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Thanks to the hard work carried out in cooperation with recording studios as well as an increasing number of music labels (Plus Loin Music, Bee Jazz, Ambronay Editions, Zig Zag Territoires, ECM, Mirare, Aeolus, Ondine, Winter & Winter, Laborie, etc.), Qobuz now offers a rapidly-growing selection of new releases and back catalogue records in 24-bit HD quality. These albums reproduce exactly the sound from the studio recording, and offer a more comfortable listening experience that exceeds the sound quality of a CD (typically \"reduced\" for mastering at 44.1kHz/16-bit). \"Qobuz HD\" files are DRM-free and are 100% compatible with both Mac and PC. Moving away from the MP3-focused approach that has evolved over recent years at the expense of sound quality, Qobuz provides the sound calibre expected by all music lovers, allowing them to enjoy both the convenience and quality of online music.

Note 24-bit HD albums sold by Qobuz are created by our labels directly. They are not re-encoded using SACD and we guarantee their direct source. In order to continue on this path, we prohibit any tampering with the product.

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Blues - Released May 14, 2021 | Nonesuch

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The Black Keys—childhood friends Dan Auerbach on vocals, guitar, bass and keyboards, and Patrick Carney on drums—found success after forming in Akron, Ohio, and moved to Nashville a decade ago. But geography seemingly has never had much bearing on this duo, who started out playing Mississippi hill country blues and who, now, 10 albums in, have recorded a collection of covers by legends including Junior Kimbrough, John Lee Hooker and R.L. Burnside. Delta Kream was recorded over just two days with the duo joined by Mississippi hill country guitar specialists Eric Deaton, who backed up Kimbrough until his 1998 death, and Kenny Brown, who Burnside considered his "adopted white son." (The album's name comes from the cover photo, a classic shot by photographer William Eggleston of a car parked in front of a run-down drive-in, the Delta Kream.) It's easy to revert to cynicism when listening to a new Black Keys record: Here's the beer commercial song, the truck commercial song, the sports league song. This time, the game is: Who did this one inspire? You can detect the low-key Hendrix vibe in Kimbrough's "Stay All Night," with its slow-psych guitar and Carney's hard-working but never showy fills, riffs and tambourine punches. Big Joe Williams' "Mellow Peaches"—woozy organ, loose-limbed rhythm, and a slow build into a (mellow) frenzy—has clear through-lines to the Allman Brothers. The sweltering stomp and serpentine guitar of Kimbrough's "Walk With Me" surely had an effect on ZZ Top. And, of course, there are plenty of "sounds like Creem" moments: Kimbrough's "Come On and Go with Me" and a terrific, slinky take on Kimbrough's cover of John Lee Hooker's "Crawling Kingsnake," complete with what Auerbach calls "almost a disco riff." But, more than anything, you hear exactly where the Black Keys' own style has its roots. Burnside's country blues "Poor Boy a Long Way From Home" exemplifies it with wild, possessed moments when the guitars completely erase the need for vocals. A cover of Rainie Burnette's "Coal Black Mattie" chugs and nods and struts like a rooster, the guitars sliding all over the place, and would've been right at home on the Keys' great El Camino. (Same goes for Burnside's "Going Down South," gussied up with Auerbach's falsetto.) And in fact, Kimbrough's "Do the Romp" showed up on their 2008 debut The Big Come Up as the delightfully nasty "Do the Rump"; this time around, it gets a spit-shine makeover that sounds like sexy confidence. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz
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Rock - Released May 14, 2021 | Rhino Atlantic

