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Music News 01/14/2015

Jazz: New & Honored

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Chris Potter Underground Orchestra, Imaginary Cities (ECM, $18.98) – Tenor saxophonist Chris Potter has played in the bands of Dave Holland, Paul Motian, and, currently, Pat Metheny’s Unity Band. He also has a long-running band of his own, Underground, featuring Craig Taborn on piano, Adam Rogers on guitar, Scott Colley on bass, and Nate Smith on drums. He expands his ensemble with vibes, an extra bass, and a string quartet on his new album, centered on the four-part suite, Imaginary Cities. After his thematic release, The Sirens (2013), Potter has put together a very strong, ambitious, and wide-ranging follow-up.

Steve Lehman Octet, Mise en Abîme (Pi Recordings, $15.98) – Steve Lehman’s Mise en Abîme won the Jazz Critics Poll of 140 writers (the poll, compiled by Francis Davis, started at the Village Voice in 2006, and now appears on the NPR Music site). Alto saxophonist Lehman assembled an all-star octet (two saxophones, trumpet, trombone, tuba, vibes, bass, and drums) to play his intricate compositions of jazz mixed with modern classical touches (specifically coloristic, “spectral” harmonies). A few tunes are his own “re-compositions” from pianist Bud Powell.

CD CoverFred Hersch, My Coma Dreams (Palmetto Records, DVD, $24.98) – Pianist Fred Hersch’s trio CD, Floating (Palmetto) also showed up on many critics’s end-of-year lists. But he also released My Coma Dreams, a DVD of a very personal music theater piece last year. Hersch suffered septic shock and was put into a medically-induced coma for two months. My Coma Dreams is based on his vivid dreams and recollections, as well as the experiences of his partner during Hersch’s near death experiences. Singer Michael Winther sings the lyrics (written by Herschel Garfein, who also directed), and the score is played by the Fred Hersch Ensemble, with a reed section and strings.


Screen and Stage

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Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim (lyrics and and music) and James Lapine (libretto and original director) opened on Broadway in 1987 (and ran for nearly two years). Many years later, a movie adaptation finally made it to the big screens. You can now listen to the original version with Bernadette Peters, Into the Woods: Original Cast (Sony Broadway, $9.98), and the new Into the Woods: Soundtrack (Disney, $14.98) with Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, and Emily Blunt.
Over a year ago, when the Coen Brothers’s Inside Llewyn Davis was released, there was a concert at Town Hall, celebrating the folk music of the early 1960s, featuring veterans of the period singing with a younger folk-inspired generation. The concert, Another Day Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis (Nonesuch, 2 CDs, $22.98), has now been released. There are great performances by the Punch Brothers, Rhiannon Giddens (who will both have new albums out in the next month), Joan Baez, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, the Avett Brothers, Jack White, Keb Mo, and many more.