(Barbara Bürkle, vocals; Thilo Wagner, piano; Jean-Philippe Wadle, doublebass; Florian Hermann, drums)
This is a hi-res encore from the Bassface Trio to their first Stockfisch SACD, a tribute to George Gershwin, which we reviewed here last year. This time the instrumental-only piano trio asked in excellent vocalist Barbara Bürkle, whose umlauted last name seems to suggest that perhaps English is not her first language. Yet one would never know that hearing her perfect pronunciation and phrasing of all the great and witty Porter lyrics. And she’s also always on key – something one doesn’t always get in many recordings of vocalists. There are eight tracks on this rather short disc time-wise, and two of the tracks are strictly instrumental. The tunes are some of Cole’s classics, and one misses not a thing with the clean cabaret-style delivery of Ms. Bürkle plus the transparent sonics provided by Stockfisch.
Their engineers mixed a pickup by seven mikes down to an analog mixer in stereo only. (This is not a typical multichannel SACD.) The musicians all played straight thru every tune – there were no edits, and there are longer pauses with some conversation between tracks, just as on vinyl direct discs. The analog mix went thru a high-grade DSD 1-bit converter, from which the SACD master was produced. I’m not sure I understand the Direct Cut reference in this instance, since neither the SACD nor the DMM vinyl disc were cut directly from the mike mixer signals, as all the direct-discs in my vinyl collection were. The 180g LP is really a copy of the DSD master. However, the sonics are terrific on the SACD. I didn’t have the SACD/Vinyl Bundle which I had reviewed simultaneously on the first album. Stockfisch only produced 500 pieces and since I had previously found the SACD about the same as the vinyl, I didn’t ask for it this time.
The CD layer sounds very good, but after switching to the SACD layer a more accurate description for the 44.1K option would be listening to the music when you have a serious head cold. I know I’ve been lax in comparing the two or three options on most SACDs in reviews, but in spite of that idiotic AES paper about them sounding the same, there’s a world of more transparent sound in the SACD stereo options, not to mention the surround options. (It was only at the beginning of SACD’s introduction that Sony and some other labels were careless and actually made the SACD layer sound worse than the CD layer on a few discs.)
I have to say I enjoyed the first all-instrumental Bassface disc more. The trio really picks things up on the two instrumentals here, especially on the closing I Love Paris. That one jump! – and was my favorite track on the album – unlike their accompaniment on the vocals. This is a thoroughly pro quartet of musicians, I was just hoping for a touch more courage and perhaps edginess in their improvisations. Ms. Bürkle is very good, but again I was hoping for a little bit more unique delivery on her part.
TrackList: Dream Dancing, Easy to Love, Night and Day, Love for Sale, It’s De-Lovely, You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To, Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye, I Love Paris.
– John Sunier