Recording setup

Welcome to SF Classical Voice’s year-end roundup of recordings released in 2023 by California artists! Our list isn’t limited to classical music — we’ve embraced everything from jazz to new music to traditional recitals and much more. We can’t claim that our roster is comprehensive, but we have tried to provide a solid sample of the musical wealth in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles (and occasionally beyond). There are so many great performances that we aren’t able to hear or review over the course of the year, and this is one way for us to catch up.

We offer this listing with minimal editorializing and reviewing. Blurbs are drawn primarily from the artists and their labels’ promotional materials. Album titles and cover images are linked to websites with more information and purchasing options. We hope you find something new and interesting as you peruse the listing below:

CDSamuel Adams


Other Minds presents three recent works by Samuel Adams, two of which are world-premiere recordings. The title work, Current, scored for string quartet and resonating snare drums, is performed by the Spektral Quartet, which co-commissioned the piece with Cal Performances; this album marks one of the group’s last projects as an ensemble. Bookending the recording are Violin Diptych, performed by violinist Karen Gomyo and pianist Conor Hanick, and Shade Studies, a piano solo performed by Hanick with electronics. In his liner notes, Spektral violist Doyle Armbrust characterizes Adams as being obsessed with “closing the distance, both real and perceived, between acoustic and electronic music.” (Other Minds Records)

CDAgave Baroque/Michele Kennedy

In Her Hands

Soprano Michele Kennedy says about this collaboration with the Bay Area-based Agave Baroque, “I am overjoyed to share this bold celebration of female mastery with the world. … This album exemplifies how I want to move in this field: in a way that honors the resilience of our ancestors, that celebrates our collective bravery and emotional breadth, and that is inspired by the commanding, healing, and deeply compassionate role of the divine feminine in our lives and its potential for humanity.” Works by Barbara Strozzi, Clara Schumann, Pauline Viardot, Florence Price, Margaret Bonds, and many others. (Acis Productions)

CDAlexander String Quartet/William Kanengiser

British Invasion

William Kanengiser and the Alexander String Quartet pay tribute to a group of English musicians who conquered the musical world with their revolutionary explorations. From the Elizabethan lutenist John Dowland to pop/rock icons Sting, the Beatles, and Led Zeppelin, these artists made a lasting impact far from the shores of their small island. Their music served as inspiration for a set of compositions for guitar and string quartet by talented composers Ian Krouse, Dušan Bogdanović, and Leo Brouwer. It is especially appropriate that the guitar sits squarely at the center of these works, as the plucked string was the primary musical voice of these British innovators. (Foghorn Classics)

CDAlexander String Quartet/Paul Yarbrough

Apotheosis, Vol. 3: Mozart — The String Quintets

The Alexander String Quartet’s late-Mozart compendium is complete with the release of Apotheosis, Vol. 3, featuring violists David Samuel and Paul Yarbrough. In the liner notes, Eric Bromberger provides an overview of Mozart’s oeuvre and then delves into the individual character of each of the string quintets. “In his quintets, Mozart did not set out to make the viola the star, but the addition of the extra viola offered him a broader canvas and unlocked new possibilities,” Bromberger writes. “Whatever the reason, Mozart felt a particular fondness for the viola, a fondness that showed up in some very particular ways in his chamber music.” (Foghorn Classics)

CDanimals & giraffes

live at medicine for nightmares

The third album by animals & giraffes features a live set recorded by Philip Perkins in San Francisco at the marvelous Medicine for Nightmares Bookstore concert series. Core members Phillip Greenlief and Claudia La Rocco are featured with special guests Kyle Bruckmann (oboe, English horn, electronics), Alexandra Buschman-Román (voice, electronics), and Mexico City free-improvising bassist Adriana Camacho Torres. This record boasts otherworldly electroacoustic textures and a theater of voices. Greenlief and La Rocco’s group has performed at the Center for New Music (San Francisco), Pieter (Los Angeles), Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, the Outsound New Music Summit, and Reed College (Portland). (via Bandcamp)

CDChristian Artmann

The Middle of Life

It’s a quartet date — his fourth — for the German-born, Bay Area-based flutist and composer Christian Artmann, with Laszlo Gardony on piano, John Lockwood on bass, and Yoron Israel on drums, plus vocalist Elena McEntire on three of the album’s 10 tracks. Composed during the COVID lockdown, the music is contemplative, introspective, but highly emotional, and the group chemistry is powerful. “I find myself looking forward and backward," says Artmann, 48, of this surreal time period. A child prodigy on the classical flute, he was dissuaded from a career in music by his family but pursued it obsessively and secretly. He earned degrees at Princeton (in international relations) and Harvard Law, returned to Europe for a spell, then moved to New York in 2005, beginning careers in both the corporate and creative worlds. (Sunnyside)

CDNancy Bachmann/Dianne Maltester/Ann Moss

Wild Swans: Chamber Works

Clarinetist Diane Maltester (of Oakland) and composer Nancy Bachmann (of Antioch) take listeners on a mesmerizing musical journey with Wild Swans. This extraordinary album showcases Bachmann’s compositions for the superbly talented Maltester. Wild Swans takes flight through compositions for voice, woodwind quintet, trios, duos, and unaccompanied clarinet. The wings of Bachmann’s imaginative energy and Maltester’s interpretive virtuosity transport the listener to beautiful and exotic destinations. Bachmann’s brilliance and versatility shine through on every track, illuminated by the extraordinary artistry of Maltester and all her collaborators, including soprano Ann Moss. A captivating mix of wildness and grace. (Navona Records)

CDHenry Birdsey/Senso di Voce


Other Minds presents Tierceron, the first collaborative release between Senso di Voce (vocalist and composer Esin Gunduz and oboist Megan Kyle) and multi-instrumentalist Henry Birdsey. The long journey to Tierceron began during a 2018 Senso di Voce performance that took place in Buffalo, New York’s storied Silo City. Birdsey, who was working as a recording engineer at the concert, made several impulse response recordings of the space that could then be used to digitally recreate the unique acoustics of the concrete silo compound. One year later, Birdsey and Senso di Voce reconvened at Avaloch Farm Music Institute in Boscawen, New Hampshire, where in rural surroundings they improvised through the virtual industrial acoustics of Silo City. (Other Minds Records)

CDJoseph Bohigian

The Water Has Found Its Crack

Other Minds presents The Water Has Found Its Crack, the debut album by composer Joseph Bohigian. Consisting of four new works written since 2018, the collection finds the composer expertly handling a variety of performing forces, from laptop ensemble to string quartet. Each piece engages with a different aspect of the California-born composer’s position as a member of the Armenian diaspora. These include the legacy of displacement since the 1915 genocide, maintaining culture in exile, and returning to the Armenian homeland, where Bohigian lived while writing the first three pieces on the album. (Other Minds Records)

