Music News 5/5/22



Leyla McCalla, BREAKING THE THERMOMETER (Anti, $12.98) – Leyla McCalla has produced very original albums, such as Vari-Colored Songs, which set some Langston Hughes poems to music, as well as exploring her Haitian roots. She was also one of the four women in Rhiannon Giddens’s collaborative Songs of Our Native Daughters project.  

Breaking the Thermometer is a very special project: “Radio Haiti, the first independent radio station to report the local news there in Haitian Kreyol. Active from 1957 to 2003, the station became a hub of Haitian politics, society and culture…Upon acquiring the archives, Duke commissioned Leyla McCalla to create a multi-disciplinary theater project with them, which became Breaking the Thermometer. The album combines original compositions and traditional Haitian tunes with historical broadcasts and contemporary interviews to forge an immersive sonic journey through the tumult of social and political unrest in late 20th century Haiti.”
Ms. McCalla states, “While many of the songs on the album are inspired by the listening that I have done in the archive, much of the album is deeply self-reflective—integrating experiences that I have had navigating life as a child both in the US and Haiti, my journey in claiming my Haitian-American identity and understanding the experiences, sacrifices and challenges overcome by my immigrant relatives.” 


Willie Nelson, A BEAUTIFUL TIME (Sony Legacy, $14.98) – Willie Nelson is turning 89, and going strong: A Beautiful Time includes five new Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon tunes, a tune each by Rodney Crowell and Chris Stapleton, plus choice covers of Leonard Cohen (“Tower of Song”) and Lennon/McCartney (“With a Little Help from My Friends”). 


Leif Ove Andsnes, MOZART MOMENTUM 1786 (Sony Classical, 2 CDs, $18.98) – Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra present their follow-up to Mozart Momentum 1785, examining Mozart’s “reinventing the nature of the piano concerto.” Andsnes bookends the Piano Concertos Nos. 23 and 24 with the Piano Quartet No. 2, the Piano Trio No. 3Rondo in D major K 485, and the Recitative and Aria (Rondo) K 505.  


Arcade Fire, WE (Columbia, $14.98) – The return of the epic sounds of Arcade Fire, led by Win Butler and Régine Chassagne.  





Astor Piazzolla, THE AMERICAN CLAVÉ RECORDINGS (Nonesuch, 3 CDs, $39.98) – Last year was the centennial year of new tango pioneer Astor Piazzolla (1921 – 1992), composer, bandoneón virtuoso, composer, and bandleader. 

In the 1980s, Piazzolla recorded three albums on Kip Hanrahan’s American Clavé label that have become classics (and hard to find). Now Nonesuch has released them in a box set: 

Tango: Zero Hour (1986), La Camorra: The Solitude of Passionate Provocation (1989) and The Rough Dancer and the Cyclical Night (Tango Apasionado)(1989). The players in his New Tango Quintet were Fernando Suárez Paz (violin), Pablo Ziegler (piano), Horacio Malvicino, Sr. (guitar), and Héctor Console (bass). The Rough Dancer ensemble included Fernando Suárez Paz, Pablo Zinger, plus Paquito D’Rivera (alto sax, clarinet), Andy González (bass), and Rodolfo Alchourrón (electric guitar). 


WE INSIST! MAX ROACH’S FREEDOM SUITE NOW (Candid, 15.98) – Last month, the Library of Congress announced that Max Roach’s We Insist! (1960) was one of the 25 recorded artifacts added to the yearly National Recording Registry, started in 2002. 

The lyrics were by Oscar Brown, Jr., and the stellar lineup, beside Mr. Roach on drums, features Abbey Lincoln, vocals; Coleman Hawkins & Walter Benton, tenor saxes; Booker Little, trumpet; Julian Priester, trombone; James Schenck; and on side two, addressing pan-African themes, Michael Olatunji, congas; Ray Mantilla & Thomas DuVall, percussion.  

Songs include “Driva’ Man,” “Freedom Day,” “Triptych: Prayer/Protest/Peace,” sand “Tears for Johannesburg.” 


Bill Evans x 2  


Two never-before-issued Bill Evans concerts have just been issued by Resonance Records, with their usual deluxe packaging, full of notes, photos, and interviews.  


Bill Evans, MORNING GLORY: The 1973 Concert at the Teatro Gran Rex, Buenos Aires (Resonance, 2 CDs, $27.98) – With Eddie Gomez on bass, and Marty Morell on drums 


Bill Evans, INNER SPIRIT: The 1979 Concert at the Teatro General San Martin, Buenos Aires (Resonance, 2 CDs, $27.98) – With Marc Johnson on bass, and Joe La Barbera on drums 



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