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Music News 08/06/2014

String Virtuosos

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Eric Clapton and Friends, The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale (Surf Dog Records, $15.98)—Guitarist, singer, and songwriter JJ Cale, who died in 2013, had a profound effect on Eric Clapton. Clapton recorded Cale’s “After Midnight” and “Cocaine,” and identified with Cale’s laid back vocal style, and great touch on the guitar. They became friends, and recorded an album together in 2006. In tribute, Clapton called on fellow singers and guitarists to play on 16 Cale songs. There are great contributions from Mark Knopfler, John Mayer, Willie Nelson, Derek Trucks, Tom Petty, and Don White (like Cale, a creator of the “Tulsa Sound”).

Majid Bekkas, Al Qantara (Igloo Records, $18.98) – Majid Bekkas, from Morocco, is a master on two string instruments: the oud and the guembri (the bass-sounding, three-string instrument used in Gnawa music). He plays both on Al Qantara (“The Bridge”) with his Afro-Oriental Jazz Trio—Manuel Hermia alternating on the clarinet, soprano saxophone, and the bansuri (Indian wooden flute), and Khalid Kouhen on tablas, and multiple African drums and percussion. The tunes have a deep swing, and the mix of Western and Eastern instruments is perfect. Beside the originals, the trio pays tribute to trumpeter Don Cherry, one of the pioneers of cross-cultural music, on his tune, “Guinea.” Highly recommended, plus Al Qantara is on NPR’s “25 Favorite Albums of 2014.”



CD CoverPaolo Pandolfo, A Solo (Glossa, $18.99) – Paolo Pandolfo is a superb viola da gamba player, and A Solo, originally released in 1998, is a showcase for his playing, and his creative programming. Pandolfo “takes the listener on a journey across European gamba music from its beginnings in the 16th century in Italy and Spain, including music by Diego Ortiz, its adoption into the Stuart psyche in the British Isles through Tobias Hume, William Corkine and Richard Sumarte, onto its age of supreme elegance with Marin Marais and M. de Machy in the times of Louis XIV in France, and thence to the 18th-century German Courts, nourished by French and Italian influences, and expressed in a wholly original way by JS Bach (Pandolfo’s transcription of his fourth Cello Suite) and by the ‘swansong’ style of CF Abel.” This CD played on the Politics & Prose sound system for many years—the CD has now been re-issued.