiet and serene, designed to played as contemplative music in the evening.
Chopin wrote 19 Nocturnes and they span his entire short life. And they include some of the best and most popular music Chopin ever wrote. Because of their popularity, they have become almost cliched, finding their way into sentimental movie scores, drippy advertisements and the repertoires of beginner piano students.
But when played well and listened to afresh, they are magical pieces. Chopin's entire fame rests on short, intricately crafted piano pieces. He wrote very little else. Even his two piano concertos are really works for piano with orchestral accompaniment. He was a master of the piano miniature, and his Nocturnes include the best of the best.
Most of the Nocturnes are structurally very simple, many in simple A-B-A form. They are instantly likeable, and not difficult music. But, not unlike much on Mozart's music, within their simplicity lies a more profound level of deep emotion, expressed so innocently and subtly that it leaves you wondering why you are so affected by such simple music.
Probably most famous is the Nocturne in E flat, Op.9 No.2, easily ruined with over-sentimentality, is beautiful when played straight. It evokes the Parisian salons and the elegant aristocracy for whom it was written.
Similarly the Nocturne in F sharp, Op.15, No.2 with its melody of ravishing beauty, so easily played with saccharine sweetness instead of Arrau's sublime simplicity.
Others, like the Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op.27, No.1 expresses pathos, tragedy, even hopelessness. Written when Chopin knew that he was sick with tuberculosis, this is as personal a statement as Beethoven's Missa Solemnis.


Claudio Arrau was born in Chile in 1903.His carreer spanned most of the twentieth century, giving his first European concert tour aged 10 in 1918 and died in 1991, still actively performing. His mammoth performances of the complete keyboard works of Bach and the complete Beethoven sonatas became legendary.
But his style is perhaps best suited to Chopin ; emotional without being sentimental. Elegant but not ostentatious. Arrau is the perfect gentleman. And his Chopin Nocturnes are perfect little diamonds. Spend a quiet summer evening rediscovering the real Chopin Nocturnes

Source : http://www.good-music-guide.com/reviews/052_chopin_nocturnes.htm 

Claudio Arrau
Frédéric Chopin



Cd. 1

1 N° 1 In B Flat Minor, Op. 9, n° 1  5:46
2 N° 2 In E Flat, Op. 9, n° 2  4:46
3 N° 3 In B, Op. 9, n° 3  7:13
4 N° 4 In F, Op. 15, n° 1  5:04
5 N° 5 In F Sharp, Op. 15, n° 2  3:45
6 N° 6 In G Minor, Op. 15, n° 3  4:41
7 N° 7 In C Sharp Minor, Op. 27, n° 1  5:25
8 N° 8 In D Flat, Op. 27, n° 2  6:17
9 N° 9 In B, Op. 32, n° 1  5:39
10 N° 10 In A Flat, Op. 32, n° 2  5:16
11 N° 11 In G Minor, Op. 37, n° 1  7:16


Cd. 2

1 N° 12 In G, Op. 37, n° 2  7:02
2 N° 13 In C Minor, Op. 48, n° 1  6:20
3 N° 14 In F Sharp Minor, Op. 48, n° 2  7:47
4 N° 15 In F Minor, Op. 55, n° 1  5:43
5 N° 16 In E Flat, Op. 55, n° 2  5:28
6 N° 17 In B, Op. 62, n° 1  7:43
7 N° 18 In E, Op. 62, n° 2  7:09
8 N° 19 In E Minor, Op. 72, n° 1  4:12
9 N° 20 In C Sharp Minor, Op. Posth  4:28
10 N° 21 In C Minor, Op. Posth  3:42


Claudio Arrau - p

Recorded at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam ; September 1977 & March 1978,

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Stan Kenton Presents Bob Cooper - Group Activity

