What our critics are listening to

12:51 PM, Jan 21, 2013

Big Boi is back with more eclectic hip-hop. (Craig Bromley/Getty Images for Grey Goose)/


SILENT WOODS. Can I just say, without you knocking over that cup of mocha latte, that I do temper my rock and roll with a little classical music? In some respects, it’s like my collection of Spanish-language albums: I don’t know what’s going on there, but I really like the sound of it. In this case, Dvorák’s Romantic sound is melancholy. The compositions were transcribed for cello by a Swiss-born musician, Christian Poltéra, and he’s accompanied here by the British pianist Kathryn Stott. In reading about Dvorák, I see that he wasn’t fond of the cello, but he was wrong: To my ear, it’s the most beautiful instrument in any orchestra. It just oozes sadness, and is a welcome addition to any acoustic rock band. As a guy who walks his dog a lot in the woods, the ancient trees on the album cover and the title, Silent Woods, was the real reason I bought this record. Buying an album because some marketing and graphics department made the right calls has worked out once again. JEFF SPEVAK


VICIOUS LIES AND DANGEROUS RUMORS. Big Boi’s a mad scientist, cooking up beat and guest combinations in a cauldron. This is one trippy-dippy CD, and Big Boi has no problem dabbling in all genres to create his music. He taps indie music for “Thom Pettite.” R&B singer Kelly Rowland lends her voice to “Mama Told Me. “The Thickets” is a mid-tempo groove, while “Shoes for Running” is a rapid-fire cut with Big Boi spitting lyrics so fast it’s almost to hard to keep up. Big Boi never has been a tradional rapper — be it as a member of Outkast or on a solo cut. His music is eclectic; a roller coaster ride of quirky beats and wacky lyrics. SHEILA RAYAM


COUNT ME IN. This is an appealing time capsule of jazz in the ’60s, from a sextet with a three-year life, led by saxophonist Paul Winter. Born at Northwestern University and emerging from Chicago, the group combined straight-ahead improvisation with aspects of cool jazz (which was then red hot, if you’ll excuse the mixed metaphor). There was also a big-band influence, whittled down to a sextet. This two-disc set blends studio tunes with live recordings, including an historic 1962 performance at the Kennedy White House. Though not especially well-recorded, those seven tracks constitute the first-ever jazz concert in that august locale. The band also was chosen by the State Department for a key six-month Latin American tour, which may explain the scattering of Latin-flavored tunes in their repertoire. After the band split up, Winter became a founding father and mainstay of what’s now described as New Age music. — Jack Garner