Sunday, July 29, 2012

What's New?: 7.29.2012

Still playing catch up. . .

Roy Acuff — Greatest Hits (1940's/1950's)

Trying to get more of a knowledge of country music as I get older.  As a kid coming to music nerd maturity in the 90's, the only thing of "old" country music I knew was Johnny Cash, because he is the perennial cool kid favorite.  Otherwise, it was all the contemporary overproduced country pop that was coming to prominence at the time.  So, when trying to get into it properly, why not go with the guy that was nicknamed "the King of Country Music"?  This fifteen track hits collection serves as a darn fine introduction.  It's pretty much a classic country sound.  Polite, acoustic twangs, occasional harmonies and some spirituals thrown in for good measure.  'Night Train to Memphis' is a good, representative number.  'Great Speckled Bird' is one of the earliest recordings included and it's a nice one, as well.  For someone whose catalogue is downright intimidating (spanning roughly six decades), this does a good job of appetizing me until I can tackle his albums properly.

George Winston — Ballads and Blues 1972 (1972)

This is Windham Hill's reissue of George Winston's first album.  The album was originally released on John Fahey's Takoma label in 1973 and was originally titled just Piano Solos.  It's kind of weird to see an album on Windham Hill with John Fahey's name in the credits (but it sure does make a heck of a lot of sense).  It also makes sense that Fahey would have been interested in what George Winston was playing, as he's basically doing what Fahey was doing on his calmer more meditative pieces, but on piano.  The opening, four part, 'Deland, Florida Medley' is easily the album's highlight.  It finds George starting off with a kind of bluesy, boogie woogie riff, which he squeezes a searching, introspective theme out of and explores for the next eight minutes.  Really pretty impressive stuff.  The rest of the album, save for two tracks ('Theme For a Futuristic Movie' and an untitled piece), relies more heavily on traditional boogie woogie and ragtime styles.  But he always finds little ways of tossing in these (seemingly) completely out of place melodic runs that are almost like listening to the history of piano playing in real time.  Really an interesting album, especially when you consider he didn't record again for eight years, and when he did, it was with a drastically different approach.

Mike Auldridge  — Dobro (1972)

Speaking of Takoma!  I had never heard of the guy, but I saw this cover and couldn't resist after I saw that it was a Takoma release.  As the title implies, Mike plays this steel-stringed guitar-like instrument.  It's got a really unique tone and he approaches it from a perspective that respects tradition, but wants to branch out.  Most of the album is bluegrass instrumentals, but there's vocal numbers on 'Rollin' Fog' (a pleasant folk rocker) and 'Take Me' (a George Jones cover) and twanged-up, bluegrass-ified versions of 'Greensleeves' and a killer 'House of the Rising Sun' at the end.  Really an entertaining album and plenty of good pickin' going on.

The Stanley Brothers — The Columbia Sessions, Volume One (late 1940's/early 1950's)

First things first: the harmonies on this thing are just downright amazing.  The whole thing is just filled with these heavenly blasts of pure sound.  Excellent.  This is another one, carefully compiled and reissued by Rounder in the late 1970's.  From what I understand, this gathers up all of the 78rpm recordings Ralph, Carter and the Clinch Mountain Boys recorded for Columbia in the years 1949 and 1950.  A pretty strong document, especially considering these are original tunes.  Songs like 'The White Dove', 'Too Late to Cry,' and 'Gathering Flowers for the Master's Bouquet' just have an undeniable warmth to them.  I've played it quite a bit since I picked it up and I just can't imagine it being anything except the start of a (hopefully) large collection.

Peter Finger — Acoustic Rock Guitar (1979)

Exactly as the title advertises, I picked this one up because it's on the mighty Kicking Mule label.  The cover is rather hilarious, but completely unrepresentative of the music.  While it is a solo acoustic guitar album, it's not like any other album I've heard by more familiar folks like John Fahey, Leo Kottke or William Ackerman.  It's more technical than anything, as Pete seems to be doing his best to play in any tuning other than standard (the tunings for each song are actually listed on the liner notes) and showing off these strange strummed chords he's presumably made up himself.  It's not just technical noodling, as there are plenty of great, thoughtful moods conjured up.  In any case, the two E strings are tuned down to D on all but one of the songs, so the textures in the tunes have a really deep bottom end.  Check out 'Hope and Memory' for an idea of what I'm getting at.  Really nice find, if I might say so.

