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Reviews Written by
Richard Thurston (Seattle, WA)

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Suspended Night
Suspended Night
Offered by avatarmusic
Price: CDN$ 19.99
17 used & new from CDN$ 16.16

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, June 10 2004
This review is from: Suspended Night (Audio CD)
I saw this band last night in their opening concert of a North American tour. Fantastic. They performed here in Seattle last two years ago in support of 'Soul of Things' and that remains a most memorable event. The most recent concert was divided into two one hour sets drawing on material from both 'Soul of Things' and 'Suspended Night'.
Gorgeous, sinuous melodies performed by an absolutely top flight quartet. 'Suspended Night' demonstrates the power and empathy of this remarkable group. The blend of the sixty-fivish Stanko with the his early thirties bandmates has been good for all concerned. A wonderful ensemble equally at ease playing fairly straight and taking things out.
I'd love their next release to be a live recording. My preferences aside 'Suspended Night' and 'Soul of Things' are essential recordings which generously reward the listener.
Highly recommended.

Intercontinentals, the
Intercontinentals, the
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 89.20
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of Bill's very best., June 7 2003
This review is from: Intercontinentals, the (Audio CD)
I saw a version of this band at the Earshot Jazz Festival here in Seattle a couple of years back. A wonderful evening of music. The group grew out of a collaboration between Frisell and Boubocar Traore (sadly the two occasions they were to play together were postponed; first by the post 9-11 environment and secondly fallout surrounding the Iraq war).
Anyway the CD adds Jenny Scheinman (violin) and Greg Liesz (pedal steel guitar to the mix and the result is a rich and incredibly satisfying blend of African, American, Macedonian, Brazilian etc. etc. influences creating a whole much much greater than the sum of its parts.
Astonishingly beautiful music. Otherwordly and exotic. Without a conventional rhythm section the music sustains a pulse which gives a sense of floating, a string ensemble essentially, the group sound is nearly transparent yet still with a momentum which engages and delights.
'We Are Everywhere' is a tremendous piece and 'Listen' is one of the most beautiful melodies Frisell has ever composed.

The Good German
The Good German
by Joseph Kanon
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.52
72 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars The Boring German, Sept. 18 2002
This review is from: The Good German (Paperback)
Four hundred and eighty one pages but The Good German seems much, much longer.
Flat, unconvincing characters talk and talk and talk page after page, spouting dialogue as unconvincing as it is lengthy.
This is movie of the week material. Berlin is NOT brought to life convincingly at all and in fact I grew tired of yet another description of the piles of brick which made up the city there in mid-1945.
One problem I had is that the characters are so poorly rendered it was impossible to muster much enthusiasm for their travails. The Americans are indistinguishable from one another and Jake Geismar (the 'hero') himself is far too sketchily drawn (no small feat when he appears on each of the 481 pages) to be of any interest at all.
Save your money (and save a big hunk of time) and buy the Alan Furst books. Infinitely better reads.

Water Is Wide
Water Is Wide
Price: CDN$ 18.37
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another fine outing., Aug. 31 2000
This review is from: Water Is Wide (Audio CD)
The good news is that this is only the first of two planned recordings (according to ECM Records) culled from what were some remarkable sessions recorded in Los Angeles during December of 1999.
Continuing along with guitarist John Abercrombie and the one and only Billy Higgins on drums (both contributed mightily to last year's wonderful 'Voice in the Night'), this outing also includes Larry Grenadier on bass and (my personal favorite among the younger pianists) Brad Mehldau.
This recording maintains the high level of Lloyd's 1990's ECM recordings and underscores Lloyd's standing as one of the handful of really original stylists working in music. Utterly recognizable from the get go, Lloyd possesses a lovely, burnished sound, soulful to be sure.
Grenadier is (as always) dead on. Abercrombie plays beautifully throughout and his solo on 'The Water is Wide' is worth the price of the CD itself. Mehldau seems a natural for this music. Possessed of a remarkable touch and a maturity which belies his relative youth, Mehldau, like Lloyd is adept at creating atmosphere. Surrounding his notes with a great deal of space, his playing is very much from the 'less is more' school.
But finally this CD really serves to highlight the musicianship and spirit of Billy Higgins. Few musicians can do more with less than Higgins. With the slightest of gestures Higgins provides a flowing and elegant pulse to the proceedings; subtle and seemingly effortless. The sort of understatement only a real master can provide.
I had the good fortune to hear Lloyd and Higgins perform a series of duets a couple of years ago and what an astonishing evening of music that was. Until that combination makes it onto CD this will do nicely.

