In 1958 bandleader and arranger Nelson Riddle took a break from his job as an arranger for star clients like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole to compose an eleven-movement musical travelogue of the United States. The "Cross Country Suite," which has just been reissued, draws on a range of styles, from pop and jazz, to Gershwin-esque classical. It also showcases the solo clarinet of Buddy DeFranco. The album starts out on the West Coast and moves steadily eastward. The track "The Metropolis" is reminiscent of "An American in Paris" with its brassy taxi horn effects. --Brian Wise
Christine Southworth: Zap!
Christine Southworth is a composer and vocalist whose new album is called Zap! It’s an apt title for a work crackling with electricity. Literally. Southworth’s record includes the sounds of a Van Der Graaf generator (by which I mean the early atom smasher, not the 70s prog rock group), as well as two Tesla coils, and most of the new music band known as the Bang On A Can All-Stars. The music is instrumental post-rock, alternately angular and lyrical, and all of the titles, like this one, “Attraction,” deal with electricity. Oh, and it was recorded at the Boston Museum of Science Theater of Electricity.
The Hilliard Ensemble - Audivi Vocem – I Heard A Voice from Heaven
Our final pick is from another world altogether, both sonically and metaphorically. Audivi Vocem – I Heard A Voice from Heaven – is first line of a hymn by the 16th century English composer Thomas Tallis. It’s also the title of the latest album by England’s acclaimed vocal group, The Hilliard Ensemble. Writing sacred music in 16th century England could be a dangerous affair as the court swung from Protestant to Catholic with each change of monarch., It’s amazing that any of this music was written in the first place, and even more amazing that it sounds so serene. --John Schaefer