Thursday, April 27, 2006

Kiko's House Disk Picks For April

As I've noted previously, good music gets a whole lot gooder when it can be shared.

In that spirit, here are the five marvelous disks currently in the CD changer at Kiko’s House. All are recently released or still in print and some are available on the cheap (which is to say used) at bargain prices from the usual online retail suspects like Amazon.

(Meanwhile, drop us a line and let us know what you're listening to.)
Bernstein Century - Copland: Appalachian Spring
(Leonard Bernstein and the N.Y. Philharmonic)

Pulitzer Prize winner Aaron Copland (1900-1990) composed concert and film music that was uniquely American in the way it bridged modern symphonic and folk styles.

If you buy only one Copland album or want to test the waters before diving in head first, this is it. In addition to "Appalachian Spring," it includes orchestral suites from "Rodeo" and "Billy the Kid," both collaborations for ballets with legendary choreographer Martha Graham.

Imaginary Voyage (Jean Luc Ponty)

I'm a sucker for jazz violin, whether it be Stefan Grappelli, grandmaster of the genre, or his disicples, who include Joe Venuti, Stuff Smith, Sugarcane Harris and Jean Luc Ponty.

Ponty played behind Frank Zappa before taking his distinctive blue electric violin and going solo with this knockout album. I find most late 1970s rock-jazz-fusion efforts to be lame, but this one soars.

Let It Be . . . Naked (The Beatles)

Opinionated SOB that I am, I still cannot make up my mind if I like this 2005 release of the truly original 1970 "Let It Be" more or less than the so-called "original," which was producer Phil Spector's grandiose orchestral and choral overdubs to several of the songs, as opposed to the bare bones versions in "Let It Be . . . Naked."

There's also a bonus disk of studio outtakes and ephemera that I've played only once. I'm a hardcore Beatles fan, but not that hardcore.

Live At Fillmore East / Eat a Peach
(The Allman Brothers)

As I noted in my post on the recently departed Phil Walden, rock and blues guitar lovers owe him an enormous debt for "discovering" Duane Allman. All of "Fillmore East" and half of "Peach" were recorded live at Bill Graham's Fillmore East in 1971 prior to Duane's death, and sharp earred afficionados will be aware of a cosmic connection between the two.

"Whipping Post," the last song on the 1972 "Fillmore" release, does not end, it merely fades out as Duane comps a few notes and then fires back up. The question of where he and the band went from there was answered the following year with the release of "Peach," highlighted by the 34-minute "Mountain Jam," which opens with the closing lines from "Whipping Post." It's hot. It's steamy. It's improvisational nirvana.
Burning Spear Live in Paris
Heavy Ornamentals (The Gourds)
Hymns to the Silence (Van Morrison)
One From the Vault (Grateful Dead)
Thelonius Monk Quartet With John Coltrane Live at Carnegie Hall

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