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During the era in which even grocery stores had large, well-stocked LP sections, it was a not-uncommon occurrence for Déjà Vu to be mistaken for a greatest hits collection. From the "family photo album" vibe of the cover (nobody at the grocery store knew who Dallas Taylor or Greg Reeves were) and the title itself, to the ridiculously front-loaded song sequence and the fact that it was often one of the only (if not the only) albums in the "CSN(&Y)" section, Déjà Vu gave the impression that it was designed to be representative of the very best that this group had to offer. Maybe in some weird, "underground" record store, a bunch more albums credited to the group could be found, but for regular folks, Déjà Vu was a sufficiently high-quality distillation of their creative output. Of course, Déjà Vu is not a greatest hits album, but one could be forgiven for making the mistake: three of the record’s 10 tracks were generation-defining top 10 hits ("Woodstock," "Teach Your Children," "Our House"), a fourth ("Carry On") was a radio staple, and four others (Crosby's "Almost Cut My Hair" and "Déjà Vu," Young's "Helpless" and "Country Girl") were iconic additions to their authors' oeuvres. Still, it was only the second album recorded by Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and the first to which Neil Young was invited to participate, so the lines were blurred between "follow-up," "debut," and "supergroup outing." And considering that each member of the ad hoc quartet brought their A-game to the sessions, it's none too surprising that the album made the impact that it did. Of course, those sessions were rough sledding—even for a group renowned for a toxic in-studio blend of extraordinary talent, high expectations, tense competitiveness, and dizzyingly poor interpersonal relationship skills, the work that went into Déjà Vu was exceptionally exhausting. This remarkable deluxe edition documents an illuminating chunk of that work, compiling demos, outtakes, and alternate takes that demonstrate how much revision and editing went into Déjà Vu. The demos disc features five of the album cuts plus a dozen songs that didn't make the record, mostly with just the primary singer and a guitar or piano, but occasionally with more players and singers; you should skip directly to the wobbly, home-recorded version of "Our House" with Graham Nash, a laughing Joni Mitchell, and a tinkly piano. A treasure trove of more fully built-out numbers comprise the outtakes disc. Notably devoid of any Young-penned tunes, many of the cuts here are Stills' ("Bluebird Revisited" would show up the next year on his second solo album; this version is looser and far superior), but Nash ("Horses Through A Rainstorm") and Crosby ("Laughing") also left some high-quality work on the table when it came to making Déjà Vu. The alternate versions of the album cuts are less enlightening, but still essential to understanding the labor that went into making this masterpiece. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz
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Pop - Released May 14, 2021 | Fly Agaric Records

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The wave of lockdown albums continues into spring 2021 with English group Morcheeba, one of the pioneers of the English trip hop scene that ruled that charts during the 90s. A duo since Paul Godfrey's departure in 2014, the combo of Ross Godfrey (production) and Skye Edwards (vocals), freed from their touring schedule, took their time to meticulously fine-tune this tenth studio album. We find almost all of the group's hallmarks on this record: downtempo beats, a soulful vibe, rock guitars that don't intrude too much (the single Sounds Of Blue—pure 90s trip hop—or the instrumental Sulphur Soul with its heavy drums) but instead escape into the orchestration of the songs. An example of these hallmarks are the Californian guitars of Oh Oh Yeah, accompanied by steamy vocals, or Skye Edwards' chorus on Killed Our Love which conjures up the languid atmosphere of a deserted beach. It's as if lockdown has provoked a desire for wide open spaces in the duo, American in nature perhaps, with these little folk/country moments as on Falling Skies where the vocals are drenched in reverb. A record of true elegance. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 14, 2021 | Loma Vista Recordings

