Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Heidi Krutzen and The Philharmonia Orchestra

We're happy to share that PARMA Artist Heidi Krutzen (of both COULOIR and Trio Verlaine, and founding member of the Turning Point Ensemble) has recently been appointed Principal Harp of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London.

Since its founding in 1945, the Philharmonia has commissioned more than 100 compositions, presenting premieres of contemporary works along with the classics, and now holding over 160 concerts a year. The Philharmonia has been one of the most active orchestras in exploring new ways of distributing its music; live performances are available in a large video archive, also distributed as video podcasts, and on Vimeo and YouTube.

While COULOIR's next album is still in the works, you can hear samples from Heidi's ensembles' two previous PARMA CDs below on Ravello Records:

Heidi is also a member of Malambo Grassroots, an organization committed to the people of southern Zambia, including scholarships towards further education at schools like Ngoma Dolce Music Academy, the first full-time school for music education in Zambia. You can find out more at

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fall Orchestral Sessions

The PARMA team just returned from our last two orchestral recording trips of the year, producing a mix of orchestral and chamber recordings in both Russia and the Czech Republic this September and October.  The past two months saw music recorded from Carl Vollrath, Phillip Rhodes, Jay Anthony Gach, Stephen Lias, Douglas Anderson, TJ Sclafani, David Tanner, Michael Lee, Yves Ramette, and Alan Beeler.

We had the pleasure of working with Australian composer, Margaret Brandman, in both September and October.  We recorded a wide variety of her music and Margaret was able to join us for sessions in the Czech Republic.  Upon her return to Australia, I had the chance to ask Margaret a few questions about her trip.

AB: You recorded a variety of works with PARMA and the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra in the Czech Republic over the past few months.  What was the general experience like and how did it compare to past recordings you’ve been involved with?

MB: What an exhilarating experience recording with the Moravian Orchestra!  Being present to comment on the interpretation and performance at the time of the recording was a very satisfying and rewarding....a rare treat, as composers do not always get the chance to be on site during performances and recordings.

Margaret Brandman
The orchestra played my music with a great accuracy and depth of feeling, which allowed my music to truly breathe and sing.  Their interpretation not only captured my musical original concept but added another special dimension to the notes I had written, something I have not experienced with other orchestras that have performed my music.

In addition the process seemed quite streamlined as the conductor and all the musicians demonstrated great sensitivity to the musical lines I had written and were able to learn the parts very quickly.

I was impressed with the efficiency of the recording process,  Bob Lord’s producing experience, and the professionalism of all concerned. 

This was the first time I had traveled to the Czech Republic, so it was an interesting travel experience as well.

AB: What were the most enjoyable and challenging aspects of the recording process?  Did anything unexpected come up once you heard a score performed by a live orchestra?

MB: Two of the orchestral works, ‘Undulations’ and ‘Lyric Fantasy’, have been performed on previous occasions, and I have had the privilege of attending some of the performances. However the wonderful Moravian Orchestra under the direction of Petr Vronsky far outdid any of the previous performances, with accuracy of intonation and rhyhmic cohesion, plus their intuitive interpretation of the natural rise and fall of my melodies and phrasing and suitable dynamic range.

AB: Some of your works reference the flora and fauna of your home country, Australia.  What was your inspiration behind some of the pieces we recorded together and can you tell us more about the music that was recorded?

MB: Several of my pieces reference my native Australian landscape, birds and animals to which as I feel very connected. (One of my books of pieces for piano – Contemporary Modal Pieces, has pieces with Australian Animal Titles)
Margaret Brandman with Lucie Kaucká

‘Undulations,' seeks to express the wave movements in the ocean on the eastern seaboard of Australia, near which I was born and am currently living.  (I love to swim in the ocean as we have such wonderful beaches along the Sydney coastline.)

The first movement is a theme and variations based on a poignant adagio theme while the second movement is more animated. It begins with a section of rhythmic hocket and then introduces ostinati with floating melody lines.

Firestorm Symphony is a descriptive work which depicts the atmosphere and my emotions during the summers of 1993-94 and 2001 during which time my family and I fought a fire that had taken hold in our house the forested Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.
In the 2001-2002 fire season, the fires were so intense, the smoke was blown right over Sydney Harbour.

