Various Artists

Late in the 20th Century, Vol. 2

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When this Elektra/Nonesuch collection was released in 1989, it embodied the refined diversity of that label's profile with excerpts and movements from works by composers as disparate as Johann Sebastian Bach, Igor Stravinsky, Ornette Coleman, Kenny Gamble, Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Arvo Part. The deliberately varied selection of performers includes the Kronos String Quartet, the World Saxophone Quartet, soprano Dawn Upshaw with David Zinman and the Orchestra of St. Luke's; 12-string Portuguese guitarist Carlos Paredes; Japanese jazz/pop vocalist/keyboardist Akiko Yano and the Yellow Magic Orchestra; electric guitarist Bill Frisell and band with the title track from their album "Before We Were Born"; an example from the album Bring Yr Camera by a band called the President that consisted of Wayne Horvitz, Doug Wieselman, Dave Tronzo, and Elliott Sharp; a thrilling version of Ornette Coleman's "Good Old Days" from John Zorn's bracing Coleman tribute album Spy vs. Spy that finds Zorn in complete communion with Tim Berne, Mark Dresser, Joey Baron, and Michael Vatcher, and an excerpt from the original cast recording of Bob Telson and Lee Breuer's Gospel at Colonus featuring vocalist Jevetta Steele. Some will most readily recognize the flamenco pop sounds of the Gipsy Kings and the magical harmonies of the Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir, whose popular series of albums under the heading of Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares played an important role in the ever expanding world music market during the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The combination of opera, theater, and chamber music, a segment of an actual movie soundtrack (Philip Glass's Thin Blue Line contains arresting dialogue from the film), free jazz, streamlined pop textures, and sundry multicultural adventures make this an especially interesting and ultimately rewarding listening experience.

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