Mountain Music

The organ generally gets short shrift outside of baseball fields and liturgical settings these days, but Harold Stover has created a whole disc of secular music and, in doing so, attempts to recapture a time in America when the organ was closer to the center of popular entertainment. Recorded on the 1928 Ernest M. Skinner […]

Body Work

Joan La Barbara – voice There is something really disconcerting about hearing Joan La Barbara sing the line “Are boobs just mostly fat?” over and over again to a melody somewhat reminiscent of Steve Reich’s tune for Wittgenstein’s sentence “How small a thought it takes to fill a whole life” in Proverb. The words Neil […]


In the seemly infinite stream of CD releases from Beverly Hills-based Michael Robinson comes Vachaspati, an hour-long exploration of raga and technology. Robinson fully notates his compositions and then records them with computer precision using sampled instruments such as ud, tabla, ghatam, dholak, and berimbau—you’ll hear all of these and more during the course of […]

Riddle Me This

When this Will Bernard Trio disc came around in the ol’ CD changer, I thought for sure I’d been woken by some New Orleans backroom blues band. Turns out to be a crew out of Oakland, but that hardly matters. A blues-jazz-barroom concoction heavy on the guitar and a lounge-y beat, things groove along in […]

Symphony in One Movement

Whoever says the symphony died with Mahler has missed some of the most interesting repertoire of the past century, if not the most interesting repertoire bearing the epithet “symphony.” Yet, to define exactly what constitutes a symphony in the years since Mahler left his 10th incomplete is almost as big a conundrum as what constitutes […]

When It Comes To Fidelity

Lesser’s website greets you with a billboard-size message: “I don’t give a fuck what’s on your iPod.” All the same, you’ll find six MP3 to download which collectively amount to an EP release free for the taking. Obviously Lesser (a.k.a. Jason Doerck) doesn’t give a fuck if you download ‘em either, but take it from […]


Abraham Ellstein, though best known for his scores for the Yiddish Theater and Broadway, also penned his share of large and small-scale concert music, including this cantorial setting for violin and piano. It is here recorded by Zina Schiff on her third collection of Jewish music, Elijah’s Violin. This brief, charming work captures the ambiance […]

String Quartet

The Milken Archive of American Jewish Music through its series of recordings for Naxos American Classics continues to unearth important yet forgotten music. One of the latest is, to the best of my knowledge, the first ever CD devoted exclusively to the music of Jacob Weinberg (1879-1956), an émigré from the Ukraine who arrived in […]

Take Out The Geek

Perhaps for the very first recorded piece of music I’ve ever written about that has no tangible physical object associated with it, it is fitting that I write about a piece called The Invisible Guy. A piece specifically created for the web that might be to program music what the comic book is to the […]


I can’t help it. When I pick up a disc that has a drums-bass-sax line-up, I immediately think, “Another one?”. This Detz/Wagner/Stuart offering is anything but another Wednesday cocktail jazz band, however. The improv, recorded live at Dizzy’s in San Diego, is angular throughout and lets a lot of light in. The last track, a […]