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New Jazz

Jazz Profiles

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Nate Chinen of the New York Times has started a regular series of profiles called “Musical Innovators.” The first two featured artists with new albums.

Drummer Andrew Cyrille has two new albums: a duet CD with tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry, Proximity (Sunnyside Records, $16.98), and The Declaration of Musical Independence (ECM, $18.98), with a new quartet featuring electric guitarist Bill Frisell, keyboardist Richard Teitelbaum (piano, synthesizer), and bassist Ben Street.

Electric guitarist Mary Halvorson has a very identifiable sound on the guitar, as well as a very recognizable and fresh approache to improvising. She works with a standing trio, with her bigger ensembles, as well as many side projects. On Away with You (Firehouse 12 Records, $15.98), she expands her septet (including trumpet, two saxes, trombone, bass, and drums) by adding pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn.


Other New Titles

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Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra, Time / Life: Song for the Whales and Other Beings (Impulse Records, $14.98) – One of the late bassist Charlie Haden’s continuing projects was his Liberation Music Orchestra, started in the late 1960s. Two of the pieces on Time / Life were recorded live in 2011, with Mr. Haden on bass. The three others are newer songs, arranged and conducted by composer and pianist Carla Bley, long associated with the Orchestra. The bass chair is taken by Steve Swallow.

Aziza (Dare2 Records, $14.99) – Bassist Dave Holland (selected as a 2017 NEA Jazz Master) has assembled a jazz all-star collective, along with Chris Potter on tenor sax, Lionel Louéke on guitar, and Eric Harland on drums.

Wolfgang Muthspiel, Rising Grace (ECM Records, $18.98) – Austrian electric guitarist has assembled up a true all-star group for his new recording:  Ambrose Akinmusire, trumpet; Brad Mehldau, piano; Larry Grenadier, bass; and Brian Blade, drums.


New Classical

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Ben Johnston: String Quartets Nos. 6, 7 & 8 (New World Records, $18.98) – The Kepler Quartet was specifically formed to perform and record all of composer Ben Johnston’s ten string quartets. Mr. Johnston works many variations on microtonal scales, and worked extensively with the quartet. Throughout the ten-year project. This is the third and final album from the project, encompassing the most complex and wondrous quartets.The CD ends with a short piece, Quietness, written in 1996, with a Rumi text recited by Mr. Johnston.

A very good New York Times article from this spring details some of the daunting challenges required in playing Mr. Johnston’s music.

Alexandre Tharaud, Tharaud Plays Rachmaninov (Erato Records, $17.98) – One of my favorite pianists, Alexandre Tharaud has recorded superb renditions of Bach, Rameau, Couperin, Mozart, and Satie. He now takes on one the grandest piano staples in the repertoire—the Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2, supported by the Royal Liverpool Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Verdernikov. The recording was one of Gramophone Magazine’s Editor’s Choice selections in their October issue.

The “Rach 2” is followed by wonderful contrasting works: the five Morceaux de Fantasie, Op. 3, Vocalise, Op. 34, with soprano Sabine Devieilhe, and Two Pieces for Piano, Six Hands.

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Joyce DiDonato, In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music (Erato Records, $17.98) – This is a powerfully sequenced album by Ms. DiDonato. The first half of the program deals with war—in works by Handel, Leo, and Purcell—the second half, peace, with pieces by Monteverdi, Jommelli, and more Handel and Purcell.

She is joined by Il Pomo d’Oro, directed by Maxim Emelyanychev, who also plays harpsichord. The booklet contains essays by Ms. DiDonato, as well as answers to the question, “In the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?” from a wide variety of respondents.

Tallis Scholars, Josquin Masses (Gimell Records, $18.98) – Peter Phillips directs the Tallis Scholars in two masses by Josquin des Prés (c1450 – 1521): the Missa Di Dadi and the Missa Une Mousse de Biscaye. It is the sixth of nine albums in the Tallis Scholars’ project to record all of Josquin’s masses.

NOTE: The Tallis Scholars will be performing at the Library of Congress on Tuesday, December 6.