Jul 02

JD Allen – Graffiti (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 45:56 minutes | 537 MB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Front cover | Label: Savant Records
Recorded January 8, 2015 at Tedesco Studios in Paramus, NJ.

Tenor saxophonist JD Allen’s latest release featuring Gregg August and Rudy Royston consisting of nine original tracks.

JD Allen’s career ascendence suggests that he’s making plenty of the right choices. The native of Detroit has been on the New York scene since 1993, when his youthful precociousness earned him a spot in “Jazz Ahead”, the singer Betty Carter’s acclaimed touring program for up-and-comers. TimeOut New York says he will “remind you of giants like Coltrane and Rollins but placing a special kind of premium on concision, directness and accessibility.” The Chicago Reader adds, “Allen has gravitated toward a more brooding, elliptical approach with a strong jolt of John Coltrane at his most probing.” Finally, JD is, in the words of Connecticut’s WNPR, “A man for all seasons,” who “plays ballads with warmth, beauty and truth, grooves hard in a post-bop mode or wails in a free jazz setting with passion saturated with the soulful spirituality, grace and inspired abandon recalling the power and the glory of John Coltrane.” One of the telltale symbols of his upward trajectory is the fact that his trio, bassist Gregg August (lead bass chair in the Brooklyn Philharmonic) and drummer Rudy Royston (a much sought-after rhythm power since relocating to New York from Denver), has remained solid throughout his rise.

1 Naked 04:02
2 Jawn Henry 05:57
3 Third Eye 07:45
4 Graffiti 04:22
5 G-dspeed, B. Morris 04:12
6 Little Mack 02:25
7 Sonny Boy 06:08
8 Indigo (Blue Like) 04:13
9 Disambiguation 06:52

JD Allen – tenor saxophone
Gregg August – bass
Rudy Royston – drums

Producer: JD Allen
Recording engineer: Tom Tedesco
Mastering engineer: Katsuhiko Naito

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Jul 02

John Cage – Sonatas & Interludes – Cedric Pescia (2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 01:03:48 minutes | 867 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Digital Booklet | © Aeon/Outhere Music France
Recorded: 7-8/10/2011, Saal 3, Funkhaus Berlin Nalepastrasse

With this new disc, æon is doing its part to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Cage, born on 5 September 1912 in the United States. This recording of the Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano, some of the most emblematic works in his catalogue, proposes discovering one of the great classics of 20th century music performed by the young Swiss pianist Cédric Pescia. The interpretation is luminous, featuring unrivalled sensitivity and perceptiveness.

Easily the best known and most popular of John Cage’s works for prepared piano, the Sonatas and Interludes (1946-1948) capture the imagination through their delicacy and exoticism. (The instrument, pioneered by Cage, is a piano that has been preset with various sound modifiers or “preparations” of different materials on its strings, hammers, and dampers.) Cédric Pescia’s 2012 release on Æon is a worthy addition to the growing list of first-rate recordings, and the care and subtlety he brings to his performance contribute to the music’s piquant charm and haunting ambience. Because much of this work is quite soft and sparse, and intended to be played with the lightest touch, listeners should pay close attention to follow Pescia’s controlled and extremely refined interpretation. But be careful not to boost the volume too high, because there are some boldly accented and strongly rhythmic passages that provide contrast and may startle the unsuspecting listener. Even so, the overall character of Sonatas and Interludes is strongly reminiscent of Asian music, and the bell-like tones and repeated patterns can induce a soothing or meditative state, not unlike the effect of Javanese gamelan music. Thanks to close microphone placement, the varied sounds of the prepared piano are clearly distinguished and fully audible, and the resonant studio space lends a pleasant aura to the performance.

