Ann Hampton Callaway – Blues In The Night (2006) [2.0 & 5.1] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Ann Hampton Callaway – Blues In The Night (2006)
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 55:14 minutes | Artwork | 3,74 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Artwork | 1,1 GB
Features 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 multichannel surround sound | Telarc # SACD-63641
Genre: Vocal, Pop

Ann Hampton Callaway is not your typical jazz songbird. For one thing, she’s an accomplished and award-winning songwriter, which is unusual in a field dominated by interpreters. But what’s most surprising is her voice — it’s a low alto instrument with a rich, dark, butterscotchy tone, and when she gets way down into her lower range the effect can be downright startling. Her latest album is a pleasing mixture of originals and standards, some performed with a small combo that includes bassist Christian McBride and drummer Lewis Nash, others with the all-female Diva Jazz Orchestra. The big-band pieces pack the most wallop, which is no surprise given both the quality of the band and the fact that the arrangements were written by the great Tommy Newsom; a powerhouse rendition of her own “Swingin’ Away the Blues” opens the program with a serious bang, and her small-scale but equally powerful take on the chestnut “Blue Moon” carries the energy forward nicely. The rest of the album is a mix of tender ballads and vibrant uptempo numbers, most with a theme related to the blues, either in a mood of resigned acceptance (“Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most,” “Willow Weep for Me”) or defiant opposition (the Callaway original “Hip to Be Happy”). She imbues most of these songs with a smoldering, torchy quality that brings new energy to old material, and her new songs stand up very nicely next to the established standards. Highly recommended.

Continue reading

Andrea Bocelli – Andrea (2004) [Special Edition] {2.0 & 5.0} {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Andrea Bocelli – Andrea (2004) [Special Edition] {2.0 & 5.0}
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 58:47 minutes | Scans included | 3,56 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,31 GB
Genre: Pop

It’s no mean feat being the world’s foremost crossover artist–a task that risks alienating two disparate audiences and everyone in between–but somebody had to do it, and Andrea Bocelli again walks that artistic tightrope with impressive deftness. The title may imply a casual intimacy (indeed, the singer admits to taking a more “hands-on” approach to the album’s conception and production), but it’s a collection that nonetheless continues to expand on the Italian tenor’s ambitious internationalism. His collaboration “Sin Tu Amor” immerses his voice in the Gipsy Kings’ own rich Iberian folk-pop fusion with compelling results, while “Where Love Goes” (a musical focal point of the film Lazarus Child), his English language duet with 11-year-old prodigy Holly Stell, achieves an almost liturgical grace. “Tu Ci Sei” (You Are There) continues in the romantic vein of his familiar theme “Con Te Partiro” (Time to Say Goodbye), while the single “Dell’ Amore Non Si Sa” (With Love You Never Know) features Bocelli in a signature dramatic tour de force collaboration with arranger Mauro Malavasi, the accomplished producer of the singer’s Romanza and Sogno albums. Bocelli’s shrewd taste and vocal prowess here not only again redeem an oft-maligned genre, but elevate it considerably in the bargain.

Continue reading

Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Babies (1973) [Audio Fidelity 2014] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Babies (1973) [Audio Fidelity 2014]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 41:14 minutes | Scans included | 1,66 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 813 MB
Mastered by Steve Hoffman | Audio Fidelity # AFZ-170
Genre: Rock

With Billion Dollar Babies, Alice Cooper refined the raw grit of their earlier work in favor of a slightly more polished sound (courtesy of super-producer Bob Ezrin), resulting in a mega-hit album that reached the top of the U.S. album charts. Song for song, Billion Dollar Babies is probably the original Alice Cooper group’s finest and strongest. Such tracks as “Hello Hooray,” the lethal stomp of the title track, the defiant “Elected” (a rewrite of an earlier song, “Reflected”), and the poison-laced pop candy of “No More Mr. Nice Guy” remain among Cooper’s greatest achievements. Also included are a pair of perennial concert standards — the disturbing necrophilia ditty “I Love the Dead” and the chilling macabre of “Sick Things” — as well as such strong, lesser-known selections as “Raped and Freezin’,” “Unfinished Sweet,” and perhaps Cooper’s most overlooked gem, “Generation Landslide.” Nothing seemed like it could stop this great hard rock band from overtaking the universe, but tensions between the members behind the scenes would force the stellar original AC band to split up after just one more album. Not only is Billion Dollar Babies one of Cooper’s very best; it remains one of rock’s all-time, quintessential classics.