The Carter Family — More Golden Gems from the Original Carter Family (1920's/1930's)

Just incredible music.  Warm and human, it's an illustration of American life at a time when the country was in the middle of the Great Depression.  It's interesting to point out that all of the songs of unrequited love, hard times and estranged friends and family that comprise this collection turn to religion for solace.  But, even then, the conclusion is suicide, eternal loneliness or damnation.  Pretty bleak outlook most of the time, but the songs are so good, so catchy, you'd swear that they'd just existed forever when Alvin, Sara and Maybelle recorded them.  But no, these are all original tunes.  It begins with 'Little Log Cabin By the Sea' and never lets up.  Granted, it's only ten tracks, but as a first taste album, it's done its job and then some.  I have some homework to do, it seems.

Flatt and Scruggs — The World of Flatt and Scruggs (1940's-1960's)

Really strong, two record, twenty song overview.  It's got the duo's two biggest hits with 'The Ballad of Jed Clampett' (a/k/a  the Theme from the Beverley Hillbillies) and 'The Story of Bonnie and Clyde' and those tunes are just fine, but I prefer the instrumental and lesser known stuff.  'Foggy Mountain Breakdown' is a catchy one, while 'Flint Hill Special' is so technically impressive that it's hard to believe it's a hummable tune at the same time.  There's even a version of Roy Acuff's 'Wabash Cannonball' (to bring this post full circle).  A lot of the stuff on this collection is recorded live, so these are not the original recordings.  Still darn good in any case.


Friday, July 27, 2012

What's New?: 7.27.2012

Behind as hell.  Get goin', then. . . !

Stereolab — Mars Audiac Quintet (1994)

Buzzing, warm and melodic. Yep, Stereolab does it right. I can almost equate them to being like the Cocteau Twins of the 90's, in terms of the sheer consistency and "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"-edness of their output. This is the one right after Transient and right before Emperor, to give you an idea of where it stands in the bigger picture (the answer is that it stands right between two of the early monuments — the latter of which is generally regarded as their best). Basically, the Lab sounds like they're having a hard time running out of ideas here. This album strikes me as more of a unified work in which it sounds best when played front to back. There is a bouncy little pop gem in 'Ping Pong' (which totally apes the Association in the best possible way — thanks Mark Prindle for pointing that out!). Overall, I would describe this album as a beautiful buzz of sound. Hard to not recommend it if you're already a fan.

Stereolab — The Groop Played "Space Age Batchelor Pad Music" (1993)

Typical of these guys to release such a strangely theme-oriented EP right in the midst of their strong early run. The "easy Listening" half is basically a showcase for the lead off tune 'Avant Garde M.O.R.', which is Stereolab doing the warm, mellowed out buzzy thing that they were so good at in those days. The "New Wave" half of the disc begins with 'We're Not Adult Oriented' which is a total winner, in that driving, Neu-inspired Stereolab rocker mode (it appears again in a ferocious live performance to close out the disc). In the end, just a footnote in the grand scheme of the Stereolab catalogue, but its strength just goes to testify how strong they were in these early days.

The Sauceman Brothers — The Early Days of Bluegrass, Volume 7 (1940's/early 1950's)

Part of the Rounder label's great reissue series from the late 1970's.  As this is the "early days" of bluegrass, this is still a bit more country in overall tone, just with more of a focus on banjo solos.  The playing is enviable, while the harmonies are just heavenly.  Check out 'A White Cross Marks the Grave' for an album highlight.  It's just really comforting, warm and welcoming music for me right now.  This particular album was put together with extra care, as there are no shortage of liner notes and band history written in the tiny font inside the gatefold cover (only discrepancy here is that there are no dates listed for each tune included — a minor, but slightly annoying, oversight).  There's a killer version of 'Pretty Polly' here and all of the ballads just rule.  I picked this up after reading about the half the liner note after finding it randomly in the rack at the store and figured it was worth the price tag, just based on the back story.  When I got it home, I could find next to no information on this specific record and only overview information on the band.  I've since arrived at the conclusion that it was a total goldmine find.

