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CLASSICAL David Amos conductiong members of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. Music by Alan Hovhaness, Armenian Rhapsody No. 2; Quincy Porter, Ukrainian Suite; Julius Chajes, Israeli Melodies. Vincent Persichetti, Introit for Strings. William Brown, Sortie. (Crystal Records, S 509) - On a rainy day, curl up with a cup of tea and let your imagination take off with this music for string orchestra. Its Eastern influence is exotic enough to be refreshing and stimulating, but there are enough Western conventions to prevent culture shock.
''Ukrainian Suite'' is a piece of pure pleasure. Gently blossoming harmonies fill its slow movements, separated by lively 2/4s and 6/8s. This is not the Statement of the Century, but it's well-crafted, well-played music. The piece by Chajes is similar in brevity and scope. But except for a section at the end that calls to mind a hoedown, its darker harmonies and textures evoke more somber images.
The serious business here, though, lies with the ''Introit.'' It is the shortest work in the album, yet the most exploratory and contemplative. Its colorful sonorities and delicate moods intensify but never climax - yet the piece is short enough not to bore. Its inward-looking quality, rather than any hint of ethnicity, gives it a fitting place here.
The rich sound of the Israel Philharmonic strings are well suited to this music. Their tight rhythmic sense never stultifies their projection of the subtleties of these pieces. Except for the ''Sortie,'' which sounded unrehearsed (and further worsened by audible tape splices), the playing was imaginative and controlled. - Mel Cano
Branca, Glenn: Symphony No. 3. (Neutral N-4) - Branca is a true radical, even among maverick composers, but he has something of a pedigree. He uses an unorthodox tuning system, but so does LaMonte Young; he invents his own instruments, but so did the late Hary Partch; he'll explore at length some sublimely simple element of the musical tradition, such as the ordinary scale that dominates the first movement here, but so will Philip Glass. And the thumping rhythms testify to his affection for rock-and-roll. This work, subtitled ''Gloria,'' is the first to be wholly inspired by his fascination with the physics of music: The sub-subtitle is ''Music for the first 127 intervals of the harmonic series.'' The piece's structure and syntax may seem too scattered to reflect the ''symmetry and form'' he mentions in his brief liner notes, and like all Branca recordings, you won't find the ''standing wave'' of all-enveloping sound he generates in live performances. Still, there's a boldness and energy here that can't be missed. Recommended for listeners who want to give their ears a good, healthy shaking.
David Sterritt JAZZ
Anita O'Day: ''Mello'Day.'' Anita O'Day, vocals; Lou Levy, piano; Harvey Newmark, bass; John Poole, drums; Laurindo Almeida, guitar; Joe Diorio, guitar; Ernie Watts, reeds; Paulinho Da Costa, percussion. (Crescendo GNPS 2126) - Anita O'Day, one of a select and vanishing breed of pure jazz singers, finds herself in good company on this album. And the album finds her in good voice, in a good selection of songs ranging from the nostalgic French cabaret number, ''When the World Was Young,'' to a down-home blues, ''You Could Have Had Me, Baby'' - which was penned by critic Leonard Feather. Feather also produced the album and contributed some of the arrangements. The set is heavy on bossa/Latin tunes, including the long-neglected but pretty ''Yellow Days'' (recorded by Frank Sinatra with Duke Ellington in the 1960s) and a husky, sassy version of one of Anita's favorites, ''So Nice (Summer Samba).'' Kurt Weill's ''Lost in the Stars'' is a pleasant surprise. The band cooks in a nice, loose way, with excellent solos, especially from Lou Levy and Ernie Watts.
