1952 in Music

My list of reviews of music released in 1952.

1. Thelonius Monk: Genius of Modern Music, Volume Two (9/10)

When I listened to this last, I didn’t write a review. So I will have to revisit it.

2. Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie: Bird and Diz (8/10)

Somebody else said it best: this is like a better produced version of their earlier sides. (That being said, sometimes it’s hard to hear Monk.)

These are the people most responsible for post-war mainstream jazz, but this compilation actually compiles some later sessions and though it’s great to hear them together, it’s not as world-changing as their earlier music.

Also, it’s short on whole songs. They have added a ton of demos to flesh it out.

Still great stuff.

3. Bernard Herrmann: Five Fingers Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (6/10)

I was hoping this score would be a little zanier than the below score, but it’s not. I guess because it predates Bond, it’s not got that sixties-ish spy vibe (but that’s hardly fair on my part).

3. Bernard Herrmann: The Snows of Kilimanjaro (6/10)

Snows is a pretty conventional score, at least as presented here. There are lots of obvious emotional cues and big themes. As these things go, it’s pretty and memorable at times, but it’s not the kind of thing that makes you think.

Not Ranked: Wiener Philarmoniker, Charles Mackerras, et al.: The Cunning Little Vixen by Leos Janacek (9/10)

This opera is considered by some to be Janacek’s greatest achievement and it’s easy to understand why. Though significantly lighter in tone than his other operas, it sounds more radical and more forward-thinking, musically. The use of the soprano as this bizarre little interruption – for lack of a better word – is really weird and I don’t know that I’ve heard things like its spoken parts before. And then, of course, there is the music that sounds like Bernard Herrmann’s source for Psycho.

It’s a pretty cool piece. Not quite among the greatest operas of its era, in my opinion, but close.


B.B. King: “3 O’Clock Blues” (8/10)

This is a slow blues and much more in line what I was expecting from BB, featuring lots of his signature fills. It’s easy to understand why it made him a bit of a star. This is apparently the first time he’d soloed like this on record.

B.B. King: “Fine Lookin’ Woman” (8/10)

is upbeat and features King’s signature playing, though it’s kind of drowned out by the piano at times. There’s a gritty saxophone solo that I quite like.

B.B. King: “Boogie Woogie Woman”(7/10)

This one features some strong boogie woogie piano, as you would expect. This is R and B more than straight blues and again the emphasis feels like it’s more on the band than on King himself. I guess he had yet to find his niche.

B.B. King: “Story From My Heart and Soul” (7/10)

is a slow blues with King showing off his strength as as singer. It’s particularly R and B in the bridge and is another song that is more about BB the balladeer than BB the blues guitarist (absent here).

B.B. King: “You Know I Love You” (7/10)

This is practically a dirge of a blues ballad, showing off his vocal range, rather than his playing. He’s a strong balladeer, certainly much stronger than most blues singers, which is likely why he’s endured so long and is so famous. Not my favourite thing.

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