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Music Reviews - 1-03-07

This week: discs by Anthony Wilson Nonet and Polyphony

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Anthony Wilson Nonet
Power of Nine
Groove Note

If you think of Anthony Wilson only as Diana Krall’s guitarist, think again. He may be a superb accompanist, but his new album proves that he is also an extraordinary composer and arranger. Cuts featuring guitar, like Wilson’s “I And Thou,” are numerous and wonderful, but the real knock-out tracks showcase Wilson’s arrangements of originals like the gorgeous “Hymn” and dynamic “Power Of Nine.” Nonets are little big bands and Wilson does a beautiful job creating voicings for a variety of horns and one unusual instrument. On his Brazilian influenced “Quadras” there are several excellent mandolin solos by Eva Scow. Great solos are plentiful, from Alan Ferber on trombone, Matt Zebley, Matt Otto, and Adam Schroeder on saxes, Gilbert Castellanos on trumpet, and Donald Vega on piano. In a nice role-reversal, Krall makes a guest appearance with a touching rendition of Cheryl Ernst and Jimmy Rowles’ “Looking Back.”

--- Ron Netsky





For months I’ve been driving around entranced, listening to Cloudburst, a stunning CD from British choral group Polyphony. All of the songs on the disc are by 30something American composer Eric Whitacre, who has a way of contracting and expanding chords with carefully crafted dissonance and resolution. Members of Polyphony, directed by Stephen Layton, sing of sleep, love, dreams, passion, and death. “A Boy and a Girl,” based on a poem by Octavio Paz, evokes the sight of two lovers on the grass, first stretched out on top of it, then stretched out beneath it. It’s Iron and Wine’s “Teeth in the Grass,” only spun out on a fine, silken thread of unaccompanied voices and exquisite poetry. It leaves me breathless.

I’m not the only one who thinks Cloudburst is amazing. The 2006 Hyperion CD is up for a Grammy for best choral performance. Listen and see if it doesn’t leave you suspended, too.

--- Brenda Tremblay