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Shameless Promotion of Local Artists: Bay Area Recordings in 2016

December 19, 2016

Welcome to the SFCV 2016 year-end roundup of 50 recordings released this year by local artists. Our list isn’t limited to classical music: We’ve embraced everything from baroque music to solo guitar improvisations to hard-core bluegrass to jazz to straight-up pop. Nor can we claim that our roster is comprehensive — there’s far too much great music being made in the Bay Area for us to include everything — but we've provided a solid sample of the area's musical wealth. 

We offer this listing with no editorializing or reviews: Blurbs are drawn primarily from artist and label promotional materials. Album titles are linked to sites with more information and purchasing options. We hope you find something new and interesting as you peruse the listing. Take a chance and enjoy the diversity of sounds available here. There is so much great music here that we aren't able to hear or review over the year, and this is one way for us to catch up. Visit us on Facebook to add your comments and suggestions, and please share this with your musical friends.


American Bach Soloists/
American Bach Choir, Jeffrey Thomas conductor

G. F. Handel: Messiah

Available in both Blue-Ray and DVD formats, the film captures a scintillating December 2014 performance of the 1753 Foundling Hospital Version of Handel’s masterpiece by American Bach Soloists under the direction of Music Director Jeffrey Thomas. Handel’s Messiah in Grace Cathedral also presents the beautiful artwork and majestic interior and exterior architecture of San Francisco’s singular landmark, Grace Cathedral. Vocal soloists Mary Wilson (soprano), Eric Jurenas (countertenor), Kyle Stegall (tenor), and Jesse Blumberg (baritone) sing Handel’s great arias and ensembles, and are joined by ABS musician John Thiessen on trumpet. Voted “Best of the Bay” for Early Music Performance 2014–2015 by the readers of San Francisco Classical Voice, this memorable performance of Handel’s Messiah, which played to a sold out crowd last year, will now be available worldwide through this film.


A/B Duo

Variety Show

The bicoastal A/B Duo is features the unusual lineup of percussionist Christopher G. Jones from Rochester, New York, and flutist Meerenai Shim from the San Francisco Bay Area. Their eclectic mix of flute and percussion instruments makes this a true “Variety Show” of an album. Math rock, pop remixes, avant-garde, and everything in between can be found in this American duo’s first full-length album.


Hannah Addario Berry 

Scordatura

One hundred years ago, Zoltán Kodály composed his Sonata for Solo Cello in a deliberately altered tuning or “scordatura,” is one of the most significant works written for the instrument since the Bach Suites. In celebration of this centenary, cellist Hannah Addario-Berry has created a program that showcases the 1915 Sonata with companion works created by the dynamic young composers Lisa Renée Coons, Brent Miller, Eric KM Clark, Alisa Rose, Jerry Liu, and Gloria Justen.


Fletcher Bright and Bill Evans

Songs That Are Mostly Older Than Us

The Bay Area’s Bill Evans is an internationally recognized five-string banjo life force. As a performer, teacher, writer and composer, he brings a deep knowledge, intense virtuosity and contagious passion to all things banjo. For this second recording with old-time fiddler Fletcher Bright they add Norman and Nancy Blake on guitar and cello for ten of this project's sixteen tunes. Recorded live in Fletcher's living room atop Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, selections include both well-known and more obscure traditional tunes along with more recent compositions. Laure Lewis describes this music as “... straightforward, unvarnished, polished with years of attention to the twists and turns of the individual melodies, allowing the particularities of each tune to shine through like the grain on a well-used old wooden rocking chair.”


Black Cedar

The Path Less Trod

On their debut album, Black Cedar compiles contemporary and folk music. The disc includes Durwynne Hsieh’s Miscellaneous Music, commissioned by Black Cedar in 2015: The first – Möbius Movement – is named after the famous Möbius strip, a geometric construct that has only one surface. Five Fun Facts is a collage that incorporates disparate elements for the sole purpose of having a good time, including a turkey taking a ride down the front of the cello. Is there a deeper meaning here? “Nah, just want to have fun,” says Durwynne. “We need more wit like this in the chamber music repertoire,” writes the San Francisco Examiner.


