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An Italian Straw Hat

The National Ballet of Canada Orchestra, conducted by Ormsby Wilkins Michael Torke’s score for James Kudelka’s ballet An Italian Straw Hat is as upbeat as any Mozart ever penned for the stage, and it sets an appropriate tone for the classic farce without feeling dated. Though the toe-tapping action is of course left to the […]

Subtle Rebuttal

Hands down, this CD is the ideal soundtrack for an ultra swanky cocktail affair. I mean it. The upbeat, enthusiastic delivery of these twelve Thad Jones classics is a sonic firehouse perfect for dowsing out schmoozing and idle chitchat. Maybe those schmarmy fellows exchanging business cards over there in the corner will shut up and […]

Carol

Here’s something to get you in the holiday spirit. (We figured since chain stores have started the Christmas season in October, we’d have to run this in September to stay ahead of the Joneses.) Wayne Peterson’s unaccompanied choral setting of a nativity anthem by the obscure Elizabethan poet William Austin adds a few twists to […]

Queen of the Box Office

Definition of a Toy is the physical record of a quintet—Dylan van der Schyff (drums), Michael Moore (clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone), Brad Turner (trumpet), Achim Kaufmann (piano), Mark Helias (double bass)—that came together to mix up the brainpower of the composers involved. Set up by van der Schyff, each man brought a composition to […]

Equipoise

I haven’t a clue what Joseph Klein’s music has to do with philosophy beyond titling this chamber piece Occam’s Razor, but it really doesn’t matter. The music just sounds good. I’m afraid if things get any more cerebral, it will spoil all the fun. Like a sonic tickling with counterpoint gone awry, the first movement […]

The Old Man Tells His Story

The opening minute of this Billy Childs track is lullingly cinematic, but there’s a bit more to this particular old man’s story. Lines go where you expect they will, but sometimes they don’t. Plenty of side trips, new styles tried. It’s a life, and from the sound of it, one well lived. Musically, the piece […]

A Soldier’s Story

Here’s one for radio stations afraid of playing new music, a 2002 mini-opera actually created for the radio medium which conjures up the sonic milieu of World War II through simulating a 1940s radio broadcast and musicalizing it. Based on a text by Kurt Vonnegut, the performance is given extra authenticity by actually featuring Vonnegut […]

The Moon Camera

Pining for the good ol’ days of Xeroxed punk zines and all those mysterious fly by night publications whose purpose is all but inscrutable? Well, if you’re an electronic music fan, you’re in luck. The latest Sonic Circuits compilation comes all pimped out, sealed in a Ziploc bag complete with a 9-page typewritten booklet and […]

Pictures of Miró

Tessa Brinkman & East-West Continuo Paintings by the playful Catalan modernist Joan Miró (1893-1993), previously the inspiration for Bobby Previte’s greatest work to date, are also the muse behind Mark Fish’s more intimate 2004 Pictures of Miró scored for flute and string trio whose 11 movements total less than 20 minutes. In the fourth movement, […]

Here & There

Deep in the pile of new sax/bass/drum improv-based recordings, a shake up occurs: sax, percussion, and….wait for it….guitars! Yay! Lingua Franca delivers the new sound palette the ears are thirsty for. It’s a little bit global, but in a way that even the world-music-phobic won’t have cause to cringe over. “Here & There” piles up […]