Album reviews: Maps | JBM | Jazz | Folk | Classical

American big band leader and legendary jazz pianist Duke Ellington (1899 - 1974). Picture: Getty
American big band leader and legendary jazz pianist Duke Ellington (1899 - 1974). Picture: Getty
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The Scotsman’s music critics review the rest of this week’s album releases




Mute, £13.99

Star rating: * * *

Any album whose title you have to look up in the dictionary always starts with a certain sense of enigma. It means an unpleasant change in circumstances apparently, and it certainly captures the mood of this third record from Mercury Prize-nominated musician and producer James Chapman. Echoing the mood of the icons heading this page, but more slowed-down and less intended for a party, songs such as AMA, You Will Find A Way and the title track itself sweep in on symphonic, synthesised orchestras and warm if slightly detached vocals from Chapman – a sound in tune with the current vogue for atmospheric electronic pop. DAVID POLLOCK

Download this: AMA, Vicissitude


Stray Ashes

Fargo, £12.99

Star rating: * * *

Started off alone in a log cabin high in the Catskill mountains, this first album from Québécois singer-songwriter Jesse Marchant is a thing of understated loveliness, a collection of folksy guitar and piano ballads which meld the sparseness of Bon Iver with the rustic qualities of acoustic Neil Young, a very Canadian combination. It’s a pleasant evocation of solitude – either literal or within a crowd – throughout, with occasional high peaks such as the sombre, enveloping Winter Ghosts and the raw-crooned emotional nakedness of On Fire On A Tightrope. DP

Download this: Winter Ghosts, Thames


Various Artists

Unissued On 78s – Jazz & Hot Music 1926-1932

Challenge/Retrieval RTR79072, £11.99

Star rating: * * *

Ah. The second volume of Unissued On 78s isn’t as thrilling or compelling as the first (Jazz & Hot Music 1927-1931; reviewed here last month). You’re not as likely to want to sport your dancing spats or rouge your knees when you hear it – though there are some noteworthy numbers by the likes of Jelly Roll Morton & his Red Hot Peppers, Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra, McKinney’s Cotton Pickers and Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club Orchestra. As with its sibling CD, the 24 tracks featured may have appeared on LPs and CDs, but none was ever issued on a 78, and several have never previously been heard at all. Alison Kerr

Download this: Everybody Loves My Baby, Call Of The Freaks


Jez Hellard and the Djukella Orchestra

Blood And Honey

Djukella JDHCD001, available online only

Star rating: * * * *

Recorded mainly in Macedonia, and at Glastonbury, with a tickle in Canada, this is a remarkable tilt at the stream of wild jeopardy that sits under a “Balkan” label. Literate songs by Woody Guthrie, Nancy Kerr, Leon Rosselson and Rory McLeod are added to a couple of big trad numbers like Bonny Black Hare and Saucy Sailor in this swirling mix of cross-cultural references. Under the vocals, powerful accordion, fiddles, double bass and Mr Hellard’s guitar and harmonica drive the album to its busy conclusion among Boo Hewerdine’s Harvest Gypsies. Norman Chalmers

Download this: Remember The Mountain Bed


Krzysztof Penderecki

Piano Concerto, Flute Concerto

Naxos 8.572696, £6.99

Star rating: * * * * *

For most audiences a piano concerto involves, obviously, a piano and an orchestra – the relationship between the two varying according to the compositional style. With Beethoven that might involve a relatively simple sequence of interchanges and comings together, with first the pianist dominating, then the orchestra, before a jointly expressed conclusion. With Chopin, you might have to wait so long for the piano to enter you could almost excuse the pianist for arriving after the music had started.

Krzysztof Penderecki’s Piano Concerto, subtitled Resurrection from its repeated quasi-liturgical theme, ignores all that: this is music-making in the grand style, with lots of references to Romantic music but also unashamedly modern. The result is a challenging but highly listenable performance.

Alexander Bryce

Download this: Piano Concerto, Adagio