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Listening Post / Brief reviews of select releases

> Jazz

E.s.t., Esbjorn Svensson Trio,301 (a). We're now in the era of the Swedish trio's posthumous recording life. Pianist Svensson died in a scuba diving accident in 2008 so there's simply no way of reconstituting the group without completely violating the essence of the rock/jazz trio that seemed, to many ears, to be doing a much more approachable and insinuating version of what the Bad Plus did in America. What that means, of course, is that they had to go into the vaults to find leftovers, and obviously, that's a prospect which will eventually produce posthumous work that's subpar. That's not yet the case there, thank heavens. While not as strong as the disc released while Svenson was alive, it's still fine music awaiting a downturn further into the vault. Review: 3 stars (Out of 4) (Jeff Simon)

Bruce Forman Trio. Formanism (b-4 man _ music.) A veteran jazz guitar player with a first-rate young rhythm section. The best news of all about this disc is that veteran jazz listeners may listen to the disc's eponymous opener and be reminded of some of the greatest trio records ever made – the Poll Winners Discs on Contemporary in which Barney Kessel, Ray Brown and Shelly Manne made some of the great guitar trio masterpieces of all time in the '50s. Forman isn't Barney Kessel and bass Gabe Noel isn't Ray Brown. Nor is drummer Jake Reed Shelly Manne. But they all obviously know those Poll Winner records and are as comfortable as can be following the roles by those incredible musicians of their time as a template. Review: 3 1/2 stars (J.S.)

Carmen Intorre Jr.,For the Soul (Random Act). Buffalo-born Intorre is currently the drummer for one of the great living jazz guitarists, Pat Martino, whose upcoming June 18 gig at Iris on Maple Road is much awaited by both local guitarists and jazz fans. In the meantime, the guitarist on this disc – John Hart – is almost the most impressive part of it, despite the fact that the organists are Pat Bianchi and Joey DeFrancesco and the saxophonist is Jon Irabagon (who came to Buffalo in the precious Art of Jazz series at the Albright-Knox Gallery). The performances are organ-based. Nobody ever had to teach DeFrancesco how to wail. Bianchi either. But both Hart and, to a lesser extent, Irabagon burn often. The jazz language here is blue collar club jazz – swinging like mad, basic and true blue all the way. Intorre is a fine dialectician in that language. Review: 3 stars (J.S.)

Dave Douglas,Magic Triangle and Leap of Faith (Greenleaf, two discs). In case anyone drives up in a blue golf cart and asks where trumpet player Dave Douglas got his exalted reputation in current jazz, these pianoless quartet discs from 1995-1999 will certainly suffice to explain it. Potter's tenor saxophonist here is the redoubtable Chris Potter. His rhythm section is big-toned bassist James Genus (who continues to be Douglas' bass player to this day), and his subtle drummer is Ben Perowsky. The music is lean, trim, athletic and challenging, with the kind of linear complexity and contrapuntal ambition that cue listeners to understand they're listening to advanced players. On 1997's "Magic Triangle" for instance, Douglas now says "I was trying to see how much harmony I could get into the game with just three notes." Review: 3 stars (J.S.)

> Classical

Gorecki,Concerto-Cantata and Other Works performed by Carol Wincenc, flute, Anna Gorecka, piano, and the Warsaw Symphony Orchestra under Antoni Wit (Naxos). There is perhaps no more misleadingly titled piece in all of post-modern music than Henryk Gorecki's "Little Requiem for a Certain Polka" for piano and 13 instruments, which sounds, for all the world, as if it should be a jaunty piece of light music suitable for any pops concerts but turns out to be one of the most stark and haunting 25-minute pieces in the entire modern repertoire. What is exceptional by any assay about this disc, though, is Buffalo-raised flutist Carol Wincenc. She was the soloist for the 1992 premiere of the Polish master's "Concerto-Cantata" in Amsterdam and this disc winds up to be something of a premiere performance for one of Gorecki's finest works, played by the right soloist with what one has to call the right orchestra. Filling out the disc are the piano and orchestra version of his Harpsichord Concerto performed by the composer's daughter, pianist Anna Gorecka, and the Three Dances Op. 34. The glory of this disc is that it seems to exist entirely independently of the stunning impression made on the world by Gorecki's Symphony No. 3, the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. In other words, one cannot conceive of its performance and presentation being affected in the slightest by the unprecedented vogue that Gorecki's music briefly enjoyed. In this case, that's the highest compliment. Review: 4 stars (J.S.)

