Music and Recording Features

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Kalman Rubinson  |  Mar 25, 2007  |  0 comments
Iván Fischer, founder and conductor of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, has performed with many major orchestras and recorded for a number of major labels, most significantly with Philips, from 1995 to 2004. Fischer/BFO made the first multichannel orchestral recording for SACD, which Philips used as a demonstration disc for their first SACD players. I still treasure that disc—it demonstrates many of the advantages of the medium with a wide and varied program—but it has never been commercially released.
Robert Baird  |  Jan 29, 2015  |  8 comments
For famously civilized and jaded New York City, the crowd at the resplendent Beacon Theatre is uncommonly involved. Loud requests, many in tangled liquor dialects, boom from the balcony:

"'REDNECK FRIEND'!"

Onstage, Jackson Browne smiles and shakes his head.

"'COCAINE'!"

"I could do that, but it would have to be the rehab version." [crowd roars]

"'FOR A DANCER'!"

Oh, wait—I'm yelling that.

Ken Micallef  |  Aug 05, 2020  |  16 comments
On iconic singer-songwriter James Taylor's 20th album, American Standard, the lanky crooner adapts the classic American songbook to his easy-rolling musical ways. The result is an American mixture of timeless songcraft.

Where some popular singers use the songbook canon to increase record and ticket sales, Taylor has no need to change himself or increase his audience. He's as comfortable as any man can be, having sold many millions of records the world over for almost 50 years.

Ken Micallef  |  Apr 04, 2019  |  6 comments
"I have an organic approach toward music but I've always been interested in electronics," says Jean-Michel Jarre, whose luxurious electronic pop conquered the world in 1976 with his hit album Oxygène. Even today, Oxygène's bubbling tones and saturated textures provide a blissful sonic experience. "I love jazz because of its organic approach to sound, and I've been influenced by that. I always thought that jazz and electronic music have much more in common than we think."
Ken Micallef  |  May 08, 2020  |  10 comments
In a 2014 profile in the New Yorker, Paul Elie, author of the book Reinventing Bach, wrote, "There it was again: the stinging treble, the spooky overtones, the strings snapping and booming under his hands—the sound of a Tele being played as skillfully and exuberantly as it can be played."

The musician in question was Jim Campilongo . . .

Robert Baird  |  Dec 02, 2015  |  22 comments
Talk dirty to me!

"I had to master this record 11 times to get it to sound the way I wanted," Joanna Newsom growled with the knowing grit of someone who's worked through a sonic ordeal.

"Instead of test pressings, we had test lacquers for this one."

"I have no way to listen to music digitally in my house."

Oooh, baby!

At a time when the future of print is troubled, Newsom can make even a magazine editor feel slightly more secure.

"I love your magazine. I love your publication."

Robert Baird  |  Apr 28, 2011  |  0 comments
Whistling ductwork, whirring fans, murmuring pipes—along with being jazz's most storied location, a living shrine to the memories of Bill Evans, John Coltrane, and so many others, Manhattan's Village Vanguard, on Seventh Avenue South, was, on this winter's night, the Das Boot of jazz. In every corner, every stairwell, every square foot of available backstage space, some kind of furnace machinery audibly ground, banged, and/or wheezed away.
Sasha Matson  |  Jul 02, 2019  |  0 comments
American composer John Adams and I first met in the late 1970s, when I became one of his composition students at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. My recollections from those days endure as near-cinematic images: John lugging his homemade synthesizer—he called it "the Studebaker"—down the hall prior to meeting me at his office; an early performance, at Mills College in Oakland, of Adams's Shaker Loops (footnote 1) for string septet; sitting with Adams during rehearsals for the 1981 premiere of his choral symphony Harmonium (footnote 2), with Edo De Waart and the San Francisco Symphony.
Ken Micallef  |  Feb 14, 2019  |  2 comments
Only a few months after the extraordinary news and release of John Coltrane's Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album on Impulse! Records, which revealed the tenor and soprano saxophonist deep in transitional mode, comes Universal Music/Verve's attempt to cash in on the Trane fever. Joining music from The Lost Album with selections from other albums recorded by Coltrane in that year, 1963: New Directions brings Coltrane's legacy to our commercially crass, modern marketplace.
Ken Micallef  |  Jun 27, 2018  |  36 comments
A stunning jazz discovery presented at a historic citadel of recording technology. That event took place June 11, when the new John Coltrane recording, Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album, which will be released June 29, was unveiled at Van Gelder Studio, the fabled location where the celebrated engineer recorded many jazz masterpieces.
Ken Micallef  |  Nov 06, 2018  |  2 comments
Photo: Nicholas Suttle

Electric guitarist John Scofield, winner of multiple Grammy Awards, has a knack for staying a step ahead of musical trends. In hundreds of jazz settings, "Sco" and his signature Ibanez AS200 guitar and Fender Reverb amplifier have created a unique style and sound that have earned him a popularity beyond jazz's usual audience.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jul 12, 2019  |  12 comments
Thirty-two years after it was recorded, pianist Keith Jarrett’s live reading of J.S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, has seen the light of day.
Robert Baird  |  Dec 20, 2011  |  5 comments
For the musically prolific, releasing too many records too close together can be problematic or worse. Just because you can make a record every week in your home studio doesn't mean you should. The impulse to commit every golden thought and performance to tape without self-editing or even pausing to reflect screams narcissism run amok. Asking listeners—even dedicated fans—to then buy and spend time listening to half-baked nonsense that might have become something, given more time and care, is a sure career destroyer. There's truth in the old saw about building demand, avoiding saturation, and creating a hunger among the listening public. Most critical of all, despite downloads, piracy, and Lady Gaga's pointy hats and eggshell entrances, the old Hollywoodism still applies: while spontaneity may sound like a radical idea, you're only as good as your last album.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jul 26, 2019  |  0 comments
Czech composer Leoš Janáček was already in his 60s and married when, in 1917, he fell hopelessly in love with Kamila Stösslová, a married woman 38 years his junior. Although it wasn’t the first time that Janáček had fallen in love with an “unobtainable,” his passion for Kamila was all-consuming. During the final 11 years of his life, while he lived under the same roof with a wife whom he had informally divorced, he sent Stösslová almost 730 letters and was inspired by his love for her to compose many of his greatest works.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Sep 09, 2021  |  0 comments
As she moves quietly across the huge scoring stage at Skywalker Studios toward the large, comfortable control room that sits behind glass, it's obvious that Leslie Ann Jones is in charge. She wears no badge that proclaims her authority, although her professional title is impressive: "Director of Music and Scoring, Music and Scoring Recording Engineer and Mixer".

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