Music and Recording Features

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Ken Micallef  |  Jun 25, 2021  |  10 comments
When Pat Metheny was growing up in the small Missouri town of Lee's Summit, his family's home stood within can't-even-hear-yourself-shouting distance of the Missouri Pacific railroad. trains, tornadoes, freezing winters, hot summers, small-town isolation—all fed an imagination that (combined with plenty of practice) fed a legendary music career.
Robert Baird  |  May 03, 2016  |  5 comments
Don't get me wrong—it was a nice surprise. It's always good to find another member of the cult, someone else interested in music and sound, and proud to be called an audiophile. But . . . Peter Wolf?

"What's John Atkinson like?"

"Here's the $64,000 question: What's in your system?"

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Apr 05, 2019  |  10 comments
Philip Glass (b. 1937) may not quite be a household name in America, but he's surely as well-known as any living classical composer, and the repetitive minimalism that is the hallmark of his music has influenced everything from rock music to TV commercials. Still, after 5 decades of composing, it took a commission from Chicago-based Third Coast Percussion for Glass to write his first concerto for percussion ensemble, Perpetulum—"What took them so long to ask me?" Glass has said about the commission. TCP has just released the premiere recording of the 21:23 minute concerto on their new 2-CD set, Perpetulum (OM 0132), from Glass's own label, Orange Mountain Music. The recording, which was engineered in 24/96, is also available as a download with those specifications.
John Atkinson, Richard Lehnert, Denis Stevens  |  Sep 03, 1989  |  0 comments
Why had a high-end hi-fi magazine felt the need to produce a classical LP when the thrust of real record companies in 1989 is almost exclusively toward CD and cassette? Why did the magazine's editors think they had a better chance than most experienced professional engineers in making a record with audiophile sound quality? Were they guilty of hubris in thinking that the many years between them spent practicing the profession of critic would qualify them as record producers?
John Atkinson  |  Jul 18, 2004  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2004  |  0 comments
The upbeat is the most magic moment in classical music making. Before the conductor brings down his baton for the downbeat, anything and everything are possible in the musical journey that is about to begin. And the upbeat to Mozart's sublime Clarinet Concerto that conductor Robert Bailey was about to give in London's Henry Wood Hall last November gave me an extra frisson—as producer of the recording sessions, I would have to pronounce instant judgment on everything I was about to hear.
Robert Baird  |  Oct 08, 2014  |  1 comments
Fifty-four years after it was recorded, Hank Mobley's immortal Soul Station has become a tale of two LPs.

One, the original pressing (mono or stereo), is an artifact, an insanely valuable antique, the object of fevered jazz collectors the world over.

The other is a fresh vinyl reissue, cut from a high-resolution digital remastering of the original master tapes, that's meant to bring in younger listeners, or those interested enough in the music that they'll pay $19.95 for a new LP.

John Swenson  |  Feb 07, 2017  |  First Published: May 01, 1997  |  14 comments
1996 was a banner year for Ray Davies—one of the most talented writers and conceptualists rock has ever produced. After more than 30 years with The Kinks, the group he has led off and on along with his younger brother Dave, Ray was enjoying a new career as a solo artist. His keen wit and storytelling ability enabled him to take his remarkable one-man play, 20th Century Man, to packed houses and critical acclaim all over the United States. The play, based loosely on his equally remarkable fictionalized autobiography, X-Ray, provided a unique insight into the forces that have shaped Ray Davies's long, prolific career as a rock songwriter.
Various  |  May 03, 1990  |  0 comments
In the Fall of 1989, Stereophile magazine released its first recording, of Gary Woodward and Brooks Smith playing flute sonatas by Prokofiev and Reinecke, and a work by American composer Griffes that gave the LP its title: Poem (footnote 1). The full story was published in the September 1989 issue (p.66). We wanted to offer our readers an LP of acoustic music made with the minimum of electronics and processing—the sounds of the instruments would be as true to reality as possible. The images of the instruments were also captured with a purist microphone technique so that, with even a halfway decent system, a true soundstage would be created between and behind the loudspeakers when the recording was played back.
Stereophile Staff  |  Jan 26, 2017  |  24 comments
Never in the history of our venerable "Records To Die For" feature has the word Die come to mean as much as it has in the past year. Merle Haggard, Phife Dawg, Rudy Van Gelder, Maurice White, Glenn Frey, Otis Clay, Blowfly, Bob Cranshaw, George Martin, Steve Young, Chips Moman, Lonnie Mack, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones, Leon Russell, Ralph Stanley, David Bowie—all died in the past year. So to drive away any evil spirits that may be hovering over this year's R2D4 extravaganza, we may need to think of this 2017 installment more as "Records to Live For."
Fred Kaplan  |  Jun 03, 2021  |  2 comments
A review of the Archie Shepp/Jason Moran duet album Let My People Go, in the April issue, may have startled some readers. Shepp is a tenor saxophonist known for tearing across the fiercest climes of the avant-garde (his seminal album is called Fire Music); yet at 83, he's playing standards, spirituals, and slow blues. In fact, Shepp has been exploring such traditional terrain for several decades. So—for the debut of an occasional column on underappreciated albums, artists, genres, and labels—let's shine some light on Archie Shepp's ballads.
Robert Baird  |  May 06, 2014  |  First Published: May 01, 2014  |  0 comments
Making a recording is always a personal journey—everyone has a story to tell. Jazz violinist Regina Carter's latest, Southern Comfort, is an eloquent musical expression of Carter tracing the roots of her paternal lineage back five generations. For the project's sound engineer, Joe Ferla, it's the final project of a engineering career, and the beginning point of his new life as a practicing musician. The entwining of these journeys gives the album's music and sound a rare honesty.
Sam Tellig  |  Sep 22, 2011  |  1 comments
Kurt Sanderling died on September 17 in Berlin, just two days shy of his 99th birthday—of "old age," according to his eldest son Stefan. Sanderling was the last of a generation of conductors displaced by Hitler—an exodus that included Otto Klemperer, Josef Krips, Sir George Solti, Erich Leinsdorf, Bruno Walter, who all went West. (Never mind that Klemperer had converted to Catholicism and that Krips was half-Jewish.) Sanderling fled East, to the Soviet Union.
Fred Kaplan  |  Sep 22, 2020  |  11 comments
The late pianist Bill Evans may be the most reissued jazz musician in the catalogs of audiophile record labels. There are reasons for that: He played standards, mainly ballads (many audiophiles shun the avantgarde), almost never in groups larger than trios (stereo systems often do best with small-scale ensembles). Whether by design or chance, his best recordings were miked by superb engineers. Perhaps because of that, proprietors of high-end labels have cherished Evans's music with heightened passion.
Jim Austin  |  Oct 21, 2020  |  3 comments
Last month, I received so few vinyl reissues that I had to invite a guest writer—jazz critic and political commentator Fred Kaplan—to fill in. Fred had managed to grab an early copy of the excellent Analogue Productions 45rpm reissue of Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival. I didn't get mine until a week or so after his review was submitted.

This month, I have a tall stack to choose from, so I'll mention several.

Art Dudley  |  Dec 17, 2019  |  6 comments
Think of the greatest commercial LPs made during the past 72 years: the Solti-Culshaw recording of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, Magda Tagliaferro's D'ombre et de lumiere, Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come, John Lennon's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, and a thousand or so others.

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