Albare iTD, “Long Way” (Enja). A lovely tribute to the almost effortless internationalism jazz has possessed for almost half a century. Guitarist Albare went from Morocco to Melbourne, Australia, by way of Lyon, France, and Israel. He made a name in Australia in that once-popular musical commodity known as “acid jazz.” On this disc, Albare plays with German harmonica player (and Brookyn resident) Hendrik Meurkens, his musical running buddy bassist from Australia (via Cyprus) Evridipis Evribipou, Mexican/American drum virtuoso Antonio Sanchez, Argentinian pianist Leo Genovese and tenor saxophonist George Garzone. Albare has some of Pat Metheny’s underwater tone, which is used here in a very loose kind of jam from musicians whose compatibility is almost shockingly casual and second-nature. Meurkens is the featured soloist after Albare and he’s seldom sounded better. Three stars (Jeff Simon)


Baptiste Trotignon, “Song, Song, Song” (Naive). A fine, freely lyrical project from French pianist/composer Baptiste Trotignon has current fave singer Melody Gardot as a guest on “Mon Fantome” and uses four other singers, including the pianist/composer. The voice is a vivid color here in French language songs and music that Trotignon tells us was influenced by his discovery a decade ago of the music of Joao Gilberto and its “sweet madness where complex rhythms serve childish melodies.” He tells us jazz singers Blossom Dearie, Mel Torme, Nat King Cole, Chet Baker among others (including soul masters Steve Wonder, Donny Hathaway and Marvin Gaye are also influences. Some of this will be familiar – “Ne Me Quitte Pas” as Buffy Saint-Marie’s “Until It’s Time for Me to Go” in English, but the expressive, idiocyncratic freedom and charm of it are all Trotignon’s and all a surprise. Three stars (J.S.)


Mahler Symphonies 1-9 and Adagio from Symphony No. 10 performed by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev (LSO, 10 discs). So many Mahler conductors of immense distinction have come to the fore in the last 60 years – Bernstein, Solti, Tennstedt and many others – that everyone who allowed a smattering of enlightened skepticism to greet these performances by the much-vaunted and recorded Russian conductor Valery Gergiev with the London Symphony would be more than understandable. And while it’s true that they don’t rocket to the highest level of recorded Mahler, they are uncommonly superb and very much in character for a conductor whose penchant for the ecstatic and histrionic has never been secret – but whose gift for the spiritual is very much in line with Bernstein’s (and you have to say too, what we know of Mahler himself as a conductor). These performances were all recorded live between 2007 and 2011, which is not entirely optimal to record music of such extreme sonic and emotional demands. An enormous welcome Mahler box nevertheless. A pity, always, in any integral Mahler symphony box that it doesn’t also include “Das Lied Von Der Erde.” Three and ½ stars (J.S.)


Leo Ornstein, Piano Music Volume One performed by pianist Arsentiy Kharitonov (Toccata Classics). Among the great undiscovered territories in the classical world is the vast continent of piano music by Leo Ornstein, a composer born in Russia but long an American pedagogical grandee of music (in Philadelphia) who lived to the age of 109. That anyone has even thought of exploring this territory in quantity is inspiring but here we have Vol. 1 of the piano music of the composer whose post-Scriabin atonalism and early modernism is some of the greatest – and most foolishly overlooked – repertoire for the modern piano. Ornstein composed in many modes. This disc begin with midlife impressionism of “Four Impromptus” and the late Scriabinesque Romanticism of the Fourth Piano Sonata from around 1918 and the Cossack Impressions circa 1914. To hear the other side of Ornstein, listen to the one-volume disc of his piano music performed by Marc-Andre Hamelin. Three stars. (J.S.)


Sviatoslav Richter Plays Beethoven: Nine Piano Sonatas and the Concerto No. 3 performed by Sviatoslav Richter and the Moscow Youth Orchestra under Kurt Sanderling (Brilliant Classic, three discs). Among the Olympian geniuses of pianistic performance in the 20th century, Sviatoslav Richter and Glenn Gould were virtually comic opposites out of Moliere: both were famously reclusive but Gould, the hypochondriac who gave up live performance at 32 in favor of the recording studio, died at 50 and Richter, who loathed the recording studio, loved live performance, even in the most godforsaken places, and lived to the age of 82. The Beethoven Sonatas here – along with the Beethoven Concerto No. 3 performed valiantly by the Moscow Youth Orchestra with Richter – are magnificent products of one of the astonishing piano titans on record. (If Richter was among the most hyperbolized of 20th century virtuosos, he was also among the most understandably so. He lionized his own profession.) True to form for live Richter recordings, some of these performances come with their share of evidence of Richter’s apparent love of playing in drafty, badly lit halls during cold and flu season (an obbligato of audience hacking elsewhere accompanies Richter’s performance of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” the greatest on record by far. So too here during his performance of the late Sonatas). To have been homosexual in an era and a society where it was criminal would no doubt explain many of his eccentricities but the man at the keyboard – whose performances and command of dynamics never fail to astonish – existed in a world of music beyond country, sexuality and mundanity itself while at the same time being very much of this earth. Four stars (J.S.)


Calvin Harris, “18 Months” (Columbia/ Roc Nation). Ne-Yo lends his honeyed croon to “Let’s Go” and manly Brit MC Dizzee Rascal and Tinie Tempah rap with musky aplomb, but where “18 Months,” U.K. producer and composer Calvin Harris’ new album, is concerned, it’s pretty much ladies night. Harris has a way with the provocative female voice, bathing it in sparkling electro-house rhythms and a consistently shimmering ambience that lights each souped-up arrangement from within. There’s a luster to his shining synth-pop, to his eerily sincere and catchy melodies, that works best with the female voice. It could be the feline purr of Rihanna, whose “We Found Love” gets the right jolt of theatrical floodlight to turn the singer into a modern-day Eartha Kitt. Or the underestimated Kelis, whose stabbing vocal attack is given a strobe-light’s flicker on “Bounce.” When Harris comes to the operatic Florence (of the Machine) Welch, on “Sweet Nothing,” he cranks the klieg lights to their brightest and removes Flo from her usual noir trappings. And soul slinger Ellie Goulding gets Harris’ full attention on “I Need Your Love.”

That’s where he gives his singer the perfect glow-stick sheen and she gives him a vocal melody bolder than the sun. Three stars (A.D. Amorosi, Philadelphia Inquirer)


Paul Banks, “Banks” (Matador) As sulk-rock throwbacks, the band Interpol ran out of ideas so quickly that all it has taken is a solo hodgepodge to actually make their lead singer sound fresh again. Where the comparative dourness of their indie-band peers the National could be attributed to bad economic times, Banks’ “Banks” was unlikely to have a title track that lambasted Big Corporate. The dryly hilarious “I’ll Sue You” is a surprise, though — maybe the hopeless chap doesn’t just live inside his own head.

And this is the poppiest album ever released by a Joy Division habitué; the jingling details of “No Mistakes” and the vaguely ragtime guitars of “Arise Awake” are musical magnetic poetry, much like the Notwist’s Neon Golden. In the song called “Young Again,” the line “jobs are disgraceful” could even be construed as political. Three stars (Dan Weiss, Philadelphia Inquirer)