The Waterboys — self-titled (1983)

That EP was so good, it was only a matter of time before I rendered it obsolete in my collection.  All five of the excellent, straight from the gut, heart-tugging masterpieces from that EP are here, in varying order —although the standing highlight 'Savage Earth Heart' still appears as the closer, thankfully.  The altered track order ultimately plays in the album's favor and the three songs that were inexplicably left off the American edition are just as good as anything else (exhibits A and B).  Its soul-wrenching honesty is only outdone by Mike Scott's completely ace guitar playing and wailing —indeed, almost cackling, at times— vocal performance.  Boy, is this album good.  Strikes me as a work that could only have been created by someone in the midst of an ambitious and youthful urge to change the world through song.  Just. . . wow.  One of the best records I've caught up to in recent times.

Hank Williams — The Very Best of Hank Williams (1950's)

Lame and stupid as a budget-priced collection like this may be, when the actual music it contains is considered, you really can't do any better.  If I were rich, I'd scoff at this sort of thing, too.  But, when you're record shopping on a budget, this is a godsend.  It's easy to write Hank Williams off.  He's been copied so often and so well, that when you actually get into his music, it may sound a little cliche.  Hardly, as it were, in retrospect.  Because he was literally the first guy to do what he did.  He's basically singing the blues over a honky tonk backing.  Sounds pretty pedestrian at this point, but musically, it's just pure gold.  Stuff like 'Jambalaya' and 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry' has become so transcendent and so ingrained into the pop music psyche that it's hard to go back and realize just how good, and how unique, those pieces are as songs.  A sleeper favorite of mine is 'Ramblin' Man.'  Some stuff is classic for a reason.  Sorry it took me this long to catch up.

Tangerine Dream — Encore (1977)

Live cosmic-bound goodness from the Dream's spring 1977 American tour.  Although this is a two record set and each of the four sides of vinyl are just one long piece, with "new" titles, I recognize bits and passages from their studio albums of the time (the closing solo piano bit at the end of 'Monolight', for instance, is straight off of Stratosfear).  It's still just the Franke/Baumann/Froese trio, so it's from the band's artfully excellent 70's prime.  And it certainly is prime material, as just a single listen to the seven minute intro buildup of opener 'Cherokee Lane' should please any fan.  Hard to recommend as a first taste, but for the already converted, absolute gold.

Bobby Hutcherson — Highway One (1978)

Not amazing, but Bobby Hutcherson is so awesome that he was able to retain a classy post-bop sound, on a major label, in the late 1970's.  His are truly standards to aspire to.  Just oozing over with integrity and good taste, this was the first of Bobby's three late 70's albums for Columbia (the next one, Conception: The Gift of Love, is pretty good too).  The opener, and closer, 'Secrets of Love' (by George Cables) is the highlight, appearing in instrumental and vocal versions.  The title track is a cascading piece of Latin-tinged post-bop; the sort of which was Bobby's bread and butter in these years.  The tone is thoughtful and mid-tempo, retaining that vibe (no pun intended) of pure class and elegance at time when that was a downright hard thing to do in mainstream jazz.  Nothing amazing happens, but it doesn't need to.  Hardcore fans (read: myself) will find enough here to confirm why they loved him in the first place.

Miles Davis/Marcus Miller — Music from Siesta (1987)

With a dedication to Gil Evans on the cover and a Spanish word in the title, it's a no-brainer that Miles was trying to recall his classic Sketches of Spain album here.  If you can remove from your mind that Miles was just fooling himself into believing he could pull it off without Gil and just accept Marcus Miller's infatuation with backing Miles with programmed synthesizers and drum machines, it's a pretty decent 80's Miles album.  It's certainly a forgotten one, that's for sure.  'Los Feliz' is a representative moment from the score.  I've had to come to terms with 80's Miles over the past year or so, but once I let go of my hang-ups, I've found some rather decent stuff.  This album plays nicely on its own and it's definitely in the line of the great film music Miles had done previously (obviously, with more updated production sounds).  I dig it.

The Incredible String Band — The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter (1968)

Really and truly a wacky record.  Really just an impenetrable mess upon my first few listens.  Really the only thing that jumped out at me right away was the closer 'Nightfall.'  And I think that's because it's pretty much the only song on the album where the band plays a linear song.  This is magnified in the thirteen minute album centerpiece 'A Very Cellular Song.'  Easy to sit through the whole thing, just because it's actually several songs contained within one track index.  If you consider all of the change-ups and twists in the songs, what appears to be a ten song album is actually fifteen or sixteen tracks in total.  Musically, it covers just as much ground; venturing from traditional folk, to Irish textures, through America and right on through to plain old acoustic psychedelia.  A hard nut to crack, but not without its rewards.  


