Stereophile Test CD 3 Music Tracks 8-9

Music Tracks 8-9

[8] Airto Moreira and the Gods of Jazz: "Nevermind" (ADD) 7:43
(from Killer Bees, B&W Music BW041)
Composers: Herbie Hancock, Stanley Clarke, Airto Moreira (Solimar Too/ASCAP, administered by Bug Music)
Musicians: Herbie Hancock (piano); Stanley Clarke (double-bass); Airto Moreira (drums, percussion)
Producer: Flora Purim
Executive Producer: Robert Trunz
Recording Engineers: Daniel Protheroe, with Anders Johansson
Recording Venue: Sound Design, Santa Barbara, CA
Recording Date: November 1989
Mixed at: Ronnie Scott's Studios, London, England, May 1993 by Chris Lewis with Airto Moreira

Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira organized the 1989 sessions that produced B&W Music's Killer Bees album in memory of the '70s, when he lived in New York and would jam all night long with such fellow-minded musicians as Chick Corea, Dave Holland, and Jan Hammer. He decided to record an album of free-form, improvised jazz, and first called keyboard player Chick Corea and electric-bassist Mark Egan, then called pianist Herbie Hancock and bass player Stanley Clarke. According to Airto, "Herbie Hancock drove down from L.A. in his classic Cobra sports car, stopping on the way to admire the scenery and phone to say he was going to be late. Life in Herbie-time.

"Stanley also came down from L.A. When they arrived, they looked around for music charts and parts written for them.

" 'We're just going to jam,' I told them.

"They looked like I had just announced a public holiday. 'You mean you don't know what we are going to play?' they asked smiling.

" 'That's right. I have no idea,' I replied. It was a deliberate move. I wanted everyone to be totally free musically...Most songs were first takes..."

"Nevermind" features Herbie Hancock on acoustic piano and Stanley Clarke on acoustic bass. Airto writes of the song: "A beautiful introduction created spontaneously by Herbie on the spot. I said, 'Herbie can you just strike a ballad intro? If you want to write some chords, go ahead.' He said to Stanley, 'These are the chords,' and started to play. The chords changed but Stanley knew instinctively where to go.

"I don't play chords, just rhythms, sounds, and colors. Herbie and Stanley are playing one riff (with Stanley on very rare acoustic bass) and I'm playing something completely different, deliberately, to avoid the usual jazz grooves. What I did was irregular and free, to counterpoint the others.

"The technique fuels the moment when we join up again, in double time, and it sounds great...Listen to Stanley's acoustic bass solo. A rare experience and a great honor. Check out his technique and taste—there's a phrase on the solo that blows me away every time I hear it.

"I predict it will do the same for you."

Indeed, it blew us away—which is why, of all the great cuts on Killer Bees, we selected "Nevermind" for Test CD 3.

What you should hear: Herbie Hancock's piano is very close miked, almost as if you were peering over the pianist's shoulders. As a result, the action of the sustain pedal should be almost physical when it releases. While Stanley Clarke's double bass is also recorded close, I would go so far as to say that it's the best-recorded jazz double bass I've heard—listen to the sheer power in the tolling-bell passage before the sound of surf fades the track out. The cymbals lack a little top-octave air compared with those on the Sara K. track, but the song takes off like an F-15 on full afterburner as Hancock's shimmering, Coltrane-like sheets of sound lead to Clarke's solo.

For more information on B&W Music (now Melt 2000) releases, contact Melt 2000.

[9] Dean Peer: "Lord's Tundra" (DDD) 3:38
(from Ucross, Redstone RR91012)
Composer: Dean Peer (High House Music/ASCAP)
Producer: Dean Peer
Executive Producer: Jan Koudelka
Recording Engineer/Production Consultant: Park Peters
Pre-Production: Gary Flori, Pete Coggan
Technical Support: Steve Monroe
Recording Date: 1991
Recorder: DAT

A highlight for me of the '92 recorded year was electric-bassist and composer Dean Peer's debut solo album, Ucross. So often the Cinderella of the modern rock and jazz ensemble, the electric bass takes flight in Peer's hands as he "expands the instrument's horizons with his emotional playing," as Relix magazine stated it. How can one instrument sound like an entire band? A feature of Peer's performance style since 1985 is his virtuoso use of artificial harmonics—flute-like tones—to state melodies, while the precisely picked lower notes chart a work's rhythmic foundation. In fact, Peer has literally "written the book" on the use of bass-guitar harmonics. According to Option magazine, "whatever he plays, the harmonic richness and general sonic elegance of Peer's sound cannot be overemphasized; in his hands, a four-stringed electric bass has more scope and panache than a six-stringed guitar in the hands of lesser musicians."

Ucross is a suite of tone poems relating to or depicting the characters of people Dean Peer met during a visit to the Ucross Ranch in 1990. Of the cut "Lord's Tundra" featured on this CD, Peer writes that it is a landscape inspired by his friend, the novelist Nancy Lord.

What you should hear: Recorded live to DAT, "Lord's Tundra" starts with a virtuoso demonstration of rasgueado, a classical guitar technique whereby the fingers of the right hand each strike the strings in turn to give a fast yet delicate strumming effect, triplets in the case of this triple-time piece contrasted against a low D fundamental (37.6Hz), detuned from the bass's usual E-string 41.2Hz. Listen for the third chorus, where Peer appears to invert the melody and accompaniment. In the bridge passage, Peer makes use of an electronic stereo chorus effect, as well as harmonics, unvoiced notes, and hooking the upper string with his fingers while he hammers the lower strings with his thumb.

Click here for more information on Dean Peer's books on bass guitar technique. Ucross was originally released by High House Music, then in a special edition by Classic Records.

mav52's picture

eveytime I try to order this test disc it brings me to the review.  Not the page to move to check out.

BacHolz's picture

As above, attempts to order this "Stereophile Test CD 3" brings me to the review page, not checkout.

John Atkinson's picture

attempts to order this "Stereophile Test CD 3" brings me to the review page, not checkout.

I just went to the shop page for Test CD 3 - - and when you click on "Add to Cart" it works properly. However, when I went to the Test CD page - - and clocked on "Buy Now" yes it opened this page.

Clinking on "Buy Now" for Test CD 2 brought up a page for both Test D 2 and Test CD 3.

We will fix this problem.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

hellmwc's picture

Great test CD,... The recordings are exceptional in every respect.

Regarding the CD booklet; Is this available as a PDF file for download?

Thank you,

William Hellman

John Atkinson's picture
hellmwc wrote:
Regarding the CD booklet; Is this available as a PDF file for download?
Unfortunately not. But the booklet text was identical to what is published in this Web article.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Satya's picture

I am unable to use any of the links in the article or in the comments. I would like to purchase this CD.