Continue reading

Albert King with Stevie Ray Vaughan – In Session (1999) [Reissue 2003] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Albert King with Stevie Ray Vaughan – In Session (1999) [Reissue 2003]
PS3 Rip | ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 63:53 minutes | Scans included | 2,60 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,33 GB
Genre: Blues

Recorded in December 1983, In Session captures an in-concert jam between Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan, the latter of whom had become the hot blues guitarist of the year thanks to his debut Texas Flood, as well as his work on David Bowie’s hit Let’s Dance. Vaughan may have been the new news, but King was not suffering, either. He had a world-class supporting band and was playing as well as he ever had. In other words, the stage was set for a fiery, exciting concert and that’s exactly what they delivered. Vaughan was clearly influenced by King — there are King licks all over his first two recorded efforts, and it was an influence that stayed with him to the end — and he was unafraid to go toe-to-toe with his idol. King must have been impressed, since In Session never devolves into a mere cutting contest. Instead, each musicians spurs the other to greater heights. For aficionados of either guitarist, that means the album isn’t just worth a listen — it means that it’s a record that sounds as exciting on each subsequent listen as does the first time through.

This is no guitar shootout, it’s a meeting of a mutual admiration society. In an inspired pairing for a Canadian television special, the young Stevie Ray Vaughan met his idol and model Albert King to jam on the blues. Vaughan, whom King remembered from Austin as Little Stevie, could have used his phenomenal technique to bury the old man. Instead, he expressed his respect in restrained, worshipful playing that made for a perfect match. Because of his unmistakable licks, King was one of the most imitated of all blues guitarists, and Vaughan made King’s style a foundation of his playing. Still, as Vaughan makes forcefully clear at King’s urging, he also had a big helping of Jimi Hendrix on his plate. King’s inimitable singing makes this good get-together a must not just for guitar afficionados, but for all blues lovers. The excellent sound is enhanced in the Super Audio Compact Disc format.

Continue reading

Elton John – Elton John (1970) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2011 # UIGY-9071] SACD-R

Elton John – Elton John (1970) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2011 # UIGY-9071]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 39:14 minutes | Scans included | 1,59 GB | Genre: Rock

Uses the 2011 DSD master based on UK original analog tape. Reissue features the high-fidelity SHM-SACD format (fully compatible with standard SACD player, but it does not play on standard CD players). DSD Transferred by Richard Whittaker.

Empty Sky was followed by Elton John, a more focused and realized record that deservedly became his first hit. John and Bernie Taupin’s songwriting had become more immediate and successful; in particular, John’s music had become sharper and more diverse, rescuing Taupin’s frequently nebulous lyrics. “Take Me to the Pilot” might not make much sense lyrically, but John had the good sense to ground its willfully cryptic words with a catchy blues-based melody. Next to the increased sense of songcraft, the most noticeable change on Elton John is the addition of Paul Buckmaster’s grandiose string arrangements. Buckmaster’s orchestrations are never subtle, but they never overwhelm the vocalist, nor do they make the songs schmaltzy. Instead, they fit the ambitions of John and Taupin, as the instant standard “Your Song” illustrates. Even with the strings and choirs that dominate the sound of the album, John manages to rock out on a fair share of the record. Though there are a couple of underdeveloped songs, Elton John remains one of his best records.

