Dear Prof. Leary is not only a super-rare and highly touted collectors item but also one of the earliest and strangest examples of the upcoming Jazz/Rock Fusion recordings that would soon transform the Jazz world. Originally released in 1968 on MPS, Barney Wilen And His Amazing Free Rock Band s Dear Prof. Leary l.p. was a sextet of two trios, one playing the more Rock style and the other in the Jazz idiom, complete with two drummers, producing what can only be described as psychedelic Free-Jazz. Highlights include covers of The Beatles The Fool On The Hill , Ornette Coleman s Lonely Woman and Bobbie Gentry s Ode To Billie Joe , scattered amongst the originals.
This LP comes from a live 1975 concert by the Bill Evans Trio, which was broadcast by Radio Suisse in Switzerland. The pianist is in superb form, joined by longtime bassist Eddie Gomez and newcomer Eliot Zigmund on drums. The sound is excellent, without the annoying announcers or distortion, so this release could have very well been produced from the master tape itself. The set is wide-ranging, including both recent and older compositions by Evans, "Gloria's Step" (the best-known work by former Evans sideman Scott LaFaro, who died far too young), along with standards like a buoyant "My Romance." The leader's treatment of his ballad "Turn Out the Stars" is rather upbeat, while his somewhat avant-garde composition "T.T.T.T." (also known as "Twelve Tone Tune Two") is a modern masterpiece. Perhaps the greatest surprise was Evans' inventive treatment of pop singer Bobbie Gentry's "Morning Glory."
Even within the pop landscape of today's mainstream country, Deana Carter's follow-up to her blockbuster Capitol debut surprises. Carter and co-producer Chris Farren demonstrate an uncanny instinct for hits: These 13 songs–five of which were co-written by Carter–-tour through Top 40s of many decades and genres. The musical and lyrical variety–rather than Carter's singing, which is breezy, not bold–is her strong suit. "You Still Shake Me" marries ZZ Top and raunchy Hank Jr., while "Never Comin' Down" has a sly, soul groove and wah-wah guitar that sounds like Bobbie Gentry swinging to Sheryl Crow. "Absence of the Heart" has flashes of Crystal Gayle at her torchiest, while "Angels Working Overtime," Carter's best vocal performance, has hip-hop style percussion, big, Mellancamp-esque acoustic guitars, and the bubbly, laughing voices of children–and somehow the pop dazzle doesn't swamp the intense narrative. Carter isn't making country music, but her confections can be delightful, even ambitious, pop stuff.
The Bill Evans Trio's 1973 concert in Tokyo was his first recording for Fantasy and it produced yet another Grammy nomination for the presentation. With bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Marty Morell, this straight reissue of the original LP mixes offbeat songs with overlooked gems, familiar standards, and surprisingly, only one Evans composition, the demanding "T.T.T.T. (Twelve Tone Tune Two)." Bobbie Gentry's "Mornin' Glory" was an unusual choice to open the performance and seems a bit conservative for Evans.