It had to be a train. The name of Victor Wainwright's new band - and the sleeve image of their debut album - is also the most fitting of metaphors. In music folklore, the train might have associations with the freight-hopping bluesmen of yore, but with this restless boogie-woogie innovator stoking the furnace, this project is a charging locomotive - surging forward, crashing through boundaries of genre, sweeping up fresh sounds and clattering headlong past the doubters. At a sweet-spot in his career, where most established stars would rest on their laurels, Victor Wainwright & The Train instead rips up all that has gone before. These twelve tracks are originals in every sense, written by Wainwright, pricking up ears in a sterile music industry and stretching the concept of roots in bold directions. The result is an album that walks a tightrope between scholarly respect and anarchic irreverence. On this white-knuckle ride, only The Train could keep the material on the tracks. "I ended up with a hit-squad of downright amazing musicians," he reflects, "that shared my curiosity for all corners of the roots genre. We wanted to capture how we feel performing, right smack-dab on this record, and I believe we've done that. Now I just try to keep up…"
Victor Feldman's one Riverside date as a leader (which has been reissued on CD) features him playing piano on five songs and vibes on four others (three of which add Hank Jones on piano). Joined by bassist Sam Jones and drummer Louis Hayes (both of whom were at the time, with Feldman, the rhythm section of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet), Feldman is in excellent form on a straight-ahead set. The trio/quartet performs five standards that for the most part are not overly familiar, plus four of the leader's originals. Tasteful and swinging music.
A wonderful early album from Victor Assis Brasil - one of Brazil's greatest saxophone players of the 60s and 70s, and an artist with a keen post-Coltrane approach to his work! The album's awash in modally grooving numbers that would have made Coltrane proud - soulfully swinging tunes that bounce along on tight piano, bass, and percussion - as Victor spins out some lean and exploratory lines on alto sax. The album features some nice work by a young Claudio Roditi, and the lineup shifts a bit from track to track - but Brasil's incredible tone and solo work on the alto sax really holds the whole set together, and offers up a new surprise at each track!
Anyone who knows anything about Victor Wooten knows that he's one of those rare souls: he gains a rep for playing the bass. Soul Circus, however, isn't just an extravaganza for bass players. Wooten, as it turns out, is also a heck of a writer and, as the listener will learn on the first track, a fine singer. The unusual first track, "Victa," is a funky, soulful hymn in praise of – who else – Wooten himself, while "Bass Tribute" offers accolades to those who've come before him.
‘The dreamer! That double of our existence, that chiaroscuro of the thinking being’, wrote Gaston Bachelard in 1961. ‘The old is dying, the new cannot be born, and in that chiaroscuro, monsters appear’, adds Antonio Gramsci. Sandrine Piau has chosen to use these two quotations as an epigraph to her new recording: ‘My family and friends know about this obsession that never leaves me completely. The antagonism between light and darkness. The chiaroscuro, the space in between…’ This programme, recorded with the Orchestre Victor Hugo under its conductor Jean-François Verdier, who is also principal clarinettist of the Paris Opéra, travels between the chilly Rhenish forest of Waldgespräch, a ballad by Zemlinsky composed for soprano and small ensemble in 1895, the night of the first of Berg’s Seven Early Songs (1905-08), and the sunlight of Richard Strauss’s Morgen, which are followed by the Four Last Songs, composed in 1948, the first two of which, Frühling and September (evoking spring and autumn respectively) are also, as Sandrine Piau concludes, ‘the seasons of life’.