Mas y mas!

31) Guiseppe Verde: Il Trovatore

A typical Verde plot, baby gets thrown in the fire,  but is a mistaken identity: whoops, threw the WRONG BABY! Other baby grows up, loves lady, fights duel with SECRET BROTHER, later on secret brother sentences other baby to death, lady find out, poisons self, other baby and lady both dead and GYPSY tells secret brother: you are other baby’s brother! Ah-ha you just killed him now you FAIL! Some achingly beautiful solo pieces; there are 4 leads here, and each one gets at least one gorgeous solo bit. And, the Anvil Chorus! (bonus: this recording features Leontyne Price, one of my favorite opera singers; one of the few I can actually recognize on the radio)

32) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan-Qawwal and Party: Shahen-Shah

If they sang music like this in the church up the street, I would go every day, I would help with bake sales, I would wash the minister’s car. And it is religious music, ecstatic and swirling and improvisational and capable of making large crowds levitate. At least it felt like levitation, when I saw Khan-Qawwal and Party at the Brooklyn Academy of Music many years ago. A typical track on this CD starts with some hand drums finding a groove, a harmonium diddling around abstractly, and then a chorus, a line from the Quran or from some Sufi poet, is repeated a few times until the mood is suitably hypnotic: and then Nusrat soars in, over, under, and through the melody, improvising cascades of notes out of a single word, repeated in variation after variation…  I used to listen to this CD when I had insomnia, not because it would put me to sleep, but because it would hypnotize me, which was more restful than being actively awake. (bonus: he apparently recorded 125 albums befoer he died, so there’s plenty more to find.)

33) In Yo’ Face: The History of Funk, Vol.3

Not sure where or why I got this, as I have a lot of these tracks on other CDs, but what the hell, it’s a funk compilation so, like Norville Barnes, I’ll just state the obvious: “it’s for parties!” And it’s from Rhino Records, so you know the selections will be interesting, and in fact there is an ethical quandry hidden in this compilation: is hearing “I Get Lifted” by George McCrae worth having to hear “Play That Funky Music, White Boy”? (bonus: “Get the Funk Out Of My Face,” by Brothers Johnson. I bet the fall of the stock market can be tied to the decline of replacing the word “fuck” with “funk” in urban dance music.)