Let's Not Fall In Love Again in 2011 marked a career high for Malaysian singer Nicholas Teo. The lush ballad was a karaoke-ready, radio- friendly hit which also managed to tug at the heartstrings with its swell and ebb of emotions.
He has taken his time to follow up on that record of the same name.
This five-track EP seems to offer a snapshot of a more introspective Teo. No Ifs In Life finds him musing over gentle guitars: "No ifs in life, for example/But if my life changed, what would be the result."
To the question, What Kind Of Person Are You Now, he responds: "Only want to be a simple person, yet I've become a complicated man/To be free of wants, yet pray for life to be rich."
Dilemmas abound. It is a good thing that this EP is no blatant attempt to replicate his former success, but at the same time, one keeps hoping for another gorgeous ballad by Teo to sweep one away.
TO BE... NICHOLAS
Mini Art Entertainment/Good Tengz Entertainment
It has been 36 years since the Belgrade-born pianist Ivo Pogorelich burst onto the scene after being eliminated in the semi-finals of the 1980 Chopin International Piano Competition. Martha Argerich's famous walkout from the jury sealed his notoriety, which was further fuelled by his unconventional attire and provocative interpretations.
IVO POGORELICH COMPLETE RECORDINGS
Deutsche Grammophon 479 4350 (14CDs)
He recorded 14 albums for the German yellow label from 1981 to 1995, all of which have been reissued here. His playing ranged from transcendental to outright perversity, uncommon and unpredictable genius a given.
Begin with his "brave new world" debut all-Chopin recital, which includes a brisk, angular and unsentimental Second Sonata Funeral March. Must-listens are his Ravel Gaspard De La Nuit, one of the best versions ever committed to disc, coupled with a blistering account of Prokofiev's Sixth Sonata, and excitable takes on Bach's Second and Third English Suites.
The downsides include an auto mechanic's view of Beethoven's last Sonata Op.111, a bloated Mussorgsky Pictures At An Exhibition, and a constipated Brahms recital. Also, how could anyone possibly make Maurice Ravel's Valses Nobles Et Sentimentales sound this ponderous?
In between, there are illuminating views of Domenico Scarlatti, Haydn and more Chopin, which sound quirky at first but grows on one upon further listening.
Chang Tou Liang
In an effort to update Sergei Prokofiev's 1930s children's musical adventure to the present day, the American creative team of Giants Are Small have crafted a prequel set in Los Angeles of the 21st century. Peter is an orphaned Russian boy who moves to America to live with his hippie grandfather who is a gardener at a once-famous actor's Beverly Hills mansion. A wolf escapes from the zoo, gobbles a school of ducks and sets Peter on his big game hunt.
PETER AND THE WOLF IN HOLLYWOOD
Alice Cooper (Narrator)
National Youth Orchestra of Germany
Alexander Shelley (Conductor)
Deutsche Grammophon 479 4888
The prequel takes up half the disc and includes a redundant episode where Peter builds a giant robot for his quest which breaks down anyway. It contains no new music, instead cleverly splicing together music by Richard Wagner, Edward Elgar, Alexander von Zemlinsky, Erik Satie and others before seguing into Prokofiev's iconic score.
The narrator is rock icon Alice Cooper, who is engaging in an easy, avuncular manner, regularly dropping words such as "dude" and "cool". The hunters of the original story are replaced by camera-toting paparazzi and there are also American-styled radio news commentaries.
The young German orchestra is excellent and this version can be safely recommended for children's enjoyment wherever one comes from.
Chang Tou Liang
Pianist Kenny Barron, at 72, is something of a grand old man of jazz piano, having played with everyone from Ron Carter and Dizzy Gillespie to Charlie Haden and Stan Getz. As a leader, he can play hard-driving bebop while as a sideman, he can offer tenderly sweet accompaniment (check out Night And The City, his 1998 live recording with the late Haden).
BOOK OF INTUITION
Kenny Barron Trio
This album marks a welcome return to leadership position as he records with bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa and drummer Jonathan Blake, with whom he has played in live gigs for 20 and 10 years respectively.
The easy camaraderie between the musicians is evident in the relaxed fashion they hand off improvisations to one another. Witness the opening track Magic Dance, which starts with Barron's meandering solo before kicking into a Latin groove driven by Kitagawa's bouncy bass and Blake's light but propulsive cymbal and drumwork.
The rest of the album offers lightning tour through jazz genres. Bud Like is a tribute to pianist Bud Powell's classic avalanche of notes style of playing while Nightfall sees Barron in a contemplative mood.
The numbers in which Barron's nimble fingers seem to delight in the most are Thelonious Monk-inspired. Shuffle Boil kicks off with Monk's skip-scatter signature Bemsha Swing before detouring into a delightfully lengthy series of improvs lovely solo turn.
A classy and classic album from one of jazz's living legends and worth setting on repeat mode.
Ong Sor Fern