CDBenjamin Boone

Caught in the Rhythm

Jazz all-stars Greg Osby, Ambrose Akinmusire, Kenny Werner, Ben Monder, Ari Hoenig, and Corcoran Holt, among many others, accompany renowned poets Tyehimba Jess, Edward Hirsch, Kimiko Hahn, Patrick Sylvain, Faylita Hicks, and T.R. Hummer on saxophonist/composer Benjamin Boone’s most recent exploration of the intersection between music and poetry, which has been described as “riveting … a kaleidoscopic mix of words and tones” (Jazz Weekly), “stunning … one of the most interesting albums of the year” (London’s Jazz FM),  and “a powerful social narrative” (All About Jazz). Contemporary Fusion Reviews echoes, “If you’re a fan of elegant and invigorating spoken word/jazz, you’ll want to get it as soon as you can.” Notes by Gene Seymour. (Origin Records)

CDKC Bowman

Crushes of Context

KC Bowman is a solo artist/recording nerd living in Oakland, California. He’s also a current member of The Corner Laughers, The Bye Bye Blackbirds, Agony Aunts, Preoccupied Pipers, and Vinny’s Vipers. Once upon a time he was in 80s/90s bands such as Lawsuit and Rhythm Akimbo. He also makes weirdo secret albums under the name Fireproof Sam. “Crushes of Context is an ace album,” writes the music blog I Don’t Hear a Single. “Songs with a message and performed with grace. No embellishments, just great playing and performance. Songs with depth that fit in different genres that make you sit and listen and admire.” (via Bandcamp)

CDBriget Boyle

Heartbreak Residue

Heartbreak Residue is a record that is ripe with raw, honest emotion. Buoyed by propulsive percussion and shimmering electric guitar, Briget Boyle paints melodic pictures of the pivotal moments in life. Using an eloquent economy of language, she speaks to the human experience. Tales written in this melodic jewel-box journal are imbued with a bittersweet nostalgia, yet they are far from maudlin. Boyle’s gift of voice, leaping effortlessly from aching intimacy to soaring, razor-edged flashes of power, rings with such purity of sentiment that the listener is immediately drawn into her world, finding themselves shouting along with every chorus. (via Bandcamp)

CDSarah Cahill

The Future Is Female, Vol. 3, “At Play”

The third and final volume of Sarah Cahill’s series The Future Is Female, released in March, continues to celebrate and highlight women composers from the 17th century to the present through a project Cahill has been performing around the Bay Area as well as internationally. Volume 3 begins with an 1811 sonata by Hélène de Montgeroult and moves chronologically with music by Cécile Chaminade and Grażyna Bacewicz to newer works by Chen Yi, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Hannah Kendall, and Aida Shirazi, as well as compositions by Pauline Oliveros and Regina Harris Baiocchi, both commissioned by Cahill, to finish this trilogy praised by Gramophone as being “distinctive for its finesse and conviction.” (First Hand Records)

CDCambrian Symphony/Scott Krijnen

Mahler’s Fifth

Cambrian Symphony is a community orchestra dedicated to supporting and mentoring young musicians by engaging students in performance side by side with professionals. The all-volunteer ensemble is comprised of individuals that act not only as musicians on the stage but as doctors, designers, research scientists, and educators throughout the Bay Area. In June 2023, Cambrian Symphony gathered at Skywalker Ranch to record Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. The day was four years in the making and a testimony to the dedication and tenacity of the musicians and supporters. “The symphony must be like the world. It must be all-embracing,” Mahler famously said.

CDCantata Collective/Nicholas McGegan

Bach: St. John Passion

Cantata Collective, an ensemble “of San Francisco early-music luminaries” (San Francisco Chronicle) inaugurates a major series of J.S. Bach’s choral works with a live recording of the composer’s St. John Passion. With celebrated conductor Nicholas McGegan, the toast of today’s new generation of vocal soloists, and a three-to-a-part chamber choir, Cantata Collective conveys the emotional intimacy and dramatic power of this monumental Passion in a highly polished performance that led Early Music America to implore: “To the excellent musicians of Cantata Collective: More Bach Please!” The Mass in B Minor was performed and recorded in March 2023 and will be released in the spring of 2024. (Avie Records)


On a Clear Day

Chanticleer has been at the leading edge of choral music for 45 years. Every season, the “orchestra of voices” commissions new works by contemporary composers. On a Clear Day contains some never-before-recorded highlights from the past 15 years of Chanticleer’s history. The album includes new works by established composers like Mason Bates, Steven Sametz, and Stephen Paulus, as well as works by rising stars like Zhou Tian, Shawn Crouch, and Ayanna Woods. These commissions are paired with a selection of lesser-heard choral works from other contemporary voices, including Augusta Read Thomas, Tania León, and George Walker. In typical Chanticleer fashion, the album concludes with three familiar non-classical songs arranged specifically for the ensemble, including two tracks by the legendary vocal jazz arranger Gene Puerling. (Platoon)

CDBilly Childs

The Winds of Change

For his third Mack Avenue Records release, five-time Grammy Award winner Billy Childs assembles an all-star quartet with trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Brian Blade. On The Winds of Change, the critically acclaimed pianist/composer offers five brand-new original compositions alongside exhilarating arrangements of Chick Corea’s “Crystal Silence” (originally on Corea’s 1972 ECM recording of the same name with vibraphonist Gary Burton) and Kenny Barron’s “The Black Angel” (originally on trumpeter Freddie Hubbard’s 1970 Atlantic recording of the same name), pushing the creative boundaries of the group and inspiring a new collective sound that pays homage to jazz legends and their artistry. (Mack Avenue Records)

CDCyril Deaconoff

From Bach to Beatles

2023 was a very special year for St. John’s Presbyterian Church in San Francisco on Lake Street. The historic Johnson pipe organ, which has been at St. John’s since the very beginning of the church, turned 150 years old. That instrument was made in Boston in 1873 and brought to San Francisco on a ship that had to go around Cape Horn. For this special anniversary, Cyril Deaconoff, composer, conductor, and former organist at St. John’s, has released a recording of original composition, classical organ music, orchestral arrangement, and even a Beatles song, showcasing the wide range of the Johnson organ expanded by electronic and bell sounds.