The first movement depicts the searing summer heat on a still day, with the only sound being that of the plaintive sound of the Eastern Spinebill (bird)  followed by sharp gusts of wind carrying dangerous embers which cause widespread outbreaks of fires. As the wind picks up the piercing sound of the cockatoos fleeing the fires is heard, signifying the danger ahead. The dramatic sections in this movement, seek to capture the tension of these times.

The second movement begins with the sound of three bells tolling as heard in the memorial service for the victims of the fires. It depicts the sorrow and reflection of the nation after the devastation of the fires, which, in the 1993-4 fire season, for the first time affected even suburban areas of Sydney where several lives were lost and many people were left homeless.  The nation reels back, stunned by the ferocity of the fires. Yet through the tears there are signs of renewal and a sense that life must go on.

The final movement reflects the renewal of the bush with new green shoots appearing after the fires and the rebuilding of lives affected by the tragedy. To achieve this effect I composed lively cross rhythms and used Quartal harmony lending a feeling of vigour and brightness to the piece.

Binna Burra Dreaming (for violin and piano) - Binna Burra is the aboriginal place name for ‘where the Beech Tree grows’.

Dreaming refers to the Aboriginal Dream-time stories.  Binna Burra is a world-heritage site among the Gondwana Rainforest of Australia, located near the Gold Coast in the Australian state of Queensland.  Local aborigines used the place for shelter and cooking.

Therefore in this work I incorporate effects which suggest the Australian Aboriginal musical instrument the Didjeridoo ( and wind gently flowing through the branches of the trees of the Gondwana forest. As the themes are explored and developed taking the listener through various moods various rhapsodic sections are contrasted with sections employing contemporary rhythms.

The Eastern Spinebill (for violin and piano) is an arrangement of the first movement of Firestorm Symphony for violin and piano, In this work I include sounds of our native birds, the Cockatoos and the Eastern Spinebill which I heard while living in the Blue Mountains. I also incorporate wind effects, and the rhythms of aboriginal clap sticks.

Eastern Spinebill
The other works recorded were purely musical works rather than descriptive works.

AB: You wear many “hats” in the music industry.  What other engagements do you have in addition to composing?

MB: I started out in music at a very young age, playing several instruments including piano and accordion. My family owned and operated a music education and instrument business in Sydney – Brandman Music Studio.

My mother Else Brandman taught accordion and piano and employed many teachers of other instruments.  I grew up surrounded by music of many music genres and exposed to the sounds of many instruments.

I performed at my first concert at age 6 and then at the Brandman Music Studio annual concerts for at least 12 years from then. After completing studies at the music specialist high school in the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney, I attended Sydney University where I majored in composition. Concurrently with the university course, from the age of 18, I began work as a professional pianist performing either solo, or with various ensembles or as accompanist for singers or other instrumentalists.

Therefore by now, I have had experience in many aspects of the music industry. My various musical hats include:

Producer Vit Muzik with Margaret Brandman
Performer - I have had a lot of stage experience and that continues to this day.  In the past two years, I have performed at my ‘Rhapsodies to Rhumbas’ concerts which were two-hour events featuring only my compositions played by a team of 12 musicians, plus concerts in Oxford, England where I performed my own works and just last week, a concert in my local area, accompanying the soloist and the choir, and performing my own compositions.  I am also currently writing two new song cycles for Baritone Martin Cooke (who sings with the Bavarian State Opera).  We intend to perform them together in Sydney in 2016 if all goes to plan.

Composer – Apart from my immediate family, composing is my absolute passion in life.  The creative process is a form of meditation in which I can become totally absorbed. I get the sense that I am channelling the music from the matrix and when playing it back often wonder at how that particular theme or rhythm happened to flow through me onto the page?

Music Educator – I have endeavoured to combine my interests in music education with my composing career.  I have been teaching piano for over 40 years and have devised a unique teaching system and a complete series of music education materials, many of which contain my original compositions for piano and other instruments. I also conduct Professional Development courses for Music teachers.

Published Author - Among the collection of materials I have written are a high school music text book (Accent on Music), a set of ear-training materials (Contemporary Aural Course),  a Piano Method, a Recorder Method and several music theory and harmony texts and workbooks.

Professional Arranger – over the years I have arranged many pieces for various ensembles and voice.   The arranging skills of course come in handy when composing my own original works for voice and piano or orchestral settings.

AB: What else should we know about you?

