Like most such facile categorizing, 'child prodigy' usually ends up being a dead end rather than a means to explore the subject at hand. In the case of Joey Alexander, it's a disservice precisely because it's so restrictive: if he proves anything on his second album, it is that he will not be confined. Quite the contrary, the thirteen year-old pianist and composer challenges himself on multiple fronts on Countdown. He not only chooses to play with other musicians, including bassist Larry Grenadier (Pat Metheny, Brad Mehldau) and saxophonist Chris Potter (Dave Douglas, Dave Holland), thereby allowing himself to assimilate technique, but he also takes the risk of involving both of them on an extended foray into Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage;" their detailed exploration of both the melody and rhythm reveals why it's so durable a composition and why the threesome are so simpatico.
Keiko Matsui is the Stevie Nicks of contemporary jazz. In her photos, she always appears pale, out of a mist, like a fairy goddess or angel. Her creative and long popular blend of classical piano, aggressive jazz/funk, orchestral grandeur, and sonic elements from her native Japan allows her to create both poignant ballads and more aggressive fusion statements. Over the course of her last few albums, Matsui's Lindsey Buckingham – always at her side, pushing her performance harder and higher – has been seductive saxman Paul Taylor. On this ethereal mind trip, Full Moon and the Shrine (Countdown/Unity), she doesn't let Taylor stray too far.
A look behind the scenes at how everyday things are manufactured. Typically each episode includes three to four products featured, with a mix consisting of common items such as jeans, aluminum foil and cereal, and less predictable ones like wax figurines, braille typewriters and pinball machines. In this Special one-hour episode counting down how ten essentials for winning a gold medal are made.