Continue reading

Ronnie Foster – Two Headed Freap (1972/2014) [HDTracks 24-192]

Ronnie Foster – Two Headed Freap (1972/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 37:05 minutes | 1,64 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover
Genre: Jazz

The Two Headed Freap is jazz organist Ronnie Foster’s debut album, recorded and released in 1972 on Blue Note Records. It’s a full set of funky soul-jazz and fans of early ’70s funk will almost certainly find it appealing.

Ronnie Foster’s debut album, The Two Headed Freap is a set of contemporary funky soul jazz from the early ’70s, which means it sounds closer to the soundtrack of a lost blaxploitation flick than Back at the Chicken Shack, Pt. 2. Foster certainly does display a debt to Jimmy Smith, but his playing is busier than Smith’s and a bit wilder. Ironic, then, that his playing is in service to the groove and blends into the mix of wah-wah guitars, funk rhythms, electric bass, harps, and percolating percussion. Everything on The Two Headed Freap is about glitzy groove — it sounds cinematic, colorful, and funky. It’s true that there is little real improvisation here and the songs all have a similar groove, but it’s worked well, and the music is ultimately appealing to fans of this genre. Jazz purists — even soul jazz purists — will likely find this music a little monotonous and commercial, but fans of early-’70s funk from Sly Stone to Herbie Hancock will find something of interest here.

Continue reading

Ron Carter – Ron Carter’s Great Big Band (2011) [Qobuz 24-96]

Ron Carter – Ron Carter’s Great Big Band (2011)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 53:19 minutes | 1,18 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuzzz.com | Front cover
Genre: Jazz

Throughout his illustrious career, the legendary Ron Carter has played it all jumping in headlong as an integral member of Miles Davis’ classic 60s quintet, anchoring the groove for almost every CTI Records session in the 70s, then launching into multifarious new projects, including his cello-infused, chamber-jazz nonet and his piano-guitar-bass trio. But in his lifelong calling to find the right notes, Carter had never recorded a big-band album. So, the time was ripe for the 73-year-old maestro of the upright bass to break new ground. The result is the delightful and swinging album Ron Carter’s Great Big Band, set into motion by esteemed arranger Bob Freedman and Somerled Charitable Foundation trustee Wendy Macdonald (who serves as producer) and featuring an all-star cast of supporting musicians.

Carter says the big-band album was more accidental than intentional. Having done every conceivable recording under my name, the only project I hadn’t done was leading a big band. Wendy likes the way Bob writes and asked him to do a project featuring his arrangements. Once he agreed, he asked me to be a part of it. I figured, hey, I’ll give it a shot. Recalling Carter signing on to the venture, Freedman says, Ron was up to it and into it. He was eager in his own reserved way.

As it turns out, Carter and co. provided the endeavor with an absolute commitment to musical sublimity. The 17-piece band, with the bassist serving as the rhythmic rudder with his steady, warm-toned pulse and Freedman leading as the conductor, delivers a vibrant outing of 13 tunes that buoy with a spirited freedom. The music exudes refined elegance and sonic power as well as opens a window onto a new approach to big-band performance. Ron took on the role of bass player/leader as though he’d been doing it forever, says Freedman, who over the years has written arrangements of songs for many of Carter’s recordings.

Assembling the band for this date was a joint effort by Carter and Freedman. The bassist insisted on using two of his frequent rhythm mates, pianist Mulgrew Miller and drummer Lewis Nash.

As for the horn sections, Carter suggested designating section leaders who would then fill in the rest of the musicians needed for the section. For woodwinds, alto and soprano saxophonist Jerry Dodgion was enlisted. He, in turn, called on Steve Wilson for second alto, Wayne Escoffery and Scott Robinson on tenor saxophones, Jay Brandford on baritone saxophone and English horn player Charles Pillow. Trombonist Jason Jackson filled the four- bone section with Steve Davis, James Burton III and Douglas Purviance, and trumpeter Tony Kadleck manned his section with fellow trumpeters Greg Gisbert, Jon Owens and Alex Norris.

