Noted as a "maximalist" for his densely textured, intricately constructed serial works, Brian Ferneyhough is a challenging composer by any standard, and his uncompromising and intensely demanding scores are some of the most original of the late avant-garde. In such complicated chamber works as Funérailles I (1969-1977) and Funérailles II (1969-1980), both versions for seven strings and harp, Ferneyhough presents thickets of notes and short gestures that are tightly organized, but so abrupt and pointillistic that the lay listener may mistake them as random fragments, not at all as recurring ideas. Similarly, in the rhythmically layered Bone Alphabet for percussion (1991) and the angular Unsichtbare Farben (Invisible Colors) for solo violin (1999), the ear can only take in the surfaces of the music, having no way to grasp the underlying patterns that are employed. Yet it would be a mistake to think these pieces are just cerebral exercises, since Ferneyhough is too good a composer to pass off intellectual doodles as serious work.
Back 2 Love, Maysa's eighth release for the Shanachie label, marks 20 years for the singer as a solo artist. She was as active as ever when the album was released, coming off her first Grammy nomination and gigs with Incognito and her own band. Once more, she works closely with fellow songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Chris "Big Dog" Davis, and J.R. Hutson (son of Chicago soul giant Leroy Hutson) also assists on a handful of cuts. Stokley Williams takes over as composer and producer on "Keep It Movin'," a highlight on which the Mint Condition leader also plays everything and duets with Maysa. The song has the same traits – the brightness, that slight bounce and lilt – as Mint Condition's best. Another guest appearance comes from labelmate Phil Perry, who joins in for "Last Chance for Love," a sparkling slow jam. Back 2 Love works through a multitude of styles, from stomping house with pure disco-soul lineage (the title track and "Miracle") to highly melodic retro-modern pop ("The Radio Played Our Song"), but the quality of the songs is consistent. Filled with typically refined adult contemporary R&B and some pleasant surprises, this is among Maysa's most pleasing solo albums.
The true story of a prominent psychiatrist, his young patient, and the past-life therapy that changed both their lives. As a traditional psychotherapist, Dr. Brian Weiss was astonished and skeptical when one of his patients began recalling past-life traumas that seemed to hold the key to her recurring nightmares and anxiety attacks. His skepticism was eroded, however, when she began to channel messages from the "space between lives," which contained remarkable revelations about Dr. Weiss' family and his dead son. Using past-life therapy, he was able to cure the patient and embark on a new, more meaningful phase of his own career.
Apparently, Buddy Guy subscribes to the theory "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Losing commercial ground to the blonde young guns of Johnny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Guy hired their producer, David Z., and set out to record an album of loud, frenzied blues-rock. Purists will cringe at the unabashed commercial concessions Guy makes on Heavy Love - sure, he covers "Midnight Train," but it's a duet with Johnny Lang, and it complements the funkified "I Just Wanna Make Love to You," the psychedelicized licks, and the ZZ Top cover ("I Need You Tonight") heard elsewhere. Nevertheless, Heavy Love works well when compared to the modern electric blues of the post-Stevie Ray Vaughan era…