Record review with Kevin Bryan

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“The Essential Gretchen Peters” (Proper Records)­

This wide­ranging two CD set brings together the cream of Nashville based singer­songwriter Gretchen Peters’ recorded repertoire, blendingbona fide career highlights with an appealing assortment of demos, B­sides and outtakes.

Self-penned creations understandably dominate proceedings, with “Blackbirds,” “Independence Day” and “On A Bus To St.Cloud” emerging as the best of a poignant and perceptive bunch.

Gretchen also reveals her rare qualiities as an interpretative singer with affecting covers of John Lennon’s “Love and the Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses,” the latter also featuring fellow country icons Suzy Gryphon, “Red Queen To Gryphon Three” (Talking Elephant)­ This unusual outfit were formed by two graduates from the Royal College of Music in the early seventies, who married their love of medieval and Renaissance music with a generous helping of traditional English folk. By the time that “Red Queen To Gryphon Three” came along in 1974 the influence of prog­rock was beginning to dominate their sound as the five piece band wielded esoteric instruments such as the krumhorn to excellent effect on a complex but curiously compelling concept album built loosely around the theme of chess. Fascinating stuff.

Tedeschi Trucks Band, “Let Me Get By” (Fantasy / Concord)­ Slide guitar ace Derek Trucks concluded his lengthy stint with the Allman Brothers when the veteran southern rockers finally gave up the ghost last year, but his equally fruitful partnership with wife Susan Tedeschi continues to go from strength to strength, and “Let Me Get By “ opens their Fantasy Records account with a genuinely soulful flourish. TTB’s passion for American roots music informs a splendidly eclectic package steeped in the spirit of classic soul, blues and r&b. “Anyhow,” “Don’tKnow What It Means” and “Right On Time” are stand­out tracks.

Trevor Pinnock, “Journey” (Linn Records)­ Historical performance specialist Trevor Pinnock has chosen to mark his seventieth birthday by releasing a new CD showcasing his highly personal selection of works for the harpsichord. The compositions featured here run the gamut from 16th century creations by the likes of Byrd, Tallis and the blind Spanish composer Antonio de Cabezon to the Baroque delights of Scarlatti and Handel, and Pinnock’s consumate keyboard artistry breathes new life into them all.