The creation of the songbook for the band was another joint effort, with Freedman and Carter bringing to the table music that the latter says would be what people who like big bands would like to hear.

Ron Carter s Great Big Band opens with an upbeat, swinging take on the Duke Ellington’s classic Caravan, with later renderings of Dizzy Gillespie s Con Alma treated to an apropos Latin hue, and W.C. Handy s Saint Louis Blues, for which Freedman wrote sections with different musical colorings all to playful effect.

Ron Carter is one of the most recorded bassists in jazz. In his mid-seventies at the time of these sessions, he is very much still at the top of his game as he leads the first big-band date of his own, with potent arrangements by conductor Robert M. Freedman and including some of New York’s busiest musicians, including Jerry Dodgion, Steve Wilson, Wayne Escoffery, and Scott Robinson in the woodwind section, brass players Steve Davis, Douglas Purviance, and Greg Gisbert, plus pianist Mulgrew Miller and drummer Lewis Nash, among others. Freedman’s charts are short and sweet, all of them under five minutes, with much of the focus on imaginative writing and Carter’s melodic bass central in the mix. The material spans from the 1920s to the present, played with imagination. The opening “Caravan” is taken far from its roots, transformed into a breezy bop vehicle, even slipping in a dissonant snippet of “Hot House.” The setting of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma” retains its Latin flavor, with a lush introduction by the brass and reeds and strong solos by Miller and Carter. Carter’s inventive bass provides the undercurrent for the brisk interpretation of Wayne Shorter’s marvelous jazz standard “Footprints,” while the upbeat performance of Gerry Mulligan’s “Line for Lyons” would have pleased its composer. Carter has long been a prolific composer, and his “Loose Change” is a funky affair with marvelous interplay among the brass and reeds, while “Opus 1.5 (Theme for C.B.)” is mellow and somber, with Charles Pillow’s mellow English horn prominent and an intricate solo by Carter. With this delightful big-band date, the veteran bassist continues to surprise and delight listeners during a career spanning five-plus decades.

Continue reading

Riot Jazz Brass Band – Sousamaphone (2013) [Bandcamp 24-44,1]

Riot Jazz Brass Band – Sousamaphone (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 32:04 minutes | 426 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: Bandcamp.com | Front cover
Genre: Jazz

Riot Jazz’s brass-heavy jazz combo pack a hefty punch. Following on from their storming debut single in May, Riot Jazz Brass Band are back with a full-length album of horn-fuelled dancefloor heaters. The Manchester-based group have been making waves for 5 years now, blowing away audiences across Europe with their infectious live shows. Based around the creative nucleus of Nick Walters (Trumpet) and Steve Pycroft (Drums) they take their influences from the likes of Hot 8 Brass Band and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, adding an unmistakably Mancunian twist.

Continue reading

JoAnn Falletta, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra – Gliere: Symphony No.3 "Il’ya Muromets" (2014) [LINN 24-96]

JoAnn Falletta, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra – Gliere: Symphony No.3 “Il’ya Muromets” (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Digital Booklet | 1.22 GB
Genre: Classical | Official Digital Download – Source: Linn Records

This is an important recording for several reasons. First, it contains the finest version yet recorded of Glière’s epic Third Symphony, “Il’ya Muromets”. Second, it defines once and for all how the piece is supposed to go. In order to understand this latter point, we need to take a moment and review the work’s history on disc.

Composer: Reinhold Gliere
Conductor: JoAnn Falletta
Orchestra/Ensemble: Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

Reviews: The symphony’s most famous early recording was Hermann Scherchen’s, a mono Westminster release that wasn’t very good, and more to the point, came from a conductor too erratic to be taken seriously as a definitive interpreter of, well, anything (fun though he often was). After Scherchen, recordings such as Ormandy’s and Stokowski’s presented the music heavily cut, thus contributing to the legend of the work’s monstrous length and musical prolixity. Aside from a hard to find, rather crude Russian recording featuring the Moscow Radio Symphony under Boris Khaikin, that is where matters stood for many years.