- Amy Duncan
Bill Evans: ''From the '70s,'' Bill Evans, piano; Eddie Gomez, bass; Marty Morrell, drums; Eliot Zigmund, drums; Harold Land, tenor saxophone; Kenny Burrell, guitar; Ray Brown, bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums. (Fantasy Stereo F- 9630) - These sides are previously unissued studio and club recordings of the late pianist, from 1973 to 1977. All are trio dates, with the exception of the first of two cuts on ''Nobody Else But Me,'' which includes Harold Land and Kenny Burrell along with Ray Brown and Philly Joe Jones. The second cut, with Eddie Gomez on bass and Eliot Zigmund on drums, provides a sharp contrast to the quintet version, and one can readily see why Evans preferred the trio, duo, or even solo contexts to playing in larger groups throughout his career. His use of implied rhythms, his conversational approach, the subtle give-and-take with his sidemen, are lost in the larger ensemble, and, while the first cut is pleasant and swinging, it lacks the creative thrust of the second.
As with many of the recordings during the second half of his career, Evans here is generally less restrained, more driving and insistent. On Scott LaFaro's ''Gloria's Step,'' a tune he has recorded several times, he is thunderous and full of dark energy, compared with his earlier, more introspective rendition of that same tune on his Live and the Village Vanguard sides recorded more than a decade before.
Also included on this album are Denny Zeitlin's beautiful ballad ''Quiet Now, '' a favorite of Evans's, and three waltzes he loved; Michel Legrand's ''Orson's Theme,'' a crisp, bright 3/4 time with a few bars of 5/4 time thrown in for added tension; Evans's own composition ''Elsa''; and Robin Kern's pretty ''Up With the Lark.'' - A. D.
Michel Petrucciani: ''100 Hearts,'' Petrucciani, piano. (Concord Jazz GW-3001 ) - Michel Petrucciani, the young French pianistic phenomenon, is found here in his American solo recording debut. The album also marks the debut of the George Wein Collection on Concord Jazz, created to present not only established jazz talent, but new names such as Petrucciani as well.
Petrucciani displays a remarkable maturity for one not much over 20. Although he shows strong influences from Bill Evans and Lennie Tristano, he nevertheless has already discovered his own voice.
Petrucciani renders Ornette Coleman's ''Turn Around'' as a Tristano-flavored, single-line blues over a walking bass line, demonstrating not only technical virtuosity, but a strong feel for swing, and a subtle and fertile imagination. He plays Charlie Haden's somber ballad ''Silence'' with a nod to Chopin, yet it is simple and unadorned, almost stark at times, and reminiscent of Tristano's ''Requiem.''
He shows his zany sense of humor on a boppish, quirky version of Sonny Rollins's ''Saint Thomas.'' ''Pot Pourri'' is a stew of melodies of improvisations mixed together. It is more than a medley - from one phrase of a tune to a phrase of another tune, and on to yet another, with improvised interludes in between. There are tastes of ''All The Things You Are,'' Bill Evans's ''Very Early,'' ''Some Day My Prince Will Come,'' and ''A Child Is Born, '' most of which pop up more than once in this masterly patchwork. - A. D.
Sphere: ''Flight Path,'' Charlie Rouse, tenor saxophone; Kenny Barron, piano; Buster Williams, bass; Ben Riley, drums. (Elektra Musician 60313-1) - The group Sphere was formed originally to preserve and perform the music of pianist-composer Thelonious Sphere Monk, and indeed, its first album was focused on Monk's music. But a year or so later, when this album was recorded, Sphere had already scoped out its own ''Flight Path,'' and its own identity. The result is richly satisfying - Sphere has emerged as one of the most sophisticated and polished jazz ensembles around, while still embodying the sense of excitement and creativity one hears in an evolving period.
The fact that ''Flight Path'' includes only one Monk tune - ''Played Twice'' - is indicative of the change Sphere has undergone. Except for the standard ''If I Should Lose You,'' the members of the quartet have contributed all the compositions: Kenny Barron's Latin-flavored ''El Sueno'' and the Monkish title tune; Charlie Rouse's ''Pumpkin's Delight,'' a minor blues with a double-time bass figure; and Buster Williams's ''Christina,'' a lovely ballad.