MB: I am interested in languages other than English.  My family heritage (on both sides) is German, although I was born in Australia.  When I was young German was spoken in the house by my parents and grandparents and I recall my mother singing children’s songs in German with me. Therefore the German language comes quite easily and is handy to have when travelling to Europe.

I enjoyed learning French at school, which means at least I understand French when travelling to Paris, and lately I have been learning Spanish as a hobby, which will come in handy for my trip to Cuba for the next recording session in November.

Apart from composing my daily activities include, yoga, walking, gardening (I love Australian native plants) and swimming in the ocean when the weather is fine. These activities provide a healthy balance considering I spend a lot of time at the piano (either composing or teaching) or arranging music at the computer. I am also a second level Rei-ki channel. Since doing the Rei-ki course back in 1994 many amazing things have fallen into place, through chance meetings and my e.s.p. seems even stronger since doing the course.  Music, like Rei-ki, is vibration and can affect people in very subtle ways, so having both in my life seems a perfect fit.

I read for information and enjoy doing cryptic crossword puzzles for relaxation.  I don’t spend much time watching TV or reading novels as I always have some musical project on the go that requires my attention.

I am now also a dual citizen of both Germany and Australia.  This is a recent development as the German government is now allowing the descendants of people who fled the Nazi regime in Germany, to once again obtain citizenship.  My grandfather, grandmother, father and four of his siblings (my uncle and aunts) all managed to immigrate to Australia in early 1939, just before the war broke out. 

They were sponsored by our state (NSW) commissioner of police at the time, who had visited the family Jewellery Shop in Berlin during the Olympic Games in 1936. Another amazing synchronicity, that actually saved the whole family.  The business was confiscated by the Nazis so when the family came to Australia that had to make a fresh start.

Brandman Family Jewely Shop, Berlin, Germany
Having my new German passport made it extremely easy to travel to Europe for the recent recordings, as I was able to use the European Union smart gate to enter the country. In recent years I have been archiving the family history and as a result I feel more connected to my German roots. In fact I have music already published in Germany by Furore Music, who publish exclusively women composer's works.

Keep an eye out for updates on Margaret's project.  You can learn more about her and listen to her music at

Thursday, October 15, 2015

New PARMA Artist: Joanna Estelle

Please join us in welcoming Canadian composer and new PARMA artist: Joanna Estelle!

Joanna has signed on to release a collection of her solo piano works and various chamber music. This will be Joanna’s first official release, a milestone that coincides with her entrance into the Doctor of Music program at the University of Sheffield.

After graduating from Brock University in 1972 with a Psychology degree, Joanna achieved significant success as a corporate accountant for the House of Commons and Governor General, among other agencies. But from a young age, however, Joanna had an inner longing to create and make music that persisted over time. She began writing “little songs” never thinking anyone would hear them. Twenty years later, Maestro Laurence Ewashko from University of Ottawa discovered her secret life as a composer and arranged several of her pieces for his choir.

In 2009, Joanna went on to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music, and as her reputation grew she had several premiers/performances in London, Barcelona, and Ottawa. In 2011, she wrote “Song for Abwoon” for her Master of Arts Music from York University. This piece explored how humanity’s belief in the existence of a higher power has inspired the writing of sacred music in various forms to affirm this belief and encourage a closer relationship with the spiritual dimension of life.

Since 2011, Joanna has continued to have new works performed across the world and served as Chair of the Association of Canadian Women Composers for three years.

Stay tuned for news on Joanna Estelle’s upcoming release, and be sure to visit her website to learn more about her work:

New PARMA Artist: Jay Kawarsky

PARMA is pleased to welcome composer Jay Kawarsky to our roster of artists. Jay has signed on to record his orchestral work “Episodes” for a future release.

Jay Kawarsky
After completing his Master of Music degree in composition from Northwestern University in 1982, Jay conducted the Opera Company of the Negev Region in Israel. He returned to Chicago in 1983 and completed his doctoral degree in composition at Northwestern. 

Jay founded the Bachelor of Music in Music Theater at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, NJ. He currently teaches undergraduate and graduate music theory, composition, and special topics at Rider. He recently received his sixth Composer Award from the American Society of Composers.

We'll be hitting the studio with Jay in the summer of 2016, but to hear some of his work in the meantime, you can check out a performance of his piece “Al Hanissim" by the USC Thornton Concert Choir below. 

