Music and Recording Features

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Richard Lehnert  |  Nov 09, 2017  |  First Published: Sep 01, 1991  |  8 comments
Break On Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison by James Riordan and Jerry Prochnicky
544 pages, $20 hardcover. Published by William Morrow & Co., Inc., 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.

Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and The Doors by John Densmore
319 pages, $19.95 hardcover. Published by Delacorte Press, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10103.

With at least six books on Jim Morrison and The Doors now on the shelves, five published within the last year to take advantage of tie-in sales on the flowing, copious coattails of Oliver Stone's powerful film, The Doors, you'd think one of them, at least, might approach "very good," "excellent," even "definitive."

Not so.

Anne E. Johnson  |  Apr 07, 2022  |  3 comments
Jonathan Ward, a historian of recorded sound, has some surprising news. Thousands of early 78rpm recordings were made not to preserve music but as disposable materials for selling gramophones. With manufacturers hoping to expand their sales globally, demo records featured regional music aimed at appealing to regional.
Ken Micallef  |  May 30, 2019  |  4 comments
Louisiana-born, 58-year-old saxophonist Branford Marsalis has achieved singular status in the worlds of both jazz and classical music. He cut his teeth playing hard-hitting hard bop with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, led The Tonight Show band, and kicked it with the Grateful Dead. He's toured and recorded with Sting, costarred in the Spike Lee film School Daze (1988), and made his classical debut with the New York Philharmonic performing Glazunov's Concerto for Alto Saxophone on Central Park's Great Lawn.
Robert Baird  |  Feb 24, 2016  |  3 comments
All band photos copyright Capitol Photo Archives

Although there was a fall chill in the air, the front windows were open, and the sounds of perhaps the greatest Beach Boys ballad of all wafted into the Massachusetts night.

Perched on the edge of the couch, dear friend and Stereophile contributing music editor David Sokol—former editor-in-chief of New Country and Disney magazines, a man who's written about music for over 40 years and has yet to lose his passion for the stuff—was waxing poetic and weeping, ever so slightly, as the room filled with the intricate mix of voices that is "Kiss Me, Baby."

Robert Baird  |  Jan 04, 2018  |  1 comments
Is classical music really on the ropes? Living in New York City, it's easy to think that is a myth cooked up in the provinces.

Recently, at a performance of the Metropolitan Opera's fabulous current production of Jacques Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann, directed by Bartlett Sher, I experienced Classical Music 2017 up close and personal. In the audience, multicolored sequined jackets and cheetah-print slip-on sneakers mixed with tuxedos. Merrell hiking shoes and Patagonia down jackets crossed with slim-fit outfits from Billy Reid and Hermes bags. Between bravura tenor Vittorio Grigolo in the title role and soprano Erin Morley's absolutely wonderful portrayal of the doll, Olympia (Bravo!!!), it was a performance for the ages. None of the recordings I've heard come close.

Richard Lehnert  |  Apr 02, 2010  |  5 comments
I know of only one composer who measures up to Beethoven, and that is Bruckner.—Richard Wagner, 1882
Richard Lehnert  |  Jan 23, 2013  |  3 comments
This reconstruction of the Ninth's Finale is the result of 30 years' work by Bruckner scholars Nicola Samale, John A. Phillips, Benjamin-Gunnar Cohrs, and Giuseppe Mazzuca (SPCM). (See March 2010 feature story.) For this new "Conclusive Revised Edition 2012," SPCM shortened by 18 bars the coda, of which little of Bruckner's writing survives, and reworked it to include, based on Bruckner's description, a development of the trumpets' "Alleluia" in bar five of the Adagio. This works well, though the coda now seems a bit short. A further "final" edition is in the works.
Julie Mullins  |  Aug 10, 2021  |  0 comments
Crossing borders and genre boundaries is never easy, but for Bryce Dessner, it's become a familiar experience.

