Jeanne Lee & Ran Blake: "The Newest Sound You Never Heard"

March 2019

A-Side 0005
Format: CD

Musical Performance
*****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

A decade before two young music nerds met at Bard College and sparked the evolution of Steely Dan, two other young oddballs -- 21-year-old Ran Blake and 17-year-old Jeanne Lee -- met on the same campus. Blake was a polymath pianist with a deep interest in Béla Bartók, Claude Debussy, Mary Lou Williams, gospel music, and film noir. Lee was equally eclectic, developing choreography for music by Arnold Schoenberg and simultaneously studying child psychology and literature. When she heard Blake playing piano one March afternoon in 1956, she told him he put her in mind of Art Tatum -- a musician most people would never associate with Blake’s minimalist style -- and he knew immediately that she had impressive ears.

Read more ...

Joe Lovano: "Trio Tapestry"

February 2019

ECM 2615
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

As the pre-eminent tenor saxophonist of the past 30 years, Joe Lovano has taken on just about every musical style -- including Third Stream, in collaboration with pioneer Gunther Schuller, and operatic arias. The son of Anthony “Big T” Lovano, who was a tenor-playing hero around his hometown of Cleveland, Joe has been playing the instrument since 1958, when he was five.

Read more ...

Eric Dolphy: "Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions"

January 2019

Resonance 2035
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
*****

As a late-night FM announcer on a campus radio station, you get to learn a lot about people’s musical obsessions. During my eight-year tenure at CKCU-FM in Ottawa, there was one listener who was a constant presence on the station’s request line. Occasionally, he’d want to engage in conversation; more often, he just said two words: “Play Dolphy.”

Read more ...

Ingrid Jensen and Steve Treseler: "Invisible Sounds: For Kenny Wheeler"

December 2018

Whirlwind 4729
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
****

Few significant musician/composers of the past 75 years remain as enigmatic and misunderstood as Kenny Wheeler, the UK-based trumpeter who died at age 84 in 2014. Not only that, but few musicians are as influential. Ask most contemporary trumpeters about their favorite peers, and Wheeler is sure to be on the list.

Read more ...

Rudy Royston: "Flatbed Buggy"

November 2018

Greenleaf Music 1065
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Few musicians take their geographical influences into the recording studio, and possibly least of all in the jazz realm. To further their careers, young jazz musicians gravitate toward New York City, and to a lesser degree, Los Angeles or Chicago. Whether they’re pursuing advanced education at places like the Manhattan School of Music or chasing gigs with more established players, they usually spend serious time in the big city before gaining the wherewithal to produce a recording. Whatever regionalism they carry with them has generally been erased by the time their music reaches the masses.

Read more ...

The Band: "Music from Big Pink (50th Anniversary Edition)"

October 2018

Capitol B002842202
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
**
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

“With Music from Big Pink,” wrote musicologist Greil Marcus in his landmark 1975 book, Mystery Train, “the Band presented a rough moral drama. It had none of the mythic clarity of, say, John Ford’s movies; it came through a modern haze, something like Robert Altman’s McCabe and Mrs. Miller, obscure in its plots, dialogue hard to catch, communicating with a blind humor and a cryptic intensity nothing in rock ’n’ roll has ever remotely touched.”

Read more ...

Mark Turner and Ethan Iverson: "Temporary Kings"

September 2018

ECM 2583
Format: CD

Musical Performance
*****

Sound Quality
*****

Overall Enjoyment
*****

Is music for the whole body or just your brain?

Depends on the day and your mood, I would argue.

Read more ...

Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore: "Downey to Lubbock"

August 2018

Yep Roc 2587
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
****

Scratch the surface of Americana music -- the top layer that includes Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, and Jason Isbell -- and you’ll find dozens of performers whose career paths have seldom-if-ever taken them to soft-seat concert halls. These are the hardcore singer-songwriters who spend most of each year driving up and down American highways to beer joints, small venues, and the occasional festival. Better-known musicians may cite them as core influences and industry treasures, but chances are the average fan doesn’t know a thing about them.

Read more ...

Willie Nelson: "Last Man Standing"

June 2018

Legacy 19075827252
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Here’s the thing: Willie Nelson is 85 years old, and I’ve given up on him making another Red Headed Stranger. That’s okay; one album like that 1975 genre-defying masterpiece surpasses what most musicians accomplish in a lifetime -- even one as long and productive as Nelson has lived.

Read more ...

Miles Davis & John Coltrane: "The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol.6"

Columbia/Legacy 88985448392
Format: 4 CDs

Musical Performance
*****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
*****

At the dawn of the 1960s, trumpeter Miles Davis -- then 33 -- was on the cusp of reaching a new level in his career. Five years into a lucrative recording contract with Columbia Records, he was, along with Duke Ellington, the only black musician in the upper echelons of the prestigious label’s roster. His band -- featuring saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb -- was a popular attraction throughout the US. Supplemented by saxophonist Cannonball Adderley and pianist Bill Evans, the band had released Kind of Blue four months earlier, and the album was already garnering the critical reception that would eventually make it one of the most respected recordings in the history of jazz. Outside of music, Davis was being cited by cultural observers like Playboy magazine as an icon of sartorial and behavioral style. He wore tailored Italian suits, drove a Ferrari, lived in a three-story brownstone on New York City’s Upper West Side, and was married to an equally fashionable former Broadway dancer.

Read more ...

More Articles ...

More SoundStage! Videos

  • SoundStage! Expert Record Care/Cleaning - Hundreds of Thousands of Records (Mar. 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Record Care/Cleaning - Handling Records (Mar. 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Record Care/Cleaning - Record & Stylus Brushes (Mar. 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Record Care/Cleaning - How To Use Record & Stylus Brushes (Mar. 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Record Care/Cleaning - Spin Clean (Mar. 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Record Care/Cleaning - VPI (Mar. 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Record Care/Cleaning - Kirmuss Audio (Mar. 2019)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Reference 160M Amplifier (February 2019)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)