New York City audiences can also catch a performance of his 65-minute orchestral work "Sacred Rights, Sacred Song" at Congregation Ansche Chesed, 251 W 100th St in Manhattan on November 15 at 7 PM. For more information about the performance, click here

Stay tuned for more updates!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

New PARMA Artist: Philip Thompson

Philip Thompson || Photo by Emily O'Donnell
We're pleased to welcome Pittsburgh, PA composer Philip Thompson to the PARMA family! Thompson is a classically trained composer with a fascination for pop culture.  His repertoire includes chamber and orchestral works, opera, film, and electro-acoustic music.

Thompson will be working with PARMA on a multi-disciplinary release of his chamber works performed by Pittsburgh based ensemble, the IonSound Project.  Thompson's chamber works will be accompanied by a video of robotic fabric sculptures created by Garth Zeglin, along with other interdisciplinary works of art.

The recording for the release occurred last month at Audible Images in Pittsburgh and is currently in post-production.  You can learn more about the music and the release on Thompon's Fractured Atlas page:

Thompson at Audible Images || Pittsburgh, PA
Thompson was born in Baltimore and completed his undergraduate studied at Oberlin Conservatory.  He went on to receive his MA and PhD in composition and theory from the University of Pittsburgh.  He has served as adjunct faculty at Seton Hill University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Chatham University. Read more about Thompson at his website and get a glimpse of the upcoming project below.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Composer Arthur Gottschalk wins Gold Medal from Global Music Awards

We are pleased to announce that PARMA composer Arthur Gottschalk and his recent Navona Records release REQUIEM: FOR THE LIVING received a Gold Medal from Global Music Award with the distinction of "Best of Show." 

As stated on their website (, "Global Music Awards is a showcase for original music, unique voices and emerging artists." Gottschalk is certainly a singular voice in contemporary music, with his work described by Gramophone Magazine as "rapturous, argumentative, and prickly." 

Released in September 2015, REQUIEM: FOR THE LIVING is an 8-movement, 45 minute work for full orchestra, chorus, and four soloists, including tenor Alberto Mizrahi and GRAMMY-nominated soprano Lauren Snouffer. Within the momentous masterwork, Gottschalk resigns the fear of uncertainty by celebrating the rich narrative of Western art and culture. Gottschalk is a Professor of Music Composition and Theory at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music. You can find out more about Gottschalk on his website.

Visit the REQUIEM: FOR THE LIVING web application to access study scores, program notes, biographies, a listening guide, an interview with the composer, and more.

REQUIEM: FOR THE LIVING can be purchased through major retailers, including:

New Releases Out Now on Navona and Ravello Records


Celebrate the joy and magic of Christmas with Czech composer Jan Jirásek's debut Navona Records release CZECH AND MORAVIAN CHRISTMAS CAROLS. The composer presents a collection of original carols that highlight the spirit, peaceful contemplation, and mystery of Christmas, performed by the Czech children’s choir JITRO with accompaniments by traditional wind, percussion, and string instruments. For centuries, carols have been traditions in Czech and Moravian communities for Christmas festivities, filling the brisk evening air with melodies of peace, happiness, and good tiding. Reflecting the rich customs of the Czech and Moravian cultures, and displaying both Christian and folk influences, Jirásek offers wholesome and enduring songs that can warm our hearts and minds with the wonder and glory of the Christmas season. Read More


It is often not until the brutal weight of loss and grief bears down upon us that we are forced to ponder the meaning of life and reconsider our own path of existence. Composer Masatora Goya presents his debut Ravello Records release, DREAM OF SAILING, a collection of chamber works inspired by the life and passing of Goya’s father, Masahiro.

As a hard working marine engineer, Masahiro dedicated great lengths of time at sea, often spending months away from his family. The ocean was where Masahiro belonged, a refuge to which he’d find himself repeatedly returning. Within this album Goya expresses a somber tribute to his father while also reflecting on his own life as a composer and man. Read More


The profound events of our lives, including death, birth, trauma, and wonder, often provoke experiences that transcend words, creating moments better suited to the encapsulating depths of silence. Inspired by insights and personal stories, Ravello Records presents the theatrical work for soprano and electronic sound, SHE LOST HER VOICE, THAT’S HOW WE KNEW.

