AMN Reviews

AMN Capsule Comments: Mike Eisenberg’s Recent Playlist (July 25, 2021)

From time to time, AMN writer Mike Eisenberg revisits older albums that he has not listened to in a while and provides comments.

Feilu Gasull and Joan Albert Amargos – “Feilu i Joan Albert” (1977)

This album really deserves more recognition, not only from the prog borough but from music lovers in general. Why? Well, this is undeniably some fine FINE, very Spanish-influenced music.

Cousins Feilu (g) and Joan Albert (kbds) completely bring the house down with their virtuosity. Feilu sticks mostly to acoustic guitar with the occasional bass and electric guitar added at just the right times while Joan Albert is a ridiculously talented piano (and quite a bit of synths too) maestro. This is pretty much drummerless (not missed one iota) but they do drop some well-placed percussion, and on the one track that has a full kit (below)…well, let’s just say that when it presents itself, the proceedings turn into a full-blown orchestra. It was very unexpected and inserted perfectly in the grand scheme of things on this delightful record. The vibe? Very Catalonian, very energetic (thanks to Feilu’s brilliant guitar moves) and, very satisfying. Honestly, at 38 minutes I didn’t want it to end, it’s that good! Table pounding rec from me. 

Thelonious Monk – “Thelonious Monk-The Columbia years ’62-’68” (2001)  

I’m not even close to being a Monk completist, more like a “slightly better than casual” fan and, since I haven’t heard a decent size block in quite a few years, it was time for this re-do. I only have a 3 or 4 of his Columbia records so, I took the lazy way out and listened to this box instead of choosing which record to play.

The set is a great cross section of live and studio recordings of different aspects of his career, from solo piano renditions of “Round Midnight” and others, to trio’s, quartets, and even some of his 10-piece big band workups. Some of the recordings are restored and, for the most part, the recording quality is amazing on this box. My main takeaway…Monk’s piano playing was truly remarkable. Something clicked with me this time around…I always thought that his style was quirky/fun at best and ham-fisted at worse. Well excuse me for being so full of shit, his playing is brilliant and oh so original! What I previously thought of as being “ham-fisted” presented itself this time around as unique and wholly original. What sounded simplistic back in the day, now sounds totally appropriate…in service to the melody, the rhythm, and his other bandmates.  Mo Monk! 

Nikola Kodjabashia – “Reveries of the Solitary Walker” (2005)

Discovered this one through the ReR catalog, I liked the way Chris Cutler’s review read so that brought it up the want list. Couldn’t find much info on this but Kodjabashia is a Macedonian composer living in the classical world.

This record has him stepping out into a more minimal, Balkan-influenced folksy sound. Working with a small ensemble of piano, acoustic bass, some brass, percussion, and a violin duo I hear a very sparse, open soundscape that conjured images of bleak winter mornings. It’s a clean, crisp recording that sounds excellent through my earbuds as well as my speakers. Of note, I love the way the violins are recorded, it sounded like they were very close mic’ed so you were able to hear all the sounds you typically aren’t meant to hear like the creaking of the wooden body, the bow scrapes, etc. All in all, this is a great Balkan influenced contemporary music recording and comes highly recommended

Michael Eisenberg

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