Cave Clove

Cave Clove

Oakland-based indie rockers Cave Clove is fronted by singer-songwriter/guitarist Katie Colver with bandmates Kendra Kilkuskie (drums, vocals), Brent Curriden (guitars), Alisa Saario (bass, vocals), with guest artists Emily Manzo (keyboards), and Celia Harris (violin). A wash of soul and tight orchestration create the Cave Clove mood — a rock sound with smoky vocals, lurid harmonies and atmospheric rhythms. With overtones of pop and R&B, Cave Clove takes niche genres and integrates them into the band’s signature sultry tension, with big sound closing in around torch melodies.


Deborah Crooks

Beauty Everywhere

The East Bay Express says singer-songwriter Deborah Crooks offers “...a more diverse take on Americana with a distinctly female tone, and quite charming.” The songwriting on Beauty Everywhere leans toward the personal, with songs covering the middle of a relationship (“Jumped in Anyway”), the end of a love relationship (“Record of a Day”), and moving into a new home (“Make this House”). Topics also explored are the impact of these uncertain times upon others (“Shattered”), about the lengths someone will go to put the pieces back together after their world falls apart, as well as the familial consequences faced by veterans of war (“Overseas and Faraway”). Accompanying Deborah Crooks is musical partner Kwame Copeland (acoustic guitar, backing vocals), and longtime collaborators Mike Stevens (drums), Ben Bernstein (bass), and Khu (piano, organ, acoustic and electric guitars). 


The Beth Custer Ensemble

For the Grace of Any Man

The Beth Custer Ensemble’s long awaited third CD is a collection of original songs and instrumentals with some crackling arrangements of a few cover songs, all penned by Custer and guitarist David James. The CD sparkles with choral singing and clarinet, guitar and trumpet solos abound. Some great guest musicians round out the work. 


Cypress String Quartet

Beethoven: The Early Quartets

This release completes the Cypress Quartet’s cycle of the genre’s greatest oeuvre with a two-album set of Beethoven’s six ground-breaking quartets, Op. 18. For the past several seasons, the Cypresses have immersed themselves in performing Beethoven on tours as well as recording all 16 works plus the “Grande Fugue” (Große Fuge). The completion of their Beethoven cycle is a fitting celebration of the Bay Area-based ensemble’s 20th anniversary as well as their valedictory season: their final performance took place in June 2016.


Lisa Delan

Out of the Shadows: Rediscovered American Art Songs

This recording explore a century’s worth of treasures from the shadows of both memory and history. The discovery of these songs began years ago, when soprano Lisa Delan was a student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Mined from extensive research, the gems on this CD are priceless additions to the art song genre. They form a compelling body of literature that, until now, has been underrepresented or completely unrepresented on recordings. These songs honor the universality of the human experience — love, loss, faith, joy, sadness, nostalgia — in uniquely American settings. It’s all here, in 31 songs by ten composers including Paul Nordoff, Paul Bowles, Stephen Paulus, David Garner, Gordon Getty, Jack Perla, and others. The tonal palette of each of these composers reveals a singular style, in hues rich, varied and distinctively American.


Lara Downes

America Again

Downes’ solo piano release is in many ways the coming-of-age memoir of an artist who has found her own way and carved her own path through American music. Lara takes inspiration from the musicians that inspire her — from Leonard Bernstein to Nina Simone — to express the diversity of American history and American dreams. Tracks range from the traditional "Shenandoah" to Gershwin's "I Love You Porgie" and beyond.


David Gans

Chocolate Coffee Pot

David Gans is well known in the Bay Area and around the globe as a music journalist, Grateful Dead scholar, book author, radio host, and as a fine musician and songwriter with many recordings on his resume. His latest release is an all-improvised studio project featuring Robin Sylvester (Ratdog) on bass; Jordan Feinstein on keyboards; Jeff Hobbs on sax, fiddle, and percussion; Neil Hampton on drums; and Jim Brighton and David Gans on guitars. It's very much in the mold of the best of the Grateful Dead jam interludes. Steve Silberman writes, “Fans of open-ended, telepathic, ‘conversational’ jamming will enjoy this latest project by David Gans and friends, all folks who are steeped in the idiom. I especially love the long track ‘Three Food Groups’ here, which brings to mind the classic opus of the jamming genre, ‘Dark Star.’”


