Music News 10/2/2019


Bill Frisell, HARMONY (Blue Note, $15.98) – Electric guitarist Bill Frisell has a new quartet with long-time collaborators Petra Haden, vocals and Hank Roberts, cello, along with Luke Bergman on baritone guitar and vocals. For Harmony, he brought together vocalist/instrumentalists to play a suite of songs, new and old, commissioned by the FreshGrass Foundation, which produces a bluegrass festival in North Adams, Mass., and also publish the Americana music quarterly, No Depression. Folk songs and jazz standards (“Red River Valley,” “On the Street Where You Live,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”) alternate with songs by Frisell, Charlie Haden, Julie Miller, and Elvis Costello.

Tomeka Reid Quartet, OLD NEW (Cunieform, $16.98) – Cellist Tomeka Reid grew up around DC (Blair/BCC/UMD), before leaving for Chicago and joining the strong collaborative jazz scene there. She has played on recent recordings by the Art Ensemble of Chicago, flutist Nicole Mitchell, and drummer Makaya McCraven. But she also leads a very strong quartet with Mary Halvorson on electric guitar (who just won a MacArthur “genius grant” last week), Jason Roebke on bass, and Tomas Fujiwara on drums. Listen to the new generation!

NOTE: Tomeka Reid will be part of the Art Ensemble of Chicago performance at the Kennedy Center on Saturday, December 14.

Carminho, MARIA (Nonesuch, $16.98) – Portuguese fado is true soul singing, and Carminho is a new voice on the scene. Maria is a “dialogue between herself and two fado singers who blazed a trail for her: Beatriz da Conceição and Teresa Siqueira (her mother).”

Igor Levit, BEETHOVEN: PIANO SONATAS COMPLETE (Sony Classical, 11 CDs, $79.98) – Yes, the year 2020 is the 250the anniversary year of Beethoven. And one of the most eagerly awaited projects is here already: Gilmore Prize winner Igor Levit’s take on the master’s complete piano sonatas. In 2013, Levit burst onto the scene with a remarkable 9-CD set of Beethoven’s late sonatas.  He now completes the epic.


Laurie Anderson, Tenzin Choegyal, Jesse Paris Smith, SONGS FROM THE BARDO (Smithsonian Folkways, $16.98) – A collaboration featuring pianos, droning violin and cello, Tibetan lingbu (flute) and dranyen (lute), percussion, plus the  Tibetan“singing bowls”—all underneath Laurie Anderson’s characterful recitations.

Mike Seeger, JUST AROUND THE BEND: Survival and Revival in Southern Banjo Sounds (Smithsonian Folkways, 2 CDs & 1 DVD, $37.98) – Musician, folklorist and documentarian Mike Seeger’s last project, documenting the diverse banjo traditions along the Appalachian Mountains, done in 2009 in collaboration with his wife Alexia Smith and filmmaker Yasha Aginsky. The box set includes music by 19 banjo players on two CDs, a DVD with a 110-minute documentary by Agisnsky, and an 80-page book, with profuse notes.