“Summer Is Almost Here” by PAS/CAL (One of many brilliantly frothy, elaborately arranged songs from the Detroit group’s 2008 debut album, I Was Raised on Matthew, Mark, Luke and Laura, a delicious and delightful disc, soup to nuts).
“The Praying Slave Lady” by Shirley Caesar (An unbelievably tense and dramatic gospel performance, this piece is all build and virtually no resolution. The first 1:45 serves as a sort of invocation before the First Lady of Gospel gets into the story of titular old slave woman and her cruel master, her voice carrying more drama and emotion than I would have imagined it was possible to capture in a recording. A true gospel masterpiece).
“Breaking Into Heaven” by Heaven and Hell (The last song on the last album recorded by the late, great Ronnie James Dio, who was eaten by a dragon last week. Marvel at the fact that Dio was 65 years old when he recorded this track with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice, but still sang with all the power and majesty he’d always offered).
“II B.S.” by Charles Mingus (An extraordinary ensemble performance from the great bassist’s monstrously talented 11-member band of the period, including Eric Dolphy at the peak of powers, before his untimely early death; this is one the best jazz arrangements I’ve ever heard).
“Poodle Rockin’” by Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci (A gifted and creative young band from Wales who played bizarre pop music way beyond their years and experience, before flaming out well before they delivered on the crazy promise of their early recordings, alas).