Music and Recording Features

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Robert Baird  |  May 05, 2000  |  0 comments
"Here's somebody who just loves to sing." Over the telephone, Peter Guralnick sounds sad, incredulous. "But he's unable at the end of his life to force himself into the recording studio—the fear of completion, fear of exposing your untrammeled idea to execution. What a terrible thing to lose that ability, that faith in yourself."
Robert Baird  |  Oct 10, 2012  |  First Published: Oct 01, 2012  |  9 comments
It's the first rule of being a stereophile: sound quality is serious business. Simon Gibson, one of the engineers at Abbey Road Studios who worked on EMI's new Signature Collection of hybrid SACD/CDs, knows the drill: remaster and change the sound of a much-loved classical recording from the label's glorious back catalog and you risk becoming a target of blogs and forums. Gibson's aware that the more hallowed the recording, the more quickly knives come out at the mention of remastering.
Robert Baird  |  May 30, 2017  |  1 comments
For fans, of course, he's never been gone, not even for a minute. A jazz pianist who played from the heart and spent a tumultuous life fighting his demons while searching, as singer Tony Bennett has often said, "for truth and beauty," Bill Evans is now the subject of four previously unheard, recently released titles, on LPs, CDs, and downloads, of live recordings of his music. There's also, from Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, a new and superlative One-Step Process vinyl reissue of his classic Sunday at the Village Vanguard. Finally, there's a wonderful new documentary, Bill Evans: Time Remembered, a labor of love by a fan and titled for one of Evans's best-loved tunes. And, unlikely as it sounds, the demand for Evans's music is still strong enough to inspire a controversy over rights and clearances, 37 years after his death, in 1980, at the age of 51.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Aug 25, 2012  |  3 comments
Photo of the author in Bayreuth: Paul Hyde

For audiophiles, the acoustic of the Bayreuth Festspielhause in Germany, home of the annual festival of Richard Wagner's operas, vies with Amsterdam's Concertgebouw and Vienna's Musikverein as one of the most fabled for recording as well as listening. As a participant in the Music Critics of North America 2012 institute at the Festival, I had the opportunity to not only explore the venue from a near-ideal seat in Row 25 Center, but to also visit the fabled "covered pit" from which many of the greatest Wagner conductors of the last 136 years have led exalted performances.

John Atkinson, Igor Kipnis  |  Jun 08, 1996  |  0 comments
"Rarely, if ever, can this densely written sonata have been presented so lucidly with each note precisely in place...the dramatic and lyrical aspects were never slighted or taken for granted."
—Peter G. Davis, writing in the New York Times about Robert Silverman's New York debut in 1978, when he performed the Liszt B-Minor Piano Sonata in Alice Tully Hall.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Dec 24, 2012  |  7 comments
Just in time for the New Year, Cookie Marenco of Blue Coast Records has released the first-ever DSD (Direct-Stream-Digital) download of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra's recording of Mahler's Symphony No.1. Recorded live in Davies Symphony Hall in September 2001, shortly after 9/11, and first released as a hybrid SACD in 2003, the recording is one of the only four Mahler symphonies in SFSO's complete Mahler cycle that were recorded directly to DSD.

The Mahler 1 files, available in four formats, are all derived directly from San Francisco Symphony's master, not from a copy of the SACD. The formats include two DSD formats: DFF and DSF. For those whose computer playback software or DACs are not equipped to play DSD files, 24/96 and 16/44.1 PCM files in WAV format are also available.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jul 31, 2018  |  2 comments
We who love recordings of massed voices have learned the hard way that some succeed in blending vocal clarity with acoustic resonance, while others deliver echo-muddied jumbles. Happily, some very fine choral recordings have come my way in the last six months. Along with John Atkinson's acoustically stunning engineering of recordings by the vocally gifted Portland State Chamber Choir and the all-male ensemble Cantus, these aural documents do composers proud.
Richard Lehnert  |  Nov 17, 1987  |  0 comments
Frank Zappa on CD (and LP), Part I
Stereophile Vol.10 No.8, November 1987
Ken Micallef  |  Apr 14, 2022  |  27 comments
Celebrated New York City–based jazz drummer Billy Drummond recalls his first visit, with the group OTB ("Out of The Blue"), to the Mount Fuji Jazz Festival in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan. It was 1988. The Festival's elite drummers ranged in age from 69 (Art Blakey) to 26 (Ralph Peterson). In between were Roy Haynes, Tony Williams, Clifford Barbaro, Victor Lewis, Lewis Nash, Kenny Washington, Cindy Blackman—"and me," Drummond told me, by phone.
Robert Baird  |  Oct 15, 2015  |  1 comments
Playing the blues gets old fast. Since this most fundamental American popular music, stopped being the African-American party music of choice, and became a traditional music, celebrated as the precursor of rock'n'roll, blues players face a stark choice: change, or be content with playing small clubs and bars.
Robert Baird  |  Jun 27, 2017  |  2 comments
New Age. Most of it was acoustic. While there were vocals here and there, much of it featured instrumentalists playing solo or in groups. Some of it was meant to alleviate stress. Some of it was marginally connected to a similarly named movement in spirituality. Environmentalism and respect for nature were constant themes. Some New Age artists created moody, ambient sounds that were intended as background music, to promote healing and relaxation.
Robert Baird  |  Sep 15, 2011  |  0 comments
Big bands died out back in the 1950s, right? They went away when the jitterbug faded and folks began dancing to music other than swing? And then real jazz fans departed when the bebop soloists came along and made big-band players look clumsy and quaint?
Thomas Conrad  |  Aug 01, 2019  |  3 comments
Early in 2019, three jazz CDs appeared on a new record label. They were Jason Palmer's Rhyme and Reason, Johnathan Blake's Trion (both double CDs), and Eric Alexander's Leap of Faith. The label was Giant Step Arts.

Given that hundreds of jazz records—many of them good— are released every month, and that new jazz labels pop up all the time, is the release of three new albums really news?

Jason Victor Serinus  |  May 06, 2019  |  0 comments
What better way to get into the proper frame of mind for Munich High End than by listening to native German speaker baritone Matthias Goerne’s new recording of Schumann: Liederkreis, Op. 24—Kerner-Lieder Op. 35, with accompaniment by the distinguished piano soloist Leif Ove Andsnes? It’s available on CD (Harmonia Mundi HMM902353), as a download (up to 96/24), and streaming.
Robert Baird  |  Mar 05, 2014  |  2 comments
As songwriters go, Guy Clark has been touched by the muse more than most. Unfortunately, in recent years he's also been visited by illness and heartache. In June 2012, his wife of 40 years, Susanna Clark, who was both a songwriter ("Easy from Now On") and an artist (the cover of Willie Nelson's Stardust), died in Nashville. In the past several years Clark, 72, has battled lymphoma, had his knees replaced, and undergone an arterial replacement in one leg. He was being treated for skin cancer when I visited his home, south of Nashville, in October 2013.

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