Joan Jeanrenaud

Visual Music

A follow up album to her Grammy-nominated Strange Toys, Joan Jeanrenaud's new release comprises visually inspired compositions for cello and more cello featuring Jeanrenaud with guest artists PC Muñoz, William Winant, and Dohee Lee. Jeanrenaud was the cellist of Kronos Quartet for 20 years. With Kronos her work included more than 30 recordings and over 2,000 performances that took her to virtually every major concert hall worldwide. During those years the group became, in the words of The New York Times critic John Rockwell, “the world's best known, most innovative contemporary-music quartet.”


Joan Jeanrenaud and Charlie Varon

Second Time Around

Second Time Around is the next in Charlie Varon’s cycle of fictional tales about smart old people. Ben Rosenau is being videotaped for a high school history project. What to tell the kid? Some old war stories about flying missions against the Nazis? Offer advice about what it is to be a man? The Greatest Generation meets the iPhone generation. Jeanrenaud, Varon, and their collaborator/director, David Ford, spent eight months creating the project, and they’ve adapted Charlie’s story into a fully-scored duet for cello and storyteller.Jeanrenaud’s score grows out of her experience on the forefront of contemporary classical music, drawing a full range of expressive possibilities from her instrument. Joan Jeanrenaud is known around the world for her 20 years as cellist of the Kronos Quartet. Charlie Varon is creator of the hit shows Rush Limbaugh in Night School, People’s Violin, and Feisty Old Jew


Catherine John

¡Fandango Bragh!

Catherine John, a native of Marin County, is a fiddler and vocalist versed in the musical traditions of Ireland and Mexico. Her love of Irish music was born in Marin, and she took it to the southwest of France and eventually to Mexico, where she led Irish traditional music sessions in the community. While concurrently learning Mexican traditional music, Catherine discovered a natural fusion between the two musical traditions, where the Irish seisiœn blended perfectly with the Mexican fandango. Catherine then brought this Irish-Mexican musical crossover to Ireland, where she became a founding member of Mariachi San Patricio. Catherine performs locally with Mariachi Femenil Orgullo Mexicano.


Henry Kaiser

Nazca Lines

Henry Kaiser is nothing if not prolific. By our count, he's released eight albums in the last two years alone. This album consists of 22 freely improvised solos on 18 different acoustic guitars. In contrast to his long-form electric-guitar improvisations, this latest release explores the short solo guitar format where the beginning, middle, and end of the musical stories can be grasped in one listen. The improvisations are concise, otherworldly, and surprisingly electric-sounding for being played on acoustic guitars.


Henry Kaiser

You Can't Get There From Here

Featuring Henry Kaiser on guitar, Michael Manring on bass, Danielle DeGruttola on cello, Wu Na on guqin, Aanatha R. Krishnan on mridangam & kanjira and Gautam Tejas Ganeshan on voice. The ensemble collaborates on a truly unlikely mixture of ancient Chinese music, western electric jazz fusion, Carnatic Classical music of South India, and free improvisation.All six players are individualistic virtuosos, who are true innovators. Together they become something much greater than the sum of their parts, with a goal of musically transporting themselves and the listeners to a place that could never be imagined, only discovered.


Bill Kirchen and Austin de Lone

Transatlanticana

Transatlanticana unites the pioneers of two major musical movements; Kirchen co-founded the original “Americana” band Commander Cody & The Lost Planet Airmen. Marin County’s De Lone formed Eggs Over Easy, the band that became progenitors of British Pub Rock, the first link in the chain to punk rock, new wave and beyond. Bill and Austin have been writing together since the 1970s, and this finds them trading songwriting credits and lead vocals on a collection of tunes from throughout their careers. Spirited and served up with wit and humor, the recording is driven by Kirchen’s scorching guitar licks and de Lone’s keyboard mastery and supported by hot players from both side of the Atlantic — a group of like-minded, top-of-their-game players enjoying each other’s musical company.


Kronos Quartet

Green Ground

This album presents the world premiere recording of a unique new set of pieces by Danish composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, written and dedicated to his Grammy-winning playmates in the Kronos Quartet and Theatre of Voices with conductor Paul Hillier. Using a text from Henry VIII’s Songbook and taking musical inspiration from the old “ground” technique and from a certain famous Baroque canon, Green Ground offers a kaleidoscopic trip through the enchanting world of PGH, offering independent layers of playful sounds for strings and voices and then merging them together to the accompaniment of wooden percussion instruments.


