Cene’s end-of-summer staff picks

As we begin the long slide from the bright optimism of summer towards the brutal gloom of winter, here are some CDs to extend that summer feeling as long as possible, or to bring on an early onset of winter. Pick your poison.

André Toussaint - Bahamian Ballads

André Toussaint – Bahamian Ballads (CD 3106 or streaming from Naxos Music Library)

Haitian singer and guitarist, André Toussaint, performed in the Bahamas for most of his career, singing for tourists in French, Haitian, English, Italian, and Spanish. This CD features his laid-back, light and breezy calypso, just perfect for laying around in the sun, not doing whatever it is that you’re supposed to be doing. If there was a genre called ‘hammock music’ this disc would be a shining example.

Lightning Hopkins - Texas BluesLightning Hopkins – Texas Blues (CD 9756 of streaming from American Song)

Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers - Natural Boogie

Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers – Natural Boogie (CD 6820)

As far as I know, they have not yet outlawed cookouts after Labor Day, so there’s still time to break out the coals, throw on some weenies, grab an orange Crush and relax with some friends and some of the rawest, roughest, good-time blues ever set down on tape.

Southern Journey Vol. 9: Harp of a Thousand StringsSouthern Journey Vo. 9: Harp of a Thousand Strings – All Day Singing from the Sacred Harp (CD 1909)

There’s something about these shape note singing field recordings (made by Alan Lomax during a trip to the 1959 United Sacred Harp Musical Convention in Flyffe, Alabama) that always seems autumnal to me. It’s easy to imagine these Southern congregations gathered outside as the leaves turn, singing all dang day. And if you want to check out a shape note hymnal, we have those too.

Eduard Tubin - Requiem for Fallen SoldiersEduard Tubin – Requiem for Fallen Soldiers / Symphony No. 10 (CD 4869)

It doesn’t get much wintrier than this requiem by Eduard Tubin of icy Estonia. I think you’re actually required to put on a heavy, ankle-length winter coat before the disc will even play. This is the premiere recording of the piece, which was begun in 1950, and not completed until nineteen years later. You can hear from the first movement below that the instrumentation is spare – a choir accompanied only by an organ and tympani – the mood is funerary, and the effect is intense. Perfect for those frozen nights when your blinds are drawn, snow mutes any sounds of life outdoors, and you feel like you may be the only person left in the world.