Recording of the Month

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Kurt Gottschalk  |  Nov 24, 2021  |  5 comments
John Coltrane: A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle
Impulse!/UMe (CD B0034290-02, LP B0034291-01, download). 2021. Ravi Coltrane, prod.; Kevin Reeves, eng.
Performance *****
Sonics ***½

John Coltrane's career as a bandleader can be divided, with haphazard tidiness, into three periods. His so-called classic quartet with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones, which deserves every bit of its legendary status, dominates the 1962–1965 middle section and encompasses Coltrane's greatest achievements. Before that was the ramp-up and after lay the free jazz experiments.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Oct 26, 2021  |  9 comments
J.S. Bach: Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, Vols. 1 and 2
Zuill Bailey, cello
Octave Records OCT-0008 (Multiple formats; auditioned as DSD64). 2021. Five/Four Productions, Ltd.: Thomas C. Moore, prod.; Robert Friedrich, eng.
Performance ****½
Sonics *****

Why is Stereophile publishing its fourth review (at least) in three years of a recording of Bach's Six Cello Suites? Partly it's because the suites, which were composed ca 1720 but remained in obscurity until a young Pablo Casals rediscovered them in a secondhand sheet music store in Barcelona in 1890, contain some of the most joyous, moving, and profound music in the Western classical music canon. It's also because these two volumes, which present Grammy Award–winning cellist Zuill Bailey's second recorded exploration of the suites (the first was on Telarc more than two decades ago), abound in astoundingly beautiful musicianship illumined by fresh insights and superb engineering.

Fred Kaplan  |  Sep 23, 2021  |  3 comments
Various Artists: Kimbrough
Fred Hersch, Helen Sung, Craig Taborn, Dan Tepfer, Gary Versace, piano; Ben Allison, Jay Anderson, Rufus Reid, bass; Steve Cardenas, Ben Monder, guitar; Ted Nash, Joe Lovano, Danny McCaslin, Scott Robinson, Alexa Tarantino, Immanuel Wilkins, reeds; Dave Douglas, Kirk Knuffke, trumpets; Ryan Keberle, trombone; Olivia Chindamo, vocals; Billy Drummond, Clarence Penn, Matt Wilson, drums; 44 others.
Newvelle/Bandcamp. Elan Mehler, prod.; Marc Urselli, eng.
Performance ****½
Sonics ****

Frank Kimbrough was one of the most beloved figures in jazz and the most puzzlingly unsung among the great jazz musicians of our time. When he died on December 30, 2020, at the age of 64, there was much mourning among his colleagues—which explains why, over a three-day period this past May, it was possible to corral 67 of them to cover 58 of his compositions, without pay, for this download-only album. The proceeds will fund a scholarship in his name at Juilliard, where he taught. The good cause aside, the $20 download charge is crazy cheap for five and a half hours of music from some of New York's finest jazz musicians.

John Swenson  |  Aug 19, 2021  |  1 comments
Big Chief Monk Boudreaux: Bloodstains & Teardrops
Whiskey Bayou Records WSK 1006 (CD). 2021. Tab Benoit, Rueben Williams, prods.; Steven Stanley, Michael "Boxy" Howell, Benoit, engs.
Performance ****
Sonics ****

The Africans brought to the Americas to be sold into slavery were denied every vestige of their past except their memories. And yet, they preserved their rituals in dances, songs, and stories, playing the sacred rhythms that accompanied those rituals on whatever found objects they could use to fashion beats. The customs of American peoples from various African regions have been traced to specific destinations in colonial outposts in research detailed by scholars such as John Storm Roberts in Black Music of Two Worlds and Ned Sublette in several of his African-diaspora studies.

