Frederick Harris, director of MIT's Wind Ensembles and lecturer in music, is a composer, conductor, scholar and percussionist who has commissioned and/or premiered nearly 60 works for wind, jazz and chamber ensembles since 1992. He recommends:
Beethoven: Symphonies 2 & 3, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Saarbrucken Radio Symphony Orchestra (Oehms Classics)--Skrowaczewski's interpretations of Beethoven are "fresh and with artistic weight."
John Harbison: Four Psalms & Emerson, The Cantata Singers & Ensemble, David Hoose, conductor (New World Records)--"Four Psalms is a wonderful extended work that was premiered by the Chicago Symphony. It features some of Boston's finest singers as soloists and MIT's William Cutter sings with the stellar Cantata chorus. MIT's Peter Child contributes terrific liner notes."
Evan Ziporyn: "Frog's Eye": Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Gil Rose, conductor (Cantaloupe)--"Professor Ziporyn's latest and first CD of all orchestral and wind ensemble works. The recording is extremely clear and the music soars with beautiful melodies and infectious rhythms."
Danilo Perez: "Panamonk" (Impulse GRP)--"Monk's music from Perez' "rhythmically infectious Panamanian perspective is a joyful tribute to one of the true jazz legends. Danilo lives locally, tours internationally and produces the Panama Jazz Festival each year."
George Russell: "The 80th Birthday Concert" (Concept Publishing)--Russell celebrates with "fresh recordings of acclaimed masterpieces. An acknowledged icon among serious composers for the jazz orchestra, Russell's music still deserves wider recognition."
The Mary Lou Williams Collective: "The Zodiac Suite: Revisited" (Mary Records)--"The brilliant pianist Geri Allen and her trio provide updated performances of Mary Lou Williams' ground-breaking suite of 60 years ago in a recording that swings, boogies and stretches the ears."
Harris also recommends these jazz selections:
Magali Souriau Trio: "Petite Promenade" (Fresh Sounds Records)--Magali, a "special musician and gifted pianist," offers her own music plus her arrangements of pieces by Monk, Ellington, Kurt Weill, Satie and others.
Guillermo Klein Y Los Guachos: "Live in Barcelona" (Fresh Sounds Records)--"Barcelona" is the only live CD of Guillermo's "incredible ensemble, which played 14 sold-out concerts at the Village Vanguard this past June."
Joe Lovano Ensemble: "Streams of Expression," featuring "The Birth of the Cool Suite" by Gunther Schuller (Blue Note Records)--This new CD has "historic significance" as it represents the first re-recordings of three pieces from Miles Davis' 'Birth of the Cool' (1949). The original works by Lovano "sound both adventuresome and traditional at the same time."
"Casablanca: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack," original dramatic score by Max Steiner (Rhino)--"One of the great examples of classical scoring. When one listens to the CD apart from the film, the importance and effectiveness of the music becomes much clearer."
Danny Elfman: "Music for a Darkened Theatre," Vol. 1 (MCA 1990)--"Here's one of the best compilations by one of the 'new' boys in Hollywood, formerly of Oingo Boingo. You get samplings from many of his early scores (including 'The Simpsons' TV theme), plus excerpts from film scores you never knew were by Elfman!"
"Bernard Herrmann: The Film Scores," LA Philharmonic, conducted by Esa Pekka Salonnen (Sony)--"Among the most original of film composers," Herrmann wrote scores for Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo," "Psycho" and "Marnie." These are "beautifully played."
Evan Ziporyn is Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Music. An acclaimed clarinetist and composer, known for his works combining Balinese gamelan with western instruments and electronics, Ziporyn is a member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars and the Steve Reich Ensemble. He recommends:
4th International Jew's Harp Festival (Norway Music)--"One of the world's oldest instruments, the 'jaw harp' has taken various forms and thrived in dozens of cultures, from Tuva and Siberia to Vietnam, Scandinavia, Australia and Appalachia. Pete Seeger puts in an appearance. I bought this set of 2 CDs and a DVD recorded in 2002 on a whim at the Tower close-out and it hasn't left my CD player since."
"Requiem for a Dying Planet" (Winter and Winter)--"Haunting, addictive and startlingly beautiful, this is the soundtrack for Werner Herzog's 'Wild Blue Yonder,' which concerns lonely aliens from Andromeda. A collaboration between a Senegalese singer, a traditional Sardinian men's choir and a Dutch avant garde cellist, the music builds on intensely rooted vocal harmonies (which are) offset by Mola Sylla's soulful singing and Ernst Reijseger's harmonics and electronic processes."
"Music of Indonesia Volume 20, Indonesian Guitars" (Smithsonian)--This CD spans the Indonesian archipelago, "beautifully demonstrating the cross-streams of culture, as both instrument and idiom are retrofitted to fit different situations, rural and urban, traditional and innovative."