CDDelirium Musicum/Etienne Gara


In a world where climate change is at the heart of our attention, these eight delightfully unhinged seasons (four as recomposed by Max Richter and four as interpreted by Philip Glass) are scattered across a wildly singular time. They cast an artistic blur on our perception of what has always been taken for granted and seemed unshakeable: the seasons with their established climates, our perception of time and space, Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. “In their debut album, violinist Etienne Gara and his string ensemble Delirium Musicum [play] with a fiery spirit and even some vehemence,” writes SFCV’s Richard S. Ginell. (Warner Classics)

CDTom Djll

Speed of Silence, Basic Electricity, THISTLE

Three releases from Bay Area improviser artist Tom Djll. Speed of Silence is a folio of sonic-visual synesthesia from 2021–2022 — a chronicle of the passing and fading of the world as we move through it. Many of the images come from a 13,000-mile road trip through 37 of the United States undertaken in fall 2020, in the depths of the COVID pandemic. Basic Electricity features improvised duos for piano, trumpet, and electronics, with Ric Louchard on piano. Djll’s solo project THISTLE pulls bass and drums down into the weeds and gets prickly. Using a bewildering array of vintage and cutting-edge synth gear, beats get set up and then knocked down and/or morphed into thickets of pointy noise. (via Bandcamp)

CDLara Downes

Love at Last

Love at Last is pianist Lara Downes’s first Pentatone album, inspired by the poem “Sachki, Sachki” by the Odessa-born Jewish writer Shaul Tchernichovsky. Downes presents 24 pieces, many of them in world-premiere recordings, by living composers around the globe. Spanning generations, continents, and cultures, these diverse voices are united in a stubborn belief in the possibility of humanity, brotherhood, peace, and compassion and in the everlasting power of love. An iconoclast and trailblazer, Downes’s dynamic work as a sought-after soloist, a Billboard Chart-topping recording artist, and a producer, curator, arts activist, and advocate positions her as a cultural visionary on the national arts scene. (Pentatone)

CDMichael Echaniz

Seven Shades of Violet (Rebiralost)

On Sept. 8, Ridgeway Records released Seven Shades of Violet (Rebiralost), the stunning debut jazz album from San Francisco-based pianist, keyboardist, and composer Michael Echaniz in the wake of a successful fight against stage-four lymphoma. Well over an hour in length, this epic conceptual work features the core contributions of producer, bassist, and vocalist Jeff Denson, drummer and percussionist Dillon Vado, and primary vocalists Danielle Wertz and Molly Pease, plus an array of special guests. Accessibly melodic, rhythmically complex, melancholic, introspective, cathartic, and often maximalist, Seven Shades of Violet presents a bold contribution to the futurist contemporary jazz scene. (Ridgeway Records)

CDShinji Eshima/San Francisco Ballet Orchestra/Martin West


“One of the problems for [choreographer Yuri] Possokhov in envisioning what he wanted to do with Swimmer was finding the right music,” writes Cheryl A. Ossola in a backstage article for San Francisco Ballet. “To link the songs and his own images, Possokhov turned to his collaborator on [the 2011 ballet] RakU, [composer and SF Ballet Orchestra bassist] Shinji Eshima. Eshima’s music sets the ’60s tone early on, moving from lounge-y smoothness to an upbeat bop. Then he plunges the Swimmer — and the audience — into the water, creating a vivid sense of place as this lone man moves through a series of vistas.” (San Francisco Ballet)

CDKarl Evangelista

What Else Is There

In late winter of 2021, four improvisers convened in a Chicago studio. This rare event united Oakland guitarist Karl Evangelista, U.K. pianist Alexander Hawkins, Midwestern bassist Tatsu Aoki, and stalwart drummer Michael Zerang. During breaks, the conversation turned to music and family, two threads that seemed to dominate the waking lives of the musicians involved. Pondering this notion, Aoki asked, “What else is there?” What Else Is There combines Evangelista’s open-ended compositions with a series of dialogic free improvisations, each piece essayed with joy, intensity, and spontaneity. This record marries spur-of-the-moment intimacy with moments of unexpected gravity. (via Bandcamp)

CDDan Flanagan

The Bow and the Brush

The Bow and the Brush is Dan Flanagan’s project of commissioning and composing music inspired by paintings. This album features 14 premieres for unaccompanied violin by Edmund Campion, Cindy Cox, Shinji Eshima, Dan Flanagan, José González Granero, Peter Josheff, Libby Larsen, Linda Marcel, Jessica Mays, Evan Price, James Stephenson, Nathaniel Stookey, and Trevor Weston. Each piece is performed by Flanagan and was recorded in Hertz Hall by Swineshead Productions. In 2024, he performs the program on a tour that includes San Francisco’s Center for New Music, Carnegie Hall, Boston University, University of Rome Tor Vergata, and the American Library in Paris. (MSR Classics)

CDBéla Fleck/Zakir Hussain/Edgar Meyer/Rakesh Chaurasia

As We Speak

A new project from perception-shattering musicians Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain, Edgar Meyer, and Rakesh Chaurasia, As We Speak brings together their unique takes on Indian and Western classical music, jazz, and bluegrass. Weaving a sonic tapestry of banjo, tabla, double bass, and bansuri, these artists convene to make some of the most soulful, fascinating, and undefinable music found in today’s world. “What I think is good about this quartet is that everybody has to stretch in the direction of the other people,” says Fleck. “To me, a collaboration where nobody changes is not a collaboration.” (Thirty Tigers)

CDSolomon Ge


Pinna Records presents the debut recording by pianist Solomon Ge, featuring his solo composition Threnody. Ge says of his piece, “I began writing Threnody around the start of the shelter-in-place order in March 2020 and completed it toward the end of the year. My piece expresses my thoughts and feelings about the state of the world during the pandemic, with all its chaos, turbulence, and loss of life. I was very interested in the waves of dissonant overtones and the musical tension that could be generated from repeating a set of pitches very many times while holding down the pedal, and I wanted to use this effect to create a slowly morphing storm of sound, which erupts into violent climax before receding back once again.” (Pinna Records)

CDJackson Greenberg

The Things We Pass On Through Our Genes

Composer Jackson Greenberg writes about this album, “The electronic manipulation of the original audio continues the theme of my previous releases — found audio, older pieces — manipulated to become new again. Taking an expression of my previous artistic self, honoring that expression, and then using electronics to make it feel new again. Like painting over or editing an old photograph. The original string quartet featured on this record was written for my senior thesis at Princeton University. … I always was happy with sections of the quartet and unhappy with others. After the process of making my found piano and electronics album, I decided to begin experimenting with editing certain sections and adding electronics.” (cmntx records)

CDPhillip Greenlief/Scott Amendola

Stay With It

One of the most engaging duos in exploratory jazz celebrates 30 years of simpatico collaboration and creativity with the release of Stay With It on Clean Feed. It finds Phillip Greenlief and Scott Amendola developing the febrile dialogues mapped out on their bristling 1995 debut, Collect My Thoughts, an absorbing set that saw the pair garner considerable international plaudits. The new album signals an evolution, born of touring, shared insight, and artistic understanding. These two musicians inaugurate a theater of the unexpected as they mine acutely textural passages augmented by Amendola’s implementation of live electronics and Greenlief’s expanded sound palette. (Clean Feed Records)

