Hi-Res Audio Reviews
December 2002 - Part 2 of 3 - Jazz

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  Art Pepper - Art Pepper meets The Rhythm Section (with Red Garland - Piano, Philly Joe Jones - Drums, Paul Chambers - Bass) - Analogue Productions CAPJ 7532 - Hybrid Stereo SACD:

This album is generally considered one of the high-water marks of Art Pepper's somewhat checkered and inconsistent career; his various drug addictions often played havoc with his personal life and his ability to make music. He was going through a personal rough stretch when the opportunity to record with Miles Davis' rhythm section presented itself, and had no idea what he'd play when he arrived at the studio. One listen is all it takes to recognize the genius of his playing and Art's place in the pantheon of jazz immortals.

One thing that strikes you is the consistency and overall excellence of the playing -- there isn’t a bad tune on the entire disk. Hats off to Analogue Productions for the superb quality of the SACD release; the players are all placed on a wide and deep, well defined soundstage, and all the instruments have a very real palpability. The bass is deep and tight, and Art's sax is right there in the room with you. Listen to the cymbals on track 9, Birk's Works, they just shimmer! Highly recommended, this is one of the best jazz reissues currently available in high-res. Tracks: You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To, Red Pepper Blues, Imagination, Waltz Me Blues, Straight Life, Jazz Me Blues, Tin Tin Deo, Star Eyes, Birks' Works, The Man I Love.  Purchase Here

-- Tom Gibbs

Vince Guaraldi Trio- Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus - Analogue Productions CAPJ 8089 -Hybrid Stereo SACD:

Vince Guaraldi is probably most well-known for his music for all the Charlie Brown specials, but his first big splash came with “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”, which was a runaway chart-topper at the time of its release. On the original LP, side one consisted of arrangements of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s compositions for the movie Black Orpheus, and it whetted the public’s growing appetite for Brazilian samba. Side two led off with ‘Cast Your Fate’ and followed with originals and standards that offered an excellent representation of Guaraldi’s art. This album is undeniably his masterpiece.

I’ve owned several different versions of this album over the years; the OJC LP and CD both suffer from mastering deficiencies; the Steve Hoffman-mastered DCC gold CD, which I thought was excellent until now, and the current APO SACD version, which is the best yet. There are a few minor flaws (dropouts undoubtedly in the original master tape) that were somewhat glossed over in the DCC version (Steve Hoffman obviously had a few tricks up his sleeves), but the overall presentation of the sound has never been as clear and clean as from APO. Bass is deep,and the treble really sparkles.

The initial pressing has an authoring problem that APO apparently plans to address; the CD layers skips about among the tracks incorrectly, and the SACD layer has a pop near the end of Moon River -- I’ve heard others whose players end the song at that point and continue to the next track. Hopefully these problems will be taken care of soon -- this disc is a must have for any serious jazz collection. Tracks: Samba de Orpheus, Manha de Carnaval, O Nosso Amor, Generique, Cast Your Fate to the Wind, Moon River, Alma-ville, Since I Fell for You.  Purchase Here

-- Tom Gibbs

Cannonball Adderley with Bill Evans- Know What I Mean? - Analogue Productions CAPJ 9433 -Hybrid Stereo SACD:

Cannonball Adderley and Bill Evans had a long history with each other, having played together on Adderley's two previous albums for Riverside and as members of Miles Davis' famed group with John Coltrane. This album, recorded with Percy Heath and Connie Kay of the Modern Jazz Quartet is an excellent showcase of the individual talents of each.

The players are placed on a broad soundstage, with Cannonball to left center and Evans to right center. The size and depth of the image is perfect -- give Analogue Productions a lot of credit here; many of the OJC CDs and LPs were woefully compressed and range restricted (especially on previous Cannonball Riverside CDs), but everything sounds great here! Tracks: Waltz for Debby, Goodbye, Who Cares?, Venice, Toy, Elsa, Nancy (with the laughing face), Know What I Mean?, 2 bonus tracks. Purchase Here

-- Tom Gibbs

Bill Evans Trio - Sunday at the Village Vanguard - Analogue Productions CAPJ 9376 - Hybrid Stereo SACD:

Bill Evans Trio - Moonbeams - Analogue Productions CAPJ 9428 - Hybrid Stereo SACD:

Bill Evans' pair of live albums from the Village Vanguard still rank near the top of his recorded trio output; with the untimely death of bassist Scott LaFaro coming shortly after the sessions, the material was split into two albums. Waltz for Debby was probably more representative of the trio as a whole, while Sunday at the Village Vanguard focused more on the talents of the late LaFaro.

As a live trio statement, Sunday at the Village Vanguard is unsurpassed to this day, not only in terms of performance but also recorded sound, which places you right in the Village Vanguard. The clinking glasses and quiet conversation, which I originally saw as distractions, now serve to offer a good perspective of the recorded soundspace. The overall excellence of the recording serves as a fitting tribute to Scott LaFaro, whose solos throughout still amaze, even forty years after originally recorded. Bill Evans never really recovered from the loss.