John Cage (1912-1992)
Sonatas & Interludes (1946-1948)
1 Sonata I 2’50
2 Sonata II 2’07
3 Sonata III 2’25
4 Sonata IV 2’16
5 First Interlude 3’05
6 Sonata V 1’18
7 Sonata VI 2’10
8 Sonata VII 2’01
9 Sonata VIII 2’52
10 Second Interlude 4’42
11 Third Interlude 2’46
12 Sonata IX 4’22
13 Sonata X 3’33
14 Sonata XI 3’11
15 Sonata XII 3’11
16 Fourth Interlude 3’16
17 Sonata XIII 4’29
18 Sonata XIV (Gemini) 3’14
19 Sonata XV (Gemini) 3’11
20 Sonata XVI 7’01

Cédric Pescia, piano

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Jul 02

Jon Balke – Warp (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 52:21 minutes | 927 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Artwork: Digital booklet | © ECM

Warp situates the solo piano of Norway’s Jon Balke within a subtle architecture of composed soundscapes, in fluctuating dimensions of space. And what begins as gently exploratory solo piano gradually acquires an almost hallucinatory aspect. Balke’s solo piano, the sound images and the additional field recordings were integrated in the mix of the album at RSI Studio Lugano in September 2015. Warp was produced by Jon Balke and Manfred Eicher.

Jon Balke’s musical life has been lived on the wide-open fringe of expression. He has utilized conventional Western European and Asian folk traditions, electronics, classical, jazz and avant-garde techniques, and various spoken, sung, and percussive languages. Given all of his previous experimentation, Warp is one of the most mysterious dates in his career. The vast majority of the 16 pieces here are miniatures, only one is over five minutes. Balke plays solo piano throughout, and accompanies himself by utilizing field recordings and other electronic sounds placed carefully in the backdrops and margins. It would seem this work is one piece initially – you have to look at the inside sleeve to see the individual titles; but instead, this is a work of carefully sequenced individual works that present a labyrinth. “Heliolatry” opens in the piano’s lower middle register with dark, brooding notes. A fluttery static and the scraping of strings inside the instrument lend a backdrop to a thematic flurry of notes and scales as they dialogue with one another. Static and what sounds like an organ pair with the wordless vocals of Wenche Losnegaard in “On and On,” which ends with an open-ended question. “Bolide” possesses a hymn-like, folk song quality, while sparse processional chordal statements make up its corpus on either side of middle C. The all-too-brief “Shibboleth” employs somewhat angular improvisation, with field-recorded percussive sounds lining the frame. Balke actually slips into Lennie Tristano-esque scalar runs and then moves off center in a more speculative – and dissonant – direction. The indecipherable “announcement reading” of Balke’s daughter Ellinor provides a sound sculpture for his plucked bass strings to bridge just the hint of a melody. It’s followed by the genuinely haunting “Slow Spin,” a jazz improvisation that is framed ever so faintly with droning electronic sounds. While “Kantor” asserts itself as a lithe, elliptical piano interlude, it is transformed by a mesh of field-recorded sounds and the voice of Mattis Myrland into a gorgeous art song. The album closes with a variation on “Heliolatry,” then forgoes the inner instrument scraping for a more assertive dialogue with a synth imitating an organ. Balke’s piano is assertive, creating a leitmotif from the more spectral dark notes in the first version. Warp is curious. Its quark strangeness may prove a tad unsettling early on, but settles into a quietly compelling invitation for the listener. The entire experience offers a different series of questions, answers, and conclusions each time it is encountered. The language Balke speaks is that of the piano as it encounters the inner resonances of its physical body, as well as those of the outer, indefinable tongues of sound itself.

01 – Heliolatry
02 – This Is The Movie
03 – Bucolic
04 – On And On
05 – Bolide
06 – Amarinthine
07 – Shibboleth
08 – Mute
09 – Slow Spin
10 – Boodle
11 – Dragoman
12 – Kantor
13 – Geminate
14 – Telesthesia
15 – Geminate (Variation)
16 – Heliolatry (Variation)

Produced by Jon Balke and Manfred Eicher.
Recording Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug. Mix Engineer: Stefano Amerio (RSI-Lugano).
Recorded September 27-28, 2014 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo, Norway.
Sound images recorded and processed at Madstun by Audun Kleive and Jon Balke.

