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Jazz

Kyle Eastwood, “The View from Here” (Jazz Village). It was established a long time ago that Clint Eastwood’s bass-playing son was no empty chair in jazz. Unfortunately, his European residence keeps him off America’s jazz radar until such time as he delivers a new disc. This one is his sixth since his 1998 debut “From There to Here” and Eastwood’s own playing is some of his most persuasive and impressive on record. As is customary, his band is young and European – pianist Andrew McCormack, tenor saxophonist Graeme Blevins, trumpeter Quentin Collins and drummer Martyn Kaine. If someone told you this was a young up-and-coming quintet from L.A., you’d be nothing if not eager to hear them again. Nor would it be entirely absurd either. Eastwood’s first instrument was electric bass, but when it came time to play standup acoustic bass, his teacher was no less than the great resident Angeleno bassist Ray Brown (sometimes Dad’s connections can help a guy, you know?). What’s a matter of talent, not education, is Eastwood’s canniness in assembling a quintet to lead and his ability as a composer, which is not only considerable but more impressive than some American counterparts his age who don’t have famous bloodlines to compete with. Three and a half stars (Out of four) (Jeff Simon)

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Benny Green, “Magic Beans” (Sunnyside). A hugely promising idea but one that collapses on disc. Benny Green is a veteran pianist of serious chops and some of the best jazz experience (Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, anyone?). What he’s doing here is paying tribute to the kind of trumpet-and-saxophone front-line jazz that Blue Note records specialized in when he was growing up, from Horace Silver, Blakey, Lee Morgan etc. “Something magical took place on these recordings – the harmonies evoke a healing vibration and carry a life-affirming message which is timeless and pure.” For his piano trio tributes to those recordings (which he pinpoints from the period between 1954 and 1968), he’s got the unrelated Washingtons as his rhythm section – Peter on bass, Kenny on drums. Unfortunately, the magnetism of the disc ends there. Instead of a disc of some of the great compositions that proved his point about the music’s magic, he eschews the likes of “Sister Sadie,” “The Cape Verdean Blues” and “The Sidewinder” for his own compositions in tribute to Kenny Drew, Jackie McLean, and Harold Land (each of whom have a tune named after him). He is, as a composer, simply not even close to the talent of those musicians who were his inspiration. Two and a half stars (J.S.)

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Tommy Flanagan and Jaki Byard, “The Magic of 2: Live at the Keystone Korner” (Resonance). If the stream of hitherto unreleased Art Pepper discs that are continuously released by his widow Laurie put you in the alto saxophone neighborhood of bebop heaven, this live recording of an Olympian two-piano team playing at San Francisco’s legendary Keystone Korner club in 1982 is from the keyboard precinct of bebop heaven. By this time, Flanagan was an old hand at great two-piano bebop (hear his “Our Delight” with Hank Jones). This pairing though is sublime – Flanagan, one of the most cherished accompanists in jazz (with Ella Fitzgerald for years and on such recorded performances as Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”) and Byard, his mercurial, eruptive and wildly unpredictable opposite, able to conjugate ripping stride figures with expressionist piano splatter a la Cecil Taylor and Don Pullen (another pianist treasured by Charles Mingus). They play both together and singly here. Yes, of course, it’s Flanagan who plays the gorgeous Ellingtonia – “Something to Live For,” “Chelsea Bridge.” And yes, of course, it’s always surprising Byard who gives us Stevie Wonder’s “Send One Your Love” and, would you believe, Chuck Mangione’s “Land of Make Believe.” One of those enormously satisfying discs that is every bit as wondrous as the names on the cover lead you to expect. Three and a half stars (J.S.)

Classical

Bernstein, Transcriptions for Wind Band, the University of South Carolina Wind Ensemble, Scott Weiss, director (Naxos). In the 1960s, Leonard Bernstein worried about the tide of atonality, academic and electronic music, fearing that it hopelessly alienated audiences. He fought the battle on a personal level with his own bright, sassy music, designed to have wide appeal, and why not? The music sizzles in the hands of a wind band. “Fanfare for the Inauguration of John F. Kennedy” could not sound better in its original orchestration than what it sounds like here. The overture to “Candide” sounds a little flat-footed in spite of the chirpy flutes and other cute touches. But it is a pleasure to hear the songs from “On the Town,” often overlooked in favor of more pretentious Bernstein offerings. I love “New York, New York, a wonderful town, the Bronx is up and the Battery’s down …” When I was a kid I remember my parents singing Comden and Green’s lyrics in the kitchen and dancing around. The University of South Carolina Wind Ensemble makes a good case for the music and the transcriptions. The music pops at you with sudden flares and surges. The brooding music to “On the Waterfront” also charms, making me think sometimes of Copland and Ellington. The Divertimento, written for the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the early ’80s, also has its moments of delight. There is a lot of fun here for your Naxos bargain price. Three stars. (Mary Kunz Goldman)

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Szymanowski, Symphonies Nos. 2 and 4 (Symphonie Concertante) and Concert Overture performed by pianist Louis Lortie and the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner (Chandos). A rich outlay indeed of music by Karol Szymanowski – 70 minutes of music from his early “Concert Overture Op. 12” from 1906 (whose influences seem to be equally divided between Strauss and Scriabin) to his Fourth “Symphonie Concertante” with piano soloist from 26 years later. Though it’s sometimes said to be reminiscent of Bartok’s Third Piano Concerto (Szymanowski was not as good a pianist as Bartok and could perform the work himself), the notes tell us that its final movement, according to Szymanowski, is “almost orgiastic in places.” Szymanowski’s Second Symphony may be the most attractive piece of music ever written by a composer who was influenced by Max Reger at the time. Three and a half stars (J.S.)

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Di Sheyne Milnerin, Schubert’s Cycle of Love Forlorn Retold in Yiddish Song, Mark Glanville, bass-baritone, Alexander Knapp, piano (Nimbus Alliance). I requested this disc special. As a fan of Schubert’s song cycle “Die Schoene Muellerin” (which I know inside out) I just had to hear it. What Glanville and Knapp have done is thread together 19 Yiddish songs – some traditional, and some by 19th century composers – and arrange them into the boy-wins-girl, boy-loses-girl tragic story of “Die Schoene Muellerin,” (literally, “the beautiful maid of the mill”). In this Yiddish version the hero is Jewish, and he’s older. The story is described accurately as more abstract. But in subtle and not-so-subtle ways the Yiddish cycle mirrors individual songs of the Schubert cycle. “Dodi Li,” or “My Beloved is Mine,” for instance, corresponds to the song of love and contentment, “Pause.” The songs are very classical and have a 19th century sound. The piano parts are elegant and creative. One Schubert song, translated into Yiddish, is left intact: “Am Feierabend,” where the mill workers rest after a day of work. In its minor key, sung in Glanville’s expressive inflections, it sounds utterly convincing as a Jewish song. It plays up a major theme of this project: As the liner notes state, “As with ‘A Yiddish Winterreise,’ in part the programme functions as an acknowledgement of the rich symbiosis that once existed between the German and Jewish cultures, one of the many intangible victims of the Holocaust.” Three and a half stars. (M.K.G.)