CDBrien Henderson

Noche Oscura

Composer Brien Henderson has generated a body of work that reflects his love for medieval, Renaissance, and modern classical music. Noche Oscura is a cantata for bass/baritone voice accompanied by 12 virtual voices. The text in Spanish and Latin features several sources, all revolving around a poem by 16th-century Spanish mystic John of the Cross (1542–1591). Henderson sings all 13 vocal parts himself. Over seven movements and 30 minutes, Noche Oscura takes listeners from the cluttered, noisy world of the unquiet mind in “Anima mea turbata est valde” (My soul is sorely troubled) to the inner peace of “Quietud y descanso” (Stillness and rest). (via Bandcamp)

CDChelsea Hollow

Cycles of Resistance

Chelsea Hollow’s debut album Cycles of Resistance is an art-song journey through international resistance movements over the last 120 years. Longing for her artist community during the early days of quarantine, Hollow commissioned 22 songs with the goal of adding perspective, catharsis, and diversity to the classical song canon. Poetry and speeches in English, Mandarin, Dutch, Turkish, Arabic, Sanskrit, and Czech are composed into a musical chronicling of human resilience. Hollow’s soaring coloratura voice and Taylor Chan’s lush piano playing are featured throughout; half of the works are embellished with looper pedal, vocoder, mod synth, and fixed media. (Aerocade Music)

CDSteve Horowitz/Dan Plonsey

Praise & Lament

Composer and saxophonist Dan Plonsey writes, “Recently, as the pandemic let up, Steve and I got together for coffee and decided it would be fun to play a bit — these duets are the result. I was just happy to be in a studio again, and we were both surprised by how much we liked the music which resulted. Fears — and gratitude — for our planet are always present in some form. Lament for Planet Earth was inspired by compositions by Thyagaraja, composer and saint of Carnatic music, in which he used modes of just four pitches, in praise of Rama. The inevitability of ending and the consistency of being transform all praises into laments and all laments into praises.” (Fluff-Tone Records)

CDiSing Silicon Valley

love & light

Recorded as iSing marked the return to group singing, love & light features music on themes of remembrance, love, wisdom, and healing, from the ecstatic chant of the 12th-century abbess Hildegard of Bingen to ascendant contemporary choral works by James MacMillan, Andrew Smith, and Kile Smith. To these sacred pieces, iSing added new commissions chorea lucis by California-based multidisciplinary composer Kenyon Duncan and Lux Aeterna by South Korean Guggenheim Fellow Sungji Hong, both works part of iSing’s robust commissioning initiative. A collaboration of iSing with virtuoso harpist Cheryl Fulton and Grammy Award-winning soprano Estelí Gomez (Roomful of Teeth), love & light was released in celebration of iSing’s 10th-anniversary season. (Avie Records)

CDJennifer Wharton’s Bonegasm

Grit & Grace

Blessed be the ’bone of invention and intention that is Jennifer Wharton. A mere six years ago, the noted bass trombonist and native of the East Bay had the idea to form a jazz septet and commission new music to bring the oft-neglected trombone to the fore. The group has commissioned over 30 works, from new composers to Grammy regulars, and released three studio recordings. This latest venture, Grit & Grace, is both a triumph for a trailblazing leader and a stellar showcase for world-renowned female composers. Wharton and company may be playful, but they’re also pushing the envelope with their every effort. (via Bandcamp)

CDJohn Santos Sextet

Filosofía Caribeña, Vol .3: A Puerto Rico Del Alma

Percussionist and bandleader John Santos says, “This is our homage to the tiny island with the immense heart that has produced so much marvelous music while valiantly resisting colonial violence and mentality for over 500 years. Puerto Rico is also the birthplace of my great grandparents, Domingo Troche Caraballo Pérez from Yauco and Juana Dominga Ramos Borrero from Peñuelas. I began playing at the age of 12 with the band of my step-grandfather, Julio Rivera — an exceptional requintero and guitarrista from Santurce. So for me, this is a very personal project to honor those deep roots that we still feel deep in our hearts.” (Machete Records)

CDChuck Johnson

Music From Burden of Proof, Shadows on the Green

Music composed and recorded for the HBO TV series Burden of Proof, directed by Cynthia Hill. Chuck Johnson’s evocative arrangements utilize a sound palette that includes electronic textures, chamber music, and pedal steel guitar to conjure a collection of mood pieces that work both as documentary score and the most varied and intriguing record that the artist has produced to date. Shadows on the Green is a companion volume. Johnson explains, “The initial Music From Burden of Proof album was conceived and set into motion before a broadcast date for the HBO series had been finalized. … There were last-minute changes to the story and to the final edit of the show that resulted in some new music being added.” (All Saints Records)

CDMariya Kaganskaya/Alla Gladysheva

To My Little Dreamer

To My Little Dreamer is an album of lullabies recorded by Bay Area mother-daughter duo pianist Alla Gladysheva and mezzo-soprano Mariya Kaganskaya in the weeks leading up to the birth of Kaganskaya’s son. The album features a wide range of classical and folk lullabies from various cultures, with composers including Johannes Brahms, Bernhard Flies, Clara Schumann, Francesco Paolo Tosti, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Alexander Gretchaninov, Cécile Chaminade, Manuel de Falla, Abraham Goldfaden, Frank E. Tours, and Florence Price. The final song, “Little Dreamer,” was composed for the album by Bay Area composer Elinor Armer. Executive producer: Gillian Riesen. Producer and recording/mixing/mastering engineer: Jiahui Li. (Lexicon Classics)

CDAron Kallay/Genevieve Feiwen Lee/Vicki Ray

Flotsam & Jetsam

Flotsam & Jetsam features music for piano and assorted accoutrements, including toy piano, melodica, electronics, and various objects. Grammy Award nominees Aron Kallay, Genevieve Feiwen Lee, and Vicki Ray take us on incredible journeys with new music by Kurt Rohde, João Pedro Oliveira, and Alan Shockley. This extraordinary repertoire operates — as the album title suggests — as debris, coalescing, floating by, snagging on itself, assembling, gathering, dispersing, and eventually receding. Time is not an arrow — locations are in flux, and the music never stands still. “Kallay is a powerhouse on the Los Angeles new-music scene,” writes SFCV’s Tamzin Elliott. (Microfest Records)