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What's New?: 7.10.2012

John Corgliano — Symphony No. 1 (1990)

Been meaning to expand my classical palette lately, so I was on the lookout for something newer and more contemporary when I stumbled upon this (and the next one).  It's inspired by, and dedicated to, friends that had succumbed to AIDS.  With such a heavy muse, the symphony starts out in its first two movements pretty lively.  It's not until the second half on the third and fourth movements that it takes on a more expected, heavier, melancholy tone.  It's actually pretty atonal at points and reaches some pretty great moments of hopeful despair.  I had no clue what to expect going in, but I certainly didn't expect such emotional heft.  I dig it, but it's far removed from light listening.  Check out the first two movements here and here.

Walter Piston — The Incredible Flutist / 3 New England Sketches / Symphony No. 6 (1938 / 1949 / 1955)

Another one checked out simply because I had no clue what it was.  And darned if it ain't great!  I knew nothing of Walter Piston, but after some researching, 'The Incredible Flutist' seems to be his most well-known piece and I can see why.  It moves through so many different sections and styles, so quickly and so seamlessly.  The sub-section entitled 'The Tango of the Merchant's Daughters' starts out especially gorgeous.  The Symphony No. 6 (subtitled "Gettysburg") is more subdued.  Long, overstated melodies and many passages of sparse wonder linger throughout (especially on the third movement).  The whole thing's great.  But the real winner on this disc is the inclusion of the three part suite 'New England Sketches.'  Beautifully impressionist and understated, but gargantuan in its scope, I absolutely love it.  A wonderful find.

The Lines — Memory Span (late 1970's-early 1980's)

Just when you get cocky enough to think you've mined a specific style to the point that you probably only encounter third or fourth tier bands from then on out, you get a kick in the ass that you completely deserved for being so cocky in the first place.  My kick has come in the form of the Lines.  The fact that these guys recorded something as brilliant and transcending as 'Nerve Pylon' and I'm just now discovering it is clue enough that the great new wave revival of a decade ago was a cherry pick of a revival.  This is an eighteen song collection of the band's EPs, singles, their b-sides and general non-album material.  It presents a picture of a band that is clearly of its time, as it's all here: nervy art punk, 60's inspired jangle, jagged instrumentals and, ultimately, a post-disco sound that is just as poignant and revolutionary as —if not outright better than— any of their more celebrated peers.  It's an absolutely essential document of an unjustly forgotten band.  And while it is stylistically all over the place, the music it contains is so timely, so unique and so downright good that it hardly matters.  Essentially, they are like the Cure, if the Cure never got popular.  They got to sign to tiny record labels that let them do whatever the hell they wanted.  They played crappy hole in the wall clubs and knew their audience (what little of it there was).  They got to get their artsiness out in the moment, when it mattered the most.  The production sounds may date the recordings, but the songs contained here are ultimately from another time entirely.  I remarked a while back that, through my scouring of used vinyl bins and late night readings of Trouser Press, I was essentially trying to find another band that gave me similar feelings to those I get from early Cure recordings.  I think I may have actually found the Cure's artsy twin brother.  Many outtakes (free to download; all worthwhile) can be found here (click on "SOUND").

The Lines — Flood Bank (1981 / 1983)

This is actually the Lines two full length albums collected on one disc.  By the time they released their first album (Therapy, from 1981), a good three years into their existence, the band had developed a uniquely and entirely danceable take on the whole scene.  Elsewhere, atmospheric stuff that seems to anticipate the Chameleons is about, and the album is all the better for it.  When the band released their second album two years later (Ultramarine, from 1983), they were fully immersed in minor key-tinged dance textures.  Just have a listen to the album's kickoff number and relish in that dreamy cascade of slappy bass dark jangle.  Most of Ultramarine's songs clock in at five minutes or longer and have a prominent bassline that's more memorable than the main riff.  So, yeah.  Any of the so-called "post-punk revivalists" can send their checks straight to London.  (but we knew that already, didn't we?)  The one time the band incorporates lead keyboards is where this compilation takes it title from and, I swear to god, that opening ten or so seconds could be any pop song on the radio right now (except the Lines actually have a good song to follow the intro).  As a whole, Ultramarine shows more of a willingness to branch out and slow the tempo down, in favor of a much more tuneful and layered sound.  If only they had stuck around long enough to get one more album out.  But, nope.  Can't be mad at quitting while you're ahead.  And they certainly were.  There are more free downloadable extras here (again, click on "SOUNDS").  Furthermore, between these Lines reissues and the recent Trypes reissue, I am firmly of the opinion that Acute Records is not only on my side as an astute music listener, but also one of the best current record labels going.  Brilliance all around.

