Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler

May 31, 2012

It is very nice to remember good old days.

I used to listen Dire Straits a lot. It was already my favorite band, during my 14 years old. Lover Over Gold and Making Movies were the works I liked the most. Extended duration tracks with several pace variations attracted me. These two specific albums weren’t (and aren’t) the mainstream Dire Straits. The band was always a kind of Sultans of Swing and Brother in Arms synonym.
20 years ago, while still living with my parents, I met this new CD release in a TV commercial. I went to a CD/Vinyl store and bought it. This is something I still love to do, despite the fact I’m ordering more frequently from internet.
On Every Street is not the most known Dire Straits album as well. It was the last studio recording from the band and did not reach expressive sales. Only those who know the Mark Knopler’s style will be able to enjoy this work on its fullness.

This album followed me during many years, so, I don’t feel comfortable with critics. I used to make duets with my brother (guitar + keyboard) and we played some riffs from this work.
A point that attracted my attention in that time was the steel guitar. A kind of laid electric guitar played with a slide in the finger’s musician, adding a country dressing to the compositions.
Years ago, while living alone, with more audio equipments, I took this CD off the shelf and realized the strong orange art of the disc, memories from the past came to my mind and I put it put play again.
When I inserted it to my Rega CD Player, connected to my cute tube amplifier, I found again a very good quality recording hidden within it. It was a nice surprise which was waiting for in this specific moment, for this near future, to make the record unforgettable by me.

Few more years later, already married, already father, even more equipped, walking around a CD store, I found this solo work by Mark Knopfler. Not only by him, but also by other friends from the last phase.
When I heard this work I became very happy. It is a recent recording, from a musician that was part of many past moments of my life. All Mark Knopfler’s marks and On Every Street legacy are still there. If in the past it had steel guitar, now there is a violin, adding folk features to the album.

And here the history goes again…

How is good to remember old times, and how is even better to live nice and renewed days.

Thank you for reading.
Leonardo

Marcus Miller – Marcus (Concord Jazz)

January 26, 2012

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Once upon a time, good years ago, I was in a meeting with some audio friends. I was talking to my friend David (a great audio designer) about low frequency speakers (also known as sub-woofers). In that occasion, I told him that I wish I had an amp-speaker combination which would result in deep and precise bass. David looked at me a said: Everyone wants to have that.

In fact, what I wanted was simple: Frequency response with low reverb time for low frequencies. I was only able to know what I really wanted some time later.
At the time, I was a certain that the secret lied on amplifiers and speakers but, in fact, they are a percentage of that (probably a small percentage for those who always use good electronics and speakers).
Every ordinary room has a reverberation time much higher than mids and highs. Bass instruments (like acoustic bass) has a heavy load of higher harmonics in medium and high frequency range and they are the elements that define the instrument position on the stereo image. We usually end up taking the low response of our systems as good, not because they are really good, but because the instrument higher harmonics cause a fake low reverb time for bass. In this case, we have an undefined bass masked as defined.

There is no point having the best amplifier and the best speaker if the reverb time of B tone (around 60Hz) is 0.5 seconds. Any semi-quaver bass phrase will sound mediocre. Besides that, the upper harmonics will mislead you to think that you have indeed a good bass. After all, you spent a lot of money in your system.

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This Marcus Miller’s work reflects what I explained above quite well. He is a very required musician. Wanted by many other artists for recording sessions and still has few solo albums.
He mixes several styles like jazz, pop, hip hop, vocal, instrumental, etc. Plays with energy using slap almost all the time, resulting a deep bass loaded with upper harmonics.
The result of listening in regular rooms is satisfactory, but enjoying it in acoustically treated rooms is much more comfortable because we are clearly able to perceive each tone chaining played by him.

Thank you
Leonardo

Scott Kinsey – Kinesthetics (Abstract Logix)

January 23, 2012

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Scott Kinsey is a very skilled keyboardist/pianist, both in creative and technical areas and, his appearance here has a specific reason. I have already written about Gary Willis and the relation between them is that both are members of Tribal Tech, one of my favorite contemporary jazz bands.

I have always enjoyed this band. The compositions explores rhythms, harmonies and unusual melodies. This is very suitable for people like me, who constantly look for high quality original music and, of course, having a nice recording quality.