Moonbeams was the first album Evans recorded after the Village Vanguard dates; his new bassist, Chuck Israels, offers sympathetic support to the trio throughout the album of mostly ballads. I don't want to sound redundant, but AP gives us a really good sense of the depth and width of the recorded space. The bass is especially well recorded with a really nice woody tone.

Both albums offer healthy doses of Bill Evans' artistry, and again, thanks to Analogue Productions for giving them to us in fabulous SACD sound. Tracks: (Sunday at the Village Vanguard) Gloria's Step, My Man's Gone Now, Solar, Alice in Wonderland, All Of You, Jade Visions, 4 bonus tracks. (Moonbeams) Re: Person I Knew, Polka Dots and Moonbeams, I Fall in Love Too Easily, Stairway to the Stars, If You Could See Me Know, It Might as Well Be Spring, In Love in Vain, Very Early. Purchase Here

-- Tom Gibbs

Tierney Sutton - Something Cool (with Christian Jacob - Piano, Trey Henry - Bass, Ray Brinker - Drums) - Telarc SACD 63648 - Hybrid Multichannel SACD:

When Tierney Sutton's not out on the road with her band, she slums at her day job as the head of the Jazz Vocals department at the University of Southern California. Her name may not yet elicit an immediate response of recognition from many, but one listen to this album will have that same group of folks asking not "Who?", but "Why haven't I heard her before?" It's that good.

I was first hooked when I heard the CD of this record, but the multichannel SACD takes the experience to the next level. Her voice is anchored front and center, with her superb accompaniment spread across the soundstage. The surround channels are used mainly to convey ambience and occasional backing vocals and instrumental embellishment. Highlights include "I've Grown Accustomed to His Face," "Alone Together" (Trey Henry offers an awesome bass solo on this one), and "Out of This World."

Tierney Sutton deserves a much wider audience, and with Something Cool she should get it. Nice work, Telarc. Tracks: Route 66, Something Cool, Wouldn't It Be Loverly, I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face, Show Me, Comes Love, Reflections, Alone Together, Out of This World, All or Nothing at All, Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead, Walkin' After Midnight, Crazy, The Best is Yet to Come. Purchase Here

-- Tom Gibbs

Diana Krall - The Look of Love - Verve VERSAM 597 - Hybrid Multichannel SACD:

Diana Krall has taken a lot of flack for this album, with lots of negative press, mostly intended at getting her back to her roots and the more piano-trio oriented jazz that first brought her into the spotlight. Jazz is such a multi-faceted genre, with so many areas for each artist to explore and fold into their collective consciousness as performers. My actual impression of the situation is not that the music is bad, but more the manner in which it's been marketed to the public, and just comes across as big corporations pushing beauty to sell records. If you took away all the soft-focused images of Diana, Diana's legs, Diana's windswept hair, Diana gazing longingly into the camera -- I guarantee you would be hearing nothing but praise from all the naysayers, who would be talking about what range she possesses, and what bold new territory this is for her. And that would really sum it up, because this is a damn good album, it's just very different for what we've come to expect from Diana.

Universal's SACD is excellent; it places Diana's voice and core group of instruments front and center, with the orchestra occupying the remaining speakers. Highlights include Love Letters, Besame Mucho and the title track. Tracks: S'wonderful, Love Letters, I Remember You, Cry Me a River, Besame Mucho, The Night We Called It a Day, Dancing in the Dark, I Get Along Without You Very Well, The Look of Love, Maybe You'll Be There. Purchase Here

-- Tom Gibbs

Muddy Waters - Folk Singer - Chess CHESA 940 - Single Layer Stereo SACD:

This is another of those albums that has to be nearing the record for number of different formats it's appeared in in recent years. I've owned four -- the original CD release, the remastered CD, the MFSL LP, and this SACD from Universal. In my book, the new SACD from Universal blows them all away. It offers the sweet sound of analogue, without any of the excessive baggage.

I know this sounds like heresy to the analogue purists, and I offer my heartfelt apology. And as much as I'm inclined to agree with them about the merits of analogue's sound qualities, I don't miss the frequent cleanings, stylus cleanings, stylus treatments, LAST treatments, surface polishings, machine cleanings, et al -- one damn bit. Another thing I hear constantly is "it doesn't sound like the original pressing" -- as if they think that original pressing in any way sounds like the master tape -- that LP was probably mastered from an excessively EQ'd production master and not the original.

The SACD places Muddy and his group right in the room -- Muddy's voice and all the instrumental support are crisp and clear with minimal hiss. My only complaint is Universal's approach to SACD, which gives us some discs as hybrid, and others as single layer. All discs should be hybrid for Universal access and backwards compatibility, which has always been one of SACD's big selling points. This disc will be a revelation to most hearing it. Tracks: My Home is in the Delta, Long Distance, My Captain, Good Morning Little School Girl, You Gonna Need My Help, Cold Weather Blues, Big Leg Woman, Country Boy, Feel Like Going Home, The Same Thing, You Can't Lose What You Never Had, My John The Conqueror Root, Short Dress Woman, Put Me In Your Layaway. Purchase Here

-- Tom Gibbs

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