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jeffAudio - The Music of Jeff Hentschel - Shaham Plays Elgar
Shaham Plays Elgar 
This incredible concert showcased three very different pieces highlighting the talents of both Zinman and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

It's not often a composer is at the concert of his piece, but Saturday night Golijov was there to congratulate the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on their phenomenal performance of his Last Round. This Argentine piece for string orchestra and small ensemble envoked enough emotions to keep you on the edge of your seat. And while the second half may have been of a completely different tune, the Zinman changed beats seamlessly from "macho, cool and dangerous" to a much more intimate sound. The entire piece was excellently crafted and the CSO did their first performance of Golijov's work justice.

After a short set change, Gil Shaham took the stage in his normal exuberance to perform Elgar's flamboyant violin concerto. Such a difficult concerto can be extremely tiring on both the soloist and the orchestra, but neither Zinman nor Shaham backed down, Shaham maintaining a close connection with the conductor to keep a tight performance.

Following two amazing pieces is always hard, but the CSO didn't disappoint by an astounding performance of Schumann's second symphony. The entire orchestra was in step with Zinman and met his lofty demands of greatness. The adagio expressivo gave the audience a short chance to catch their breath and reflect as they were soon sent back to finale which ended triumphantly.

While the orchestra did a great job, the only thing that could have made it better were the seats. While buying the student tickets saves a lot of money, we were seated in the terrace section which is oddly located behind the orchestra. Concert halls are designed however to project sound away from the orchestra and so you get a different sound in that area. I felt that being located directly above the basses and percussion resulted in an overall "bassy" tone that may have been remedied by a different location. Another concern of mine was the soloist. A great testament to Shaham's violin, it was able to be heard, but it would have been nice if the orchestra was a bit softer. Sitting on the terrace did provide a unique view of Zinman and the orchestra and allowed you to follow his movements more closely.
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Wormhole Download Update 
My new album Wormhole just hit 50 downloads through Jamendo! Thanks to everyone for your support. If you haven't already downloaded it, head over there or contact me for a real copy that includes a cover and everything. You can also download individual tracks. You can look forward to more updates soon!
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Album Downloads 
I have recently added my music onto the website Jamendo. This site is an amazing site with a ton of good free music in all different genres. I have downloaded many different albums from here and always pleased at the quality of work people are willing to do because they love music. You can choose the format you want the album in (mp3 or ogg) and download it via bittorrent or eMule. After that, you can star the album, rate it, or whatever. You can also listen to the complete albums online if you want to listen before you download. My latest album Wormhole should be available within a few days. In the meantime, check out all of the other albums they have to offer. Jamendo recently passed the 2000 album mark and is gaining in popularity.
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Rating System Explained 
In case anybody is wondering about the rating system I've been using for the CD Reviews, it's relatively simple. Really, anything above 6 is worth looking at. Furthermore, the ratings aren't really that reliable anyways since it mainly reflects my mood about the piece at the time I played it. The editorial is more unbiased in this matter. More detailed information after the jump.

I've rated all of the songs in iTunes with the following specifications:
1 - I loathe it
2 - I find it unsatisfying
3 - It's good music, but nothing special
4 - This music is nice. This is the minimum required for many of my playlists.
5 - Only the most spectacular music makes this rating.

The rating for the album is an average of the scores out of 10.
Under 2: This is not possible, the music would have to be horrible.
Under 4: This album is really bad.
Under 6: Unless specified, this cd probably isn't worth the bother.
Under 8: This album has some good songs, and it's not bad.
Under 10: If it got this far, the cd is really good.

If an album gets 10/10, it is so amazing you should go buy it immediately. There are only 2 albums in my collection that have this rating - Enigmatic Ocean by Jean-Luc Ponty and Genesis Live by Genesis (Pre 1976). I will post reviews of these at a later date.
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CD Review: Mahavishnu Orchestra - Inner Mounting Flame 
Inner Mounting FlameInner Mounting Flame by Mahavishnu Orchestra
Genre: Jazz, Rock, Fusion
Released: August 14, 1971
Rating: 8.8/10

The debut album of the Mahavishnu Orchestra brought John McLaughlin's vision of what fusion should be to world. This album maintains a forceful presence throughout the entire album giving each member of the band a chance in the spotlight. All of the members are high caliber players, so this is no dissappointment whether it be Jerry Goodman's violin playing or Billy Cobhams's rock solid beat.

Even the quiet "You Know, You Know," (I have done a version of this piece) there is still a special energy that is present in the music. McLaughlin, however, doesn't like to sit still. Most of the pieces include super-fast solos and themes. Throughout the pieces, McLaughlin will run a line in unison with Goodman or Hammer (on keys) that creates an especially unique tone that I've come to love in all of his music.

This is an amazing album and along with Birds of Fire, it is one of the band's best. If you are looking for a representative album of some of the style of Mahavishnu Orchestra, this is a great place to start. It also exemplifies the rock oriented side of the fusion genre and is an imperative addition to any fusion library.

iTunes
CD Universe
Amazon
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