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We are at the point now in Annie Clark's career as St. Vincent that the parlor game of "autobiography, high concept, or both?" has become de rigueur with each album release. To be sure, Clark has never hewn closely (or, really, at all) to the dynamic of confessional songwriter that too often is expected of women making music, but the way that she teases out moments from her own life, recontextualizes them into fully-built worlds, and then shifts seamlessly between the two, leaves the listener unsure as to whether we're hearing from "Annie Clark," "St. Vincent," a brand-new character, or some amalgamation of the three. And, until Daddy's Home, that conceptual conceit has been the thing that linked St. Vincent most closely to David Bowie. Now, though, Clark is explicitly calling out the Bowie comparisons by making an album steeped in homage to the 1970s of Bowie's creative peak. While Daddy's Home is definitely not a glam-rock album, it's also detached from the maximalism of the last few St. Vincent releases. Instead, it's thick with warm, organic grooves and genre fluidity, evoking the liminal space between Bowie and Luther Vandross on Young Americans as easily as it does the spacey cocaine afterburn of Station to Station. However, while on one hand she's clearly calling out the "character-building" at play here, Clark has also been forthright in interviews surrounding the album in saying that the "daddy" of the title is her actual father, who is now "home" after being in jail for the last few years. The '70s rock vibe of many of the tracks definitely seems to evoke a dad's record collection, and the title track—which is either an abandoned showtune demo or a loose, gritty, and spare piece of indie rock—boasts some incredibly direct lyrics about visiting an inmate and wondering if their badness is your burden; but it's also probably the least interesting cut here musically. "Down and Out Downtown" sounds like "Strange Mercy" (the title track of the third St. Vincent album which turned out to be about her reaction to her father being sent to jail) reworked by the Beastie Boys with a country-sitar vibe. Does that make the album autobiographical? Who knows! Likewise, "The Melting of the Sun" tackles sexism in the entertainment industry, while dizzyingly conflating the struggles of Joni Mitchell with those of Marilyn Monroe. Again: maybe autobiographical? Who knows! This is not a game anyone will win. Instead, look to album opener "Pay Your Way in Pain"—a glitchy, Prince-ly take on analog funk—which seems to be about just making it through the day when you just want to be loved. However, it is unmistakable that the conceit and concept behind Clark's approach here—a warm, slightly sleazy, definitely human take on "rock 'n' roll"—is effective. "Live in the Dream" is a George Harrison-esque piece of dreamy light-psych with a deep vein of pathos, while "The Melting of the Sun" is a slice of soulful psychedelia, complete with background singers and wobbly sonics; they are wisely sequenced next to one another as they seem to form the spiritual core of the album. Similarly, "At the Holiday Party" nearly gets lost near the end of the running order, but it is a singer/songwriter track of the highest order, alternating between stark simplicity, baroque cinematic flourishes, and groove-oriented ecstasy. It's a refreshing and wholly unexpected take for St. Vincent, whoever she may be today. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz
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Classical - Released May 14, 2021 | Passacaille

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The claviorganum is not an instrument we hear much from these days, but versions of this cross between a harpsichord and an organ – which could be played individually or together, on one or two manuals – were by no means a rare sight in Europe between the 15th and 18th centuries, with Henry VIII owning several. What's more, it was no Frankenstein creation for mere curiosity's sake, but instead an eminently practical piece of problem-solving, because while the harpsichord is perfectly suited to fast, brilliant passagework, but can neither sustain long notes nor change tone or dynamic, the slightly-less-horizontally-nimble organ counts those latter deficiencies as its key strengths. As for why we haven't seen a resurgence of claviorganum sightings as period performance has gone mainstream, perhaps it's a combination of very few examples having survived in their original state, and the fact that composers of that period rarely specified on their manuscripts as to which keyboard instrument should be used. Which leads us nicely to this Handel programme from organist, harpsichordist and conductor Bart Naessens with period ensemble Il Gardellino, because when there's no surviving evidence that Handel was familiar with the claviorganum himself, their programme is necessarily a hypothetical one, simply presenting repertoire for which the instrument feels a good fit. It's a richly and various selection too, showing the instrument in both soloist and continuo role, and showing off Il Gardellino themselves in their own chamber and orchestra modes: three organ concerti (HWV 292, HWV 293, HWV 306), the Oboe Concerto in G minor, HWV 287 (arranged for Flute in A minor), the Harpsichord Suite in F major, HWV 427, the Concerto grosso in D major, HWV 317 and the Trio Sonata in B minor, HWV 386b. The resultant performances are a great listen, with highlights coming thick and fast. Inevitably the flute concerto is one such highlight, when it's a Thoroughly Good Thing anyway to flit mid-concerto between harpsichord and organ continuo, and even more so in flute concertos where the dulcet timbre of organ pipes is so complimentary. But its success is equally down to flautist Jan De Winne's beautifully shaped and shaded solo lines, and the vibrant and well-balanced capturing of the violins as they dialogue with him. Also indeed for the buoyant elegance from Il Gardellino, both here and everywhere else. Another especial treat is the Harpsichord Suite, HWV 427which inevitably sounds transformed under De Winne's well-judged distribution of the score between harpsichord and organ. The Opus 7 “London” Organ Concerto in B-flat major, HWV 306 is also sounding radiant. About the recording location: the impression is of a substantial church space which comes over as warmly supportive in the chamber works, and more strikingly resonant in the orchestral numbers; and while with the latter there's occasionally the slight impression of ensemble sound swimming in the space, it's always attractive and gives a colourful sense of place. A really nice blend of curiosity factor and top-drawer playing. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Contemporary Jazz - Released May 14, 2021 | Impulse!