At the dawn of the digital age, Harold Farberman made the first modern recording of the symphony for Unicorn. That version got a lot of attention, first, because it was one of the first digital LPs ever released, and second, because Farberman presented the piece uncut. Unfortunately, Farberman was famous for playing just about everything at half the normal tempo (Mahler too). His recording lasted more than 90 minutes spread over two discs, and further contributed to the myth of the symphony as a bloated monstrosity. This was the situation until two recordings, Edward Downes on Chandos and Donald Johanos on Naxos, showed that the complete piece could be played in about 70 minutes, or about the same length as a traditional performance of Beethoven’s Ninth or Mahler’s Fifth–long, but not absurdly so.

Those were good performances: the Downes handsomely recorded but a touch characterless, the Johanos more exciting but edgily played by the Bratislava orchestra and somewhat thinly engineered. Until now, that was the reference recording for the symphony. Now, finally, we have a superbly played, viscerally exciting, richly engineered recording that proves that the symphony does indeed “work” as a coherent piece of music. What are the qualities that make this recording special?

First, Falletta takes the first movement’s lengthy introduction at a naturally flowing tempo that creates a palpable feeling of anticipation. It leads to a swift allegro that presses forward without letup, lending the movement an unusual degree of inevitability and coherence. The Andante, which can sound almost suffocatingly, sickeningly thick, has plenty of atmosphere but again a welcome feeling of forward movement and a refreshing transparency of texture. The scherzo always works, and this one glitters brilliantly, with Solovey the Brigand’s shriek in the central section making an appropriately alarming impression. Best of all, Falletta offers a truly exciting, hell for leather account of the finale, easily the best yet recorded. The climactic petrification of Il’ya Muromets is overwhelmingly powerful, setting up the quiet coda as an inevitable and satisfying conclusion.

Now I am not going to suggest that the symphony is concise or pithily argued, but this interpretation makes better sense of it than any previous version, and it’s also engineered with the vividness and impact necessary to do the playing full justice. The myth of the music’s awkward gigantism and formal diffuseness has been debunked, with the perhaps paradoxical result that the symphony’s true stature has grown proportionately.

Continue reading

Raul Barboza – Invierno en Paris (2009) [LINN 24-96]

Raúl Barboza – Invierno en Paris (2009)
FLAC (tracks) 24bit/96kHz | Time – 52:27 minutes | 1,08 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: LinnRecords.com | Digital booklet
Genre: Jazz

Raul Barboza is a great poet of the Chamame music, coming from the north-east of Argentina which creates a synthesis of guaranis inspiration and accordion brought by the european migrants.

The musical traditions of the Guyani Indians of northeastern Argentina served as the training ground for Buenos Aires-born accordionist Raúl Barboza, but his music reflects a more-global view. A unique mix of Indian, European, and African influences, Barboza’s tunes incorporate everything from tangos, mazurkas, and waltzes to natural sounds of the environment and wildlife. The recipient of a Konex Prize as one of the five Best Figures in the History of Argentinean Popular Music, in 1985, Barboza continued to explore new musical paths. His first album since moving to France, De Villa Nueva (released in 1992), was followed by Tierra Sin Mal two years later and Anthologie in 2001. The son of an orchestra leader and guitarist, Barboza began playing the diatonic accordion at the age of seven. Performing with his father’s band, Irupe, throughout his teens, he made his recording debut with the group in 1950. Forming his own band at the age of 15, Barboza spent a decade establishing himself throughout his homeland. He released his self-titled debut album in 1964. Performing in Paris for the first time in 1987 at the recommendation of late tango master Astor Piazzolla, Barboza fell in love with the French capital. Moving to Paris with his wife, Olga, shortly afterwards, he became involved with the city’s tango/jazz accordion scene that included such stellar players as Richard Galliano, Marcel Azzola, Daniel Colon, and Marc Perrone.

Continue reading