Brooklyn Rider, Seven Steps (Brooklyn Rider/In a Circle Records). The string quartet Brooklyn Rider, with this album, performs Beethoven's long, soul-searching, seven-movement Quartet No. 14 in C Sharp Minor and precedes it by two contemporary pieces. The first, "Seven Steps," is the group's improvisatory response to the Beethoven work. I'm not sure it works. It starts out optimistically enough, with what could be called Klezmer riffs, but then dissolves into squeaks and groans. It's gloom without beauty. Christopher Tignor's "Together Into This Unknowable Night" incorporates live AM radio, electronica and the usual opaque explanation. I am not sure what the point of these pieces is, except that when you finally hit the Beethoven, you are in a grim, pessimistic mood, a mood borne out by the piece's first bleak phrases. I don't mind. The stern, aesthetic, vibrato-lacking tone the quartet adapts made me think of timelessness, of medieval music. There is something cathartic in performing this quartet so severely. It is rough and scraping when you expect a lyrical touch, and occasionally, when you are expecting a sharp angle, you get a portamento. It is a joyless but oddly alluring approach. Speaking of records, kudos to Brooklyn Rider for releasing this album not just on CD but on limited-edition vinyl. Review: 4 stars. (Mary Kunz Goldman)

Schumann,Piano Concerto; Introduction and Allegro Appassionato, Op. 92; the Introduction and Concert-Allegro, Op. 134, Angela Hewitt, piano, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Hannu Lintu, conductor (Hyperion). Angela Hewitt has so much going for her: clarity, a bright strong technique, a wonderful expressiveness. The orchestra sound is full, zesty and rich. The concerto performance here sounds fussy, perhaps because it is played so often. For that beguiling lyrical interlude in the first movement of the concerto, the tempo slows way up, as if to cast a big searchlight on what Schumann is doing. Can't you just play it? In the slow movement the piano is sometimes swallowed. The last movement, wooden, lacks the whirling careless energy the piece needs. The other two pieces, lesser known, came with less baggage for me, and I liked them better. I loved the longing in the slow introduction to Op. 92. Op. 134 was a gift from Robert to his wife, Clara, for her 34th birthday, a few weeks before they both met Johannes Brahms. Hewitt makes a strong case for the delicate poetry of both these pieces. Review: 3 stars. (M.K.G.)

Leonard Bernstein, Arias and Barcarolles, Barber, Overture to the School for Scandal, Diamond, Elegy in Memory of Maurice Ravel,Jane Bunnell, mezzo-soprano, Dale Duesing, baritone, the Seattle Symphony, Gerard Schwarz, conductor (Naxos). The Bernstein songs, orchestrated by Bright Sheng under the composer's supervision, are fun. The melodies aren't much – don't expect "West Side Story" – but the songs are witty in a way. Especially when Bernstein is writing the angst-filled words. "Why are the nations raging? Am I aging?" goes one couplet in "Love Duet," which sounds kind of like Sondheim. Another stanza rhymes "relaxin' " with "Jesse Jackson." The music, though overrated, grows on you. Barber's familiar "School for Scandal" Overture gets a peppy treatment here, with bright bursts of sound. The Diamond elegy might be dull, but it is cathartic, with its drawn-out blasts of brass, its long, mournful lines. Review: 2 1/2 stars. (M.K.G.)

> Bluegrass/Roots

Charles Ingalls,Pa's Fiddle (Pa's Fiddle Recordings). This wildly infectious disc asks us to think of the autobiographical "Little House" (on the Prairie etc.) books of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the huge number of music references in them. No fewer than 127 songs are embedded in the narratives, according to the notes here, which also claim "there may be no books of comparable standing that document frontier America family music-making so thoroughly. The source of most music-making was Charles ‘Pa' Ingalls, a born entertainer who missed few occasions to sing and play his fiddle." The point of this disc is to "draw from the instances when Pa is chronicled playing his fiddle alone." You don't exactly encounter discs that pay tribute to the music in American book favorites but this one is a major charmer. Review: 3 stars(J.S.)