Dessner, 45, a classically trained guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, and composer, has racked up multi-hyphenates over the last couple of decades of his musical career. Arguably best known for his work with indie rock band The National—where he shares lead guitar, piano, songwriting, and other duties with his identical-twin brother Aaron—he's also an accomplished arranger and producer and cofounder of two record labels.

Elizabeth Cohen  |  Dec 31, 1995  |  0 comments
"He was a warrior...What he did was pry a chink out of the wall and let the light come through the hole. It's up to us to keep that hole open. We've got a world to save. This guy is going to kick our ass if we get up there and we haven't carried the torches."
---Ken Kesey, Funeral for Jerry Garcia, 8/11/95
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 20, 2014  |  9 comments
Move over John, George, Ringo, and Paul. There's another remastering that's come on the scene, and it's every bit as important as the Beatles Mono Edition. It's Warner Classics' high-resolution, 24/96 digital remastering of soprano Maria Callas' entire studio-sourced discography. Consisting of arias, recitals and complete operas recorded 1949–1969, the remasterings reach the international public on September 22, and US music lovers on September 23. Their sound, whether in the 69-CD box set of her entire studio recordings, or HDtracks' 24/96 downloads of its individual components, is revelatory.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 28, 2016  |  3 comments
Ever since I encountered Wilson Audio Specialties' Peter McGrath (above) playing his own digital recordings at audio shows, hanging out in the Wilson Audio room has proven the consistent highlight of my show coverage experience. Nor is it simply the quality of the musicianship that continues to draw me to McGrath's rooms. As anyone who has heard his work can attest, the man's ability to capture the unique characteristics of a performance venue, as well as the natural sound of voice and instruments, is second to none.
Wes Phillips  |  Jan 08, 2001  |  0 comments
Even though she calls her new band, 4x4, a "small" group, it's a big band—almost too big for the stage of the Knitting Factory on the night of October 11, 2000, as it makes its first American appearance. Bley's piano is so far to stage left, she has to lean against the wall and stoop under a hanging monitor speaker to address the audience. Four music stands dominate the rest of the apron—her front line of tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, trumpet, and trombone stand shoulder to shoulder, blocking the audience's view of Larry Goldings and his Hammond B3, drummer Billy Drummond, and bassist Steve Swallow, who stands 15' back and on a riser. If she'd showed up with her 17-piece band, they'd have had to have hung the horn sections from the rafters, like the sound system.
Robert Baird  |  Nov 13, 2012  |  0 comments
Humble, unprepossessing, modest are not words normally associated with lead guitarists, or lead singers, or lead anything. But Albert Lee, the Fender Telecaster devotee, has, by all accounts, always been refreshingly down to earth. The other unusual quality about Lee is that he's an English guitarist who, in country music, can hold his own against any American player.
Robert Baird  |  Jan 07, 2012  |  0 comments
Up on the old church altar, under the ceiling's massive and ornate wooden arches, in front of an array of stained glass whose center panel has been replaced with a modern rendering of a trio of bluesmen, singer and harmonica player Phil Wiggins and singer-guitarist Corey Harris are nearing the end of their set. Wiggins pauses, looks at his watch, and smiles.

"Time flies when you're playing blues in a church."

Ken Micallef  |  Oct 09, 2019  |  13 comments
Armando Anthony "Chick" Corea belongs to that elite cadre of pianists that includes Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, and Mccoy Tyner, pioneers who reshaped the jazz or- der starting in the early 1960s and continued to make strides into the present day.

The now-78-year-old Corea's attainments are many: composer of the standards "la fiesta," "Spain," "500 Miles High," "Matrix," and "Windows"; winner of 22 Grammy Awards (and 64 nods); founder of at least six colossal improvising units (Return to Forever I and II, Circle, the Three Quartets quartet, the Chick Corea Elektric Band, the Vigil Quintet); popularizer of early monophonic synthesizers, and recipient, in 2006, of an NEA Jazz Masters award.

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