Kronos Quartet

The Sea Ranch Songs

Commissioned for Kronos by the community of The Sea Ranch in celebration of the famed California seaside retreat’s 50th birthday, composer Aleksandra Vrebalov’s The Sea Ranch Songs connects with the spirit, nature, and architecture of this magical place — a grand experiment in environmental stewardship, land development and intentional community planning. This sumptuous multimedia work is paired with a dreamlike cinematic exploration on bonus DVD by videographer Andrew Lyndon. 


Evie Ladin

Jump the Fire

Oakland old-time banjo player, singer, percussive dancer, and songwriter Evie Ladin describes the evolution of her newest collection of original material: “A year ago I sequestered myself in a damp, dark cabin in the woods with no phone, no internet, only a woodstove and my instruments for company, and I wrote. Wrote and wrote and woodshed, and emerged with the bones of our third release. While I bring the songs, Keith and Erik contribute mightily to the arrangements. The feel of the music, the conversation of our instruments and voices, is the original sound of the three of us. This record is a true reckoning of our ongoing collaboration.”


Julian Lage

Arclight

After releasing two albums in late 2014 — the acoustic Avalon with Chris Eldridge and Room with Nels Cline — Julian Lage returns a year and a half later with what is officially branded a solo LP, Arclight. He’s joined by bassist Scott Colley and drummer Kenny Wollesen, both of whom would subsequently tour with the guitarist as the Julian Lage Trio. For a recording first, Lage exclusively plays the electric guitar on the set, which includes seven originals and four covers. Highlights from the originals include the atmospheric “Stop Go Start,” which is most concerned with timbre, and “Prospero,” an elegant rocker. Among the cover highlights is an inspired take on the Sammy Fain classic “I’ll Be Seeing You.” 


Phil Lawrence

Mandolin Heaven

This brand-new disc contains 14 original acoustic, instrumental tunes by Phil Lawrence, and one standard. The musical style has elements of Gypsy and Latin jazz. Lawrence's main influences have been mandolinist David Grisman and the legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt. The CD is titled Mandolin Heaven because Phil is in the company of so many great musicians, including Grisman and violinist David LaFlamme of It's A Beautiful Day, the Sixties San Francisco band famous for the hit song "White Bird. The tracks alternate between energetic tempos and slow dramatic ballads. There are a few lively jazz waltzes, some straight ahead swing tunes, a couple of tunes that hearken to oldtime rags, a blues, and even a Middle Eastern style meditative improvisation to close the CD. 


Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands

The Hazel and Alice Sessions

Berkeley’s Laurie Lewis is one of the reigning stars of bluegrass and acoustic country music. She and her crackerjack band, the Right Hands — mandolinist Tom Rozum, fiddlers Natania Hargreaves and Chad Manning, banjo wiz Patrick Sauber, and Dobro player Mike Witcher —  celebrate two of the greatest voices in traditional mountain music, Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard on this release, which was honored with a Grammy nomination for Best Bluegrass Album of 2016. 


The Living Earth Show

Dance Music

The Living Earth Show — electric guitarist Travis Andrews and percussionist Andy Meyerson — commissions, curates, organizes, and promotes composers to help them realize their most ambitious creative visions. On Dance Music, the duo brings to life works inspired by dance by Christopher Cerrone, Jacob Cooper, Nicole Lizée, Jonathan Pfeffer, and Anna Meredith. As the title points out, Dance Music is steeped in the duo’s deep-seated roots in dance, and their dedication to creating musical experiences that engage both their collaborators and their audience.


Be'eri Moalem

Exile

Violist, violinist, composer, and occasional SFCV author Be'eri Moalem is originally from Jerusalem and now lives in Palo Alto. Performing in a wide variety of styles including classical, Klezmer, Middle Eastern, and improvisation in contemporary idioms. This release features 13 original compositions mingling those diverse styles performed on the viola and violin with electronic accompaniment. He describes "Perpetual Motion" as "Part Bach prelude, part Philip Glass minimalist loop, an unyielding stream of 16ths in the electronics sets a glittering backdrop for a searching violin melody. The music screeches to a halt as the harmonies and rhythms overlap and clash."


Musica Pacifica

Mi Palpita il Cor: Baroque Passions

Musica Pacifica’s latest release offers a compelling journey into the rich corners of the mid- and late-Baroque period. Featuring an array of thrilling instrumental and vocal compositions, the album is driven by the performances of French-Canadian soprano Dominique Labelle and American early music ensemble Musica Pacifica, founded in 1990, based in San Francisco, and whose playing has been called “a small miracle of precision and musical electricity” by the The Washington Post.


