Bob Ravenscroft Trio & Solo – Three Alone – Ravenswave Recordings

by | Jun 7, 2007 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Bob Ravenscroft Trio & Solo – Three Alone – Ravenswave Recordings [www.ravenswave.com] – 2 Multichannel SACDs: 39:56 & 48:26 ***:

(Bob Ravenscroft, piano; Steve Millhouse, bass; Rob Schuh, drums)

An interesting double album, beautifully packaged in one of those four-section foldout improvements over the standard plastic jewel boxes. Also very well recorded, with the note booklet going into some detail about the high standards and individual mixes that were made for each of the three formats furnished on the discs. The mastering was done direct to DSD in a “live-in-the-studio” approach.  However, I should report that closely approaching the surround speakers on the 5.0 SACD option revealed a distant artificial-sounding reverb that to my ears suggested surround channels being derived from a two-channel source rather than than discrete mics.  It is also very low level. However, the front three channels present a rich and lovely piano sound and avoid the 40-foot-wide effect of so many piano recordings.

Musically, the six tracks on the trio disc didn’t resonate much with me, and it’s a brief disc too.  Half are originals from the pianist and the three other composers are Wayne Shorter, David Friesen and Bill Evans – can’t go wrong there. But the treatments seemed rather bland and failed to swing. Ravenscroft traces his lineage back to 17th century English composer of the Whole Booke of Psalms, Thomas Ravenscroft, and he is involved in a “Jazz in Sacred Spaces” project. Perhaps there’s a pious hesitation here to let it all hang out and really swing?

The unaccompanied piano SACD is a different story.  Not that it swings, it actually does so even less.  Basically an impressionistic, very introspective improvisation on 17 different moods and feelings,  it reminded me of the first LP I ever heard by solo pianist Don Shirley (which also was my introduction to the extended low end of the Bosendorfer Imperial Grand).  However, in between the classical piano allusions, Shirley could swing.  It is fun to watch the track indicator while listening to Ravenscroft’s improvisations to see if you are experiencing a similar mood to the title he gave the track.

TrackList, Disc One: Re: A Person I Met, Phil’s Fill, Infant Eyes, The Love, The Witness, Time Remembered.  Disc Two: Broodings, Insights, Frenzies, Searching, Promises, Enticement, Visions, Persuasion, Joys, Hope, Games, Decision, Abrasions, Renewal, Playfulness, Coronation, Transcendence.

 – John Henry

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