CDKarl Evangelista’s Apura


Karl Evangelista’s Apura is a multigenerational improvised music project meant to explore the relationship between jazz-based musical improvisation and social transformation in an era of worldwide political upheaval. Ngayon is Apura’s sophomore effort, featuring legendary drummer Andrew Cyrille and Bay Area locals Francis Wong, Lisa Mezzacappa, and Rei Scampavia. Recorded in 2021, Ngayon survived countless cancellations, reschedulings, and reenvisionings. Ngayon combines the sounds of vintage free jazz with elements of Filipino folk song. Energetic, intrepid, and full of passion, this album seeks to draw a straight line between the revolutionary spirit of the past and the daring actions of the modern day. (via Bandcamp)

CDJason Keiser

Shaw’s Groove

Joined by master guitarist John Stowell and four pillars of the Bay Area jazz scene, guitarist Jason Keiser dives into the music and aesthetic of trumpeter Woody Shaw's great recordings of the 1970s. His most popular originals, “The Moontrane,” “Zoltan,” and “Katerina Ballerina,” as well as his live repertoire standards, “Obsequious” and “Organ Grinder,” are orchestrated for the special grouping of two guitars, Erik Jekabson on trumpet, and Aaron Lington on baritone saxophone for the front line, with the powerful rhythm section of Dan Robbins and Jason Lewis providing a buoyant, churning momentum. Keiser offers his own “Shaw’s Groove” as a coda and a nod to the trumpet innovator’s influence over generations. (OA2 Records)

CDKronos Quartet/Ghost Train Orchestra

Songs and Symphoniques: The Music of Moondog

Songs and Symphoniques: The Music of Moondog features brilliant new reimaginings of the music of Louis Hardin, aka Moondog, the blind composer who lived on the streets of Manhattan and became known in the 1960s as “the Viking of Sixth Avenue” for his striking appearance. His beautiful and haunting music was an inspiration to Philip Glass and Steve Reich, who referred to him as “the godfather of minimalism.” Conceived as a collaboration between the Brooklyn-based Ghost Train Orchestra and the legendary Kronos Quartet, the project quickly expanded to include numerous guest vocalists too, including Marissa Nadler, Joan As Police Woman, Jarvis Cocker, Rufus Wainwright, and Petra Haden. (Cantaloupe Music)

CDKronos Quartet/Michael Gordon

Campaign Songs

Premiered online between October and November 2020, Campaign Songs is a collaboration with Kronos Quartet that was intended to galvanize voter turnout in the 2020 election. Recorded in isolation by each member of Kronos, the eight short pieces that comprise Campaign Songs were accompanied by specially made video works touching on racial, climate, and economic justice issues. The pieces, arranged by Michael Gordon, draw from the canon of American patriotic, political, and folk music, including Woodie Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” “God Bless America” (a campaign song for both Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his 1940 opponent, Wendell Willkie), “America the Beautiful,” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (Cantaloupe Music)

CDLantskap Logic

Hidden Danger Lets Me In

Composer and multi-instrumentalist Fred Frith writes, “In 2022, almost 10 years after recording the first Lantskap Logic album, the situation in Oakland had abruptly changed. Mills College was being sold off, and the music department— internationally renowned as a beacon of experimentalism for more than 70 years — would no longer exist. Knowing that our access to the Mills Chapel would no longer be guaranteed, I proposed a second round of Lantskap Logic recordings, since the chapel’s pipe organ is intrinsic to our existence. Whereas the first record had been made in a spirit of openhearted exploration, this one had a certain focus, an emotional edge, that captures the feeling of the time.” (Clean Feed Records)

CDCheryl E. Leonard


Composer Cheryl E. Leonard’s Littoral is a sonic love letter to the Northern California coast. This long-form composition journeys landward: from the open Pacific, through surf breaking on rocky and sandy shores, then onto/inside beaches, tidepools, wetlands, and lagoons. Along the way, coastal ecosystems and soundscapes are examined and reimagined. Littoral is anchored in field recordings from Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin Headlands, and MacKerricher State Park. Voices from driftwood, stones, shells, and kelp are carefully combined with these recordings into a piece that transports listeners to — and into — Northern California seashores. (Rural Situationism)

CDCheryl E. Leonard/Wobbly

Multiple Park

Cheryl E. Leonard builds and plays electroacoustic instruments made out of natural materials such as bones, driftwood, shells, seaweed, feathers, and stones. Jon Leidecker (aka Wobbly) responds to the sounds of her creations with synthesized animal voices driven by machine listening. Their inaugural collaboration, Multiple Park, was assembled from studio and outdoor performances, radio broadcasts, and field recordings. The result is a collection of works which explore the space between city life and utter wilderness — a visceral meditation on the sounds of “the outdoors” and how those sounds are changed and framed by our technologically accelerating lives. (Gilgongo Records)

CDLos Angeles Philharmonic/Gustavo Dudamel

Adès: Dante

Recorded live at Walt Disney Concert Hall in April 2022 during performances conducted by Los Angeles Philharmonic Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, Thomas Adès’s Dante is a ballet score in three acts — “Inferno,” “Purgatorio,” and “Paradiso” — inspired by the alternately chilling and sunlit landscapes of Dante Alighieri’s Divina Commedia. Written in the 14th century, this seminal Italian poem recounts an initiatory journey through hell, purgatory, and paradise. Adès and choreographer Wayne McGregor brought this medieval Christian fantasy to life as The Dante Project in 2021 with the London Symphony Orchestra and The Royal Ballet via a narrative arc about a young woman named Beatrice who embodies a promise of love and hope. (Nonesuch Records)

CDLos Angeles Philharmonic/Gustavo Dudamel/Anne Akiko Meyers/Gustavo Castillo


Fandango features Los Angeles Philharmonic Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel conducting performances of Alberto Ginastera’s Estancia and Arturo Márquez’s new violin concerto, Fandango. Both works were captured live at Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2022. These performances were part of the LA Phil’s Pan-American Music Initiative, a five-year project exploring more than 30 new commissions and numerous creative partnerships, emphasizing the importance of Latin American heritage — a vital part of Dudamel’s artistic and creative mission. Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers embodies this celebratory atmosphere in the performance of Fandango captured here. This recording of Estancia features the rich-voiced baritone Gustavo Castillo as both narrator and soloist. (Platoon)

CDLos Angeles Philharmonic/Gustavo Dudamel/Yuja Wang

Rachmaninoff: The Piano Concertos & Paganini Rhapsody

Recorded live at Walt Disney Concert Hall in February 2023, this ambitious project presents Sergei Rachmaninoff’s lush and virtuosic four piano concertos and the enthralling Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the renowned Yuja Wang, conducted by Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel. A formidably talented pianist himself, Rachmaninoff wrote a wide range of expressive, idiomatic music for his own instrument, including these five dazzling large-scale works for piano and orchestra. They have been part of Yuja’s repertoire since the start of her career, and she continues to bring fresh insights to their kaleidoscopic riches. (Deutsche Grammophon)

CDNorma and Richard Mayer

Fast Opera!

