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the-cookers

Sonic Gems: The Cookers – Time and Again

Like something out of a classic mid-1960s session for Blue Note Records, The Cookers are hard bop masters for the 21st century. Sporting a two-trumpet, two-sax frontline, the all-veteran septet features Billy Harper and Donald Harrison on saxes and Eddie [...]

April 2, 2015 Music Reviews
killers

Sonic Gems: The Killers – Sam’s Town

Not too long ago in this column I talked about second albums by emerging bands and how those second albums often determine if a band’s first album is a mere fluke or if the band is going to be around [...]

March 27, 2015 Music Reviews
rough-mix-album

Sonic Gems: Pete Townshend & Ronnie Lane – Rough Mix

Pete Townshend, Ronnie Lane, Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts and John Entwistle, among others, created this eclectic album that, sadly, many listeners have never even heard of. 1977’s “Rough Mix” was only the second project outside The Who that Townshend produced [...]

March 19, 2015 Music Reviews
real-estate-days

Sonic Gems: Real Estate – Days

Second albums from young bands are often such pivotal events that for decades music critics have coined them “sophomore” albums and even given them special mention. Second albums just seem to have their own place in music history, especially if [...]

March 11, 2015 Music Reviews
sonic-gem

Sonic Gems: Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers – Indestructible

While landmark Blakey records like “A Night in Tunisia” and “Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers” pre-date “Indestructible” by many years, the 1961-64 sextet version of the Messengers with Curtis Fuller’s trombone added is the tastiest. Wayne Shorter’s tenor sax [...]

March 6, 2015 Music Reviews
geils

Sonic Gems: J. Geils Band – Monkey Island

Three years before the pop success of “Love Stinks” and four years before their MTV “Freeze-Frame” and “Centerfold” blitz, the J. Geils Band was an established live act that churned out R&B with a rough and tough East Coast edge. [...]

February 26, 2015 Music Reviews
galaxie-500

Sonic Gems: Galaxie 500 – On Fire

I tend to avoid the “Desert Island List” of rock albums conversation because there’s always the risk of being predictable (“Sgt. Pepper’s,” “Who’s Next,” “London Calling,” etc.). On the other hand, there’s also the risk of being too clever (“Mott,” [...]

February 18, 2015 Music Reviews
roland-kirk

Sonic Gems: Roland Kirk – We Free Kings

This album makes me smile every time I put it on, plain and simple. Saxophonist/Reed-ist/Flutist Roland Kirk was best known for playing multiple instruments at once (tenor sax, soprano sax and stritch, for instance) and for his circular breathing technique [...]

February 11, 2015 Music Reviews
VAN-CLIBURN--TCHAIKOVSKY

Van Cliburn: Tchaikovsky – Piano Concerto NO. 1 in B-Flat Minor, OP. 23

Why I put it on: If I’m in the mood for power, but not in the mood to rock out, I go Russian classical. This is the one. Recorded in 1958 with Kirill Kondrashin conducting the RCA Symphony, this is [...]

February 4, 2015 Music Reviews
standards-lloyd-cole

Sonic Gems: LloydCole – Standards

Why I put it on: Singer/songwriter Cole always has something to say when I’m in the mood to actually think about the lyrics. In the almost 30 years since Lloyd Cole and The Commotions made their final, brilliant record (“Mainstream”), [...]

January 28, 2015 Music Reviews