What I’ve been listening to lately

A mix of new acquisitions and old favorites popping up on the playlist of late:

  • Dave Holland — Conference of the Birds. The jazz avant-garde of the1970s produced a lot of inconsistent albums, but this is one is strong all the way through. I have long enjoyed the title track with its lovely marimba part by Barry Altschul, but the rest of it has steadily grown on me, with great interplay between Sam Rivers and Anthony Braxton on horns.
  • Icebreaker — Philip Glass: Music With Changing Parts. I am a sucker for classic minimalism, like Terry Riley’s “In C” and almost anything by Steve Reich, and it turns out that the Philip Glass that I like is his earlier stuff that is more in that mode. This contemporary recording resurrects a classic early Glass piece that is otherwise hard to hear.
  • John Handy & Ali Akbar Khan — Karuna Supreme / Rainbow. A very underrated alto saxophonist, Handy made excellent use of violin and guitar in his rhythmically driving 1960s groups. This collaboration with Indian musicians is a change of pace but also very rewarding.
  • Lester Young — The “Kansas City” Sessions. An unsung masterpiece, extraordinarily gentle and softly swinging small group jazz from the 1930s. Every track is wonderful, but those where Young plays his quiet, unvirtuosic clarinet are of particular note.
  • John Zorn — Filmworks XIII: Invitation to a Suicide. An glorious showcase for the accordion as jazz instrument. The sound of the ensemble, filled out with vibes and guitar, is totally ravishing, and the tunes are in fact quite catchy.

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