George Winston — Winter Into Spring (1982)

A self-described "folk pianist", it should have been obvious right away that I was in for another surprise from the early Windham Hill roster.  This thing reminds me so much of Keith Jarret's solo piano albums on ECM (outright classics, if you ask me), that I'd have a hard time not being into this, even if just a little.  The songs develop slowly, but they unfold into brilliantly melodic passages.  The opener 'January Stars' is a good indicator of the whole album.  Heavy on long, thoughtful themes and dramatic tones.  Just speaking in terms of overall sound, it's very beautiful music, in a minor key mode.  The nuances of its best parts can indeed be lost in a haze of "background music" facades, but its influence is hard to overstate.  In its "not jazz" stance (all of the songs are clearly composed and not improvised one tick), it seems right there with Brian Eno, the Durutti Column and the Cocteau Twins as music that was just enough on the outer rim of pop to be filed in the "rock" section, but it's too ethereal, too near-ambient to really fit in with any pre-established genre.  Check out the meditative album center piece 'Rain' for an indication of what I'm getting at.  Besides, Andrew Bird totally borrowed a riff from this album, so that's worthy of note for me on its own.

Cisco Houston — The Folkways Years: 1944-1961

A gargantuan, twenty-nine song retrospective from Woody Guthrie's right hand man.  While Cisco has a decidedly polite croon of a voice (especially noticeable on the duets with Woody), his songs are interpreted in a way that personifies the folk tradition perfectly.  When he sings 'I Ain't Got No Home', it's one of the most believable performances I've ever heard.  'The Cat Came Back' is the enduring classic here.  And it's just fine, but I prefer the less novelty sounding stuff.  His guitar playing is excellent throughout and the two tracks with Woody are essential.  Wondrous music.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What's New?: 7.4.2012

Happy Independence Day!

The Kingston Trio — self-titled (1958)
The Kingston Trio's first album was one of the key moments in the American folk revival.  It's a nice album of acoustic pop-folk, if not a little bit on the "lite" side of the genre.  Still, it's got loads of tunes that were traditionals that reentered the collective pop psyche with these renditions.  'Tom Dooley' and 'Sloop John B' are the tunes that have endured the longest from this one and they're darn fine.  Although the presentation is definitely dumbed down for a mainstream acceptance, the group harmonies are totally ace throughout and the all acoustic, drumless backing is excellent.  Total steal of a find, in the quarter bin.

Bobbi Humphrey — Bobbi Humphrey's Best (mid-1970's)

Cool synopsis of Bobbi's Mizell Brothers-hemled Blue Note albums.  I've never been too crazy about the Mizells overall, but Bobbi seemed to have the best average with them.  The dreamy funk of 'Fancy Dancer' is a vintage Mizell groove and one that seems to get overlooked these days.  Sample favorite 'Harlem River Drive' shows up kicking off side two and it just sounds as good as ever.  It ends with the classic funk revision of 'Spanish Harlem' and that's fitting.  This stuff was always pretty hit and miss for me, but between this one and the Blue Breakbeats album, I've got a pretty good overview of why Bobbi Humphrey's Mizell years are worthwhile.

Daniel Hecht — Willow (1980)

Another early one on Windham Hill that's all solo guitar.  Daniel Hecht was actually putting out solo acoustic albums since the early 70's.  This one would be his last, though he did continue playing sporadically.  Willow is actually pretty reminiscent of Will Ackerman's work from the same period, as most of the album takes on a very thoughtful, "2pm cup of tea" sort of tone.  Love it.  Can't get enough of it these days.  The songs are excellent from a compositional standpoint.  Something can be three and half minutes in length, but go through three full movements.  So, you get something like the closer 'Afternoon Postlude Soliloquy' that sounds lovely on the surface, but a closer listen reveals exchanging time signatures, a unique finger picking style and a master's grip on the sense of space within music.  Really excellent stuff. 