Price: CDN$ 16.39
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4.0 out of 5 stars This is a good one., May 26 2000
This review is from: Perceptual (Audio CD)
The Brian Blade Fellowship is one of the more intriguing bands working these days.
More colorist than groove-meister Blade is also a surprisingly engaging composer as well as a capable band leader. And only 29 years old. A remarkably subtle player, Blade reminds me a lot of Paul Motian, with a bit more of a rock back beat.
Like folks such as Pat Metheney and Bill Frisell Blade has taken an enthusiasm for American song forms, blues , country and pop, filtered them through an improvisers sensibility and come up with something very fresh and appealing.
There is a richness to the group's sound which has the power to astonish. The two saxophonists (both agile, muscular players) coupled with electric guitar and pedal steel (a brilliant addition) driven by a piano, bass and drums rhythm section provide a complex, varied sound. By turns earthy and rambunctious and then contemplative and ethereal the group's approach is both varied and astute.

Ghost Town
Ghost Town
Price: CDN$ 20.43
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant (Unsurprisingly), March 22 2000
This review is from: Ghost Town (Audio CD)
Criticism of this most latest effort from Bill Frisell seems tofocus on what the cd is not.
This is absolutely not BadMehldau.
Nor is it Wes Montgomery or Joe Pass.
And it isn't 'jazz' in the very narrow sense of where one might find a Barney Kessell record.
So what?
I believe that the defining characteristic(s) of a great musician have to do with possessing a unique sound and an ability and willingness to communicate an original musical vision.
And Frisell is a unquestionably a unique and highly gifted performer. He is a great musican and artist. Well grounded in idioms as diverse as bop, country, pop, free improv and bluegrass Frisell has created a synthesis of those (and other) forms which is completely his own.
Recognizable from the first note, this cd plays very much like one of his solo concerts though augmented by studio overdubs. Deceptively simple, the attention to melody, the rich and often unexpected harmonics and the spare, thoughtful improvisations all work to create very wonderful music.
A particular highlight for me is the medley 'Ghost Town/Poem for Eva'. Lovely melodies, elegantly conveyed. Think of 'Poem for Eva' as the best tune the Everly Brothers failed to write.
Bill Frisell compiled one of the very best bodies of recorded work during the 1990's. This begins the 2000's at the same high level.

Ballad Session
Ballad Session
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, March 19 2000
This review is from: Ballad Session (Audio CD)
A couple of items: 1.) Contrary to the wishes of the reviewer, this is not Mr. Turner's 'sophomore effort.' Rather this is his third date on RCA and counting one on Criss Cross, his fourth as a leader.
2.) This isn't a Coltrane tribute and there aren't any 'sheets of sound.'
The cd is as advertised. It is indeed a 'Ballad Session' performed by a group of completely up to the minute musicians led by Mark Turner, one of the most accomplished and versatile of the younger tenor saxophonists on the scene. Combining standards with tunes by Wayner Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson and Carla Bley this is an extremely sophisticated and utterly gorgeous effort.
Elegant, romantic and substantive this is an exercise in mood. Subtle yet swinging. Introspective yet generous.
Much like 'Night and the City', a series of duets by Kenny Barron and Charlie Haden from a couple years back this is understated yet completely compelling music.
'Energy' is not merely a function of tempo and/or volume. Rather it is what takes place when musicians are actually listening to one another, repectful of one another's contribution and mindful of giving the music space to breathe and grow. It isn't easy making music sound this simple.
Oh and by the way. The version of 'Some Other Time' found here is worth the price of the cd.

Inner Voyage
Inner Voyage
Offered by nagiry
Price: CDN$ 9.75
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rubalcaba is extraordinary., Nov. 12 1999
This review is from: Inner Voyage (Audio CD)
I attended the same concert the gentleman previous referred to (and he didn't exaggerate as to the quality of that evening) and this is a wonderful document of that band. The group deserves to be recorded live but until that happens (or rather, if) 'Inner Voyage' will do nicely . This is an astonishing band and this is a wonderful cd. Music making at a very high level. The inclusion of Michael Brecker on a couple of tunes is a bit puzzling and adds little to the mix. I have other recordings featuring Rubalcaba but this one is by far the best I've heard. Get it.

Headlong: A Novel
Headlong: A Novel
by Michael Frayn
Edition: Hardcover
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.45

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I probably would have given 'Headlong' the Booker myself., Oct. 26 1999
This review is from: Headlong: A Novel (Hardcover)
Visited London for the first time this past August and among the highlights of the trip were reading 'Headlong' and seeing Frayn's 'Copenhagen'. Terrific blend of farce, moral ambiguity and scholarship, this is one of the best books I've read all year. Tremendously entertaining, it also includes some of the most lucid art history I've ever read. Frayn makes Bruegel's paintings come alive and his descriptions of Holland under Spanish rule are chilling. Very intelligent. Very funny.

The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty
The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty
by Sebastian Barry
Edition: Paperback
44 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely hated to have this book end., Sept. 9 1999
A beautiful, sad book. Eneas McNulty is an innocent set loose in a world treacherous and unforgiving but he remains gentle, kind and amazingly generous through all that befalls him. A fascinating look at 20th century Ireland through the eyes of a wonderfully realized character.

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