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Posts Tagged ‘Sunday Times Music Collection’

The compilers of the mid-1980’s Sunday Times Music Collection had the good sense to corral representative works of jazz legends Erroll Garner, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, and Sonny Rollins on to this short-length CD.

All eight tracks shine, but the preternaturally talented Gillespie and the cool-plodding Monk take honors.

It is amazing to consider the down-and-out venues where music of this caliber was being made in this way at a time in American history when most of the artists recorded here were barred from the posh joints for reasons of color. Two days from the date of this short review, we inaugurate a Black president …

Cool.

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This eclectic compilation is worth acquiring for Aretha Franklin’s opening track (‘Yield Not to Temptation’) alone. And that’s before you hit the aesthetic roller coaster of the remaining eleven titles.

Unfortunately, as one of the gems that emerged under the 1990s Sunday Times Music Collection rubric it is not widely available. The artists tagged in this post, however, are widely available under their own names.

1994 sounded good.

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The Sunday Times Music Collection of the mid-1990s produced some fabulous compilations, of which Sax Appeal must rate as one of the best.

Twelve pieces, recorded by front-list bands between 1929 and 1944, are splashed across 35 minutes of play time.

This is quintessentially American music played by orchestras who usually had the conductor’s name in their title. Sadly, this 1995 CD appears not to be readily available.

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From the mid-90s Sunday Times Music Collection comes this splendid introduction to the period when European art music was beginning to let its hair down as the well-coiffed standards of the Classical era were undermined by the kinds of experimentation that is audible in these ten selections from six composers (Mendelssohn, Chopin, Berlioz, Field, Schubert, Schumann). (more…)

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The eyes of my father’s generation still light up when the occasion arises to speak of Duke Elington, Harry James, Benny Goodman, and Django Reinhardt. These are the artists who, with their bands, contribute to this remarkable entry in the mid-90’s CD-a-week collection offered to subscribers by London’s Sunday Times.

Frankly speaking, the first four tracks—by the Duke—are enough to make you think we’ve been in terminal cultural decline ever since the likes of ‘Sophisticated Lady’ went silent. This is smooth, sophisticated, textured jazz with an enormity of understatement that commends it to repeated listening. Bombast was out, smooth was in. I have never heard a trombone sound so alive as the one in Ellington’s band on this album.

This remarkable 1994 release brings the sounds back with varying degrees of remastered clarity. No matter, even with a bit of static between some tracks and these ears, the music is golden.

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In the mid-90s, it was possible to receive a CD each week from London’s Sunday Times Music Collection. The eclectic library of music that results now seems a treasure.

One of the finer anthologies and one of the few to record a single collection of artists on a themed CD was ‘Medieval Music’, all of it performed by London’s Hilliard Ensemble (www.hilliardensemble.demon.co.uk). Four-part a capella men’s singing in the style of what will strike the novice as close to Gregorian Chant is an acquired taste. But it can be acquired and there exists no better cluster of singers to help with the acquisition than the Ensemble. Rarely does one hear a more disciplined vocal music than this.

It’s ear candy for disciplined ears.

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At first or early encounter, Gregorian Chant is a bit like a large, quality cigar.

It goes on rather longer than one anticipated, it provides moments for wondering how-did-I-get-myself-into-this, it opens the shutters to glimpses of true beauty, and in the end leaves one longing for the next one. (more…)

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There’s a reason why all those drug store compilations with the breathless titles (‘Most Relaxing Classical Music Ever!) sell year after year. The pre-Classical baroque style really is relaxing. (more…)

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In the mid-90s, London’s Sunday Times produced a cheap CD series that managed to be both eclectic and excellent. In the ‘Classical’ branch of that series, High Romantics appeared, presenting tuneful offerings from Glinka, Arensky, Liszt, Saint-Saëns, Brahms, Grieg, Delibes, and Tchaikovsky.

It all adds up to 43 minutes of fine listening, by about minute 22 of which one begins to wonder why we ever moved on from the Romantic period.

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In the mid-1990s, the Times of London flogged a very cool disk-per-week club that was everything eclectic can mean. One of those CDs, betitled with formidable understatement simply Two Jazz Ladies, featured Ella and Billie, two African-American stage presences who set the bar on what it meant for a lady to sing the blues. (more…)

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