Composed by Frances White, written and directed by Valeria Vasilevski, and performed by vocalist Kristin Norderval, the work is open to the universal issues that are implied by the idea of this loss of voice. Described by WQXR’s Operavore as an “avant-garde diva,” Norderval’s voice provides the fingerprint for the electronic score. The album contains no explicit narrative, rather it offers an interior drama with an emerging persona, which carries many voices: an inner voice, a voice of memory, a singing voice, a silenced voice, and more. This persona is also a listener, hearing the cries of all these different voices. Read More


On their seventh Ravello Records release, PLOT: MUSIC FOR UNSPECIFIED INSTRUMENTATION, the McCormick Percussion Group, directed by Robert McCormick, delivers a diverse collection of works that explore and expand the bounds of the percussion ensemble, featuring the use of improvisation, taped field recordings, and computer-generated graphical scores.

Bones (2000), the opening piece by Stuart Saunders Smith, examines the existence between composed musical thoughts and improvisational interactions. With only the parts and no score, the musicians choose the order of the pages and improvise the musical events presented. Nine and a Half for Henry (and Wilbur and Orville) (1964) and Pacific Sirens (1969) by Robert Erickson can be considered companion pieces, both involving taped sounds – including engines, machinery, and the Pacific surf – and acoustic instrumentation. Read More


On his debut Ravello Records release IMMERSION, ABSORPTION, CONNECTION., composer Edgar Barroso presents a retrospective collection of works that explore his interest with modern science and technologies, social customs, spirituality, and more, using a variety of ensemble combinations and extended techniques for an array of textures and tonal colors.

Commenting on prevailing social activities, Over-Proximity, a work in which the voices compete against each other’s seemingly disconnected phrases, addresses the hyper-connectivity and personal comparisons affected by social networking. The composer examines duration and perspective in works including Sketches of Briefness, Metric Expansion of Space, and Aion, illustrating temporal relationships and the subjectivity of time. Scientific concepts inspire much of Barroso’s music, from the study of variation and change in Morphometrics to Echoic, which features the gamelan’s unique timbre and resonance spectrum. Barroso emphasizes balance, harmony, tranquility, and resolution in works like ACU and Ataraxia, while Noemata and Kuanasi Uatoemphasize discord, struggle, and instability, evoking the hardships faced in his native Mexico. Read More

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


PARMA Artists COULOIR, the Canada-based duo made up of cellist Ariel Barnes and harpist Heidi Krutzen, have signed on to release a follow-up to their 2013 release WINE DARK SEA. This new release will feature the music of Maxwell and Muhly.

Heidi Krutzen's performances have been described as “immaculate” (Seattle Times), “emotional” (The Georgia Straight), and “incisive”, (The Whole Note), while Ariel Barnes has been named a “rising star” by the Georgia Straight, “a surprising standout” by the KW Gazette, and “a musician of real stature” by the Vancouver Sun.

As COULOIR, the duo has been praised for deep chemistry in music-making as heard on the emotional and evocative performances on WINE DARK SEA. Stay tuned for more details on the upcoming release, and in the meantime be sure to check out WINE DARK SEA:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

New PARMA Artists: The New Hampshire Master Chorale

The New Hampshire Master Chorale has signed on to release a new album ofworks composed by Jonathan Santore, under the direction of conductor Dan Perkins. 

Established in 2003, the non-profit choir is a premier ensemble made up of trained singers, auditioned from throughout New England. The ensemble’s mission includes a performance series in New England, collaborative projects with other performing arts organizations, educational outreach, and the commissioning and premiering of works by New Hampshire composers.

Jonathan Santore
Jonathan Santore
Composer Jonathan Santore serves as professor of Music Theory and Composition and chair of the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance at Plymouth State University. In 2010, he was named Individual Artist Fellow by the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.

Dr. Santore is known for settings of texts with strong New Hampshire connections, and was named New Hampshire Composer of the Year in 1999 and 2006. His works have been performed by professional ensembles including Minnesota’s VocalEssence Chorus, the Choir of Rochester Cathedral, England, and Austin’s Conspirare.

Dan Perkins
Music director Dan Perkins is professor of music and director of choral activities at Plymouth State University. He is also director of the Manchester Choral Society and was principal guest conductor of the Vietnam National Opera and Ballet in Hanoi from 2004-2009. Perkins is a co-founder of the award-winning Educational Theatre Collaborative, and pianist for the Trio Veritas.