The Limeliters — Sing Out! (1962)

More overproduced group harmony folk revival.  The singing and the group harmonies, just overall, are fantastic.  That they were performed live —probably with the group gathering around one mic— is just refreshing and brilliant.  Love it.  For the most part, these guys rely on whimsy and self-deprecation in the songs, and that's just fine, because the performances are good.  But when they take on a more serious approach their full potential is fulfilled and it's pretty resonating stuff (see also their winning rendition of 'Poor Wayfaring Stranger' which goes for the big crescendo and actually pulls it off).  A fine album, just. . . feels a bit forced at times.

John Lennon — Double Fantasy (1980)

Yeesh, John, what are you doing??  I've read for years about how John's half of this album is supposedly a classic.  No, it's not.  It's semi-decent songs overproduced to the point that they're borderline unlistenable.  At least Yoko's half doesn't even try to be good.  She sounds like a fake Lene Lovich the whole time (this is meant as a compliment, fyi).  If any good things are thrown at John's half of the album, surely it's because of 'Watching the Wheels.'  That's a good song, without question.  But elsewhere, it's overproduced soft rock schlock.  Where John seems content to coast in the middle of the pop road, Yoko pilfers through new wave sounds for her half.  Makes for a very uneven album that's just kinda boring when it's all said and done.

Aztec Camera — Walk out to Winter (1983)

It's only so much I can talk about Aztec Camera before it comes to bore you, dear reader.  I will try to keep it to a minimum.  This spine is hard to see in the above scan, but it's there.  I've been on the hunt for this one for a while and it just happened on me by chance one day.  This does indeed contain my long sought after extended version of the a-side and it's just as great as I hoped it would be.  B-side (the otherwise unavailable) 'Set the Killing Free' finds Roddy in an early, chunked up rockstar mode.  The lyrics, here in storytelling mode, are excellent as usual.  It's one of the few early Aztec Camera tunes I was not familiar with, so I of course have scrutinized it beyond any reasonable point.  I really like that bit where he says, "Oh jesus and heaven, what's become of me?"

Roger Kellaway — Roger Kellway Cello Quartet (1971)

I found this record years ago and paid a dollar for it, only to get it home and be disappointed that there was a warp that rendered the first song on either side unplayable.  I listened to the 75% of the album that was playable and liked it a lot.  Filed it away.  About a year or so passed, I pulled it out again.  Finding that the first song on either side was unplayable, I went into a rage that involved a hair dryer and, when that didn't work, scissors.  Needless to say, I was happy to find a really nice copy of this album again.  For the most part, the music on this album is not very much in line with Kellaway's jazz past, as it takes on more of a chamber music sound.  Check out the opener 'Saturnia' for a good glimpse of this album's post-Gil Evans small group sound.  There's a slight Latin-tinge to some of the tunes that really ups the emotional ante of the whole thing.  Really glad I've rediscovered this one.

The Rolling Stones — Between the Buttons (1967)

Never really been into the Stones, honestly.  I've known their hits, of course.  Just never really got into any of their albums past that.  Saw this one for cheap and decided to go for it.  'Ruby Tuesday' has always been a favorite, so I thought at very least, I'd have a copy of that finally.  Turns out, the whole thing is great.  It's a pretty calm album, overall, with Keith's trademark guitar taking a backseat to pianos and vibes and other nice things.  'Complicated' and 'Amanda Jones' are gems, and probably the most "rockin" the album gets.  'Something Happened to Me Yesterday' is a good indicator of the whole album, with its old timey music hall horn arrangement.  Definitely want to hear more.

Bill Evans — A Simple Matter of Conviction (1966)

Post-bop brilliance from the best ever.  Just unbelievable how much Bill Evans I have and my library is still not complete.  The title track here is one of Bill's "lost" classics.  He didn't play it very often live, as his trio changed personnel after this album and much of the repertoire was discarded.  Eddie Gomez, on his first studio album with Bill, comes out shining on the run through here of 'Stella By Starlight.'  He takes one of his trademark upper register solos that just sounds incredibly gorgeous.  Hero.  The album closes with a rarely heard original by Bill called 'These Things Called Changes' that has another ace Eddie Gomez solo and you can practically hear Bill smiling with his playing as he comps along.  It's hard to get much better than that.