There is much diversity in the writing here, but the cohesiveness of the band makes it all work beautifully. The solos are on a consistently high level, too. It should be mentioned that the sound quality of this recording is exceptional.
A. D. ROCK/POP
The Cars: ''Heartbeat City.'' (Elektra S 264993) - Unlike many albums produced today, ''Heartbeat City'' contains a variety of appealing songs, rather than just one hit single. This disc has the advantage of being produced after lead singer and songwriter Ric Ocasek put together a solo album. Because of the tremendous influence Ocasek has on the band, the experience gained while making his debut definitely played a major role in the spontaneity of the album. ''Heartbeat City'' may surprise many Cars fans because of its instrumentals; it incorporates the band's elaborate keyboard playing into a faster tempo - a new style that is becoming popular and may become the Cars' new trademark. ''You Might Think,'' their biggest hit off ''Heartbeat City,'' is a colorful, vivid song that includes techniques like abruptly stopping the music at random, then incorporating a spoken offbeat line such as ''But you kept it going until the sun fell down, you kept it going.'' Unique tactics like this one keep the album moving. Where other albums start to become boring and bland, ''Heartbeat City'' sails along into a powerful dimension. - Roger Dean du MarsEno, Brian: ''Working Backwards 1983-1973.'' (Editions EG EGBS 2) - Here are all 11 of Eno's solo albums to date, from the rocking ''Here Come the Warm Jets'' through the recent ''Apollo Atmospheres and Soundtracks,'' composed for a documentary film on spaceflight. Also included is a disc of brief ''Rarities,'' such as his version of the ethnopop tune ''Wimoweh.'' Listening to the records in sequence is to join Eno on the adventurous musical voyage he has made over the past decade, moving from rock frameworks to his own invention, ''ambient music,'' a sort of high-tech Muzak intended to be a steady part of the listener's environment. I prefer the calm, utterly peaceful ambient experiments to the more pop-oriented discs. But some consider early Eno to stand with the classic rock of the '70s, and there's much to be said for a midway work like the 1977 ''Before and After Science,'' in which I think I detect subtle traces of a Perry Como influence! Not present are Eno's remarkable collaborations, such as his work with Robert Fripp in ''Evening Star'' and Harold Budd in ''The Plateaux of Mirror''; and his activity as a producer for other musicians (from David Bowie to the group Devo) is unrepresented, too. In all, an imposing retrospective that should call still more attention to this bold musical maverick. (The boxed set is marketed by Jem Records for Eno's own company, Editions EG.) - D. S.
Go Gos: ''Talk Show.'' (SP70041) - Remember ''We Got the Beat''? And ''Girl of 100 Lists''? Preppie, chatty songs of the girl group genre that exude silly enthusiasm and a single-minded pursuit of boys and school spirit. Well, don't expect quite that fluffy tunefulness on this Go Gos LP. These are different Go Gos, and rather than let success be their model, they've subdued the schoolgirl preoccupations - no ''Skidmarks on My Heart'' here - and produced an album of songs that snap with raw vigor. Belinda Carlisle's convincingly naive voice, though, still embodies a youthfulness and longing throughout these cuts. Yet, for this listener, the merits of this LP - such as the pounding rock piano on ''Head Over Heels,'' the powerful sobbing feeling of ''Mercenary'' - are counterbalanced by a new kind of sameness: harshness of sound. Too, the melodies aren't much to speak of in many cases, which could have helped. ''Capture the Light'' and ''Head Over Heels'' are the most notable for good hooks. There's a stripped-down gut appeal, to be sure. Yet the loss is that the music seems cut out of the same coarse cloth. - David Hugh Smith
King Crimson: ''Three of a Perfect Pair.'' (Warner Bros. EG 1-25071) - King Crimson is not your old-fashioned ''pick-up-your-guitars-and-emote-boys'' rock band. Restraint is an essential quality of it music. Just about every sound on this album comes across as if it had been forced to pass an excruciatingly difficult final exam before the musicians granted it the freedom to appear.
