Album cover for Under Milk Wood by the Stan Tracey Quartet

Stan Tracey QuartetStarless And Bible Black, taken from Jazz Suite Inspired By Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood, 1965 [buy]

A landmark recording in British jazz, in Under Milk Wood Stan Tracey created a work every bit as poetic and lyrical as the 1954 Dylan Thomas radio play it was inspired by.

While each piece in the suite provides an impressionistic take on the characters, musings and atmosphere in the play, the sublime Starless And Bible Black holds a special place. It was on these words, from the opening monologue so powerfully rendered by Richard Burton in the original production, that Tracey fixated at the beginning of the album’s creation.

The track floats in the night sky, the players – Jeff Clyne on bass, Jack Dougan on drums and the wonderful Bobby Wellins on tenor saxophone accompanying Tracey on piano – tiptoe around the music and each other with elegance, grace and respect while the inhabitants of Thomas’ village slumber for just a little longer.

The [resurfaced] post series highlights older releases.

Image of Dorothy Melton (from Goodbye, Babylon booklet)

Dorothy Melton: I Want Jesus To Walk With Me (1954), taken from Goodbye, Babylon, 2003 [buy]

I’m not religious but last week’s Wildbirds & Peacedrums gig indirectly reminded me of how putting music and religion together can lead to compositions and performances that stir the soul, even when you don’t think you have one.

There’s no better showcase of this that I’ve come across than Dust To Digital‘s landmark collection of American hymns, spirituals and sermons from the first fifty years or so of the last century: Goodbye, Babylon. Rigorously researched, lovingly compiled and beautifully packaged it reciprocates the authenticity and dignity of its recordings perfectly.

Across the 160 performances contained on the six discs there are few as affecting as this solo vocal field recording (with, if you listen closely, dusk birdsong, a dripping tap and occasional traffic in the background). It can stun you into silence, if not faith.

The [resurfaced] post series highlights older releases.

Son Of The Electric GhostThe Devil’s Logic, taken from Your Creator Knows Your Name, 2004

Bil Bless, aka Son Of The Electric Ghost, is an Austin TX-based purveyor of squelchy, bass-driven, chopped up, funky, electro beats and sine waves.

No nonsense but inventive, physical but intelligent, awesome but awesome.

The [resurfaced] post series highlights older releases.