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Back Cover

Gryphon Diablo 300

MPS 0210991MSW
Format: LP

Music Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Freddie Hubbard left Blue Note in 1965, after having made nine albums for them as a leader. He then made four albums for Atlantic, and this one for the German label MPS, before settling in for a while with CTI. His work for Atlantic hovered between hard bop and the avant-garde, but The Hub of Hubbard (1970) is straight-ahead bebop with a terrific lineup of players.

Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab MFSL 2-455
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: *****
Overall Enjoyment: ****1/2

By 1975, when Alan Parsons and lyricist-songwriter Eric Woolfson formed the Alan Parsons Project, Parsons had firmly established himself as a record producer and engineer. He’d been nominated for a Grammy for his engineering of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, which he produced, and had engineered albums by Paul McCartney and Wings, Al Stewart, the Hollies, Jeff Beck, Roy Harper, Peggy Lee, and Ambrosia, among many others -- including the Beatles’ Abbey Road. He was uniquely qualified to handle the recordings he and Woolfson created, for which they brought in various players and singers.

Sony Legacy/Exile Productions 88875134742
Format: CD/DVD

Musical Performance: *****
Sound Quality: ****1/2
Picture Quality: **1/2
Overall Enjoyment: ****1/2

When I saw that Van Morrison had released a set of the recordings from the shows used to form his legendary two-LP live set from 1974, I didn’t jump right away to buy it. The original set is so good I was afraid the new collection, three CDs and a DVD, would dilute what is justly considered to be one of the best live albums ever released. Luckily, a friend gave me ..It’s Too Late to Stop Now … Volumes II, III, IV & DVD for my recent birthday, and it is a stunning document of Morrison at his best with his finest live band.

XL Recordings XLCD790
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****1/2
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****1/2

It’s been five years since the last Radiohead album, The King of Limbs, during which time singer Thom Yorke has released a solo album, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes (2014), and guitarist Jonny Greenwood has composed the scores for three films. It’s hard to think of a band that’s gone in more unexpected directions during its career, whether musically or in the ways it’s made that music available. Radiohead released their newest, A Moon Shaped Pool, as a digital download on May 8, and on physical media on June 17, following a pattern established with In Rainbows (2007) and The King of Limbs (2011).

Verve B0025015-02
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ***1/2
Sound Quality: ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Mark Knopfler has written music for films since 1983, when he composed the score for Bill Forsyth’s Local Hero. He’s done the music for eight more films since then, including Cal (1984), The Princess Bride (1987), and Wag the Dog (1997). His latest, Altamira, is a collaboration with percussionist Evelyn Glennie, and is his first soundtrack since A Shot at Glory (2009).

Sham CD-102
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

The Jayhawks have endured some personnel changes in their three decades, but they hang in there. Guitarist and singer Gary Louris and bassist Marc Perlman are the constants, and drummer Tim O’Reagan, with 20 years in the band, isn’t far behind. Keyboard player Karen Grotberg has now done a couple of stints with the band, as has guitarist Kraig Johnson, and it’s this quintet that has given us the Jayhawks’ new album, Paging Mr. Proust.

Merge MRG580
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Bob Mould knows the power of loud guitars. He also knows a lot about melody. His best records, including his first solo album, Workbook (1989), or his music with the band Sugar, combine brute force with a strong pop sensibility. The guitar riffs continue to follow you around after you’ve heard them, but he matches them to songs that are radio friendly, or would be in a more perfect world.

Alligator ALCD 4968
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Between 1927 and 1930, Blind Willie Johnson (1902-1947) recorded 30 sides for Columbia Records. In 1993, Columbia/Legacy reissued as The Complete Blind Willie Johnson, on two CDs. Sam Charters wrote the liner notes to the set, and he opens his lengthy essay by telling the reader that one of his most cherished possessions is “a charred bit of wood [that] is the bridge to Willie Johnson’s guitar.”

Blue Note Records B002427702
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Saxophonist Charles Lloyd has played in a number of unique lineups, including an early stint as music director for drummer Chico Hamilton’s group in 1960, which included the Hungarian guitarist Gábor Szabó. Szabó’s distinctive style employed single-note runs that showed a rock influence and he often used open strings to create a drone effect. Bill Frisell has mentioned him as an influence, and Frisell is one of the guitarists in the Marvels. Steel guitarist Greg Leisz is the other, and together with the rest of Lloyd’s new group they create haunting, often ethereal music that embraces blues and country while retaining the complexity of jazz.

Blue Note Records B002285602
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment: ****

A few weeks ago, my son directed me to a web link for a concert and suggested we buy tickets. I did not know much about pianist Robert Glasper, aside from the fact that he was one of the artists signed to Blue Note Records in recent years. I assumed he injected some hip-hop into his jazz -- he does -- and that he was trendy and not, ahem, real jazz.