* Monteverdi: Vespers (1610) (La Capella Reial, et al.) (Savall) (Alia Vox 2SACD)
* Buxtehude: Six Sonatas (Holloway/ter Linden, et al.) (Naxos CD)
* Corelli: Trio Sonatas (English Concert/Pinnock) (Arkiv Produktion CD)
* Vivaldi: Concertos and Sinfonias for Strings (VBO/Marcon) (Arkiv Produktion CD)
* Vivaldi: Concertos for 2 Violins (VBO/Marcon/Mullova/Carmignola) (Arkiv Produkction CD)
* Handel: Trio Sonatas, Op.2 & 5 (AAM/Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* J.S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Vol.1 (Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concertos (AAM/Egarr) (Harmonia Mundi 2SACD)
* Cage: The Seasons (American Composers Orchestra/Davies/Margaret Leng Tan) (ECM CD)
* Sun Ra: Black Myth/Out In Space (d.2) (MPS/Motor Music 2CD)
* Sun Ra: Queen Elizabeth Hall, London 11-9-70 (d.1) (AUD 2CDR)
* John Coltrane: Fearless Leader (d.1-3) (Prestige 6CD)
* John Coltrane: Side Steps (d.1-4) (Prestige 5CD)
* John Coltrane: The Ultimate Blue Train (Blue Note CD)
* Cecil Taylor European Quintet: Fasching, Stockholm 10-31-97 (FM CDR)
* Cecil Taylor (solo piano): Piazza Boves, Cuneo 7-28-76 (FM CDR)
* Miles Davis: The Complete In a Silent Way Sessions (d.1) (Columbia/Legacy 3CD)
* Herbie Hancock/Wayne Shorter/Stanley Clarke/Omar Hakim: Stuttgart 7-91 (FM CDR)
* Pat Metheny Group: Pat Metheny Group (ECM LP)
* The Beatles: Mono Masters (d.2) (Apple/EMI 2CD)
* The Beatles: The Complete BBC Sessions, Vols.1-4 (fan/boot 10CDR)
* The Beatles: From Then to You (Complete Christmas Messages) (fan/boot CDR)
* Elvis Presley: If Every Day Was Like Christmas (RCA CD)
* Emmylou Harris: Light of the Stable: The Christmas Album (Warner Bros. CD)
* Grateful Dead: Warfield Theatre, San Francisco 10-10-80 (acoustic) (SBD CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Dick’s Picks Vol.5: Oakland Coliseum Arena 12-26-79 (GDM 3CD)
* Big Star: #1 Record (Ardent/Classic LP)
* Big Star: Radio City (Ardent/Classic LP)
* Big Star: 3rd (Ardent/4 Men With Beards LP)
* Chris Bell: I Am the Cosmos (Deluxe Edition) (Rhino Handmade 2CD)
* Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Deluxe Edition) (MCA 2SACD)
* The Flaming Lips: Zaireeka (Warner Bros./boot CDR)
* Guided By Voices: Universal Truths and Cycles (Matador LP)
* Guided By Voices: Half Smiles of the Decomposed (Matador (LP)
* Wilco: FIB, Benicassim 7-20-07 (FM CDR)
* Beck: Sea Change (MFSL 2LP)
* DJ Spooky: The Secret Song (Thirsty Ear CD+DVD)
Happy Boxing Day! I hope y’all had a wonderful Christmas! As you can see from the photograph above, Santa Claus was certainly generous with me!
I’ve long been familiar with Dieterich Buxtehude’s (c.1637-1707) sacred vocal music but until recently, I didn’t even realize he wrote any instrumental music at all. In fact, he wrote very little -- but one of my favorite baroque violinists, John Holloway, undertook a survey of the extant chamber music for the Danish DaCapo label in the early nineties which have now been repackaged by the intrepid Naxos in fine budget editions. Wow, the music is absolutely sublime! The finest Baroque music intimates that human perfection may just be possible; it utterly lacks the self-doubt that plagues the post-Romantic age in which we now live. I look forward to picking up the first two volumes!
John Coltrane’s Prestige recordings have long been a gaping hole in my collection, now filled with these recently remastered and thoughtfully assembled box sets. Fearless Leader groups together all of Coltrane’s recordings as a leader while Interplay (not pictured, but on its way!) and Side Steps compile all of his sideman sessions. In all, these three box sets contain sixteen CDs of Trane and his cohorts in a series of loose, spontaneous blowing sessions recorded by sonic-alchemist Rudy Van Gelder: = Bliss! I’ve barely scratched the surface of these box sets, but I was immediate struck with the profound beauty of Coltrane’s ballad playing on these recordings. The handsome packaging, first-rate sound quality, and detailed discographical notes (complete with reproductions of the original album art) make these a real delight for this Coltrane fan!
Muhal Richard Abrams’s solo piano set on Pi, Vision Towards Essence, has been on my want list for ages, and (my sweet) Santa gave it to me for Christmas. Thank you, thank you! I haven’t listened to it yet, but will be doing so soon, tomorrow, I think; no doubt this will be challenging and stimulating record! Mr. Abrams is, of course, the godfather of the AACM and while I have a number of his albums, he also represents another giant hole in my (admittedly out of control) record collection. I gotta work on that (both).
Finally, DJ Shadow's new album on Thirsty Ear is an epic journey combining cutting edge rap, avant-jazz (featuring Matthew Shipp et al.) and a couple of surprisingly evocative instrumental covers of two Led Zeppelin tunes. Interesting! I'm not even sure what's on the DVD, but this is one album that will definitely reward repeated listens. Fusion remains a possibilty, people!
And also on the way is another gift to ourselves, thanks to some cash money that Santa Claus dropped down the chimney: the Beatles in Stereo box. I could not hold out any longer! No, I’m not all that interested in hearing the first four albums in stereo, but I do want the rest of it -- especially the final recordings not present on the otherwise exquisite Beatles in Mono box -- so the big box really is a must-have and definitive companion. Plus having all the mini-documentaries in one place will be nice...Not to mention the “limited” nature of the box itself which makes for a genuine collector’s item of sorts. And...and...Does it sound like I am justifying this purchase? Yes, it is expensive, but I am certain it will be worth it. After all, The Beatles are a source of great joy in our household, so we might as well have the best versions available, right? Right.
So, thank you very VERY MUCH, Mssrs. Santa Claus (you know who you are!). MERRY CHRISTMAS EACH AND EVERYONE!