Music News 10/31/2019

OLD MASTERS

Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash, TRAVELIN’ THRU, 1967 -1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 15 (Columbia Legacy, 3 CDs, 30.99) – Bob Dylan had very productive times in Nashville during the recording sessions for the albums John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline, and Self Portrait. It also included sessions with Johnny Cash, and an appearance on the first episode of Cash’s TV show in June, 1969. Travellin’ Thru collects three CDs of great material (47 previously unreleased performances) with Cash’s band (including Carl Perkins), jams with Earl Scruggs, and studio outtakes from the three albums. There are great medleys of Jimmy Rodgers tunes, plus “Don’t Think Twice/Understand Your Man,” and “Mystery Train/This Train is Bound for Glory.” Plus the three songs Dylan sang on the Johnny Cash Show: “Girl from the North Country” (duet with Cash), “I Threw It All Away,” and “Living the Blues.” Another treasure trove from Dylan’s “Bootleg Series”—the second volume this year, after the Rolling Thunder Review 1975 box set, released in June.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse, COLORADO (Reprise, $18.98) – Young and the rhythm section of his greatest band, Crazy Horse (Billy Talbot, bass and Ralph Molina, drums), reunite with guitarist Nils Lofgren (Nils played on After the Gold Rush [1970] at age 19, and on Tonight’s the Night [1973]).

Van Morrison, THREE CHORDS & THE TRUTH (Caroline, $14.98) – Over the last few years, Van Morrison has been very productive: Duets (2015); Keep Me Singing (2016); Roll with the Punches and Versatile (both 2017); You’re Driving Me Crazy and The Prophet Speaks (both 2018). Three Chords & the Truth has 14 new Van Morrison songs.

NEW

HADESTOWN: Original Broadway Cast (Warner Classics, $24.98) – Anaïs Mitchell’s musical retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth took a long time to reach Broadway. Hadestown began on local stages in Vermont, then the songs were recorded on an album (2010). With director Rachel Chavkin on board and with additional songs, the production then went to Off-Broadway (2016), productions in Edmonton and London, then finally to Broadway in March, 2019. It then won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2019 (as well as eight other Tonys), and is still selling out.

Lakou Mizik, HAITIANOLA (Cumbancha, 13.98) – Lakou Mizik is an eight-person Haitian ensemble. On HaitiaNola, they explore the deep Afro-Atlantic (and specifically Carnival) traditions of Haiti and New Orleans. Their guests include Trombone Shorty, Leyla McCalla, Jon Cleary, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the Lost Bayou Ramblers, and members of Arcade Fire, Antibalas, and Tank & the Bangas.

 

NEW CLASSICAL PIANO

Conrad Tao, AMERICAN RAGE (Warner Classics, $18.98) – Pianist Conrad Tao (who is also a composer) programs an adventurous album exploring three generations of American composers with political edge. Listen to Frederic Rzewski’s Which Side Are You On and Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues, Aaron Copland’s Piano Sonata, and Julia Wolfe’s Compassion.

Jenny Lin, THE ETUDES PROJECT VOLUME ONE: ICEBERG (Sono Luminus, $15.99) – Pianist Jenny Lin embarks on her “Etudes Project,” juxtaposing ten famous etudes by Ruth Crawford Seeger, Debussy, Scriabin, Chopin, Messiaen, Ligeti, Rachmaninov, and Philip Glass, among others, with ten new works by composers in the Iceberg New Music composers group.

SCARLATTI: 52 SONATAS (Sony Classical, 4 CDs, $31.98) – Pianist Lucas Debargue has selected 52 of Domenico Scarlatti’s 555 sonatas, in which, in Debargue’s words, “the balance between formal rigor and unbridled invention…achieves a state of sheer perfection.”

Vikingur Olafsson, J.S. BACH: WORKS & REWORKS (Deutsche Grammophon, 2 CDs, $17.98) – Vikingur Olafsson was just named Gramophone Magazine’s Artist of the Year. He had a breakout hit last year with Bach: Works, a set of Bach and Bach transcriptions by Kempff, Stradal, Busoni, Rachmaninov, Siloti, and Olafsson himself. Now Works has been re-released with a companion CD of Reworks (remixes) by electronica musicians, producers, and DJs, which first appeared in April on vinyl.