Chopin's two piano concertos have long been admired more as pianistic vehicles than as integrated works for piano and orchestra. But in his revelatory new recording, Krystian Zimerman suggests otherwise: The opening orchestral tuttis have so much more light, shade, orchestral color, and detail, you wonder if they've been rewritten. Every gesture, every instrumental solo is so specifically characterized that by the time the piano makes a dramatic entrance, the pieces have become operas without words.
It's easy to imagine the phone calls, drummer Matt Wilson made, using his best imitation of Elwood from the 1980 Blues Brothers movie, "We're putting the band back together, we're on a mission from God." And like that, current members and alumni of the drummer's bands: the Matt Wilson Quartet, Arts & Crafts, and Christmas Tree-O assembled to commune and revisit the music Wilson's late wife Felicia loved. This recording was Wilson's first since he lost his wife to leukemia in 2014. It certainly was fitting to perform the compositions she loved, and by the performers Felicia considered her extended family. Instead of a wake, the music is a celebration. One crafted in the true Wilson fashion, without written arrangements or rehearsals.
One of the most soulful sessions we've ever heard from Japanese pianist Masabumi Kikuchi – a brilliant quintet outing that features some really great work on tenor and soprano sax! Kikuchi's piano is usually enough to grab our attention, but the album's got a great added bonus in the presence of Kosuke Mine on soprano sax and Hideo Miyata on tenor – both players whose horns bring in some added sharpness to the date, and further underscore the spiritual elements in Kikuchi's music – almost with the same mix of reeds and driving rhythms you'd find in the post-Coltrane work of Elvin Jones. Titles include "Green Dance", "Bell", "Admire But Destest", "Gin Kai", and "Drizzling Rain".