This restraint is most felt on works like ''Model Man, ''Sleepless,'' and ''Three of a Perfect Pair,'' where a tight control complements the emotional force of the singing. Listen, for example, to the the staccato rock-and-roll pointillism of the guitars on the title cut, combined with the sweeping broad strokes of Adrian Below's singing.
But the most fascinating works on this album represent a tradition quite apart from that of rock. These are the compositions like ''Nuages (That which passes, passes like clouds)'' and ''Industry'' - songs that set themselves apart from the rest of the album as superior works of serious art.
''Nuages,'' a slowly evolving flow of eerie harmonies backed with drumming, evokes some of the same feeling of silent wonder that you find in the classic Sibelius tone poem ''The Swan of Tuonella.''
''Industry'' follows ''Nuages'' on the other side of the album. It seems to be its antithesis. This cut starts with the slow, ominous sound of Tony Levin's bass, playing in a monotonous pattern of threes and fives, and crescendoes into a climax of fragmented rhythms and sounds.
The quiet, evolving quality of nature, the fragmented mechanization of man, and the synergy of their meeting: That's ''Three of a Perfect Pair.''
- David Cheezem
Thomas Dolby: ''The Flat Earth.'' (Capitol ST-12309) - Call it eccentricity or whatever you like, but Thomas Dolby's idiosyncratic compositions are some of the most startlingly original sounds in pop music today. These sounds can range from the only moderately different disco-type ''She Blinded Me With Science'' - a hit last year - to the dreamy ''Mulu the Rain Forest'' on this year's LP ''The Flat Earth.'' The effect of ''Earth'' is a feeling of richness, of timelessness, of imaginative, somewhat moody mental wanderings - and of music with a frame of reference that's ever so slightly on the other side of the recognizable. And throughout, there's Dolby's expressive synthesizer and jazz piano to communicate that feel. Dolby can punctuate his songs with a fragment of something extraordinary - the snippet of opera sound on ''Dissidents,'' for example, or an interlude of very conventional rock guitar on ''White City.'' ''Hyperactive,'' a frenetically paced cut from the album which has been modestly active on the radio of late, is more in the disco vein of last year's ''Science'' hit, and the lyrics a bit more distinct in theme than some of Dolby's other songs. It's part of a worthy follow-up to Dolby's successes of last year. - D. H. S.
Christine McVie: ''Christine McVie.'' (Warner Bros. 25059-1) - The cover photo enchants us to give this record a spin. Christine McVie gazes in revelatory splendor from her piano - atop a mossy mound in some rolling English countryside. But from the moment the needle starts rubbing across the vinyl it's clear ''Christine McVie'' is not an ethereal offering but a pop tour de force, abundant in songs that would brighten top-40 radio. Enriched by a songwriting alliance with Todd Sharp, McVie's first new solo LP in about 15 years wears well - which is more than you can say for the fellow Fleetwood Mac-er Stevie Nicks and her affected ''The Wild Heart'' last year. The cuts aren't ones, necessarily , that will impress you with theme: They're unabashedly pop, retreading well-worn love motifs. On ''So Excited,'' a cut with a smooth country accent, we learn: ''Well, I'm so excited / My baby is on his way / I just can't wait /I can't wait another day . . . .'' Yawn! Yet as sung by McVie, it's vigorous, almost fresh-sounding. Masterly - if not far from routine - guitar work by Todd Sharp on most cuts gives the music a clean, untampered-with sound. And both Lindsey Buckingham and Eric Clapton take turns on lead guitar for a couple of songs. - D. H. S.