Scott Nygaard, John Reischman, and Sharon Gilchrist

The Harmonic Tone Revealers

This acoustic power trio (guitar, mandolins, and bass) blends traditional bluegrass and folk styles with their own visions of contemporary string band music, reshaping old melodies and composing new music based on traditional forms with an improvisatory flair and melodic richness. Nygaard, Reischman, and Gilchrist are justifiably famous for their lush tone, killer timing, and impeccable arrangements, as this disc amply demonstrates. It's a particular treat for mandolin enthusiasts.


Pacific Boychoir Academy

Soloists 2004–2014

This is Grammy-winning Pacific Boychoir Academy’s eighth independent album, a compilation of solos from 2004–2014. Five treble soloists sing fifteen tracks of music by Mozart, Bach, Schubert, Fauré, Barber, and Ellington. The project includes several distinguished Bay Area instrumentalist, including pianist Miles Graber, harpist Anna Maria Mendieta, and The Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra. The majority of solos are performed by distinguished alumni of the choir school, George Goodhead and Ian Pitman. 


Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale,
Nicholas McGegan, Conductor

Alessandro Scarlatti: La Gloria di Primavera

Experience the first-ever recording of the newly discovered 300-year-old work by Italy’s operatic master Alessandro Scarlatti. Recorded live at the U.S. premiere in October 2015, Waverley Fund Music Director Nicholas McGegan leads the orchestra and an international cast of singers in what the San Francisco Chronicle calls a “feast of vocal invention.”


Ragazzi Boys Chorus

I Dream a World 

Recorded at Skywalker Sound in 2016, this collection is inspired by Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes’s “I Dream a World.” Like the poem’s yearning for unity and generosity, these music selections explore people’s relationships with each other, with their world, and with the divine. Highlights include J.S. Bach’s Domine Deus, and three movements from John Rutter’s gorgeous arrangement of Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem. America’s civil rights legacy is honored in Glory, from the film Selma. These and more are a feast for the ears, in Ragazzi’s first studio recording in ten years!


Real Vocal String Quartet

Slacker Ridge

String quartet, string band, vocal quartet, jaw-dropping improvising world-music collective….pick a box and Real Vocal String Quartet will think outside it, with style. RVSQ plays original songs and unique arrangements that pay tribute to music from Appalachia to Kenya to Brazil, with sparkling improvisation that impresses and moves. Strings magazine publisher David Lusterman writes about them, “The playing and singing is gorgeous, the flow of the recording is like a river, and even when the mood is dark, they’re absorbed and having fun. And they want you to have fun, too.” Their new CD, Slacker Ridge, features traditional and original pieces in an Americana vein.


Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau

Nearness

Saxophonist Joshua Redman and pianist Brad Mehldau recently released Nearness, the longtime friends and collaborators’ first duo album. It features a selection of duets recorded live during their recent European tour, including “Ornithology,” “Always August,” “The Nearness of You,” and other tracks. The recording has been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. BBC Music Magazine writes, “The pair are so well matched ... Both are extraordinary, scintillating improvisers bursting with energy, yet they have great ears for one another.”


Deborah Robins

Lone Journey

Berkeley folk mainstay Deborah Robins is a singer of old American songs. Sshe was strongly influenced in the folk song idiom by performers like Raphael Boguslav, Bob Gibson, Carl Sandburg, Richard Dyer-Bennet, Fred Holstein, Utah Phillips, Jean Ritchie, Oscar Brand, Ed McCurdy, Burl Ives, and Larry Hanks. She likes old, quirky songs, and takes pride in presenting them in an unadorned manner where the words and melody can take center stage. She has also recorded three albums with the beloved American Songster: Larry Hanks. Lone Journey is markedly “old school”: recorded simply, unedited, reminiscent of front porch and kitchen table singing — off the cuff, and from the heart.


Kevin Russell

Country Swing

The Bay Area has had a long-running love affair with western-swing music, and Sonoma multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Kevin Russell is keeping the tradition going. His newest collection all-acoustic, modern interpretations of 10 classics of the genre, including “Sweet Temptation,” “Pennies From Heaven,” “Route 66,” and “Milk Cow Blues.” This is Russell’s sixth CD. He performs regularly in the country rock/Americana band, The Rhythm Rangers, and as leader of the acoustic bluegrass-oriented Kevin Russell and His So-Called Friends. 


