Those who love Bill Evans or Art Blakey will relish this disc, though Stefano Bollani has his own freewheeling improv stamp. Recorded in one day, and featuring guitarist Bill Frisell, Joy pulses with live energy. Bollani pilots his piano with sophisticated trills, rolls, and riffs. Colors run the gamut from the whimsical theme and bouncy beat of “No Pope No Party” to “Las Hortensias,” where Bollani hits the high keys to create the effect of a broken clock. Highly recommended.
Many Beatles tribute discs fail because the vocalists or players aren’t up to the task. But with this piano-based instrumental disc, Chicago’s Anthony Molinaro shatters barriers in refreshing ways. On the opening “Blackbird,” he manages to inject the melody with stride-piano infectiousness. Elsewhere, “The Long and Winding Road” employs complicated chords in the verse where you wouldn’t expect them, along with flowing runs that capture the feeling invoked by the title. Highly recommended.
Is it rock? Swing? Boogie-woogie? Louis Prima Jr. (son of the famous comic swing artist) melodiously mixes all of the above. This music moves—often with greased-lightning groove, as on the instrumental title track and “Go, Let’s Go” (which features a frenetic guitar solo). The record has its touching moments, too, as when Prima Sr. and Jr. share a duet (à la Nat and Natalie Cole) on “That’s My Home,” one of the old man’s deeper tracks:
On his first solo album, Tom Petty’s keyboardist handles the songwriting and vocal duties admirably, his baritone sounding much like former Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler. Produced by Glyn Johns (the Who, the Beatles), Lucky moves along at a melodic clip, from the mournful ballad “Today I Took Your Picture Down” to the 1960s pop homage “Like the Sun (Michoacan),” which recalls the Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon.”
Rodney Crowell, longtime guitarist for Emmylou Harris, hit songwriter for Waylon Jennings and the Oak Ridge Boys, demonstrates artistic integrity here, refusing to cave to country-pop trends. Nothing here is calculated; the album was recorded live in a studio. From the sensuous, steady-rolling “Fever on the Bayou” (complete with a verse sung in French) to the rockabilly-tinged, heartfelt prayer “Jesus Talk to Mama,” Crowell shows off a wide lyrical and stylistic range:
Engagement in serious, respectful conversation with other religious traditions is important and urgent. Leo Lefebure details why it’s also difficult.
Christine Helmer’s important new book has an unusual literary feature: its titular character is killed off not once, but twice.
David McCullough Jr.’s view of narcissism is a familiar one among the professional classes. As an angle on our age, Elizabeth Lunbeck finds it blinding.
Barbara Crooker enters the shades and brush strokes of daily life with such reverence that readers want to take notice, live better, and die better.
Alain Epp Weaver offers a new conceptual bridge to explain the Israel/Palestine conflict to U.S. readers and to suggest a way forward.