Jon Balke – piano, sound images
Mattis Myrland – vocals
Wenche Losnegaard – vocals
Ellinor Myskja Balke – announcement reading

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Jul 02

Jerry Lee Lewis – Jerry Lee’s Greatest! (1961)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 29:09 minutes | 378 MB | Genre: Rock
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com |  © Sun Records

Jerry Lee’s second album for Sun Records featured one of rock and roll’s all-time greatest recordings: “Great Balls Of Fire.” The single, charged with controversial sexual undertones, manic piano-playing, and Lewis’ quirky tenor, made the already famous wild-man of rock a superstar. Greatest also features a number of covers performed as only Lewis could pull them off, including Barrett Strong’s “Money,” and Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say.”

01. Money
02. As Long As I Live
03. Hillbilly Fever
04. Break Up
05. Hello Hello Baby
06. Home
07. Let’s Talk About Us
08. Great Balls Of Fire
09. Frankie And Johnny
10. Cold Cold Heart
11. What’d I Say
12. Hello Josephine

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Jul 02

Kavakos, Nagy, Chailly – Brahms: Violin Concerto, Hungarian Dances; Bartok (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Digital Booklet | 1.37 GB
Genre: Classical | Official Digital Download – Source: Linn records

Leonidas Kavakos tackles a pillar of the violin repertoire in a disc that establishes him as a concerto soloist for Decca Classics. His first concerto disc for Decca features the Brahms Violin Concerto, for which he is joined by one of the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Riccardo Chailly. Leonidas is also accompanied by pianist Péter Nagy for Brahms’ timeless Hungarian Dances (No.s 1, 2 ,6 and 11) and Bartók’s energetic Rhapsodies and Romanian Folk Dances – two great composers hugely influenced by Hungarian folk music.

Richly charismatic music in superbly spirited performances by musicians who have this repertoire in their blood.

Composer: Johannes Brahms, Béla Bartók
Performer: Leonidas Kavakos, Péter Nagy
Conductor: Riccardo Chailly
Orchestra/Ensemble: Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra


To hear Leonidas Kavakos play the Brahms Violin Concerto is to be newly apprised of the work’s reputed difficulties. Not that Kavakos struggles with the solo part—far from it. But he presents the myriad double-stops, compound-chords, and wide leaps with such clarity and vividness that your ear is drawn to these effects more than usual. Yet for all this, Kavakos’ rendition is a thoroughly musical one, fully cognizant of Brahms’ structure and overall symphonic plan. Riccardo Chailly’s cleanly articulated, tersely-romantic accompaniment makes an apt foil for his soloist, as do the clear textures and lean string sound he evokes from the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

That Kavakos would choose the warhorse Joachim cadenza at first seems at odds with his interpretive stance, but his fresh approach proves otherwise. By sculpting each phrase so inventively, Kavakos rivets your attention and at times gives the impression that he’s improvising. In the songful slow movement (which showcases beautiful playing by the Leipzig winds) Kavakos soothes without sounding saccharine, while the finale crackles with life, thanks in part to the violinist inserting a bit of gypsy flair into the famous “Hungarian” tune.

This Hungarian flavor, albeit of a more rustic variety, carries over to Bartók’s Rhapsodies for violin and piano, which Kavakos and pianist Péter Nagy dispatch with jaunty bravura and folksy style. These same characteristics lend the more cosmopolitan Brahms Hungarian Dances a certain authenticity that the orchestral versions lack. The recording places the orchestra slightly to the rear in the acoustic, but produces a satisfying full sound in louder passages (although the violin is oddly more prominent when playing with the orchestra than with just the piano). This is a fine modern Brahms Violin Concerto that can hold its own in a crowded catalog.

1. I. Allegro non troppo
2. II. Adagio
3. III. Allegro
4. I. Moderato
5. II. Allegretto moderato
6. I. Lassù: Moderato
7. II. Friss: Allegro moderato
8. Hungarian Dance No.1 in G minor
9. Hungarian Dance No.2 in D minor
10. Hungarian Dance No.6 in Bb
11. Hungarian Dance No.11 in D minor
12. Roumanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56, BB 68 – I. Jocul cu Bata
13. Roumanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56, BB 68 – II. Braul
14. Roumanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56, BB 68 – III. Pe Loc
15. Roumanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56, BB 68 – IV. Buciumeana
16. Roumanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56, BB 68 – V. “Poarga” Romaneasca
17. Roumanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56, BB 68 – VI. Manuntelul 1, Manuntelul 2

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