This generous English import LP has five Capitol sessions from 1954 (18 selections in all) that are led by either Bob Cooper or Bill Holman. The cool-toned but hard-driving tenor Coop is heard on his first two dates as a leader, jamming through standards and swinging originals with Bud Shank (who surprisingly sticks here exclusively to baritone), pianist Claude Williamson, guitarist Howard Roberts, either Joe Mondragon or Curtis Counce on bass and Shelly Manne or Stan Levey on drums. The remainder of this album features ten compositions by Bill Holman who not only wrote for the octet but takes some fine tenor solos. His sidemen include Don Fagerquist or Nick Travis and Stu Williamson on trumpets, valve trombonist Bob Enevoldsen, altoist Herb Geller, baritonist Bob Gordon, Curtis Counce or Max Bennett on bass and drummer Stan Levey. The generally exciting music shows that the stereotype of most West Coast jazz as bloodless was quite inaccurate. Well worth searching for.
Scott Yanow

Source : http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:wxftxqthldhe

Bob Cooper
Group Activity


1 The Way You Look Tonight (Kern, Fields)  3:15
2 Polka Dots And Moonbeams (Van Heusen, Burke)  3:02
3 Solo Plight (Cooper)  3:17
4 Lisbon Lady (Cooper)  2:41
5 Group Activity (Cooper)  2:33
6 She Didn’t Say “Yes” (Kern, Harbach)  2:39
7 When The Sun Comes Out (Arlen, Koehler)  3:13
8 Excursion (Cooper)  3:42
9 Hot Boy (Cooper)  3:40
10 It Don’t Mean A Thing (Ellington, Mills)  3:06
11 Strike Up The Band (Geshwin, Gershwin)  2:51
12 Sunset (Cooper)  3:39
13 Hallelujah (Youmans, Robin, Grey)  2:44
14 Deep In A Dream (VanHeusen, DeLange)  3:12
15 It’s Delovely (Porter)  2:16
16 Drawing Lines (Cooper)  2:36
17 All Or Nothing At All (Lawrence, Altman)  3:10
18 ‘Round Midnight (Monk, Williams, Haningen)  3:21
19 Tongue Twister (Cooper)  5:14


[# 1-4]
Bob Cooper - ts
Bud Shank - bs
Howard Roberts - g
Joe Mondragon - b
Shelly Manne - dr
Recorded in Hollywood ; May 14, 1954
[# 5-8]
Same as above, except
Claude Williamson - p, is added
Curtis Counce - b, replaces Mondragon
Stan Levey - dr, replaces Manne
Recorded in Hollywood ; July 30, 1954
[# 9-12]
Stu Williamson - tp & tb
Bob Enevoldsen - tb, ts, b cl
Bob Cooper - engl hrn, ts & ob
Bud Shank - as & ts
Jimmy Giuffre - cl, ts & bs
Claude Williamson - p
Max Bennett - b
Stan Levey - dr
Recorded in Hollywood ; April 26, 1955
[# 13-16]
John Graas - fr hrn
Bob Enevoldsen - tb, ts & b cl
Bob Cooper - engl hrn, ts & ob
Jimmy Giuffre - cl, ts & bs
Claude Williamson - p
Joe Mondragon - b
Shelly Manne - dr
Recorded in Hollywood ; June 13, 1955
[# 17-19]
Same as above, except
Ralph Peña - b, replaces Mondragon
Recorded in Hollywood ; June 14, 1955

When Bob Cooper (1925-1993) made his record debut as a leader in 1954, he was already well known for his solo work on tenor sax with Stan Kenton. He was articulate and original in both writing and playing. Cooper and his associates take us here through a wide range of musical adventures, from a slow subtle ballad, to clever contrapuntal invention, to swinging dynamic improvisation. All the arrangements and four of the compositions are by Cooper’s own pen. These recordings feature some of his most swinging, best-sounding tenor on record. Here are winds blowing out of the west, carrying the sound of Jazz, zesty as a salt breeze off the California beach, kaleidoscopic, like spindrift.