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2018's Your Queen Is A Reptile felt like a capstone work for Sons of Kemet. Although it was only the group's third record, it marked such a sharp upward spike in the innovation and creativity that had garnered them so much attention when they first appeared on the UK jazz scene in 2011. In both concept and execution, Reptile felt so daring, so consistent, and so superlative, one would be forgiven for expecting its follow-up to show a sort of relaxing of the group's standards. Black to the Future is not relaxed. It is, from the incandescent rage of its opening notes, an unyielding album fueled by a relentless righteousness. The insistent interplay between Hutchings' sax work (and, here, additional woodwinds) and Theon Cross' tuba-playing has long been the resonant hallmark for Sons of Kemet's music, and on Black to the Future, the two are locked in as tightly as ever; however, the material here spans a wider range of tones and textures, allowing the group's sound to expand considerably. On "Let the Circle Be Unbroken," steel drums set the rhythmic scene and a deep tuba groove from Cross is countered by a soulful, mournful lead line by Hutchings, both of which evolve into a frenetic, ecstatic chorus by song's closing that clearly marks out that this is not the same song from your grandma's hymn book. Hutchings, Cross, and the rest of the Sons of Kemet core define the sound of most of the record, but there are also many guests who are deployed with maximum effectiveness. From Lianne La Havas and rapper/poet Kojey Radical turning "Hustle" into something truly genre-transcendent and Angel Bat Dawid and Moor Mother elevating the intensity of "Pick Up Your Burning Cross" into emotionally devastating territory. However, it's Joshua Idehen's unapologetically fiery poetry on the opening and closing tracks ("Field Negus" and "Black") that provides a thematic and vibrational bookend to this album. The incandescent rage of his delivery in conjunction with the sonic electricity of Sons of Kemet's music intentionally denies the listener any sort of easy closure from the tight-wound, revolutionary intensity of the album. You are meant to leave Black to the Future feeling energized, angry, and ready for action, and the musical and philosophical approach here absolutely ensures that result. It's an album that demands—and deserves—your attention and engagement. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz
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R&B - Released May 14, 2021 | FAMM

