TONY BENNETT/BILL EVANS: The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album Tony Bennett, vocals; Bill Evans, piano JVC JVCXR-0208-2 (CD). 1975/2001. Helen Keane, prod.; Don Cody, eng.; Akira Taguchi, XRCD2 prod., Alan Yoshida, XRCD2 mastering eng. AAD?. TT: 35:09 Performance ***** Sonics ****
THE BAND: The Last Waltz Warner Bros./Rhino Entertainment R2 78278 (4 CDs). 1978/2002. Robbie Robertson, prod.; Rob Fraboni, John Simon, co-prods.; Larry Samuels, exec. prod.; Terry Becker, Tim Kramer, Elliot Mazer, Wayne Neuendorf, Ed Anderson, Neil Brody, engs. AAD? TT: 4:10:16 Performance ***** Sonics ****?
CHRIS STAMEY: Travels In the South
Yep Roc 2033 (CD). 2004. Chris Stamey, Jefferson Holt, prods.; Don Dixon, Greg Elkins, prods., engs.; Tim Harper, Brian Paulson, John Plymale, Wes Lachot, Logan Matheny, Dan Korneff, engs. AAD. TT: 52:30
DAVID CHESKY: Area 31 The Girl from Guatemala, Flute Concerto, Violin Concerto
Wonjung Kim, soprano; Jeffrey Khaner, flute; Tom Chiu, violin; Anthony Aibel, Area 31
Chesky SACD288 (SACD/CD). 2004. David Chesky, David Eggar, prods.; Barry Wolfson, eng.; Rick Eckerle, second eng.; Nicholas Prout, mastering, editing. AAD? TT: 56:31
JOHN ABERCROMBIE: The Third Quartet
John Abercrombie, electric & acoustic guitar; Mark Feldman, violin; Marc Johnson, bass; Joey Baron, drums
ECM 1993 (CD). 2007. Manfred Eicher, prod.; James Farber, eng. DDD. TT: 59:45
Paul Simon: So Beautiful or So What
Hear Music HRM-32814 (CD; the LP comes with a voucher for hi-rez downloads). 2011. Paul Simon, Phil Ramone, prods.; Andy Smith, eng. AAD? TT: 38:15
"Love & Blessings"? "Questions for the Angels"? It seems that Paul Simon, who will turn 70 in October, has begun to ask life's Big Questions in preparation for his own exit. Yet in this case, seeming is not reality, and at 69, Simon has returned to his polyglot musical influences (that he may or may not have heisted...but that's an argument for another day) to fashion a startlingly powerful collection of songs that successfully mix the jaunty near-danceability of his world-music adventures with serious lyrics about impending death, the vagaries of love, and, especially, the many unknowables contained in the word God.
Bill Evans: Live at Art D'Lugoff's Top of the Gate
Bill Evans, piano; Eddie Gomez, bass; Marty Morrell, drums
Resonance HLP-2012 (2 LPs/2 CDs, HDTracks 24/44.1k download). 1968/2012. George Klabin, exec. prod., mix, sound restoration; Zev Feldman, prod.; Fran Gala, mix, sound restoration, mastering. ADA/ADD. TT: 49:12/40:50
Sonics * to ***
Complain if you will, analog lovers, about the evils of digital technology, but in one area there isn't a whiff of argument: the esoteric pursuit of rescuing live recordings with marginal sound. Without question, manipulating ones and zeros has cleaned up a lot of nearly unlistenable bootlegs. This bit of buried treasure, while never unlistenable, has been rendered in sound that is, at times, very good. The two-star sonics rating, which may seem shocking for a "Recording of the Month," is an averagewhile the sound quality rates a single star in the opening, it's nearly up to four stars by Disc 2. The long-ago sounds of these two live sets of the Bill Evans trio playing mostly standards, recorded in a long-gone Greenwich Village club, Top of the Gate (it was literally above the better-known Village Gate jazz club), are, if not the holy grail, then a very gilded cup.