Boris Tchaikovsky stands out as one of the most original composers of the post-Shostakovich generation. The three works presented here helped establish his early reputation for expressive lyricism and strong rhythms that embrace the deep-rooted traditions of his teachers Miaskovsky, Shebalin and Shostakovich. The elegant and emotionally searching Piano Trio is considered by some to be a kind of self-portrait. The Cello Sonata and Solo Cello Suite were both written for Mstislav Rostropovich who declared, ‘I consider him to be a genius, whose contribution to the cello repertoire has yet to be sufficiently appreciated.’
Girl Talk was recorded live to two-track using a single microphone. The liner notes state that Holly Cole's intention in doing so was to preserve the "quintessence of her live performances," and the result is dazzlingly successful. The air of intimacy between artist and listener is so great that, if anything, the feeling of being present in the moment is greater here than on the 1996 live album It Happened One Night. On an album recorded "live in concert," the ambient noises that occur when a large number of people are gathered in one place can seem discordant or inappropriate when you're listening to the CD in your car or your living room; the atmosphere can exclude rather than include you.
Pianist Ray Bryant solidified his reputation with this outstanding 1957 trio release. It displayed his facility with the blues, speed, gospel influence, and interpretive abilities on such songs as John Lewis' "Django" and Clifford Brown's "Daahoud." It also contained Bryant's funky originals "Splittin" and "Blues Changes," and was punctuated by Ike Isaacs' careful bass work and Specs Wright's loose, in the groove drumming. This set has recently been reissued by Fantasy, and the remastering provides a fine sonic framework for Bryant's heady, unpredictable, and often exciting playing.
With this week's arrival of a second album from his Big Fun Trio – Something Smells Funky 'Round Here - Elvin Bishop feels like he's establishing the group as a going concern.
Pianist Ray Bryant remained very popular among Japanese jazz fans in the later stages of his career, and he made quite a few important albums for Japanese labels. Play The Blues, recorded in 1999 for M&I, is one of them. It's a collection of great blues performances and includes the past hit tunes made famous by Bryant such as "Gotta Travel On" and "Slow Freight." Backed by a superb rhythm section (Ray Drummond and Kenny Washington), Bryant shines with his expression of deep blues feeling and the unique style that fully utilizes both hands. Hugh McCracken, the famous studio musician who just passed away on March 28, 2013, plays harmonica on several tunes.
Holly Cole's debut recording is a delight. Although she infuses a variety of standards with sensuality (including "If I Were a Bell," "On the Street Where You Live," "Honeysuckle Rose" and "I'll Be Seeing You"), she is also clearly laughing at her image at the same time. Joined by pianist Aaron Davis and bassist David Piltch with guest appearances by violinist Johnny Frigo (on two songs) and bass clarinetist Robert Stevenson (for one), Cole's interpretations of the mostly veteran material are both haunting and ironic, making this a memorable and surprisingly original outing.