Joe Rut

Stolen Tools & Stereos

Oakland songwriter Joe Rut’s quirky sense of humor underpins a heartfelt, richly lyrical and subtly hallucinatory Americana/alt-country tapestry. Special guests including mandolin great David Grisman, pedal steel master Bobby Black, and drummer Scott Amendola augment Joe’s band as he drunk dials his friends at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, sings an abandoned black-velvet Elvis painting back home to Tupelo, pictures all his earthly belongings for sale at a flea market after his death, and ponders the tragic mating rituals of porcupines.


San José Chamber Orchestra

25th Anniversary

Celebrating their 25th-anniversary concert season in 2016, the San José Chamber Orchestra conducted by Maestra Barbara Day Turner, presents a commemorative collection of contemporary works on Navona Records, showcasing the ensemble’s commitment to new music as well as their stylistic versatility. Highlights include Michael Ching’s Piano Concerto, Craig Bohmler and Marion Adler’s Saints, and Michael Touchi’s Tango Barroco. Impassioned and poised, the San José Chamber Orchestra and Day Turner demonstrate the eclectic programming an audience member can experience at one of their concerts with these commanding and captivating performances


San Francisco Ballet Orchestra

C.F. Kip Winger: Conversations with Nijinsky 

A four-movement musical tribute to the artistry and life of Nijinsky is the centerpiece of Kip Winger’s debut album as a classical composer. Winger’s world-premiere recording declares loudly and clearly that, while he may be the front man of the rock band Winger, he is a force to be reckoned with as a classical composer. The album also includes a recording of Winger’s ballet, Ghosts. and A Parting Grace, a chamber piece which Winger sees as yet another link to ballet. Winger says he “sees” all of his music as dance, subscribing to George Balanchine’s idea that we should “see the music, hear the Dance.” Winger’s debut album enables the listener to do just that.


San Francisco Ballet Orchestra

Moszkowski: From Foreign Lands

Moritz Moszkowski (1854 – 1925) is most known for his scintillating piano compositions. His other work — an opera, a full-length ballet, three orchestral suites, a symphony, songs, concertos, and chamber music — remain neglected or forgotten. After identifying and locating numerous scores, San Francisco Ballet Orchestra music director and principal conductor, Martin West’s project of rediscovering the music of Moritz Moszkowski became a reality. This delightful program is the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra’s fourth release with Reference Recordings and 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the SF Ballet Orchestra.


Maurice Tani

The White Water

San Francisco’s Maurice Tani has been a fixture on the local alt-country scene for more than a decade with his band 77 El Deora. He has been described as a “‘rye-to-romantic, supercalifornigraphic’ singer-songwriter specializing in a cinema-for-the-blind style.” His latest is a stripped-down affair with bass, drums, guitar, keyboard, and Tani’s plaintive vocals on a selection of smart, dark originals.


T Sisters

T Sisters

The T Sisters, born and raised in California and now based in the creative hub of Oakland, embody harmony. It’s in their blood, bones, and history. Erika, Rachel and Chloe have been singing and writing music together since childhood, and the lifetime of practice shows. The three sisters’ inventive songwriting is supported by their own acoustic instrumentation as well as upright bass (Steve Height), mandolin/guitar (Andrew Allen Fahlander), and drums (Marlon Aldana). Their sound represents a continuum of music, from traditional to pop influences, moments of breathtaking a cappella to swells of energetic indie Americana.


Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra

Mason Bates: Works for Orchestra

This exhilarating album of Mason Bates’ large-scale works for orchestra and electronica features his colossal Liquid Interface, the SFS-commissioned The B-Sides, and Bates’s supercharged work, Alternative Energy. One of the most creative and ingenious synthesists of our time, Bates reimagines the dimensions of symphonic music by integrating jazz, techno, drum-n-bass, field recordings of a FermiLab particle collider—and more.


Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra

Debussy: Images, Jeux, La plus que lente

This album brings the vivid landscapes of Images, impassioned playfulness of Jeux, and the sensuality of La plus que lente together in a collection that exquisitely illustrates the French composer’s mastery with orchestration.