Dr. Perkins is known for developing programs based in repertoire that is multicultural, and encourages work by contemporary composers such as Santore.

While looking forward to this release, check out some live recordings of The New Hampshire Master Chorale performing works commissioned by Santore over the course of his 12 seasons as composer in residence. 

New PARMA Artist: Barbara Day Turner and the San José Chamber Orchestra

Barbara Day Turner, founder and music director for the San José Chamber Orchestra, will be releasing a 25th Anniversary album for the orchestra. The album will be a celebration of the most iconic performances that they have had in the past two and a half decades.

The San José Chamber Orchestra (SJCO) is a string based ensemble of 19+ players that was founded in 1991 for an opportunity to play chamber orchestra repertoire and explore new music from living composers. Since then, they have received five ASCAP/League of American Orchestras Adventurous Programming Awards and have produced 5 CDs of contemporary music. The SJCO also embraces the responsibility of providing young emerging artists with opportunities to work with established musicians with their Youth Orchestra program, which encompasses five orchestras serving 110 young string players.

The SJCO 25th Anniversary album will include performances of “Tango Barroco,” a suite written by composer Michael Touchi, a “Piano Concerto” by Michael Ching, and “Saints”, a beautiful five movement work by composer Craig Bohmler.

To learn more about the orchestra, and for a schedule of 25th anniversary performances, check out their website at

Monday, October 5, 2015

Nuggets! October 2015 Edition

This past weekend I found myself hunkering down again to catch up on correspondence and prepare for our upcoming European recording sessions next week. As I was stacking up the tunes (cuts from artists as wide-ranging as the Chicago Arts Orchestra, Tom Waits, Alan Beeler, Gentle Giant, St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra, Marty Regan, The Bad Plus, Meira Warshauer, and more) I realized it was time for another jaunt through the catalog and beyond.

So without further ado here's the latest "Nuggets!" Spotify playlist with detailed notes and info below.


Bob Lord
CEO, PARMA Recordings


1) "Sirius" 
Composed by Jan van der Roost
Performed by the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra (Vladimir Lande, conductor)

A spine-chillingly audacious work from a true living master. Check out the last minute of the piece and its transmogrified recapitulation, featuring a cavalcade of sparring between frantic brass and insouciant percussion.


2) "Chat" 
Composed by Christina Rusnak
Big band jazz arranged by David Richards
From CHAT CHILL HIGHLINE (Big Round Records, 2014)

Impeccably constructed and performed. Each track from this album is a winner but this is my favorite. Exceedingly funky drumming from 3:52 to 4:40, reminds me of Garibaldi.


3) "Seans Dancer" 
Traditional, arranged and performed by La Mandragore
From MIDGARD (Big Round Records, 2015)

What a wild album this is, haunting and beautiful at every turn. How has this track not been used in a film or television program yet?  


4) "Naked In Baghdad" 
Composed by Kim Scharnberg
Performed by Allen Savedoff, featuring NPR's Anne Garrels
From STANDING ON CHAIRS (Big Round Records, 2010)

Five years later, this remains one of my favorite releases from our entire catalog. Tighter than a Drell.


5) "Suite for Alto Saxophone and Wind Orchestra: V. Finale" 
Composed by Howard Quilling
Performed by the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra (Jan Kucera, conductor)
From DEDICATION (Navona Records, 2013)

The audio equivalent of eating a tablespoon of freshly grated horseradish and chasing it with a nice fat clove of garlic. This is among the highest compliments I can give.


6) "On Reflection"
Composed by Minnear/Shulman/Shulman
Performed by Gentle Giant
From FREE HAND (Chrysalis, 1975)

This is not studio sorcery. They actually did this live, and in this particular case, did it while looking like each year of the 1970s had separately assaulted every member of the band and come out the victor:


7) "Autumn Sky: Part 1, 'After The Rain': Prelude" 
Composed by Robert Dusek
Performed by Bryan Pezzone
From RUNES (Ravello Records, 2013)

An intense yet restrained piece interpreted by one of new music's finest pianists. Dusek seems to conceive of the whole album as being a single piece, and that's exactly what it sounds like. A damn impressive achievement. Caveat: do not watch "Old Yeller" or read any Shakespeare within 48 hours of listening to this album, it'd just be too much. Might want to avoid any of the Charlie Brown specials too.


