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ISABELLE FAUST/Bartok Violin Concertos #1 & #2: After having more than proven her mettle in more Spartan settings, Faust gets to work out here with a radio orchestra in tow but it doesn't stop her from being the center of attention and from finding the heart of these works. Bringing romance to the music from another angle than most players use, there's a complexity that keeps you guessing and engaged, often from the edge of your seat. No longer a rising star, Faust proves herself a full fledged sun with this date, elbowing her way fast all others trying to till this ground, and not nearly as well. This is one of those sets that rises above all others to be defining and completely essential. Well done.

SEBASTIEN DAUCE/Charpentier-Litanies de la Vierge: In which we find the label going back to it's roots as a repository of deep, French classical music. Digging deep here to find some lost treasures of vocal music that belong in church, this is just a straight up example of the old school way of making classical records. The people behind this should take pleasure in other people wanting to call them maestros. Anyone who misses the days of when classical albums had real budgets and executives who cared about the output will fall under the spell of this set. You almost feel like you have to put on a tie to play this. Collections like this are as good as it gets and conductor Dauce is just going to have to take his place next to the greats whether he likes it or not. Killer stuff.

ALLMAN BROTHERS/Brothers & Sisters 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition: Recorded after a period of major upheaval, the crew's fifth album was a stone classic essential jam band record that showed they weren't ready to break apart yet. How do you make a classic album more classic? Start with the essential stuff and remaster it, add some outtakes and rehearsal tracks for the hard core then round it off with a two disc live date from Winterland in 1973 recorded around the time of this initial release where they really kick it out on the new stuff as well as the reputation making classics, even without Allman or Oakley on board. Their shows were incendiary and the fire still burns bright. With a freshness that makes it hard to believe this set is 40 years old, it doesn't get five stars, it gets five ‘goddamns!!!!!' Kids, this is what grandpa is talking about when he blathers on about how music used to be great. Get on board.

CARLA BRUNI/Little French Songs: The first lady of France doesn't let being in the political lime light stop her from turning out an intimate set of cabaret sounding songs in French that seem to set an interesting mood. Because she isn't tackling gift shop music, there's things going on her that are unfamiliar to the average gringo on a lot of levels but in the end it feels like a nice rainy day companion---nice music for an overcast day that fits right in with the mood rather than something trying to add artificial leavening. If you aren't a native Frenchy, this could be something to try on when you are in the mood for something really different.

ELLA FITZGERALD/Best of the BBC Vaults: Funny thing about those classic icons. They're gone but ‘new releases' keep coming out. Unless you're a true believer or a newbie wondering what's the hub bub, these sets of songs you know by heart get an unfair short shrift. A singer like Fitzgerald is one of the embodiments of a performer never doing the same song the same way twice. Whether adding salt and pepper or Tabasco, Fitzgerald seems to have made every performance unique. Working out here in the BBC studios, the limey air filled her lungs a different way for a different audience and this slice of prime Ella is worth not missing no matter how may times you've heard her do "Mack the Knife", "The Lady is a Tramp" and all the rest of the classics and beloved tracks. You know, you don't have to let being a terminal hipster stand in the way of having a good time for no reason all the time. Essential? Probably not. A great way to spend an hour with something ‘new'? Bet on it. You just can't go dissing prime Ella and this is a fine slice of that.

Volume 37/Number 293
August 21 , 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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