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The Tribal Tech’s guitar, Scott Henderson, has already made a concert in my country (Brazil), on SESI theater and I was present there, me and my wife. To be honest, I didn’t like the event, tougth the musics too heavy for my taste, quite different from what I’m used to listen at home.
While listening this Scott Kinsey’s work and, being familiar with other albums from Gary Willis, I concluded that those two guys are the big names behind Tribal Tech’s geniality.
It is also interesting to listen this album knowing the meaning of “kinesthetics”: the esthetics of movement. Scott tried to use predefined themes and lots of improvisations. On top of that, put a richness of textures, percussions, harmonies and uncommon melodies, resulting in a fluid sound with a lot of aesthetic information.

Not limited to extreme creativity, he is a nice producer and knows music recording very well, showing us that he knows what high fidelity is.
It is a technical album, artistic as well, creating lots of movements, with extreme beauty.

Abra├žos
Leonardo

Anthony Wilson Nonet – Power of Nine (Groove Note)

July 6, 2011

I decided to have all CDs from this sophisticated musician after listening the first one presented here months ago. This is the third Anthony’s album to be added to this blog.
When I bought it, I was expecting to receive one more Anthony Wilson Trio formation, but I didn’t realize that this specifically is Anthony Wilson Nonet, so, has 9 members (although, despite Diana Krall appearance, I counted 10) and is named Power of Nine.

The key difference between this work and the others presented here before is the brass section: Baritone Sax, Trombone, Tenor Sax, Alto Sax, Soprano Sax and Trumpet. They form a very smooth background, despite the fact that it could seems the opposite before listening the tracks. The individual solos are also very nice, with special highlights to the baritone sax.
When I started listening, I surprised the style applied, seemed more predictable. My mistake. While listening track by track (I always put the entire CD to play, catching all the work flow) I realized that this is a very intriguing album: rich, complex, some melancholic touches, chaotic, progressive and dissonance. It is very different from other Anthony Wilson’s Trio albums, which are more melodic. This is not a easy to listen work, but it has very high levels of genius and creativity.
The recording quality is also brilliant, Groove Note high-level quality. Each brass in its place, allowing us to figure the distance that separates each instrument.

The same way I have counted one more musician, I counted one more music, track 12 (Bird in a Basket), excellent by the way, probably a hidden bonus, recorded but not listed. Finally, music 11, Power of Nine, where we are able to see the real power… of nine.

thank you
Leonardo

Di Meola plays Piazzolla (Bluemoon Records)

April 25, 2011

I have been to Buenos Aires in 2010 for vacation and near the hotel there was an avenue with many CD shops. I spent almost one day digging good stuff there and this album is a result of that. When I found this CD two things caught my attention: It’s an Al Di Meola work and it’s from Bluemoon records. I already have some records from this company and they are really good.
Many countries have its own music icons. Brazil has Tom Jobin and Villa Lobos. Argentina has Astor Piazzolla (among others, for both countries, of course). I listened to this CD recently, after deciding to listen my entire collection in alphabetical order. I like to do that because we end up re-discovering goods things that were hidden for long time.

This is a very easy to listen work. The guitar, the accordion and the classical guitar combination provides a very soft timbre allowing us to increase the volume. Despite the fact that this record is made basically by three instruments, with a few percussion in some tracks, when I started the audition I thought that I would listen only two or three musics, skipping some to avoid a possible sleepiness. Far away from that, I listened this work end-to-end, each chord, totally focused on the Piazzolla’s music richness translated by Al Di Meola.

The tracks 4, 7 and 9 are my favorites. The last two has a superb recording quality and 4 (Tango Suite part II) shows the Di Meola’s contemporary fusionism. In track 9 (Milonga Del Angel), he plays a solo guitar showing us why he left the electric guitar for a while.

Thank you
Leonardo

Hello All

February 22, 2011

My apologies about being a bit lazy in the last months. I’m not having enough time to write about my discs. I hope coming back soon.
I’m using twitter to write some brief things I’m doing and listening: @Leo_MP

thanks!
Leonardo

David Benoit – Here’s to you, Charlie Brown (GRP)

August 21, 2010

A long time ago, when I still used to watch TV cartoons, Peanuts was one of my favorites and the some of the reasons for that were the Schroeder playing Beethoven in his tiny piano and the soundtrack, a good jazz (although I didn’t know it at that time).
Sometimes ago, while researching some CD titles at CD Universe, I was watching David Benoit’s discography and I found some interesting items related to this subject. One of them is the one I present to you now, Here’s to You, Charlie Brown.
It is basically a work with Vince Guaraldi’s compositions that were written exclusively for the TV animated version, all of them in jazz style. David Benoit was also responsible for some of the soundtrack compositions, that’s the reason for the influence.