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After the impact Jorja Smith made with her 2018 debut album, she could be forgiven for taking her time in constructing her second. Lost & Found was such a fully-formed statement of intent, such an impressive slice of forward-looking and highly personal modern soul delivered with a relaxed confidence that belied the fact that the 21-year-old singer was still finding her footing in the music industry. Of course, the album was a chart success in the UK, and received critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, and Smith has maintained fan interest since then with a steady drip of singles that have illustrated both her range and indefatigable need to make music. In 2020, she not only led off a Blue Note Records tribute album, but also had a hit collaboration with Popcaan, and any artist who manages that in a year is one who is burning off some serious creative energy. Be Right Back is more evidence of that musical power surge, as this eight-track release isn't even Smith's second proper album. No, this "project" as she's calling it, is sitting somewhere between an EP and a mixtape, but it's brimming with enough soulful swagger and innovative energy to keep listeners entranced until she finally does get around to an actual follow-up. The songs are brief (only one breaks the four-minute mark), but such concision results in strong impact. Some, like "Home" (which is primarily acoustic guitar and Smith's voice), are spare in arrangement and construction, while others, like "Digging," are more highly produced but still centered on Smith's unique and impactful vocal delivery. Whether toying with breakbeats on "Addicted" or adding filigree-like piano figures on "Gone," Smith is clearly comfortable dabbling around the edges of her sonic signature. It all builds toward "Weekend" which, at just over four minutes, is the longest cut here, but it's also the most complex, with a dense, layered production supporting a forceful vocal performance from Smith. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz
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Pop - Released May 14, 2021 | Polydor Records

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This is the sixteenth album from the grand old gent of UK pop. A true living legend in England, Paul Weller's slender silhouette has been a fixture on the pop scene since 1982, when he was still the frontman of The Jam, before moving on to head up The Style Council. A major influence on the new wave of Britpop that broke in the 1990s with Oasis and Blur, the Modfather has left in his wake a prodigious litany of albums, marriages and children (eight at the last count). This album title, Fat Pop (Volume 1), fits him to a T. In under forty minutes and across twelve songs, Weller makes yet another foray into pop songwriting, borrowing from all styles and all genres. With a firmly optimistic outlook, the end result is flamboyant, colourful and the lyrics are resolutely positive. Weller makes it clear that no global pandemic will keep him from feeling good, singing and living life to the full! Following a rather restrained, stripped-back Cosmic Fringes, True explodes, softened briefly by a pleasant saxophone, before we come to the playful, elegant title track, Fat Pop, which would not be out of place on an album by Damon Albarn's Gorillaz. A more Beatles-inflected sound, plus the obligatory piano, is to be found on Shades of Blue, a classic ditty in the pop tradition... "Can you see the good things in your life?" Paul Weller asks on Cobweb/Connections, a family ballad (with choirs and the atmosphere of a cheerful get-together) which only serves to add to the feel-good vibe. Throughout the album, Weller's influences, from Curtis Mayfield to Traffic, leave their mark on every track in terms of both vocals and arrangements. Take That Pleasure, for example: it breathes fresh life into seventies soul with soaring violins, a virtuoso percussion section and guitar riffs. Weller is in his element here. After ten tracks, each one a polished pop miniature, the former Jam frontman throws in two longer numbers to finish off the album, lending it a little bit more weight and a touch more in the way of sober reflection. These are In Better Times and the heroic, serious Still Glides the Stream. All in all, this album makes for a vintage Weller listen. © Yan Céh/Qobuz
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Classical - Released May 14, 2021 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Classical - Released May 14, 2021 | Alpha Classics