Missing Persons: ''Rhyme and Reason.'' (Capital 431846) - Don't be fooled when first listening to this album. What seems to be a sharp, innovative set of tunes is in fact just a repeat of this band's reliance on one unusual voice. Hearing a song on ''Rhyme and Reason,'' one is first caught by lead singer Dale Bozzio's high-pitched, even mouselike voice, luring you into the belfries of musical monotony. But it doesn't stop there, irritation sets in, and you realize you've been deceived. Bozzio's voice soon ignites into a shrill, piping squeal, making the need to exit this tiresome sound quite clear that ''Rhyme and Reason'' warrants even more criticism. Aside from Dale's controversal voice, ''Rhyme and Reason'' lacks variety. The most accurate description of the album's tone is that it's consistently bland. The pace, beat, and modulation of the music sounds the same; the only change is in the lyrics. A band needs more than daring vocals to thrive in today's music scene. Although Missing Persons has managed to stay away from those tired, three-chord progressions practiced by many current pop bands, this album lacks substance.
- R. D. d. M.
Elvis Presley: ''The First Live Recordings.'' (The Music Works PB 3601) - These recordings were made as the young, pre-superstar Presley unleashed his budding talent on a Shreveport, La., radio show called ''The Louisiana Hayride'' in 1955 and '56. The tapes were then filed anonymously away, and after they were finally dug out and dusted off, it took a lot of dealmaking before their recent release on the Music Works label, manufactured by RCA (which holds the rights to most Presley material) and marketed by the independent Jem Records company. It's a brief album, filled out with some narration about Presley's career and some bantering between Elvis and the ''Hayride'' host. But the musical numbers are mostly strong, in a primitive kind of way: The arrangement of ''I Wanna Play House With You'' is nearly identical to the classic version later released on Sun and RCA, and there's a crisp pulse to his versions of two songs associated with other rock greats, ''Maybelline,'' by Chuck Berry, and ''Tweedle Dee,'' immortalized by LaVerne Baker. Also present is an exuberant ''Hound Dog,'' recorded just after Elvis's phenomenal appearance on Ed Sullivan's television show. General listeners with an interest in early Presley should still turn to RCA's superb disc ''The Sun Sessions,'' but Elvis collectors will treasure the finds offered here.
- D. S.
Rush: ''Grace Under Pressure.'' (Poly Gram Records 0704) - ''Grace Under Pressure'' is encased in a shell out of which Rush refuses to break in order to adapt to the latest musical fad. Contrary to Rush's staple diet of hard, driving rock-and-roll, this new LP is tame and repressive. It never breaks into an explosive gripping sound, which I find unfortunate, because Rush is more than capable of producing intense, imaginative music. The previous albums validate this. Rush did, however, accomplish its goal: to make an album that would attract as many people as possible. (Apparently the group felt it necessary to alter its music to become more competitive within its music scene.) It did conform, I feel, quite well. Squeezing out all its traditional outbursts, it has restricted itself to a type of music based on heavy use of synthesizers. But unlike many groups that try to change their style and fail, Rush succeeds. If I was a fan of the top-40 radio, I'd be very excited about this new release. Since I go only as far as enjoying previous Rush albums and never fail to appreciate lead singer and bassist Geddy Lee's uncommon talent, I find this album only average.
- R. D. d. M.
Rick Springfield: ''Hard to Hold,'' film sound track recording. (RCA ABL1- 4935) - Here's a musical class in adolescent development. This youthful, upbeat, but shallow album has many of the moods of the teen-age experience: the awkwardness, the urgency, the righteous bravado, the insistence on taking everything - especially romance - deadly serious.
''The Great Lost Art of Conversation'' is a slow, moody teen-age monologue. (''There's people dying for what they believe/ and I can't even choose should I stay or leave/ and we're supposed to be in love''). Springfield's frank lyrics are overlapped by lollipop music - twittering synthesizers, electric piano, and the melodrama of Springfield's whiny singing.
Graham Parker's ''When the Lights Go Down'' is probably the best song on the album - his voice perfect for this adolescent rock ballad. ''I Go Swimming'' has my nomination for the most banal lyrics of the year: ''I go swimming, swimming in the water/ swimming in the river, swimming in the sea/ I go swimming.''
I don't think I'll bother to see the movie. - D. C.