Share this article

print logo

CD LISTENING POST BRIEF REVIEWS OF SELECT RELEASES

Pop

Ben Folds, "Songs For Silverman" (Epic). More gorgeous chamber pop from Folds, who may have made his finest record yet in the form of "Songs For Silverman." Layered harmonies suggest Brian Wilson, pianistic melodies recall Todd Rundgren's "Something/Anything?" and Folds' barbed wit suggests . . . well, Folds, and no one else. "Jesusland" is bizarre and beautiful, as ominous strings buzz around the hive, and drummer Lindsay Jamieson creates a subtle, locomotive groove with a brushed snare. The lyric is a brilliant delineation of our country's swing to the right. Folds is in exceptional form here. Let's hope he launches a full-band tour this time around. Review: 4 stars (Out of 4) (Jeff Miers)

Dr. John, "The Best of the Parlophone Years" (Blue Note). A best-of collection with a message: "Hey man, listen up: I've been doing some cool stuff in the last seven years." True, the gumbo blues meister had about as much business making a Duke Ellington disc as Duke would have had making a record of Haydn piano sonatas. But if you listen to Dr. John's Crescent City funk-rolling version of "It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing" and "I'm Gonna Go Fishing" in the context of his own tunes from his last three discs, they're good fun, however hopelessly un-Dukish. (Even so, you can bet your cayenne pepper they'd have made Duke laugh.) Review: 3 stars (Jeff Simon)

Classical

The Art of the Viola (Naxos). Naxos, always looking for new ways to do things, has begun issuing CDs devoted to particular instruments, featuring the top musicians of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. This one's a fascinating mix. Violist Heinrich Koll has put together tremendous liner notes, full of nerdy humor and complete with Viola Jokes (of which there are many). His playing, happily, is just as marvelous.The biggest treasures are four "Marchenerzahlungen" (fairy tales) by Schumann for clarinet, viola and piano, Op. 132. The third of the four is absolutely ravishing -- no small thanks, as Koll reminds us, to the deep, earthy, burnished, underappreciated viola. Review: 3 stars (Mary Kunz Goldman)

Jonathan Lemalu, Opera Arias, with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, James Judd, conductor (EMI Classics). Lemalu is 28, which is young for a bass-baritone, and it'll be fun to see how his voice evolves over the next few years. Right now, his voice is on the light side. Which is fine -- it's just a little surprising to hear Leporello's "Catalogue Aria" sung in a tone that doesn't border on bumptious. Likewise, in "The Marriage of Figaro," he sounds more at home as the Count than as Figaro. Lemalu is bold to tackle the Dutchman's great soliloquy "Die Frist ist um" from "The Flying Dutchman" -- different from most young singers' repertoire. He has a good dramatic style, a real fluidity. By the way, it's nice to hear from James Judd, who was a guest conductor at Kleinhans Music Hall not long ago. Review: 3 stars (M.K.G.)

Shostakovich, Quartets 1, 4 and 9 performed by the Jerusalem Quartet (Harmonia Mundi). Shostakovich's 15 Quartets are often thought to be the most intimate and personal of all his music -- a kind of compositional journal writing. He didn't even get into quartet writing until he entered his most fruitful and expressive compositional phase -- after the political debacle of the Fourth Symphony led to the Fifth. Members of the Jerusalem Quartet, which visits Buffalo on Tuesday, barely look as if they've graduated high school, but in only 12 years of existence they've become formidable. These are rich and fulfilling performances of marvelous music. Review: 3 1/2 stars (J.S.)

Rock

Elvis Presley, "Elvis By the Presleys" (Sony). A twin-disc set of tunes hand-picked by Lisa Marie and Priscilla Presley, to coincide with two CBS television specials. Disc one offers some classics, all available elsewhere, but smartly sequenced by the Presleys, apparently based on their applicability to the family's history. Disc two features eight unreleased alternate takes and demos, and is an essential score for the serious Elvis collector. In all, a nice package. (CBS will air "Elvis by the Presleys" on May 13; the network will present "Elvis," a four-hour miniseries, on May 8 and 11.) Review: 3 1/2 stars (J.M.)

Jazz

Dizzy Gillespie, "Career 1937-1992" (Shout! Factory, two discs). This two-disc anthology is much more like it. Now that Dizzy's time on the altar has come around again, this is a much fuller representation of his art and career than the recent single disc "The Music of John Birks Gillespie," even if this one too largely ignores some of the superbly funky and ambitious music he made in his late 40s and early 50s in favor of high-adrenaline showmanship. Even so, you get here more of a sense of the galloping, wailing monster virtuoso who rode so high at Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic. And yes, unsuspecting veteran watchers of local TV news will be treated to the zenith of the musical career of drummer Chuck Lampkin, who later briefly became a Buffalo TV anchor at Channel 4. Review: 3 1/2 stars (J.S.)