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After the past 18 months, we could all be forgiven for forgetting that our generation doesn't have the monopoly on sitting in mortal peril at the mercy of a powerful and uncontrollable natural force. However we don't. Humankind has of course both been here before, and bequeathed us the art by which to remember it – including many of the texts set by German Baroque composer Philipp Heinrich Erlebach in his Harmonische Freude musikalischer Freunde. Published in Nuremberg respectively in 1697 and 1710, these two vocal collections contain respectively 50 and 25 arias for one to four solo voices accompanied by instrumental ensemble and basso continuo, setting poems that flit between the moralistic and secular spheres; and while ultimately this is conjecture, they do at least appear to hint at their contemporary context of an era lived against the backdrop of natural disasters including Bubonic Plague, and the superstitious fear provoked in 1680 by the appearance of Europe's largest comet of the seventeenth century – an event perhaps referenced in the line, “Today bloody comets shine, Tomorrow we are free of distress”. As for Erlebach himself, he was born in 1657 in Essens, and spent almost the entirety of his life and career as one of the stars of the Thuringian court of Rudolstadt, which at that point was an aristocratic capital whose vibrant musical life kept fully abreast of European musical trends. Having been appointed Rudolstadt's Kapelldirektor as young as 24, Erlebach went on to be described by the influential music theorist Wolfgang Caspar Printz in 1696 as a musician “who among German composers gives the most satisfaction and acquits himself with great distinction”. So it's tragic that the vast majority of the huge collection of music he left behind at his death in 1714 was lost to a fire just twenty years later. Especially when what is left is so tantalisingly good, as is demonstrated by this superbly performed, sensitively engineered programme from countertenor Damien Guillon and his ensemble Le Banquet Céleste (consisting of two violins, two viola da gamba, violone, archlute and alternating harpsichord and organ). As advertised, the main meat here is Lieder from those aforementioned vocal collections: seven in total, opening with with the sombre lament, Seine Not recht uberlegen wird manch Tränen-Bad erregen – over which the poet mourns his distress before drawing comfort on the thought that heaven sees him – whose gently sighing lines are a lovely fit for Guillon's softly warm, otherworldly yet clean-edged, penetrating tones. Le Banquet Céleste is no less immediately beguiling either, as its piano violins weave searchingly around Guillon, alive to his every inflection. Onwards, and while the Lieder's atmosphere of intimate, sober reflection remains the constant, the individual flavours vary. For instance, next up is Des Tadlers stich verlache ich, a feisty, up-tempo repost to the poet's mockers, where Guillon brings fabulously crisp definition and en pointe technical control to its fast passagework – something you're also constantly appreciating over his embellishments. Plus there's more, because punctuating the Lieder are two of Erlebach's trio sonatas, published a few years before the arias. Consisting of a three-section (slow-fast-slow) sonata movement appended by a dance suite, these serve as the perfect complements and palate cleansers to the Lieder's intense emotions, all adding up to an album you're likely to find yourself making repeat visits to for some time to come. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz --------Accompanied by his ensemble Le Banquet Céleste, the countertenor Damien Guillon places his voice at the service of a programme of vocal pieces by the German Baroque composer Philipp Heinrich Erlebach, a large part of whose output was destroyed in a fire at Rudolstadt Castle in 1735. Among the works that have come down to us are the two collections Harmonische Freude musikalischer Freunde, containing respectively fifty and twenty-five arias for one to four solo voices, instrumental ensemble and basso continuo. Most of the German texts of these pieces depict humankind at the mercy of an unpredictable and volatile destiny. Alongside natural phenomena such as storms, dark clouds and withered leaves, the poet also chooses the expression "bloody comets" as a metaphor for torment and ‘the distress of the heart’. In fact, the biggest comet of the seventeenth century appeared in Europe in 1680: contemporaries feared these celestial bodies, seeing them as bad omens. © Alpha Classics
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Electronic - Released May 14, 2021 | Kitsuné Musique

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Classical - Released May 14, 2021 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released May 14, 2021 | Dreamville, Inc., Under exclusive license to Roc Nation Records

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Rock - Released May 14, 2021 | UME Direct

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Jazz - Released May 14, 2021 | Edition Records

