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PARKER ABBOTT TRIO/Wayfinders: Might as well call this piano trio a piano based trio since anything that resembles or is related to a piano gets called into service along the way. A crew that takes the best of the old and the new, along with interesting side trips that sprouted along the way, it's almost hard to call them a jazz piano trio in the traditional sense. Even so, even at their most outré moments, which they aren't ones to shy away form, they are a jazz piano trio at the core, even though they will be most appreciated by progressive ears cocked toward tomorrow. Never staid, this crew finds that sweet spot letting them be genre bending and progressive at the same time without every becoming overly precious in an arts council kind of way. If linear isn't your bag, this set is sure to be in your pocket. Fun stuff that charts it's own course with sure handedness. And the album title is most appropriate.

VANGUARD JAZZ ORCHESTRA/Over Time-Music of Bob Brookmeyer: Here's a nice little slab of proof that thems what got it, got it. This could have easily been a tribute to Brookmeyer by the venerable outfit and everyone could have gone home happy but instead, half of it is made up of material Brookmeyer was working on right up until his death in 2011. Most of the rest is stuff he brought to the original incarnation of the Vanguards but the then leaders never got around to using. Killer straight up jazz with a back in the day vibe that has no dust on it, everyone here can stand up and take a bow as another Grammy is sure to be inscribed for this jazz orchestra. With everything on the ball you could want from a date like this, it's a stone killer throughout. Anyone not familiar with Brookmeyer is well advised to get on the trolley starting here.

LIVING STEREO COLLECTION V. 2/various: I was busy marveling at the magnitude of these two 60 cd box sets when I was struck with one of those tempis fugit/o tempore moments thinking about the state of our culture. I mean, over 60 years ago, who knew what kind of genie General Sarnoff was letting out of the bottle when he started recording in stereo for a media that wouldn't come into play for another five years. This man knew what he wanted and was right there at the flowering of some great conductors, suburban expansion, the appetite for high culture at populist prices, and not least of all, the desire to leave his finger prints on some of the greatest music of the ages. Yikes. So here I was impressed with these boxes and feeling sad that I didn‘t think there was anyone around that would really appreciate it. If you saw these originals lps laying around your house, that would make you minimally a boomer pushing 60. Something drew me to the user reviews on Amazon to take the zeitgeist's pulse. Imagine my amazement at the depth of the people out there in the great American night that had an opinion about these weighty and pricey box sets. You have to take a lot of the user reviews with a grain of salt but there's a certain geekiness to this bunch of reviews that make you sure these weren't written by shills and label plants. And they seem to be written by people younger than 80 that have appreciated these works and performances over the years, even following them through various states of reissue. It was really heartening to see people cared and that there was knowing and knowledgeable discourse about these works by everyday people. With very few exceptions, we can all agree that these two boxes are more than doorstops containing some of the greatest works by the greatest musicians. Nestling operas with symphonies with soloists with showmen, these collections could almost serve as one of the last words on great classical music if it weren't for so many up and comers trying hard to leave their mark. Priced fair enough that a purchase here is more an investment in culture than a gambit to increase corporate coffers, this is one of the many penultimates of the 20th century that deserves every bit of lionization and canonization that can be mustered. Step back in time to when stereo and lps were babies, Chicago was a major recording center, CSO was treated with respect as a recording organization and profits from Elvis were reinvested. Killer stuff!

FRITZ REINER/Conducts Richard Strauss-The Complete RCA & Columbia Recordings: How do I put this so you understand? Reiner and Strauss were like the Britney Spears and Max Martin of their day. At a time when conductors were acolytes at the foot of the masters, Reiner and George Szell were taught directly by Strauss and became acknowledged as the greatest interpreters of Strauss's works as they made their own way out in the world. While some of this set has be reissued in other boxes and collections, there are four major works making their cd debut here, reason enough for anyone freshening up their classical shelf with the classics to make the investment once again. The funny thing here is that a lot of people feel Reiner never got his full due but you wouldn't think that from the works on display here. Only having fairly recently left us, Reiner certainly left us with a wealth of uber works whether he got his due or not. This is the first time all of his works have been released together. Check it out.

Volume 38/Number 308
September 4, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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