MUSIC FROM THE REAGAN ERA…Michael Manring: Unusual Weather, Darol Anger/Barbara Higbie Quintet: Live At Montreux

You know that you’re getting old when “New Age” music is actually old! At one time before Clinton #1 became president, there was a label Windham Hill which started a whole new craze of music. Emphasizing space and melody with a dash of improvisation, it took over radio, book stores, massage rooms and hip concert halls. Here are a couple worthy samples, displaying all the virtues, and you know what? It’s aged pretty darn well!

Michael Manning plays a variety of basses, percussion, piano, synthesizer and cello along with Bob Read/woodwinds, perc, Steve Bloom/perc, Bruce Martin/marimba, Kurt Wortman/dr and Michael Hedges/g on this 1986 release. Spacious and thoughtful sounds flow on the gentle drone of “Welcoming” and some ethereal vocals mix with high bass sounds on “Hughe Moon.” Pizzicato strings and percussion team up with piano on “Almost April” and folksy sonatas with clarinet and  piano are on “ Sung to Sleep.” A hymn-like “Not Even the Summer” sounds comfy with a hoe down of “Big Feelings’ “ soprano sax. Laid back and funky mellowness close the session with “Manthing.” Hey, it’s the 80s!

From 1985, violinist Darol Anger and  pianist Barbara Higbie played at the Montreux Jazz Festival with Mike Marshall/g-mand, Todd Phillips/b and Andy Narell/st-dr for music that is deceptively easy to take in, but with lots of sophistication. Anger’s folksy violin works well on “The Lights In The Sky Are Stars” and hints of Appalachian joy are evoked on “Near Northern.” Higbie’s piano sounds a lot like contemporary George Winston’s iconic impressionism on “Egypt” and the cozy “Daughter of Cups” and the two leaders do a lovely dance together on “Tideline.” Popular music has never been this clear and innocent since.

Adventure Music

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