Source : http://www.freshsoundrecords.com/record.php?record_id=4584

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

George Shearing - Lullaby of Birdland (1951-1953)

For a long stretch of time in the 1950s and early '60s, George Shearing had one of the most popular jazz combos on the planet — so much so that, in the usual jazz tradition of distrusting popular success, he tended to be underappreciated. Shearing's main claim to fame was the invention of a unique quintet sound, derived from a combination of piano, vibraphone, electric guitar, bass, and drums. Within this context, Shearing would play in a style he called "locked hands," which he picked up and refined from Milt Buckner's early-'40s work with the Lionel Hampton band, as well as Glenn Miller's sax section and the King Cole Trio. Stating the melody on the piano with closely knit, harmonized block chords, with the vibes and guitar tripling the melody in unison, Shearing sold tons of records for MGM and Capitol in his heyday.
The wild success of this urbane sound obscures Shearing's other great contribution during this time, for he was also a pioneer of exciting, small-combo Afro-Cuban jazz in the '50s. Indeed, Cal Tjader first caught the Latin jazz bug while playing with Shearing, and the English bandleader also employed such esteemed congueros as Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo, and Armando Peraza. As a composer, Shearing was best known for the imperishable, uniquely constructed bop standard "Lullaby of Birdland," as well as "Conception" and "Consternation." His solo style, though all his own, reflected the influences of the great boogie-woogie pianists and classical players, as well as those of Fats Waller, Earl Hines, Teddy Wilson, Erroll Garner, Art Tatum, and Bud Powell — and fellow pianists long admired his light, refined touch. He was also known to play accordion and sing in a modest voice on occasion.
Shearing, who was born blind, began playing the piano at the age of three, receiving some music training at the Linden Lodge School for the Blind in London as a teenager but picking up the jazz influence from Teddy Wilson and Fats Waller 78s. In the late '30s, he started playing professionally with the Ambrose dance band and made his first recordings in 1937 under the aegis of fellow Brit Leonard Feather. He became a star in Britain, performing for the BBC, playing a key role in the self-exiled Stéphane Grappelli's London-based groups of the early '40s, and winning seven consecutive Melody Maker polls before emigrating in New York City in 1947 at the prompting of Feather. Once there, Shearing quickly absorbed bebop into his bloodstream, replacing Garner in the Oscar Pettiford Trio and leading a quartet in tandem with Buddy DeFranco. In 1949, he formed the first and most famous of his quintets, which included Marjorie Hyams on vibes (thus striking an important blow for emerging female jazz instrumentalists), Chuck Wayne on guitar, John Levy on bass, and Denzil Best on drums. Recording briefly first for Discovery, then Savoy, Shearing settled into lucrative associations with MGM (1950-1955) and Capitol (1955-1969), the latter for which he made albums with Nancy Wilson, Peggy Lee, and Nat King Cole. He also made a lone album for Jazzland with the Montgomery Brothers (including Wes Montgomery) in 1961, and began playing concert dates with symphony orchestras...

George Shearing
Lullaby of Birdland


1 Lullaby of Birdland (Shearing)  2:42
2 I'll Never Smile Again (Lowe)  3:05
3 I Remember You (Schertzinger, Mercer)  2:45
4 My Silent Love (Suesse, Heyman)  2:57
5 They All Laughed (Gershwin, Gershwin)  2:32
6 Loose Leaf (Zarantonello)  2:33
7 Minoration (Pate)  2:34
8 Midnight Mood (Shearing, Hazard)  3:18
9 Simplicity (McKibbon)  2:51
10 Over the Rainbow (Arlen, Harburg)  2:27
11 How High the Moon (Lewis, Hamilton)  2:50
12 When Lights Are Low (Cartet, Williams)  2:45
13 Basic English (Shearing)  2:40
14 I Hear A Rhapsody (Fragos, Baker, Gasparre)  2:38
15 Undecided (Shavers, Robin)  2:40
16 Lullaby Of Birdland (Shearing)  2:18


[# 2, 4-10]
Don Elliot - xyl
George Shearing - p
Chuck Wayne - g
John Levy - b
Denzil Best - dr
[# 1, 12 & 13]
Joe Roland - vb
George Shearing - p
Dick Garcia - g
Al McKibbon - b
Marquis Foster - dr
[# 11]
Joe Roland - vb
George Shearing - p
Chuck Wayne - g
Al McKibbon - b
Marquis Foster - dr
[# 14-16]
Cal Tjader - vb
George Shearing - p
Toots Thielemans - g & hca
Al McKibbon - b
Bill Clark - dr