Eric, Suzy, and Allegra Thompson

Thompsonia

This is the long-awaited collaboration between Berkeley’s roots-music royalty Eric and Suzy Thompson and their 27-year-old daughter Allegra. A departure from Eric and Suzy’s previous albums (dozens recorded over the past 40-plus years), Thompsonia ricochets between the rowdy and the sentimental, with originals from all three Thompsons alongside obscurities in styles ranging from rockabilly to hokum to Americana. Standouts include Suzy’s acoustic rock anthem “Very Bad Mood” (guaranteed to have just the opposite effect on the listener), the bawdy 1920’s “He May Be Your Dog but He’s Wearing My Collar”, and a lovely rendition of Hugh Moffatt’s “Rose of My Heart.” The genetically matched duet vocals of Suzy and Allegra (which Geoff Muldaur has dubbed the “Everly Sisters sound) are featured, with stellar lead playing from Eric on mandolin and guitar. Guests include Bill Kirchen, Cindy Cashdollar, Paul, and Jody Stecher.


Trio 180

Trio 180

Trio 180, the faculty piano trio-in-residence at the University of the Pacific’s Conservatory of Music, is dedicated to its roles as performer, proponent of new music, and educator. In addition to giving concerts and master classes throughout the United States, the trio has been featured on concert series in Mexico and Canada. Strings magazine wrote about their new recording, “All three seem to sensitively negotiate the vital contrasts between moments of uplifting happiness and somber, contemplative, lamenting passages central to the dumky form. They play with admirable cohesion ... the trio’s pleasing musicality and deft, splendid playing is overall transporting. As the ensemble’s name may imply, it’s worth turning back for another listen.”


True Life Trio and Gari Hegedus

Like Never & Like Always 

This album is the culmination of a live performance and recording project that was originally commissioned by the East Bay Fund For Artists. True Life Trio together with multi-instrumentalist Gari Hegedus have woven a tapestry of Eastern European folk songs, original compositions, and poetry that reflects the memories of human experience over the span of a lifetime. True Life Trio performs riveting vocal harmonies from Eastern Europe, the Americas and beyond. This innovative trio explores the creative possibilities of cross-fertilization of different traditions with unlikely timbres. Gari Hegedus plays violin, viola and a variety of stringed instruments from Greece and Turkey including laouto, oud, saz, and hand drums. 


Turtle Island Quartet

Confetti Man

The Turtle Island Quartet, known for their innovative recordings, again raises the bar with a project ranging in style from jazz, classical, bluegrass to Indian music. The title piece by group founder David Balakrishnan, has been nominated for a 2016 Grammy for Instrumental Composition.


Wake the Dead

Deal

Wake the Dead is a gleeful amalgam of traditional acoustic roots music from Ireland, Appalachia, Quebec, and beyond with the Grateful Dead’s songbook. Jigs and reels meld seamlessly with Dead favorites sung in three-part harmony and played on Irish pipes, Celtic harp, fiddles, mandolins, bass, and percussion. Deal is the band's fourth CD, and it finds them exploring new/old material from the Summer of Love. Mandolinist Paul Kotapish is managing editor at SFCV.


Young Women's Chorus of San Francisco

Rejoice!

Rejoice! is the debut album of an exciting new ensemble, the Young Women’s Chorus of San Francisco. The selections are both old and new, known and unknown, all spiritual, but not all sacred. Works by two Bay Area composers are featured, David Conte’s delightful setting of “Pat-a-Pan” dedicated to us, and two hauntingly beautiful pieces, Ave Maris Stella and Qui Creavit Caelum written especially for the Young Women’s Chorus by Frank La Rocca. Other highlights include music by an outstanding Romanian-Hungarian composer, Levente Gyöngyösi, Eric Barnum’s Spark! (To Music), Hildegard von Bingen’s Karitas habundat, and an anonymous Jewish woman’s lullaby,“Durme, Durme.” 


Denny Zeitlin

Early Wayne

Pianist and composer Denny Zeitlin is heralded for his innovations in the world of jazz music. His consistent ability to find creative ways to expand and adapt within and beyond the genre has been remarkable. Zeitlin remains a fan of the music and other innovators, including the singular saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter, whose compositions are featured on his new recording.


 

 

Paul Kotapish is the managing editor for SFCV.  You can learn more here or at guitarfish.net.

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