Music News 6/23/22

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Ella Fitzgerald, ELLA AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL: The Irving Berlin Songbook (Verve, $14.98) – In March of 1958, Ella Fitzgerald recorded The Irving Berlin Songbook (one of the eight iconic Songbook albums, 1958 – 1964).  A few months later, at the Hollywood Bowl on August 16, 1958, Ms. Fitzgerald played a set taken directly from her Berlin Songbook. She was backed by an orchestra led by Paul Weston, who also did the arrangements, as he did on the album. This recording was just discovered in the Norman Granz archives. 

The songs include “How Deep Is The Ocean” and “Supper Time,” “You’re Laughing At Me” and “Get Thee Behind Me Satan,” as well as “Cheek To Cheek,” “Top Hat,” “I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm,” “Heat Wave,” and “Puttin’ On The Ritz.” 


Charles Lloyd, Bill Frisell, Thomas Morgan, TRIOS: CHAPEL (Blue Note, $13.98) – The first of Charles Lloyd’s “Trio of Trios” albums this year—each with a different group.  

On Trios: Chapel, Mr. Lloyd teams with guitarist Bill Frisell and bass player Thomas Morgan (who’ve had a long partnership of their own). They play three Lloyd originals, as well as Billy Strayhorn’s “Bloodcount” and “Ay Amor!” by Bola de Nieves (Ignacio Fernández). 

Trios: Ocean (with Gerald Clayton and Anthony Wilson) and Trios: Sacred Thread (with Julian Lage and Zakir Hussain) will appear later this year.



Joan Shelley, THE SPUR (No Quarter, $13.98) – Joan Shelley, born in and still based in Kentucky, is one of my favorite singers and songwriters. Ms. Shelley writs songs that sound timeless, and on her new album addresses themes of family, isolation, new motherhood; she writes, “A deep connection to our homeplace, to staying, a complex reckoning with family, with the past, with the rubble, with the wind taken out of everyone’s sails, with new life and constant death.” 

She is ably helped by her partner, guitarist Nathan Salsburg, among many collaborators. 

The New York Times had a profile of Ms. Shelley and the genesis of her new album. 


Arooj Aftab, VULTURE PRINCE: Deluxe Edition ($14.98) – Arooj Aftab weaves elements of Urdu ghazals, jazz, Hindustani classical, dub, and ambient music into something new. Her expressive vocals are backed by combinations of harp, strings, flugelhorn, guitar, drums, and synths. 

Vulture Prince was one of the breakthrough recordings of 2011 (then only available digitally and limited-edition vinyl).  Now it has been newly reissued, with this edition including a new collaboration with Anoushka Shankar, “Udhero Na.”  


Staples Jr. Singers, WHEN DO WE GET PAID (Luaka Bop, $15.99) – A young family gospel group from Aberdeen, Mississippi, who named themselves after the Staples Singers; first released in 1975. 



VIVALDI: THE GREAT VENETIAN MASS (Harmonia Mundi, $19.98) – Les Arts Florissants, directed by Paul Agnew, have reconstructed a Mass setting, taking Vivaldi’s sacred music, such as his Gloria, and “other works given a different text to suit their new liturgical function.” Two exceptional vocalists—Sophie Karthauser and Lucille Richardot—head the cast. 


Jean-Guihen Queyras and Alexander Melnikov, CHOPIN / RACHMANINOV CELLO SONATAS (Harmonia Mundi, $19.98) – Cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras and pianist Alexander Melnikov had a long history of collaborative projects, including Beethoven sonatas and trios, as well as Schumann (along with violinist Isabelle Faust). The album juxtaposes two Romantic cello sonatas: Chopin’s late Sonata in G minor (1846)—played on a period Érard piano—and the youthful work it later inspired, Rachmaninov’s own Sonata in G minor (1901).  


BEETHOVEN: THE FAMOUS PIANO SONATAS (Harmonia Mundi, 2 CDs, $20.98) – Between 2005 and 2011, Paul Lewis recorded all of Beethoven’s piano sonatas. The Famous Pianos is a compilation from those performances: “Pathétique,” “Claire de lune,” “Appassionata,” “À Thérese,” “The Tempest,” “Hammerklavier,” plus Für Elise (from a later release). Almost two-and-a-half hours of the finest Beethoven.