Where did the term “fast opera” come from? Once upon a time, a delivery man brought a big jug of water to our home. When he asked Norma about her profession, she told him, “I’m an opera singer,” and the water guy unexpectedly replied, “So you sing fast opera!” Ever since then, we’ve been pondering the meaning of fast opera. In the meantime, we’ve found some “moving” pieces in our repertoire for your enjoyment. Norma and Richard Mayer play a fiery brand of chamber music not often associated with their rare musical blend — music for unaccompanied voice and flute. Their operatic arrangements have been acclaimed as a groundbreaking direction in modern music. This year’s album features music by Mozart, Verdi, Georges Bizet, and Kurt Weill, all in special arrangements for voice and flute by the Mayers. (via Bandcamp)

CDColin McAllister

Aeneas in the Underworld

Christopher Adler’s Aeneas in the Underworld is a bold and unique chamber oratorio presenting an epic tale of a hero from antiquity. The featured soloist here, Colin McAllister, recites the original Latin text of Virgil’s Aeneid while performing on a microtonally tuned classical guitar. Adler’s evocative score weaves together ancient and contemporary tunings, a classical guitar prepared with diverse objects, an accompanying ensemble of second guitar, string quartet, and electronics, and musical quotations from Renaissance and Baroque-era masterpieces inspired by the tales of Aeneas and Orpheus. The booklet includes a complete English translation of the libretto prepared specifically for this project by classicist Khang Le. (Microfest Records)

CDMat Muntz

Phantom Islands

Bridging the worlds of contemporary composition, classic free jazz, and obscure folk traditions, Phantom Islands employs diverse sounds to construct a unified, ethereal landscape. The record is the leader debut of Bay Area-based composer, bassist, and bagpiper Mat Muntz, whose use of the unique Croatian bagpipe primorski meh serves as the music’s centerpiece. The instrument’s brazen timbre and alien tuning are anchored by ghostly microtonal orchestrations for winds, guitar, and percussion, executed with sensitivity and dynamism by a skilled cast of improvisers. The band features Yuma Uesaka on clarinet, Xavier Del Castillo on tenor sax, Alec Goldfarb on guitar, Pablo O’Connell on oboe, and Michael Larocca on drums. (Orenda Records)


Haydn Connections, Vols. 1–9

Once again, Music@Menlo has released its live recordings from the previous year’s summer festival. Volume 1 begins on a celebratory note, connecting the father of the Classical style with the Baroque era’s greatest master in a performance of J.S. Bach’s “Coffee Cantata.” The collection concludes with an irresistible set of works influenced by folk traditions. Haydn’s fascination with gypsy music, audible in the Rondo alla zingarese of his Piano Trio in G Major, was shared a century later by Brahms, who debuted in Vienna with a “Gypsy Rondo” of his own. The final volume also features the Spanish violinist, composer, and consummate entertainer Pablo de Sarasate’s ravishing Zigeunerweisen. (Music@Menlo LIVE)

CDMX-80 Sound

Better Than Life

MX-80 Sound is an eclectic American art-rock band founded in 1974 in Bloomington, Indiana, by guitarist Bruce Anderson. Considered one of the most out-of-step but prescient bands of its time, MX-80’s signature sound consists of breakneck metallic guitar combined with atonal chord structure, cross-rhythmic percussion, and dispassionate vocals. Notoriously difficult to categorize — the band has been labeled art rock, post-punk, acid punk, and heavy metal — MX-80’s sonic melange set the stage for bands such as Swans, Sonic Youth, Codeine, and Shellac. Better Than Life was recorded during the COVID-19 lockdown at 25th Street Recording in Oakland. Sadly, Anderson died in 2022. (Klanggalerie)

CDSusan Narucki/Donald Berman

This Island

Grammy Award-winning American soprano Susan Narucki presents This Island, a specially curated set of 21 art songs written in the first half of the 20th century, chiefly by women and some receiving their world-premiere recordings here. The catalyst for This Island was a line from a collection of letters by Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke: “If you could only be here with me so I could share with you the happiness of these great poems, they would let you realize what we all now need more urgently: that transience is not separation.” Collaborative pianist Donald Berman joins Narucki in works by Henriëtte Bosmans, Élisabeth Claisse, and others. (Avie Records)

CDNew Century Chamber Orchestra/Daniel Hope/Alexey Botvinov

Music for a New Century

Daniel Hope celebrates the 30th anniversary of San Francisco’s New Century Chamber Orchestra, of which he is music director, with a new album. Music for a New Century forms a cross section of composing in postmodern times. The four works collected here (by Philip Glass, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Tan Dun, and Jake Heggie) were all commissioned by NCCO (some in cooperation with other institutions). “Spontaneously, you probably wouldn’t associate these four composers with each other,” Hope says. “But with this combination, we’re celebrating the orchestra and its creative engagement with new music.” Ukrainian pianist Alexey Botvinov is the soloist for Glass’s Third Piano Concerto. (Deutsche Grammophon)

CDNoertker’s Moxie

in flitters, 49 bits from B*ck*tt

During the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a way of staying sane, bassist Bill Noertker began composing strange and repetitious little ditties. As he reread Samuel Beckett’s Watt — a book whose enigmas had long intrigued him — he saw the similarities between his compositions and Beckett’s absurdist novel. He was compelled to create a sonic universe that paralleled Watt. The result is in flitters, a suite of 49 short and whimsical pieces brought to life by the brilliant members of his long-standing ensemble, Noertker’s Moxie — woodwindist Annelise Zamula, pianist Brett Carson, and drummer Jordan Glenn. (via Bandcamp)

CDGretchen Parlato/Lionel Loueke

Lean In

A long-awaited collaboration between Grammy-nominated vocalist Gretchen Parlato and acclaimed guitarist Lionel Loueke, Lean In tells the story of 20 years of connection, inspiration, and friendship between two musical soulmates. Reflecting on the great musical duos of our time and what it is that makes them essential, it would seem plausible that there would be at least a short list of common foundational factors necessary for success. For Parlato and Loueke, their formula is anchored in what could initially seem to be contrasting components — intrinsic rootedness paired with freedom, spontaneity, and impulse. The development of an earthy connection lays the groundwork for the confidence and trust required for experimentation and ascension. (Edition Records)

