Instant Replay: 043
This time of year — past the "new beginnings" of September, but not quite at the "warm fuzzies" of the Holidays — offers up an abundance of contrast. And, just as warm days sneak in among the cold ones, and bright greens and reds poke out from the ever-increasing piles of leaves turned brown, this month's Instant Replay offers up music both for reflection and tunes meant for more energetic listening.
John O'Conor — John Field: Nocturne No. 1
As we gear up for the exciting and busy holiday season, it’s important as ever to make sure you take a step back and relax every so often. My oasis album is John O’Conor’s performances of fellow Irishman John Field’s piano Nocturnes, the first of which is the most honest and delicate melody I’ve ever found.
Carly Rae Jepsen — The Loneliest Time
As CRB’s resident CRJ devotee, it would be remiss of me not to choose a song from her excellent new album, The Loneliest Time, for this month’s Instant Replay. The title track, a joyful collaboration with fellow Canadian singer, songwriter, and composer Rufus Wainwright, has been stuck in my head for weeks, and the music video is just about the most charming thing I’ve ever watched.
The Oh Hellos — Eat You Alive
One thing I will be annoying about until the day I die is that the Oh Hellos was my favorite band before the kids (fairly recently) decided it was cool. But how can I blame them? When Through the Deep, Dark Valley first came out, it blew my little teen mind. Now I’m enjoying the tenth anniversary edition and feeling a little old, I must admit!
Bamberg Symphony, Jakub Hrůša — Hans Rott: Symphony No. 1 in E Major: I. Alla Breve
Hans Rott’s Symphony in E is kind of a ghostly presence for anyone who loves Gustav Mahler’s music. The two composers were friends while studying at the Vienna Conservatory, and Rott’s name comes up in biographies of Mahler. But the one full-scale symphony he composed before he sadly died at 25 is almost never played (it was only performed for the first time in 1989). It’s like the mysterious, distant relative who only gets a glancing mention at family gatherings… But now a new recording of this work by the Bamberg Symphony and Jakub Hrůša, one of the most exciting conductors to have visited the Boston Symphony recently, reveals not just Rott’s richly creative, maybe even pioneering voice, but also how clearly Mahler drew from his friend’s language to inform his own symphonies.
Max Roach, Hasaan Ibn Ali — Three-Four vs. Six-Eight Four-Four Ways
Back in my college days, I found a used CD of a Max Roach album buried deep in the belly of In Your Ear, the now-closed used-music store on Comm Ave by BU.
That album, and Roach's inventive, rhythmic drumming, sure didn't help me hit the books, but, boy, did I love the distraction. My fave — here from a new(ish) release of a 60s recording with pianist Hasaan Ibn Ali — is "Three-Four vs. Six-Eight Four-Four Ways." It's a rollicking conversation between drums and piano, regardless of time signature.
twen — One Stop Shop (For A Fading Revolution)
The infectious title track from twen’s sophomore album speaks to the precarious feeling of being overwhelmed and doing everything yourself—an apt concept for the Nashville duo, who wrote, produced, and mixed the entire album themselves. The music encourages us to take on that uncertainty with confidence, catapulting us forward with twangy acoustic guitars and a driving beat. It’s the perfect song for kicking crunchy leaves on your daily walk.
Austin Baker — Baby, Let's Play House
I happened to see Baz Luhrmann's latest spectacle "ELVIS" over three different flights recently - and even though the screen was tiny, actor Austin Baker really made Mr. Presley larger than life. The whole soundtrack is chock full of some fantastic mashups and remixes, but "Baby, Let's Play House" is the first instance we see Elvis' star-potential, and this arrangement really captures that dynamically, with some more modern electric guitar riffs thrown into the instrumental section, about half-way through. Baker actually sings in the film, and really does a great job of recreating Presley's younger voice.
Charles Hansen — Tavern at the End of the World
Charles Hansen is hard working guitarist on the local rock scene, also teaching at Berklee. Well, it turns out he's quite the songwriting visionary, as his recent double CD Pop'n'Rock Music '22 (Red On Red Records) amply demonstrates, effortlessly evoking 70's power pop and glam rock. With 22 tracks, the album is an embarassment of riches; here's a fave that also has a video, which can be seen here.
David Shifrin, Emerson String Quartet — Mozart: Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K. 581: II. Larghetto
Lately, it's been the Larghetto from Mozart's Clarinet Quintet. It exemplifies something I continue to find miraculous about his music: a quality of musical rhetoric that's often subtle, yet extremely powerful. I can't think of another composer who has such an unerring sense of how a slightly-unexpected harmony or the introduction of a contrasting texture - placed within utterly conventional structures - can touch our deepest emotions. This is music that's somehow noble and sensuous at once. Total wizardry.
Listen to the November playlist: