Music News 8/13/2020


Bill Frisell, VALENTINE (Blue Note, $12.98) – My favorite guitar player, Bill Frisell, has recorded a trio album with two of his long-time musical partners--bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Royston. This is a perfect introduction to the sound world of Mr. Frisell, as there are new versions of original tunes from many previous projects, as well as the traditional “Wagon Wheels” (famously covered by Sonny Rollins),  “Baba Drame” (by Malian virtuoso Boubacar Traoré), “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” (by Billy Strayhorn), and the Bacharach-David “What the World Needs Now.” Frisell, Morgan and Royston end the album with a spare and loping version of the anthem, “We Shall Overcome.”  


Thomas Adès and Kirill Gerstein, IN SEVEN DAYS (Myrios, $19.99) – Composer, conductor, and pianist Thomas Adès showcases all of his talents on this new disc. He and Kiril Gerstein play the world premiere of the two-piano Concert Paraphrase on “Powder Her Face,” and Adès conducts Gerstein and the Tanglewood Orchestra in his In Seven Days. Gerstsein also plays two solo works: Berceuse from “The Exterminating Angel” and Mazurkas for Piano.  

Seong-Jin Cho, THE WANDERER (Deutsche Grammophon, $16.98) – The young pianist explores a theme—“landmarks of Romanticism, early, middle, and late”—with Schubert’s “Wanderer” Fantasy in C major, Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor, the same key as Berg’s Piano Sonata, op. 1. 


With an explosive “A-wop-bom-a-loo-mop-a-lomp-bom-bom,” Little Richard set off a musical revolution with 1955’s “Tutti Frutti.”  His full-on, lusty singing, high-energy piano playing, combined with his songs—freaky and fun—and his unapologetic flamboyant personality made him a singular influence on generations of artists from James Brown and the Beatles to David Bowie and Prince. There was no one like Little Richard!  

Listen to THE VERY BEST OF LITTLE RICHARD (Specialty, $12.98), with all the hits: “Long Tall Sally,” “Slippin’ and Slidin’,” “Ready Teddy,” “Rip It Up,” “The Girl Can’t Help It,” and “Lucille” among others. 

Annie Ross was a swinging vocalist and a clever and witty lyricist—witness her “Twisted,” written when she was 17. She was most noted for her part in the groundbreaking trio of Lambert Hendricks and Ross, who wrote and sang witty lyrics, based melodically note for note on famous jazz solos (known as “vocalese”). She went on to a long solo career as well as acting on stage and screen.   

Listen to A HANDFUL OF SONGS (El/Cherry Red, 2 CDs, $12.98), a budget British compilation comprising the many sides of Ms. Ross. On the first CD, there’s the 1963 album, A Handful of Songs, with a big band arranged by Johnny Spence, and A Gasser, the 1959 album with Zoot Sims, Jim Hall and Russ Freeman, plus “ Let’s Fly,” a song written by a 14-year-old Annie, and recorded by Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers. 

CD 2 has a selection of songs by Lambert Hendricks and Ross, plus the original cast recording of the London production of Cranks, featuring Annie and Anthony Newley.