8) "Variations and Finale on Mood Indigo: Finale: molto vivace"
Composed by Erik Lotichius
Performed by the St. Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra (Vladimir Lande, conductor)
From MOOD INDIGO (Navona Records, 2013)

Symphonic jazz inspired by the Duke. The story of Lotichius is an incredibly compelling one, and he has never wavered in his vision of a communicative, accessible music.


9) "Tagrango"
Composed by Hayes Biggs
Performed by Amy Briggs
From TANGOS FOR PIANO (Ravello Records, 2010)

Utterly perfect title for this concise tour-de-force. Every cut on this record by Amy Briggs is memorable, with this, the Stravinsky, and the Rzewski being standouts for me.


10) "A La Ahmad"
Composed by Gay Pearson
Performed by the Gay Pearson Quintet
From A SINISTER ENDEAVOR (Big Round Records, 2015)

An atmospheric piece from an atmospheric live album. 


11) "Gone Playin': III: Gone Dancin'"
Composed by Henry Wolking
Performed by the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra (Petr Vronsky, conductor)
With Robert Walzel (clarinet)
From CROSS CONNECTION (Navona Records, 2013)

Wolking's material percolates with a jazz-infused aroma viewed through the prism of the Western classical tradition. It's fun and moving and sounds damn good, who can ask for more?


12) "Quantum Quirks of a Quick Quaint Quark"
Composed by Marga Richter
Performed by the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra (Vladimir Valek, conductor)
From POETIC IMAGES BEYOND POETRY (Ravello Records, 2013)

A super-kinetic work for large orchestra by a true trailblazer.


13) "Al Combate: Andante"
Composed by Ignacio Jerusalem
Performed by the Chicago Arts Orchestra (Javier Mendoza, conductor)
From AL COMBATE (Navona Records, 2013)

The fallacy of the "test of time" argument becomes apparent when one begins to look just a bit below the surface. In the past, circumstances and society and culture (as well as kings and queens and dictators) determined what was remembered, and indeed created, but we live in a new time where artistic memory and expression hopefully won't be so fleeting. Kudos to Mendoza and CAO for bringing this amazing, forgotten, and unforgettable music to light.


14) "The 'Saint Gaudens' In Boston Common (Excerpt 1)"
Composed by Charles Ives
Performed and arranged by Bill Frisell
From HAVE A LITTLE FAITH (Nonesuch/Elektra, 1992)

As close to a perfect album as could possibly exist. Who else has the guts to cover Copland, Ives, Madonna, Dylan, and Foster, and to bring something completely new to each of them? Frisell is a treasure.


15) "The Maids of Cadiz"
Composed by Leo Delibes
Performed by Miles Davis/Gil Evans & His Orchestra
Arranged by Gil Evans
From MILES AHEAD (Columbia Records, 1957)

A true high water mark for 20th century jazz and for all of the participants involved. Is this not the ultimate blend of music? Not a seam or stitch in sight, just pure sound. A magical listening experience and master class in arranging.


16) "Madam Madam"
Traditional, arranged by Robert Turner
Performed by Mel Braun & Laura Loewen
From BY THE RED (Big Round Records, 2015)

Delightfully playful tune from way back. Compelling reading by Braun, and clearly executed with a twinkle in his eye the whole time.


17) "My Soul's Been Anchored In The Lord"
Traditional, arranged by Carol Barnett
Performed by the Dale Warland Singers
From TREASURES FROM THE ARCHIVES (Navona Records, 2014)

Fist-pumpingly good opening cut from Barnett's 2014 collection. Is OK to use 'fist-pumpingly' when discussing the Lord? This is a loaded line of debate, I'll stop now. Regardless, this makes me want to hear Barnett do a radical re-arrangement of the aforementioned "On Reflection" by GG.


18) "Symphony No. 1, 'Living Breath Earth': 1. Call of the Cicadas"
Composed by Meira Warshauer
Performed by the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra (Petr Vronsky, conductor)
From LIVING BREATHING EARTH (Navona Records, 2011)

Warshauer's music is not easily categorized - but what truly new, interesting works of art are? Hers is a language of synthesis and expression, consistently utilizing unconventional orchestration solutions to create sounds both unfamiliar and immediately engaging.  