Thomas Conrad  |  Jul 22, 2021  |  3 comments
Francesco Cafiso: Irene of Boston
Cafiso, alto saxophone; London Symphony Orchestra; four others
EFLAT EF0003 (CD, available as download, LP). 2020. EFLAT, prod.; Riccardo Piparo, Mat Bartram, Francesco Lupi, Roberto Romano, engs.
Performance *****
Sonics ****

The first time I heard Francesco Cafiso, I thought I was hallucinating. It was 2005. I had flown to Australia from Seattle to cover the Melbourne Jazz Festival. Cafiso appeared the first night. He was 15. He played the most outrageous bebop I had ever heard outside of Charlie Parker records. I thought I was delusional from jet lag.

John Swenson  |  Jun 16, 2021  |  1 comments
The Who: The Who Sell Out
Universal 7711420 (5 CDs, 2 7" singles). 1967/2021. Kit Lambert, Pete Townshend, prods.; Damon Lyon-Shaw, Jon Astley, Andy MacPherson, other engs.
Performance *****
Sonics ****

This 5-CD box-set version of The Who Sell Out is the latest iteration of a 54-year-old work-in-progress. It contains an unrivaled wealth of recorded information covering the period between the Who's second album, A Quick One (Happy Jack in the US), and the monumental rock opera Tommy.

Kurt Gottschalk  |  May 11, 2021  |  1 comments
Damon Locks & Black Monument Ensemble: NOW
International Anthem Recording Company IARC0039 (LP, download). 2021. Damon Locks and Black Monument Ensemble, prods.; Alex Inglizian, eng.
Performance *****
Sonics ****

In its sixth year, International Anthem seriously stepped up production. 2020 saw the Chicago label releasing a fast succession of rewarding albums, including a standout disc by Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker and adventurous jazz by Rob Mazurek and the collective Irreversible Entanglements.

Dan Ouellette  |  Apr 22, 2021  |  4 comments
Daniel Lanois: Heavy Sun
eOne Music EMC-CD-28392 (CD). 2021. Daniel Lanois, Wayne Lorenz, prods.; Daniel Lanois, Wayne Lorenz, engs.; Noah Mintz, mastering.
Performance ****½
Sonics ****½

Daniel Lanois may not be a household name as a solo artist, but over four decades he has gained great notoriety as a producer. After serendipitously catching Brian Eno's attention with his homespun recording projects in the late '70s, Quebec-born, Ontario-based Lanois became protégé and then partner to the ambient/pop tastemaker; together, they innovated sonic techniques and worked with such off-the-radar experimental jazz artists as soft-pedal pianist Harold Budd and fourth-world trumpeter Jon Hassell.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Mar 18, 2021  |  5 comments
Žibuoklė Martinaitytė: Saudade
Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, Giedrė Slekytė, cond.; Gabrielius Alekna, piano.
Ondine ODE1386 (24/96 download). 2021. Aleksandra Kerienė. Vilius Keras, prods.; Evelina Staniulytė, Aleksandra Kerienė, Vilius Keras, engs.
Performance *****
Sonics ****½

Might this recording be too "out there" for some? I spent hours mulling alternative recommendations, my favorites being accordionist Ksenija Sidorova's captivating Piazzolla Reflections and cellist Nicole Peña Comas and pianist Hugo Llanos Campos's beautiful new recording of Latin American music, El Canto del Cisne Negro. Either would have been accessible in more obvious ways than Saudade, a collection of four recent orchestral and chamber works by Lithuanian composer Žibuoklė Martinaitytė.

Tom Fine  |  Feb 16, 2021  |  11 comments
Black Sabbath: Paranoid Super Deluxe
Rhino/Warner Records R1 556692 (5 LPs). 1970/2020. Rodger Bain, original prod.; Hugh Gilmour, reissue prod.; Barry Grint, LP mastering eng.
Performance *****
Sonics ***

The reviewer venturing to identify the birth bed of heavy metal music risks wrath. So be it.

The heavy metal genre has many roots. The idea of power chords and music centered on ominous, mythological, and vaguely threatening lyrics goes back centuries; consider the use of European church music in various eras to literally scare the hell out of believers. But heavy metal as we know it started 50 years ago with Black Sabbath's Paranoid.

