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.
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more