Ludwig van Beethoven: The Complete Quartets, Volume IV. Recorded in 1994. Delos: DE 3034.
String Quartet in E Minor, Op. 59 No. 2 ("Razumovsky")
String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95 ("Serioso")
Orford String Quartet
Andrew Dawes: violin
Kenneth Perkins: violin
Terence Helmer: viola
Denis Brott: cello
Note to self: get a score for these "Razumovsky" quartets and analyze the Molto adagio movement from Op. 59 No. 2. These Russian Quartets have every Beethoven quality that draws the ears and mind in and then some, and that movement in particular is worth some analysis. The later "Serioso" quartet is also an intense curiosity. It's hard to beat the Beethoven quartets for sheer density of substance.
Albert Ayler: Holy Ghost (box set) [disc 3]. 2004. Revenant Records: 213.
Albert Ayler Quintet at La Cave, Cleveland, Ohio - April 16 - 17, 1966
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Don Ayler: trumpet
Michel Samson: violin
Mutawef Shaheed/Clyde Shy: bass
Ronald Shannon Jackson: drums
These La Cave recordings are a strong draw to this box set of rare Ayler recordings. And I've had plenty to say about Michel Samson's violin sound in previous listenings to this disc. This time around I'm hearing Ronald Shannon Jackson's drum work in a positive light. In may ways, he's the engine driving so much of this music. This sounds like it was a great show in Cleveland. I wish I could have seen it.
Don Byron: Romance with the Unseen. 1999. Blue Note Records: 7243 4 99545 2 6.
Don Byron: clarinet
Bill Frisell: guitar
Drew Gress: bass
Jack DeJohnette: drums
I remembered this one getting lukewarm reviews when it came out in 1999 and it passed me by. But it seemed improbable that this quartet could be anything less than amazing so it was an easy grab from the used bin. Not everything from Don Byron has been pure gold, but he's rarely off and a chance to hear him focus on clarinet with Frisell, Gress and DeJohnette backing him up is spot on. In many ways this disc feels like a precursor to the excellent Ivey Divey - another excellent Byron session featuring DeJohnette on drums - with the focus on interpreting a mix of originals and standards (and a John Lennon tune in the case of Romance with the Unseen). It's possible that jazz fans of 1999 were expecting less subtlety or hadn't yet negotiated the multiple curve balls Byron has been known to bring with each endeavor. This isn't music that screams for attention, but it rewards attention with confidence and fine interplay between four of the finest musicians to record for the Blue Note Label.