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Anyone else would be content to be a master of the sax: but Chris Potter is a glutton. On Circuits, which came out in 2019, tenor and soprano weren't enough for him: he also got stuck in with clarinet, flute, sampler, guitar, keyboards and percussion! With James Francies on keyboards and Eric Harland on drums, the kid from Chicago led his trio through some inspired, groovy exchanges. Nothing over the top: just intense, rich music - and that's what we're getting now, two years on, in Sunrise Reprise from the Chris Potter Circuits Trio. In September 2020, a short window between lockdowns allowed the three musicians to get together to record five themes. For months, these three musicians had been deprived of the chance to play live: they were hungry. It is little wonder then that they produced this creative torrent that lasted for over an hour! “All of a sudden we’re in the studio," Potter recalls. "I felt such a release, a sense of freedom to create and to express ourselves collectively. It’s this that has been the central part of this album – it’s about the trio, our shared energy, reflecting our own thoughts and feelings from all that’s going on in the world. Eric, James, and I really needed to PLAY, to try to put into music all the intense feelings of the previous few months. The close bond we had developed playing this music together on the road led to what we felt as a cathartic musical experience in the studio, documented in one very special evening." From the first seconds of Sunrise and Joshua Trees, with its electronic post-futurist vibe, the artists' musical languages start enmeshing and intertwining. Chris Potter gets off to a magnificent start, unhurried, getting the placement of every note just right. Both Harland's drumsticks and Francies' keyboards are controlled and purposeful. On Serpentine, they really let rip, but the final, pared-down ballad, The Peanut with its generous, easy space, is where their exchanges really become sublime. For all the abruptness and freedom of this session, the artists never rush: on the contrary, everything here is carefully weighed out, thought through - and simply beautiful. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Country - Released May 14, 2021 | EMI Records Nashville

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Pop - Released May 14, 2021 | Nettwerk Records

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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released May 14, 2021 | PentaTone

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Cappella Amsterdam and its artistic leader Daniel Reuss make their Pentatone debut with "In umbra mortis". The album brings together Wolfgang Rihm’s contemporary Sieben Passions-Stücke and Passion-related Motets by the Flemish 16th-century polyphonist Giaches de Wert, revealing unexpected kinship between two composers four centuries apart. By entwining the old and new, the listener is invited on a chromatic journey of astonishing beauty. Since its foundation in 1970, Cappella Amsterdam has shown an exceptional mastery of contemporary and early vocal music, with acclaimed excurses to Romantic repertoire as well. Daniel Reuss has been Artistic Leader of Cappella Amsterdam for over three decades now, and has worked with several renowned choirs and ensembles. © Pentatone
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Jazz - Released May 14, 2021 | Strut

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Classical - Released May 14, 2021 | ARTALINNA

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In programming terms alone, this America-themed programme from Latvian pianist-composer and former Pēteris Vasks pupil Vestard Shimkus is extremely nicely put together. Philip Glass's Mad Rush serves as the curtain-raiser – a work originally created and performed on the organ of New York's cathedral of St. John the Divine in honour of the Dalai Lama's 1979 first public address in North America, but now largely performed on the piano. Onwards, and Shimkus leads us through a succession of hops back and forth between the 20th and 21st centuries, beginning with Charles Tomlinson Griffes' Piano Sonata, sitting as a pleasingly organic segue despite its much earlier composition date of 1917, thanks to its own concise, abstract language (in fact “wandering in the nowhere” was how Musical America's bemused Herbert Peyser described it when it first appeared). Next come Elliott Carter's Two Thoughts About the Piano, Intermittences and Caténaires, written in 2005 and 2006 respectively for Peter Serkin and Pierre-Laurent Aimard. Then George Crumb's flowing 1984 dreamscape, Processional, described by Crumb himself as “an experiment in harmonic chemistry” for its blending of whole-tone, chromatic and modal elements. The programme then concludes with Shimkus's own two-movement Piano Sonata “Light Years Away”, feeling like an eminently natural coda with its otherworldly, minimalist-inspired language. Shimkus brings a pleasing soft warmth to the programme's many dreamlike landscapes, going for a clearly haloed sound, but no means at the expense of definition; and if you want a great combination of definition and technical aplomb then head to Carter's Caténaires, with its dizzyingly high-speed single line of notes. Part voicing and architecture are also strongly present. Equally strong is the sheer physical power Shimkus hurls at the programme's louder moments, the first taster of this coming with the thunderous wall of sound suddenly hitting your ears at Mad Rush's first outburst. This, combined with the very resonant recording space and up-close capturing, makes for an intense listen when the dynamics are at the top end. Your ears feel literally as though they're brushing the piano's open lid. So, while some listeners will love that sense of sonic immediacy, others will find it uncomfortably overpowering. Either way, though, it's certainly an experience. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz