Music News 4/1/2021



Floating Points and Pharoah Sanders, PROMISES (Luaka Bop, $15.99) – British composer and producer Sam Shepherd (Floating Points) invited the master tenor sax player Pharoah Sanders to collaborate in a nine-part suite entitled Promises, backed by strings of the London Symphony Orchestra.  Mr. Sanders—who played in John Coltrane’s final group, released iconic albums of his own, and collaborated with many others—is still going strong at age 80. His lush tone and his winding riffs hover memorably over Shepherd’s cosmic arrangements. A peaceful, healing listen for these trying times. 

The cover art is by Julie Mehretu, now the subject of a career retrospective at the Whitney Museum. 

Sara Watkins, UNDER THE PEPPER TREE (New West, $16.99) – Sara Watkins—singer, songwriter, fiddler extraordinaire—is a member of Nickel Creek, and now is part of the super-trio, I’m With Her, with Sarah Jarosz and Aiofe O’Donovan (both groups make an appearance on Under the Pepper Tree). The album, inspired by the birth of Ms. Watkins’s first child, is full of songs she grew up with, with many lullabies included. Songs from the “Great Hollywood Songbook” include “Edelweiss,” “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” “When You Wish Upon a Star,” “Pure Imagination,” “Moon River,” “Stay Awake,” as well as two originals, the title tune and “Night Singing.”  



David Greilsammer, LABYRINTH (Naïve, $17.98) – Pianist David Greilsammer is terrific in juxtaposing old and new works in his concerts and albums: examples include his Baroque Conversations (2012) and Scarlatti/Cage: Sonatas (2014). His Labyrinth is another wonderful mix, consisting of seven “chapters,” each comprising one composer’s work “framing” another’s.  Each set leads listeners into and out of the maze with one of Granados’s Goyescas at its “center,” surrounded by Janacek, Lully, Beethoven, Crumb, Ligeti, JS Bach, Satie, CPE Bach, Marais, Scriabin, Jean-Féry Rebel, and Ofer Pelz. 

Steven Isserlis & Connie Shih, MUSIC FROM PROUST’S SALON (BIS, $19.99) – Cellist Steven Isserlis plays major works by Camille Saint-Saëns and César Franck, as well as shorter works by Gabriel Fauré, Reynaldo Hahn, Henri  Duparc, Augusta Holmès. He is accompanied by pianist Connie Shih. 

CHARLES IVES: COMPLETE SYMPHONIES (Deutsche Grammophon, 2 CDs, $18.98) – Conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in splendid live (and lively) performances of Ives’s forward-looking symphonies combining traditional classical forms and American vernacular—“polytonal, polyrhythmic, and texturally complex.” 



Last week, I wrote about Reminiscing and Baltimore Jazz Loft, new releases featuring two jazz legends, pianist Freddie Redd (who passed away last month) and bassist Butch Warren (who died in 2013), with Brad Linde on tenor, and Matt Wilson on drums, on Linde’s own label.  

He’s also released two other titles featuring his other ensembles: 

Brad Linde & Ted Brown, DRIFTING ON A REED (Bleebop, $15.00) – Two tenor saxes fronting a Hammmond B3 trio (Gary Versace on organ, Aaron Quinn on guitar, and Deric Dickens, drums), recorded at the Jazz Gallery, New York.  

Brad Linde & Caroline Davis, URBANE OUTFIT (Bleebop, $15.00) – Ms. Davis on alto, Linde on tenor, Russ Lossing, piano and Deric Dickens on drums. Original tunes by each member, plus two Ornette Coleman tunes, ans well as Jimmy Van Heusen’s “The Last Dance” are featured.