19) "Sonata for the Piano: III. Presto con fuoco"
Composed by Gheorghe Costinescu
Performed by Stephen Gosling (piano)
From AN EVOLVING CYCLE (Ravello Records, 2013)

Dance music from the Andromeda galaxy. Virtuoso playing and composing - and an interesting counterpoint to the music of Dusek heard earlier on this playlist. 


20) "San Francisco Stopover: There (aggressively unhurried)"
Composed by Mark Winges
Performed by the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble
From NIGHT VOICED (Ravello Records, 2013)

The viola plays a central role in Winges' 2013 release, but his writing gives all the performers plenty of time to shine. This track is a crackerjack, sharp and steely, and painting a vivid image of the city mentioned in its title.


21) "Symphony No. 1: Allegro con fuoco"
Composed by Roy Harris
Performed by the Louisville Symphony Orchestra (Jorge Mester, conductor)
From the FIRST EDITION series (2001)

Harris' 3rd is certainly more widely know than this symphony, but one can hear a great many of the composer's unique charms in this excellent track. 


22) "Please Don't Feed The Bear"
Composed and performed by Edgar Meyer
From EDGAR MEYER (Sony Classical, 2006)

One of the most astonishing bassists to ever walk the earth, a consummate musician through and through. All instruments on this track, and the entirety of this full-length solo release, are played by the composer himself.


23) "Trouble At The Henhouse"
Composed by Joey Spampinato
Performed by NRBQ
From TAPDANCIN' BATS (Rounder Records, 1983)

This band's influence has been huge, far-reaching, and lasting since their debut nearly 50 years ago, yet they continue to fly under the radar of most listeners. The Q's stuff isn't all as oddball as this cut... but a healthy chunk of it sure is. 


24) "Marimba Concerto No. 2, 'Da Chiesa': IV. Allegro vivace"
Composed by Alan Beeler
Performed by the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra (Petr Vronsky, conductor)
With Ladislav Bilan (marimba)
From THE REAL BEELER (Navona Records, 2014)

Not a conventional concerto by any means, Beeler's piece is a pointillist, enigmatic work, contemplative and deep but filled with wit and humor - like the composer himself. 


25) "Evanescent Yearning: I. quarter note = 92"
Composed by Marty Regan
Performed by Tetsuya Nozawa (shamisen) and Sahoko Nozawa (13-string koto)
From FOREST WHISPERS (Navona Records, 2010)

Music for Japanese instruments, and first in a series of albums by the composer on the Navona label. Sterling, sparkling sound and highly engaging performances, with this movement being a particular highlight of the record.


26) "How Time Passes"
Composed by Don Ellis
Performed by Don Ellis, Jaki Byard, Ron Carter, and Charlie Persip
From HOW TIME PASSES (Candid Records, 1961)

Before he established a reputation as a manic, brilliant big band leader hellbent on destroying convention, Ellis led several small combos in recordings for small jazz labels. This composition is representative of his early style, and features the great bassist Ron Carter on cello.


27) "En Tren Va Chango"
Composed by Ricardo Lorenz
Performed by the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra (Raphael Jimenez, conductor)
From DESTINATIONS (Navona Records, 2010)

So many great rhythms, so many great melodies. Bold, brash, and filled with locomotive energy. 


28) "String Quartet No. 2: III"
Composed by Amos Elkana
Performed by the Israel Contemporary String Quartet
From CASINO UMBRO (Ravello Records, 2012)

Tension tension pressure pressure! This is not wine-sipping music, and that's what I love about it. In this movement of Elkana's 2nd quartet, the ensemble acts as a unified entity, with precisely calibrated dynamics.


29) "Concerning Hobbits"
Composed by Howard Shore
Performed by Joe Porter (percussion) and Joel Goodfellow (piano)
From DETOURS (Big Round Records, 2015)

Delightful arrangement of music from "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring." One of my favorite albums front to back that we've released this year.


30) "First Part: Adoration of the Earth: Games of the Two Rival Tribes / Procession of the Sage"
Composed by Igor Stravinsky
Performed and arranged by The Bad Plus
From THE RITE OF SPRING (Sony Music Masterworks, 2014)

The Bad Plus continue to defy any and every convention.  Their version of Stravinsky's "Rite" is a must-listen, as is their excellent cover of "Tom Sawyer" by Rush.


31) "Just Another Sucker On The Vine"
Composed by Tom Waits
From SWORDFISHTROMBONES (Island Records, 1983)

Say goodnight, Gracie...