CDDan Plonsey

Concert Band 1 CD 30

Composer and saxophonist Dan Plonsey writes, “Concert Band 1 [is] an infinitely long marching band piece (well, up to 30 CDs now) in which I play all the instruments of a concert band. [It’s] a collage of tiny, short, and long pieces, with layered improvisations — performed, recorded, and produced (with dub effects) by a composer, improviser, socialist, and high school math teacher. Concert Band 1 rejects the commodification of music, the lines between new music, jazz, world music, and mechanical perfectionism. This music is instead emotional, danceable, soulful, revolutionary, practical, structural, mysterious, crude, joyful, absurd, porcine, and personal. Melodies are from what I’ve been humming on dog walks.” (via Bandcamp)

CDIan Power/Anne Rainwater

Ave Maria: Variations on a Theme by Giacinto Scelsi

Carrier Records presents Ave Maria: Variations on a Theme by Giacinto Scelsi, an album-length work from composer Ian Power and Bay Area pianist Anne Rainwater. Power unwinds the original melody of Scelsi’s 1972 hymn, over and over, into an obsessive meditation for performer and listener alike. What begins as lush chords and hammering bells is interrupted by a bizarre ritual where the pianist must perform an impossible task and be held musically accountable for their mistakes. Ave Maria’s relentless repetitions and uncannily tonal harmonies probe, exalt, and challenge religious concepts of devotion and interiority. (Carrier Records)

CDQuartet San Francisco/Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band/Take 6

Raymond Scott Reimagined

An unprecedented new collaboration teaming Quartet San Francisco with accomplished Grammy and Emmy Award-winning composer, producer, and arranger Gordon Goodwin and revered Grammy-winning a cappella group Take 6. The thrilling 14-track collection, which includes Goodwin’s fresh arrangements of eight Scott classics, including “Powerhouse,” “Twilight in Turkey,” “Huckleberry Duck,” “The Quintette Goes to a Dance,” and “In an 18th Century Drawing Room,” also introduces an entirely brand-new composition, “Cutey and the Dragon,” which was crafted from an unfinished sketch Scott made in 1982, with Goodwin completing the composition in a manner that honors the great composer’s style and verve. (Violinjazz Recordings)

CDRed Fast Luck

Live in San Francisco

Red Fast Luck is an improvising duo consisting of multi-reed sorcerer David Boyce and electroacoustic rhythmatist PC Muñoz. Their debut EP, Live in San Francisco, is one of the featured recordings on the San Francisco Public Library’s new streaming service, Bay Beats. Originally from New York City, Boyce moved out to and, in 1991, co-founded the iconic Afrofuturist jazz trio Broun Fellinis. Muñoz is a musician, producer, and writer based in San Francisco. His body of work as an artist and producer includes Grammy-nominated contemporary classical music with composer and cellist Joan Jeanrenaud. (via Bandcamp)

CDJill Rogers and Crying Time

Many Worlds Theory

There’s an idea in quantum mechanics — the many-worlds interpretation — that at any decision point where more than one outcome is available, all the outcomes happen in parallel worlds. The title track of this album — the multitude of what-could-have-been narratives — serves as a lens for the other songs on the album — that they’re all possibilities in some world or another. While Jill Rogers and Crying Time play honky-tonk, 1970s crossover country, and elegiac originals, all five members have a foot in the jazz world as well, from avant-garde improv to the Great American Songbook to Western swing. (via Bandcamp)

CDNeil Rolnick

Lockdown Fantasies

Other Minds presents Lockdown Fantasies, the new album from composer Neil Rolnick. The album features two new works for piano and electronics written for and performed by Geoffrey Burleson and Kathleen Supové. Both works are dense and thoughtful, with an emotional edge — much like the oeuvre that Rolnick has built up over his 40-year career as a composer. The album opens with its titular piece, Lockdown Fantasies, performed by Burleson. The piece was written amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, as the composer was traversing an empty Manhattan by bicycle and a new romantic relationship. The emotional album closer, performed by Supové, is Journey’s End, reflecting on the battle with cancer of the composer’s wife of 45 years. (Other Minds Records)

CDThe Sampaguitas

Folk Songs From the Philippines and Beyond

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, The Sampaguitas sing Filipino folk songs and inspired originals in three-part harmony. Drawing influences from folk, blues, doo-wop girl groups, and the Filipino American diaspora, Jenevieve Francisco, Cristina Ibarra, and Aireene Espiritu share music from their roots and explore what it means to be in a “third culture” between worlds. The sampaguita is the national flower of the Philippines and only fitting to describe the sweet sounds coming from these singers’ melded vocal textures, tones, and tight harmonies. Because the trio frequently performs at Filipino cultural and senior centers, it was an immediate connect for Little Village, a nonprofit record company devoted to supporting music that leads to a more diverse and responsive world. (Little Village)

CDSan Francisco Symphony/Esa-Pekka Salonen

Releases on Apple Music Classical

In March 2023, the San Francisco Symphony announced its partnership with Apple Music Classical — a new stand-alone music streaming app designed to deliver an unrivaled listening experience for classical music lovers — with the release of new spatial audio recordings of György Ligeti’s Clocks and Clouds, Lux Aeterna, and Ramifications. In July 2023, the orchestra and Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen followed up with their latest pair of spatial audio recordings exclusive to the app: Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Elizabeth Ogonek’s Sleep & Unremembrance. And in the fall, they released three additional spatial audio recordings: Anders Hillborg’s Kongsgaard Variations, Ottorino Respighi’s Pines of Rome, and Jean Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5. (SFS Media)

CDSan Francisco Symphony/Esa-Pekka Salonen/Pierre-Laurent Aimard

Bartók: Piano Concertos

Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard joins forces with the San Francisco Symphony and Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen for a recording of Béla Bartók’s complete piano concertos. A pianist himself, Bartók imbued his three concertos with multiple aspects of his compositional persona, ranging from complex and innovative (the First) to exuberant (the Second) and serene (the Third). The result is a fascinating slice of his musical life. This all-Bartók release marks the first Pentatone collaboration between Salonen and the SF Symphony, an ensemble he has reshaped through creative performance concepts and expansive new media projects. A renowned champion of 20th-century music, Aimard has released multiple acclaimed albums in his exclusive contract with Pentatone. (Pentatone)

CDGaea Schell

In Your Own Sweet Way

Known among her peers for swinging eighth notes, subtle phrasing, and contemplative writing, San Francisco Bay Area-based pianist, composer, flutist, and vocalist Gaea Schell presents her latest album, In Your Own Sweet Way. Pierre Giroux writes in All About Jazz, “Gaea Schell’s In Your Own Sweet Way is a captivating journey through the realm of jazz that delivers a fresh perspective on a variety of compositional forms, including Latin-tinged originals to innovative interpretations of songs from the Great American Songbook. … She is joined on the project by some top Northern California musicians, including Jordan Samuels, John Wiitala, [and] Greg Wyser-Pratte.” (Saphu Records)