Ken Micallef  |  Jan 15, 2021  |  0 comments
Newvelle Records Season Five
Pablo Ablanedo, Dave Douglas, Sullivan Fortner, Elan Mehler, OWL Trio, Rufus Reid, Carmen Staaf, Patrick Zimmierli
Newvelle Records NV025–30 (6 LP) 2020. Reviewed from 16/44.1 AIFF files. Elan Mehler, prod.; Marc Urselli, eng.
Performance ****
Sonics ****½

If Newvelle Records is any indication, jazz's future looks bright. Since 2015, the New York label has produced four series of artist-curated, all-analog, subscription-only box sets of vinyl records with superb fidelity and top-tier musicians performing original material. Highlights included pianist (!) Jack DeJohnette's Return, guitarist Gilad Hekselman's Eyes of the World, bassist John Patitucci's Irmãos de Fé, tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger's Preminger Plays Preminger, and guitarist Lionel Loueke's Close Your Eyes.

Fred Kaplan  |  Dec 15, 2020  |  3 comments
Ron Miles: Rainbow Sign
Ron Miles, cornet; Jason Moran, piano; Bill Frisell, electric guitar; Thomas Morgan, bass; Brian Blade, drums.
Blue Note (CD, 2LPs). Ron Miles, prod.; Colin Bricker, eng.
Performance *****
Sonics *****

If Ron Miles lived in New York instead of Denver, he would have become a jazz star long ago. With Rainbow Sign, his 12th album as a leader but his debut on a major label (at age 57), now's his time—or should be anyway.

Thomas Conrad  |  Nov 19, 2020  |  0 comments
Warren Wolf: Christmas Vibes
Warren Wolf, vibraphone, piano, Fender Rhodes, wind chimes, tambourine, Logic Pro X digital audio workstation; Jeff Reed, acoustic and electric bass; Carroll "CV" Dashiell III, drums; Christie Dashiell, Allison Bordlemay, Micah Smith, vocals.
Mack Avenue MAC1183 (CD, also available as download). 2020. Warren Wolf, prod.; Jeff Gruber, eng.
Performance ****
Sonics ****

Only 12 albums a year get to be Recordings of the Month in Stereophile, and only a few are jazz.

Typically, they are "big" records by major jazz artists.

Christmas Vibes has the major-artist part covered. Warren Wolf is one of the two most important vibraphonists to enter jazz in the new millennium. (The other is Joel Ross.) Wolf's album is not a masterwork, but it is a lovely, heartfelt offering that deserves its place in this magazine's December issue. In this year of years, in this holiday season observed in a pandemic, it arrives like a life-affirming antidote to darkness.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Oct 13, 2020  |  5 comments
What's Next Vivaldi?
Antonio Vivaldi and others
Patricia Kopatchinskaja, violin; Il Giardino Armonico, Giovanni Antonini, cond. and flute.
Alpha 624 (Auditioned as 24/192 WAV). 2020. Jean-Daniel Noir, prod., edit., master.
Performance *****
Sonics ****

Forget almost everything you know about Vivaldi performance practice, authentic and otherwise, and shush all "shoulds." Banish from your mind any thoughts that all Vivaldi sounds the same. Prepare your ears to hear Vivaldi as you've never heard him before.

Sasha Matson  |  Sep 16, 2020  |  2 comments
Bob Dylan: Rough and Rowdy Ways
Columbia C-250652 194397980991 (2LP; also available on CD and as 24/96 FLAC download) Chris Shaw, eng.; Greg Calbi, mastering.
Performance *****
Sonics ****

The stats alone are impressive—or, as we at Stereophile like to say, the measurements. 79-year-old Bob Dylan's 39th studio album is his first album of original material since 2012. Rough and Rowdy Ways times out at more than 70 minutes of music, due in part to the inclusion of Dylan's lengthiest studio song to date, "Murder Most Foul," which runs 16 minutes, 54 seconds. The LP version requires 2 discs. His tour was supposed to be Never Ending—but it did end, temporarily, because of COVID-19, just as Dylan and the band were set to play Japan.

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