Recorded between February 5, 1951 & March 13, 1953

After leaving Capitol, Shearing began to phase out his by-then-predictable quintet, finally breaking it up in 1978. He started his own label, Sheba, which lasted for a few years into the early '70s — and made some trio recordings for MPS later in the decade. In the '70s, his profile had been lowered considerably, but upon signing with Concord in 1979, Shearing found himself enjoying a renaissance in all kinds of situations. He made a number of acclaimed albums with Mel Tormé, raising the singer's profile in the process, and recorded with the likes of Ernestine Anderson, Jim Hall, Marian McPartland, Hank Jones, and classical French horn player Barry Tuckwell. He also recorded a number of solo piano albums where his full palette of influences came into play. He signed with Telarc in 1992 and from that point through the early 2000s continued to perform and record, most often appearing in a duo or trio setting. Shearing, who had remained largely inactive since 2004 after a fall in his New York City apartment, died of congestive heart failure at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital on February 14, 2011. He was 91.
Richard S. Ginell

Source : http://www.allmusic.com/artist/george-shearing-mn0000642664/biography

Monday, December 8, 2014

Chico Hamilton - Complete Studio Recordings (1954-1956)

How do you make chamber jazz ? Chico Hamilton did it utilizing a guitarist, a cellist, a bassist, a reedman, and of course a drummer. Lone Hill Jazz has reissued the complete studio recordings of this unusual yet intriguing quintet, augmented by two additional tracks from the same era, one by the string trio from the above quintet and one by the Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chico Hamilton on drums. We should congratulate Lone Hill for releasing such valuable music in an attractive package yet again. The remastering of the sound is very good, but the bass is a bit hard to hear on the first six tracks. This, however, does not diminish the quality of the music or the enjoyment one gets from it. The music is more conventional than the lineup suggests. The cello acts as a frontline instrument together with the reeds; the guitar leads the rhythm section on some of the tracks and joins the frontline on the others. Imagine 19th Century European Romantic music infused with a strong dose of the blues and you can get a pretty good idea about this music. Of course no description can replace actually hearing it. Needless to say, all of the musicians excel on their respective instruments, and it’s a joy to hear them solo. Chico Hamilton plays the drums in his unique manner, coaxing melodies and complex rhythms out of them. The drum solo on the last track with the Gerry Mulligan quartet is mellifluous and extremely infectious. The music on this disc has the relaxed feeling of a Saturday night at home, but that does not mean it is boring. It is varied and exciting and holds one’s interest from the first track to the last. These recordings have not changed the course of modern music like Kind Of Blue or A Love Supreme, but they are still fresh fifty years later and further testament to the universality of jazz as a music and as an art form.
Hrayr Attarian

Source : http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=22572

The Original
Chico Hamilton
Complete Studio Recordings


1 A Nice Day (Collette)  2:56
2 My Funny Valentine (Rodgers, Hart)  4:18
3 Blue Sands (Collette)  6:31
4 The Sage (Katz)  3:35
5 The Morning After (Hamilton)  2:10
6 Jonalah (Smith)  2:21
7 Chrissie (Hall)  3:53
8 The Wind (Freeman)  3:38
9 Gone Lover (When Your Lover Has Gone) (Swan)  3:51
10 The Ghost (Collette)  5:11
11 I Want To Be Happy (Youmans, Caesar)  2:13
12 Spectacular (Hall)  5:19
13 Free From (ad lib)  5:05
14 Walking Carson Blues (Smith)  6:15
15 Buddy Boo (Magidson, Wrubel)  5:20
16 Stella By Starlight (Young, Washington)  2:40
17 A Bark For Barksdale (Mulligan)  8:24


Chico Hamilton - dr
Buddy Collette - reeds
Jim Hall - g
Fred Katz - cel
Carson Smith - b
Gerry Mulligan - b s
Jon Eardley - tp
Red Mitchell - b

Recorded in Los Angeles, Long Beach & Stockton ; between 1954 & 1956

(See the complete artwork for all details)