Jimi Hendrix, “People, Hell & Angels” (Legacy/Experience Hendrix). It’s pointless to guess what Jimi Hendrix would have done in the ensuing decades had he not died at the age of 27 in 1970. As brilliant as he already was by that point, it’s likely that Hendrix was just getting started. His curiosity was endless when it came to music, and his desire to break out of the cage stardom had already locked him in was well-documented by the time he passed on. However, “People, Hell & Angels,” the latest posthumous collection from the Experience Hendrix folks, offers a strong suggestion of where Hendrix might have ended up by, say, 1975. It’s a collection of 12 previously unreleased studio creations that are far funkier, groove-oriented, and earthy than the gorgeously trippy psychedelic rock Hendrix made with the Experience. With his friends Billy Cox and Buddy Miles – the sadly underrecorded Band Of Gypsies – Hendrix was reconnecting with the blues, and clearly predicting the work that would soon be done by the likes of Sly & the Family Stone, Parliament Funkadelic, and even Miles Davis. It’s soulful stuff, and a nice addition to the Hendrix oeuvre. Worth it for the blistering live-in-the-studio take on “Hear My Train A Comin’, ” which boasts an epic Hendrix solo. ∆∆∆½ (Jeff Miers)


The E. Normous Trio, “Love and Barbituates” (Little King). What, you might well ask, is an “N/S Stick?” It’s described in the liner notes to this avant-garde post-rock cum jazz trio as “an 8-string multimode instrument that covers the ranges of both a bass and a guitar.” It’s what bassist Jay Sanders switched to after the trio of him and his clarinet partner Steve Alford started having Sunday jams at an Asheville, N.C., club with their drummer partner Michael W. Davis. Sanders’ intention – again, according to the notes – was to cover “what would normally be played separately by both a bassist and a guitar player.” Or, as Alford calls it “one brain covering two voices.” What you’ve got here, then, is in the musical neighborhood of the music of Mostly Other People Do The Killing, i.e. the next in your face step after the music of Bobby Previte and his downtown New York bunch and the hard-charging jazz/post-rock Brooklynites but coming from, yes, North Carolina of all places (don’t scoff. It’s where both John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie came from.) You can’t begin to label this music, even though jazz and rock seem prominent to it. Alford says the disc is “about loss and the feeling of violation that results, more importantly perhaps it’s about the steps we all take to recover from loss.” Anger and frustration are involved, also ritual, melancholy, a whole spectrum. A fascinating puzzle disc. ∆∆∆½ (Jeff Simon)


John Stein, “Bing Bang Boom” (Whaling City Sound). Music by Stanley Turrentine, Charles Mingus, Billy Strayhorn, Rodgers and Hart, Victor Young and Cole Porter performed by a multigenerational quartet of rhythm section plus the leader’s guitar (with young member Jake Sherman on Hammond B-3 organ, acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes piano). Drummer Ze Eduardo Nazario is from Brazil and, according to Bob Blumenthal’s notes, has played with Hermeto Pascoal and Egberto Gismonti. Turrentine’s “Sugar” says Blumenthal, hip-hops rather than shuffles but you can hear New Orleans second-line rhythms in it too. Stein isn’t a great guitarist but he’s a good one who can play traditionally without ever foundering in clichés. ∆∆∆ (J.S.)


Neil Alexander, “Darn That Dream: Solo Piano Vol. 1” (P-Dog). If his first solo piano disc doesn’t establish this pianist from Newburgh, N.Y., as one of the more brilliant jazz pianists around, something is very seriously wrong. Here is a veteran jazz pianist who says “all music is crossover” and is, among other things, capable of playing solo piano versions of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” in concert. Classical technique, then, figures prominently here, but you’re closer to it if you imagine a post-Corea and post-Jarrett jazz pianist with a penchant for meditation and lyrical soliloquy as well as brutal ostinato. All that’s wrong with this disc is that the pianist didn’t have a truly first-rate piano to play. This is a musician who should be recorded playing the kinds of pianos that Emmanuel Ax and Daniel Barenboim play. ∆∆∆½ (J.S.)


American Classics, works of Copland, Ben Weber, Charles Tomlinson Griffes and Samuel Barber performed by pianist Lori Sims (TwoPianists Records). The only possible bit of overstatement in the title of this hugely impressive program by pianist Lori Sims is that you have to wonder if Ben Weber’s Fantasia from 1946 is on the same level as Copland’s 1930 “Piano Variations” (his first major foray into 12-tone composition), Griffes’ “Roman Sketches” Op.7 and Samuel Barber’s E-Flat minor piano sonata Op.26. So apt – and so approachable – is Sims in the most immediately attractive composition here – Griffes’ full Op.7 “Roman Sketches” – that it’s odd she began with the program’s two thorniest pieces by far, by Copland and Weber. There are, for certain, more ecstatic performances of Griffes’ “The White Peacock.” But you can easily understand what she’s doing here. Except for Griffes in contrast, she’s playing music by some of America’s most beloved 20th century composers employing far-from-beloved serialism. It’s a more thoughtful program than a brilliantly played one but it’s fascinating, nevertheless. ∆∆∆ (J.S.)


Reynaldo Hahn, Works for Solo Piano performed by Cristina Ariagno (Concerto, four discs plus DVD). Among the most interesting current literary exhibits in New York City right now has to be the Morgan Library and Museum’s exhibition of Proust’s notebooks and manuscripts commemorating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time,” the great multivolume masterwork often considered one of the towering achievements of 20th century literature. At the same time, there seem to be accompanying books and even discs in considerable number. A volume of Proust’s poetry is to come soon and this exceptional four disc-plus DVD set, presents the superb music of a Venezuelan composer living in Paris who was come down through history as an early lover of Proust’s and the apparent model for his first novel “Jean Santeuil.” Hahn (1874-1947) is one of those composers whose piano music is usually thought of as “salon music” but if this gorgeous four-disc anthology proves anything it’s that he is more aptly placed among those composers whose avoidance of grandiloquence and virtuoso gesture comprises a kind of major esthetic of its own – composers like Satie and Mompou (especially in the latter’s sublime masterwork “Musica Callada”). A richly satisfying collection that seems determined to lead to a revised understanding of its composer. It may do just that. ∆∆∆½ (J.S.)


Son Volt, “Honky Tonk” (Rounder). What bandleader Jay Farrar says is that “honky tonk music is about heartache, heartbreak, the road.” Which is all well and good but this disc doesn’t sound as raunchy, sloppy and virile as what we usually take to be honky tonk music (even when the lead singer is female.) It sounds much more like a modest but pretty good country band from Bakersfield, where they probably take country music more seriously than any other city in California (its most famous musical native son was Buck Owens.) Think of this as music in the Owens mode but without much in the way of humor or Owen’s irresistible extroversion. When Farrar tells us the music is about “heartache, heartbreak and the road” he isn’t kidding. I suspect his forthcoming book from Counterpoint Press “Falling Cars and Junkyard Dogs” will be a more flavorful exploration of his particular “Honky Tonk” vision. ∆∆½ (J.S.)