Lucy Kaplansky - Flesh and Bone (Red House Records): It's the quietest moments that speak the loudest on Lucy Kaplansky's new album. While her natural twang suits her well for the occasional foray into country - and even the rocking cover of Richard Thompson's "Don't Renege on Our Love" is successful - somehow the placidity of "Still Life," "This Is Mine," and "Edges" is more satisfying. And when John Gorka joins her on "If You Could See," the result is modern folk at its best.
- Jef Scoville
Bill Evans Trio - Turn Out the Stars/ Bill Evans Trio - Letter to Evan (Dreyfus Jazz): These historically important releases document the final live recordings of influential pianist Bill Evans, recorded at the jazz club Ronnie Scott's in London 16 years ago. Playing with Marc Johnson (bass) and Joe LaBarbera (drums), Evans performs a mixture of standards ("But Beautiful," "Stella by Starlight") and original compositions ("Laurie," "Two Lonely People") that demonstrate his unique harmonic approach and his amazing ability for hard bop rhythm. These sets capture the pianist at his most swinging and exuberant; just listen to his hard-driving take on "My Romance."
- Frank Scheck
Dmitri Shostakovich - Orchestral Works (Sony): One of the greatest of all Soviet composers was attacked by his own government for "formalist" tendencies, which simply meant his works were fresh and original enough to require a bit of attention. The joke was on the critics, of course, since much of his music is hugely accessible and entertaining. This collection is a splendid showcase for the populist side of his personality. Selections range from the First Symphony and the Festive Overture to a lot of galumphing dance music, including the irresistible Polka from the "Age of Gold" ballet. Eugene Ormandy and Andr Kostelanetz lead the orchestras.
- David Sterritt