Recording of the Month

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Robert Baird Posted: May 15, 2008 0 comments
BON IVER: For Emma, Forever Ago
Jagjaguwar Jag 115 (CD). 2008. Justin Vernon, prod., eng. AAD? TT: 37:15
Performance ****1/2
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: May 15, 2009 0 comments
Willie Nile: House of a Thousand Guitars Circle P/River House RHR9904 (CD). 2009. Willie Nile, Brad Albetta, Frankie Lee, Andy York, prods.; Stewart Lerman, Rich Pagano, prods., engs.; Rich Lamb, eng. AAD? TT: 52:36 Performance ****½ Sonics ***½
Robert Baird Posted: May 15, 2010 0 comments
Johnny Cash: American VI: Ain't No Grave
Lost Highways/American Recordings B0013954-02 (CD). 2010. Rick Rubin, prod.; David Ferguson, eng.; Greg Fidelman, Jimmy Tittle, Paul Fig, Dan Leffler, asst. engs. AAD.? TT: 32:23
Performance ****½
Sonics ***½
Robert Baird Posted: May 06, 2011 1 comments
The Twilight Singers: Dynamite Steps
Sub Pop SPCD 844 (CD). 2011. Greg Dulli, prod.; Brenndan McGuire, Ben Mumphrey, Steve Nalepa, Mike Napolitano, others, engs. AAD? TT: 43:03
Performance ****
Sonics ****

Unleash "Retarded," the unforgettable first track of Up In It (1990), the Afghan Whigs' first Sub Pop album—the one with the eerie stitched-up hand on the cover—and immediately the madness seeps out. No one has ever done the angry leer and tormented spat quite like AW singer/songwriter Greg Dulli. As the charismatic leader of one of the nastiest, hardest-edged live acts ever to prowl a 1990s indie-rock stage, he and the Whigs were one of the Yo MTV 120 Minute generation's most striking acts—one that combined buzzy guitar thunder with odd but welcome leanings toward classic R&B that persist to this day in the Twilight Singers. The assault of the Cincinnati-based Whigs was led by Dulli, a seemingly normal Ohio boy whose unhinged wailing, self-flagellating lyrics, and shrieking, Cobra-like stage persona made him a rock star: dangerous candy for the girls, unhinged fury for the fellas.

Thomas Conrad Posted: May 01, 2012 0 comments
Ryan Truesdell: Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans
Ryan Truesdell, conductor; 35 musicians including those mentioned in text, plus: Scott Robinson, Charles Pillow, reeds; Greg Gisbert, trumpet; Marcus Rojas, tuba; Romero Lubambo, guitar; Lewis Nash, drums
ArtistShare AS0114 (CD). 2012. Ryan Truesdell, prod.; James Farber, eng. DAD. TT: 74:18
Performance *****
Sonics ****½

It is dreamlike when the opening track, "Punjab," begins so softly, with the tapping of a tabla. Exotic woodwinds, perhaps English horn and bassoon, murmur in the left channel, whisper in the right. It is dreamlike because Gil Evans died in 1988, yet this unfamiliar music sounds like him, and when suddenly that deep, solemn brass figure looms out of the right channel, it could only be him. More instruments enter, and more motifs, with brighter colors from alto saxophone and flute. Like all the greatest Gil Evans music, "Punjab" creates its own world of high drama and mysterious allusion. It belongs in the exalted company of such Evans masterpieces as Out of the Cool and Sketches of Spain. And it is new.

Robert Baird Posted: Apr 29, 2013 Published: May 01, 2013 0 comments
Doug MacLeod: There's a Time
Reference RR-130 (HDCD). 2013. Doug MacLeod, Janice Mancuso, prods.; Keith O. Johnson, Sean Royce Martin, engs. DDD? TT: 58:00
Performance ****½
Sonics ****½

Like a lot of other once-pure forms of American music, the blues today has become a swirl of influences, mixing folk, rock, rhythm & blues, and even Latin flavors into a music that its aficionados—that fervent contingent known as "blues nuts"—have grudgingly accepted as being a part of the music they adore. But if blues fans thought Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan muddied the wellsprings of the Devil's own music, it'll be only a matter of time before rappers mix blues in with their beats, and then—horror of horrors!—dance music begins to "borrow" from da blues. Rather than resist these changes, blues fans should willingly embrace any new energies brought into the music; rather than ruin, these fresh ideas and passions may actually revitalize a musical form that many already see as a museum piece.

Robert Baird Posted: Apr 22, 2014 Published: May 01, 2014 1 comments
WANTED: Jazz Hero. Must be willing and able to bring stunning new creative energies to a musical genre in danger of becoming stale and repetitive. Must be comfortable with a Marsalis level of celebrity. Saxophone or trumpet players preferred. Old men need not apply.