CDStephen Schick

Soundlines: On Language and the Land

Soundlines: On Language and the Land is the second CD-set of Weather Systems, a recording in three multidisc installments by the “philosopher king of percussion” (The New York Times), Steven Schick. This album captures the 700-mile journey of the noted percussionist as he searched for language, rooted in the sounds of the animate earth, that could bind the disparate experiences of a 21st-century musician into a unified experience. Through a highly contrasted collage of music, language, and sound effects, Schick presents layered emotions in which a humorous facade dissolves to reveal deeper truths connecting music and life. (Islandia Music Records)

CDZachariah Spellman/Karen Hutchinson

One More Dance

Producer Eric Wayne describes this album from San Francisco Opera Orchestra principal tubist Zachariah Spellman and pianist Karen Hutchinson as “a great look into the tuba music of Roger Kellaway. Why, you may ask, did this jazz piano player, composer, and arranger write so much music for tuba? Roger himself was very good friends with another Roger, Roger Bobo, the virtuoso Los Angeles Philharmonic tubist and inspiration for many of Mr. Kellaway’s tuba and piano duets. While two of the compositions presented are what we in the classical world would call ‘serious,’ one could say that they are ‘dancing’ around the more lighthearted friend in the middle, and that’s where we get the album title, One More Dance.” (Digital Victrola)

CDSerj Tankian


Invocations is an operatic suite composed by Grammy Award-winning System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian. The score mixes the iconic voice of Tankian with operatic tenor Brian Thorsett and world-music star Azam Ali, plus death-metal singer Charles Elliott, all alongside chorus, orchestra, and traditional Middle Eastern instruments. Sonically, the 15 compositions comprising Tankian’s Invocations weave symphonic and cinematic musical styles with plenty of emotional swells along the way. This past April, Tankian performed the collection at The Soraya in Northridge, joined by the Cal State Northridge Symphony Orchestra (Serjical Strike)

CDThollem/Terry Riley/Nels Cline

The Light Is Real

Other Minds presents The Light Is Real, featuring the trio of Thollem (voice and wavestate synthesizer), Terry Riley (voice), and Nels Cline (electric guitars, effects, and megamouth). This recording is the sixth iteration of the Thollem/Cline trio, with previous installments including performances by William Parker, Pauline Oliveros, and Michael Wimberly. The origins of this recording go back to an epiphany Thollem experienced in northern New Mexico during the COVID-19 pandemic. While watching the sunlight stream through a window, two thoughts came to him: “the light is real” and “Terry Riley.” Soon after proposing a collaboration to Riley, the pair were meeting online to vocalize, investigating breath and light together across a 10-hour time difference. (Other Minds Records)

CDVicki Lee Trimbach


Another solo piano release from Bay Area artist Vicki Lee Trimbach. With training in classical piano, Trimbach has moved into a more minimalist neoclassical style — expressive, soul-comforting music that maintains the classical emphasis on the development of a musical idea. Scenes features five new compositions. Trimbach writes, “For me, composition is about expressing how I feel about the world. Events and people are my inspiration. … I mostly write chamber music but have also written solo piano pieces, a symphony, and what I call dance dramas, where I incorporate dance into chamber music.”

CDClaudia Villela

Cartas ao Vento

The brilliant Rio-born vocalist, pianist, and composer Claudia Villela, long based in Santa Cruz, follows up her 2019 release Encantada (Live) with her first made-in-Brazil recording, featuring a host of her favorite musical friends: Jorge Helder (bass), Mario Adnet (guitar, production, and arrangements), Marcelo Costa (drums), Vitor Gonçalves (accordion), and many more. “This is not a ‘jazz’ album,” says Villela. “It’s not about theme and improvisation. I wanted everything to be part of the song.” Writes critic Egídio Leitão on his Música Brasileira blog: “A superb release destined to elevate the music and artistry of Claudia Villela to new heights. Once again, she excels in her art.” (Taina Music)

CDWild Up

Julius Eastman Vol. 3: If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?

In June, the Grammy-nominated musical collective Wild Up released Julius Eastman Vol. 3: If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich? the follow-up to 2021’s Julius Eastman Vol. 1: Femenine, “a masterpiece” (The New York Times), and Julius Eastman Vol. 2: Joy Boy, which contains the Grammy-nominated closing track “Stay on It.” Arriving once more on New Amsterdam Records, Julius Eastman Vol. 3: If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich? is the third entry in Wild Up’s multivolume anthology celebrating Eastman, the late composer whose musical vision was repeatedly dismissed during its day but is now being unearthed to critical acclaim. (New Amsterdam Records)

CDCeleste Winant/Ben Westfall

Organic Panic

Celeste Winant and Ben Westfall have both been active in the Bay Area new-music scene and decided to collaborate on an improvisational music duo mainly consisting of voice and guitar. Winant comes from the classical tradition, having been involved with projects ranging from early music to vocal works by contemporary composers. Westfall has been working through guitar extended techniques and other forms of improvisation. Upon collaborating, the two were able to utilize their different backgrounds to synchronize into an improvisatory union all their own. Using a direct recording process here with Organic Panic, the duo captures spontaneous acoustic performances. (via Bandcamp)

CDSeth Parker Woods

Difficult Grace

Difficult Grace, based on Grammy-nominated cellist Seth Parker Woods’s multimedia concert tour de force, conceived by and featuring Woods in the triple role of cellist, narrator/guide, and movement artist, is Woods’s debut album for Cedille Records. It’s a semi-autobiographical exploration of identity, past/present histories and personal growth that draws inspiration from the Great Migration, the historic newspaper The Chicago Defender, immigration, and poetry by Kemi Alabi and Dudley Randall. The album features music written for and with Woods, including the world-premiere recording of the title work, “Difficult Grace” by Fredrick Gifford, which layers solo cello, electronics, and spoken text (delivered by Woods) derived from Randall’s poem “Primitives.” (Cedille Records)

CDLaura Zucker


With Lifeline, her sixth CD of original music, Laura Zucker chronicles her inquiry into what it means to be connected — to one another, to ourselves, to our past, our present, and our future. Lifeline takes a deep dive into reflections on surprise, regret, wonder, adjustment, and authenticity and asks whether “if I’d stopped to listen, I’d have heard a different song.” Zucker’s bare-roots honesty as she confronts mistakes made, opportunities missed, and the inevitable passage of time is a window into the complexities of being human, offering us a path to understanding ourselves just a little bit better. The songs on Lifeline are less performed than felt, and the listener will feel them, too. Zucker has created a testament to the kind of insight that only comes from hindsight, and she’s ready to tell you about it. (via Bandcamp)