If you see the imprint of California producer Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label on an album sleeve, you have an idea of what to expect: a wide range of time signatures, a healthy bit of experimentation, and a dash of Stevie Wonder’s influence. What you may not expect is the son of Bobby McFerrin, singer of 1988’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
In late 2010, the release of The Sound of Siam: Leftfield Luk Thung, Jazz & Molam in Thailand 1964-1975 exposed listeners outside of Southeast Asia to the hypnotic Thai funk of the country’s rural northeast. Culled from 1960s and ’70s recordings, these addictive songs threaded acoustic folk music into the electric riffs of golden-age American soul and garage rock that streamed into the country over transistor radios.
Inventio is a strange collaboration, pairing unlikely instruments in a program that matches compositions ranging back to the 16th and 17th centuries with recent pieces from the recording's principals — Jean-Louis Matinier and Marco Ambrosini — that occasionally sound as if they're performed on electronic instruments.
The ambitious album features pop composition executed at a very high level, in which instruments play off one another beautifully, dropping away and slinking back in, wrapping around one another and drawing out each other’s strengths.
Christian Vuust, a native of Aarhus, Denmark, focuses on the tenor sax for this, his 15th album as leader or co-leader.
Musique en Wallonie, a label dedicated to unearthing historical repertoire from the French-speaking sector of Belgium, includes among its most recent offerings an operatic rarity: Guillaume Tell.
His first recording for the Nonesuch label touches on all the different styles he’s used over the years: folk, rock, Americana. These new tunes, while retaining something of a country flavor, are catchy and well orchestrated with multiple guitars and keyboard effects.
Indie-pop virtuoso Owen Pallett, who often makes miracles with just a violin and a loop pedal, opens many of his songs on In Conflict with those sounds.
The image of Fortuna — capricious Fate — was a favorite of Baroque artists and composers. This collection of eight obscure works from 17th- and 18th-century Germany invites listeners to ponder the fickleness of posterity.
No need, after a half-dozen voiceless recordings, for the obligatory explanation that The Nels Cline Singers is an instrumental band. Yet a few vocal effects can be heard on Macroscope: wordless long tones the guitarist deploys over 12-string harmonics or an out-and-out outraged cry over electric guitar.
This album by Danish bassist Anne Mette Iversen — her fifth as a leader — opens with a thrumpy bass solo: lovely, rubato, and abstractly melodic.
Most Messed Up sounds like an unrehearsed live show over a killer system: the drums pop, the guitars are given space to roam, and the whole thing moves and rattles.
Since its founding 28 years ago, the women’s vocal quartet Anonymous 4 has staked its place as the “Fab Four”of medieval music. The latest addition to its extensive discography presents 20 selections from the Montpellier Codex, a compendium of motets and liturgical polyphony composed in France during the second half of the 13th century.
James Jackson Toth isn’t shy or subtle about his affection for Neil Young. Like Young, the songwriter, who performs as Wooden Wand, sings roughly hewn, crunchy music in a high, scratchy voice. Toth’s music never sounded as much like Young’s as on Farmer’s Corner, which rounds out the weird corners of Wooden Wand’s excursions and presents a straightforward country-rock album not unlike Harvest or Old Ways.
On stage, John Hammond is a big, stomping, grimacing presence with a sound that’s equally energetic.
Brooklyn grunge quartet Parquet Courts seems to be experiencing the anxiety of influence these days. The band’s third album carries a press statement that comes across more like an apologetic psychological profile than an endorsement.
If the name Brian Blade makes you think of the incandescent abstractions of the Wayne Shorter Quartet, of which he is a longtime member, this is not that. The music Blade creates with his Fellowship Band — a functioning unit for more than 15 years — is ambitious, but it’s usually peacefully low-key.
In 2011, New York City band The Pains of Being Pure at Heart had its album Belong produced by storied knob-twiddler Flood, who gave it a dense, almost-shoegazey layer of sound. It was a departure from the airy jangle-pop that the group first made its name on. Days of Abandon finds the musicians returning to their sprightly, hook-heavy roots, and it’s a must-listen for anyone who loves the peppy side of 1980s college rock or who knows what Sarah Records is.
Saxophonist Christine Jensen’s compositions for 19-piece jazz ensemble are all about place, travel, and impression. “Treelines” was written with a vision of West Coast forests, though it was commissioned for the University of Nebraska - Lincoln Jazz Orchestra and had its premiere on a snowy, windy prairie night.
Christophe Rousset, a remarkable harpsichordist and conductor who occupies a place of high honor among Baroque-music interpreters, scores a triumph with this magisterial reading of one of the pinnacles of keyboard literature.
Just 19 years old, Chad Hoopes is rising rapidly through the ranks of emerging violinists, having recently signed a three-CD deal with the Naïve label and, earlier this month, been welcomed into CMS Two, the prestigious journeyman program of Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Lisa Hilton has a clear touch on the piano, but her style is hard to define. You can hear jazz tradition, but she also specializes in the unexpected. Her playing is dramatic and truly unique, and she is perfectly abetted by her quartetmates. As a leader, she has recorded more than 15 albums since her 1997 debut.
For its third album, the Polish band Hera expands to septet form, including Chicago drummer Hamid Drake, in a live set from the Krakow Jazz Autumn festival.
Wollny's play on tunes credited to Alban Berg, Edgard Varèse, and others has the attractive, dreamy quality that denotes European piano trios, but it also touches on a variety of recognizable approaches: ballads, blues, backbeat.
The four siblings have been performing as a quartet since 1997, and they prove worthy adjuncts to Pink Martini’s wry, multi-culti style.