Various Artists — Conversations: Keyboard and Chamber Music by John Bilotta and David Gaines
(Navona Records NV5829, 2010, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2011-06-01
The subtitle of this recording is “Keyboard and Chamber Music by John Bilotta and David Gaines” – Bilotta and Gaines are not the performers here, that is handled by a varied cast of instrumentalists, most of whom appear for only one composition. There are three solo piano pieces, one solo clarinet piece, a few duets (flute and clarinet, alto flute and guitar, piano and euphonium, viola and mallet percussion, flute and oboe), plus one work for baritone saxophone and chamber orchestra. One of the joys of this CD is hearing the unusual combinations explored, with the tonal contrasts they provide. Euphonium and piano? Why not! Bilotta’s lovely “Shadow Tree,” for alto flute and guitar is a particular pleasure to hear, with the rich throaty flute tones and a guitar part that is modern (not derivative of a guitar tradition I can detect) yet sounds completely natural. Viola and marimba also make a nice combination, bowed vs. percussive, in Gaines’ “Suite of Changes.” “...And Dispel the Miseries of the World,” Gaines’ piece for bari sax and orchestra, finishes off the CD, and is the most substantial piece presented, both in instrumentation and length. James DeJoie (Moraine) leaves his effects pedals at home for this outing, fully exploring the range of the instrument in its unenhanced form, and it’s fascinating to hear it in a non-jazz setting, playing off strings, brass, other woodwinds, and orchestral percussion.
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more