Musician and composer Moondog (born Louis Thomas Hardin, Jr.) held court on 6th Avenue in New York City between the late 1940s and early '70s, wearing a cloak and a horn-clad helmet. His getup, along with his beard and long hair, got him dubbed the "Viking of 6th Avenue" by those who passed him by on the street, where he might be found selling his records or maybe playing a tune.
Three concertos, three orchestras, three soloists, one conductor–an interesting concept, and it works. These are very fine performances by any standard. The First Concerto at first seems not to have quite as much rhythmic heft as say, Kocsis or Ashkenazy, but a glance at the score reveals Pierre Boulez and Krystian Zimerman to be exceptionally attentive to Bartók’s dynamic markings. The first fortissimo arrives five bars after figure 11, exactly as written, but it would be a mistake to typify this reading in any way as soft-edged. Bartók himself, as a pianist, was noteworthy for stressing his music’s lyricism and folk-orientation. So does Zimerman, and the combination of this quality with Boulez’s typical clarity makes for an unusually probing reading.
The great John Jenkins was one of the lesser-known sax stars to come out of the Chicago scene of the late 50s – but he was also one of the best! Jenkins played alto impeccably – with boppish agility, and a deep sense of soul that worked great on this one and only Blue Note session as a leader. The group features Kenny Burrell playing some of his best work on record – and the rhythm section features Sonny Clark on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Dannie Richmond on drums – playing in a rare non-Mingus appearance! Tracks include "Motif", "Sharon", "Blues For Two", and "Chalumeau" – and the session is a wonderful bit of lost Blue Note – great sharp edges from Jenkins' alto, and some warmer, rounder tones from Burrell on guitar. CD also features 2 bonus alternate takes.
Cardboard sleeve reissue features remastering in 2013 and the high-fidelity Blu-spec CD2 format (compatible with standard CD players). Of all the projects Robert Wyatt created apart from his tenure with Soft Machine and Matching Mole, The End of an Ear has to be the strangest, and among the most beautiful and misunderstood recordings of his career. Recorded near the end of his membership in Soft Machine, End of an Ear finds Wyatt experimenting far more with jazz and avant-garde material than in the jazz-rock-structured environment of his band.