Cene’s Staff Picks

 Austin Peralta - Endless Planets Austin PeraltaEndless Planets (CD 10056)

The final album from the young jazz pianist – released about a year and a half before his untimely death last fall – is both a melancholy marker of what could have been and a rousing, modern jazz  album, brilliant in parts, and never less than interesting. Peralta wrote all the tunes on the album, and, while he is the leader of the group, his collaborators have lots of opportunity to stretch out, particularly the talented alto player, Zane Musa. It’s not a perfect album, but there aren’t many better jazz albums by 20-year olds in the history of the art.

Morton Subotnick - Silver Apples of the Moon / The Wild Bull

Morton SubotnickSilver Apples of the Moon/The Wild Bull (CD 10011)

My man, Morton. “Silver Apples of the Moon” and “the Wild Bull” are both classics of early(ish) electronic composition. While it’s hard to describe either of them as easy to listen to, both are surprisingly engaging, and reward repeat hearings. The synthesized bloops and rapid-fire tape effects take on a structure that’s not necessarily evident on first listening, and after a few times through, you start looking forward to your favorite parts.

Kashmere Stage Band - Texas Thunder Soul 1968-1974

Kashmere Stage BandTexas Thunder Soul 1968-1974 (CD 10047)

The Kashmere Stage Band was a high school (seriously!) band out of Houston, that happened to put out some of the funkiest large-group recordings of the era. This release has one disc of the official release versions, a disc of alternate takes and live recordings, and a DVD documentary of the band (a nice corollary to the Thunder Soul doc that came out recently), so it’s about as definitive an overview as you’re likely to get. They run through strong covers of contemporary funk hits like James Brown’s “Super Bad,” Dennis Coffey’s “Scorpio,” and Isaac Hayes’ “Theme from Shaft,” but the originals are just as good. It’s an album that will make you regret all the days you wasted in high school not being as superbad as the KSB.

Herbie Hancock - Thrust

Herbie Hancock Thrust (CD 10010)

At the Music Library, we’ve been listening to a lot of those funky mid-70s Herbie Hancock records lately, especially Secrets and Head Hunters. Thrust might be the best of that bunch. The album consists of four extended tracks giving the band a chance to stretch out. Hancock plays an extended array of classic synths and electric pianos, and is accompanied by his longtime collaborator and multi-reedist, Bennie Maupin, and the textbook perfect funk rhythm section of Paul Jackson on bass and Mike Clark on drums. Bill Summers handles percussion, adding a relaxed Latin feel to “Butterfly,” the album’s sole ballad.


Krzysztof Penderecki - St. Luke's Passion

Krzysztof Penderecki St. Luke’s Passion & Threnody (CD 9973)

This double-disc release combines two of Penderecki’s most famous and affecting works – “St. Luke’s Passion” and “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima” – and throws in a few more great pieces such as “Dimensions of Time and Silence,” which sounds exactly like you’d expect from the title. My favorite piece is the expansive, atonal, swirling, spooky Passion. Once heard, it’s not easy to forget.