In 2011, jazz prayers were answered with the release of When the Heart Emerges Glistening, a brilliantly inventive mainstream jazz album led by Ambrose Akinmusire, a photogenic, 28-year-old trumpeter from Oakland, California. The young man had lots of fresh ideas, speed and dexterity to burn, and a unique tone, the combination of which brought back a flood of memories: Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Pops.

Richard Lehnert Posted: Apr 15, 2015 Published: May 01, 2015 3 comments
Bruckner: Symphony 8
Rémy Ballot, Upper Austrian Youth Symphony Orchestra
Gramola 99054 (2 SACD/CDs). 2015. John Proffitt, prod., eng.; Richard Winter, prod.; Rémy Ballot, Matthias Kronsteiner, eds., mastering. DDD. TT: 103:44
Performance ****½
Sonics *****

This performance of Bruckner's greatest, most generous work, his Symphony 8, took place in August 2014 in the basilica of St. Florian, the Austrian monastery where Bruckner was schooled and served as organist. It was taped before an audience, directly above the crypt in which Bruckner is buried. The band was the Upper Austrian Youth Symphony Orchestra: 130 players, average age 17, conducted by Rémy Ballot, a student of the late Sergiù Celibidache.

J. Gordon Holt Posted: Sep 10, 2014 Published: Nov 01, 1983 4 comments
1183rotm.250.jpgRimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade
Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Fritz Reiner conducting.
RCA ".5 Series" ARP1-W27 (LP).

In case you didn't already know, ".5" is RCA's name for their half-speed-–mastered line of audiophile LPs, whose releases to date have included many recordings, as well as some real gems, from their archive of older stereo recordings.

Their choice of old recordings is interesting to say the least, as it shows a side of RCA's classical division that we thought had atrophied and blown away many years ago: musical judgment. Instead of going for their most sonically spectacular tapes from yesteryear, the choices here were clearly made on the basis of musical performance first, with sound as a secondary consideration.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 30, 2011 Published: Nov 15, 1988 0 comments
A useful test CD has recently come my way, courtesy of the Stereophile editorial staff in Santa Fe (a copy was provided to each of the contributing equipment editors). Digital Test was produced in France by Pierre Verany (PV.788031/788032, 2 CDs), and is distributed in the USA by Harmonia Mundi. It provides a wide variety of tests and useful musical selections, but the subject of special interest here is its test bands for evaluation of laser-tracking and error-correction capability.

There are two interrelated parameters which, in the absence of drop-outs or information gaps—we'll get to them shortly—can affect the ability of a player to track the CD "groove" (or "whorl," as the quaintly translated disc booklet calls it): linear "cutting velocity" and track pitch. The standards for the first establish a range of 1.2 to 1.4 meters/second (the rotation speed of the disc varies from 500 to 200rpm from the inside to the outside of the disc to maintain this linear velocity); for the second, the spacing between adjacent tracks, from 1.50 to 1.70 micrometers (µm).

Richard Lehnert Posted: Jul 02, 2010 Published: Nov 02, 1989 0 comments
LAURA NYRO: Live at the Bottom Line
Cypress YL6430 (2 LPs), YD6430 (CD). Mark Linett, eng.; Laura Nyro, prod. AAA/AAD. TT: 62:00
Richard Lehnert Posted: Jul 06, 2009 Published: Nov 06, 1990 0 comments
KEITH JARRETT: Paris Concert
Keith Jarrett, piano
ECM 1401 (839 173-2, CD only). Peter Laenger, Andreas Newbronner, engs.; Manfred Eicher, prod. DDD. TT: 50:17
Richard Lehnert Posted: Aug 07, 2008 Published: Nov 07, 1991 0 comments
GONZALO RUBALCABA: Discovery
Gonzalo Rubalcaba, piano; Charlie Haden, bass; Paul Motian, drums
Blue Note CDP 7 95478 2 (CD only). Charlie Haden, prod.; David Richards, eng. DDD? TT: 54:06
Robert Hesson Posted: Nov 05, 1993 0 comments
ARTURO DELMONI: Music for Violin & Guitar
Handel: Sonata in E. Giuliani: Sonata in A, Op.85. Leisner: Sonata for Violin & Guitar. Kreisler: Andantino. Granados-Kreisler: Spanish Dance. Ravel: Pièce en forme de Habanera. Paganini: Cantabile. Chaminade-Kreisler: Serenade Espagnole.
Arturo Delmoni, violin; David Burgess, guitar
Athena Productions ACSC-10006 (CD only). Bob Katz, eng.; Arturo Delmoni, prod. DDD. TT: 62:04
Les Berkley Posted: Nov 22, 1994 0 comments
J.S. BACH: Suites for Solo Cello
Nathaniel Rosen, cello
John Marks Records JMR 6/7 (2 CDs only). Doris Stevenson, prod.; Jerry Bruck, eng. DDD. TT: 2:16:43

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