The tracks are beautifully performed by the high profile musicians. It is a CD to listen without skipping any track.
I confess here that some points caught my attention for this album, even without listening to it: It is a David Benoit work, it is from GRP, is produced by Tommy LiPuma and recorded/mixed by Bill Schnee.
Those parameters are far enough for me (and for some friends). While waitting this CD to arrive here, I was hoping that the responsible for the mastering was Doug Sax (Mastering Lab owner). Why? First because if this album is GRP, produced by T.LiPuma and recoded by Bill Schnee, the chance to have Doug Sax in crew is very high. Second, if the team is complete, the chance to be a great amazing high quality recording is also very high!
When I opened the liner notes and technical description, I could see Mastered by Doug Sax at Mastering Lab, exactly as I predicted.

The most interesting happened when I put the CD to play for the first time. The first track, Linus and Lucy, begins with the original version from the original tape, with a bad quality. It scared me. I thought that the entire CD would be like that, what would go against my stats explained above. After some seconds playing, a different piano tries to take place at the right channel. Finally, after a break, the band comes with its fullness, showing what Bill Schnee and Doug Sax are capable of. I got completely jaw-dropped and had to push the pause button and wait some instants to come back to the reality. For sure that was a trick from them to us. We, lucky guys that like to enjoy music in hi-fi equipment.
I read some reviews about this work, they are official reviews with critics to the use of the original tape (necrophilia? come on…). It’s clear that these people have limited reviewing capacity. They couldn’t interpret the message, after all, the musicians are not the only that do the art. That’s something I always say.
Do you believe that, after this review, you can leave your collection without this title?

Thank you!
Leonardo

The Gene Harris/Scott Hamilton Quintet – At Last (Concord)

July 13, 2010

What happens when we join excellent musicians, a memorable label, a perfect recording and a unique moment? It happens a great piece of Jazz art: The Gene Harris/Scott Hamilton Quintet, At Last.
Scott Hamilton and Gene Harris are the main names of this recording. The Scott’s tenor sax always very smooth with a powerful medium low frequency dynamics. On piano, Gene shows his accessible jazz style with a blues and soul touch. Also, Herb Hellis (guitar), with a undistorted timbre, a extremely pleasant sweet sound. Harold Jones plays the drums and, as a great bonus, the bass of Ray Brown always very present on the music.
This is another great Concord’s recording. It was made in 1990, already in the CD Era and, technically perfect. The bass low notes, the medium-lows of the piano and tenor sax and the highs of drum and piano excite all the frequency range of your equipment. I’m a big fan of Concord Records, with an special enthusiasm for that time records.
If you like Jazz, specially those played by great musicians in great moments, picked up by people that know what and how to do, this is a collector item mandatory in any collection.

Thanks
Leonardo

John Pizzarelli – Knowing You (Telarc)

June 14, 2010

I always enjoyed John Pizzarelli music for the following reasons: He plays a lot guitar, is a scat singing master (sings the guitar solo at the same time), choose always a very good music set and has a Class A pianist: Ray Kennedy.
Sometimes ago, after buying my last Pizzarelli’s CD, I was certain that I had enough records of this musician and that I wouldn’t purchase more titles anymore.
I guess I listened this CD only once, some years ago, being idle in my collection since then.
In this meantime, I changed my stereo system around 2 times and never put it back to play.
Last week, I grabbed it back and put to play. I got totally amazed with the high quality of the recording. It is a jaw-dropping DSD-CD.
Put this CD to play in your system. If you don’t think it has a superb recording quality, it means that there is something wrong with your system or room.
He plays extremely pleasant musics, romantic style and also swinging tracks, with his humor touches too. Plays known standards (and unknown too).
After listening 2 times in a row, I decided that this is not going to be my last John Pizzarelli CD, at all. I’m already updating my wish-list with more titles, Telarc DSD preferably.

See also: John Pizzarelli – PS Mr. Cole – Rca Victor

Thank you
Leonardo

Earl “Fatha” Hines – Plays Hits He Missed (M&K Records)

June 2, 2010

We, music listeners and collectors, love to dig out there searching for good records. Sometimes we find a record that is much more than a good record, and this is the case of the work I present to you here.
Earl Hines, was a brilliant American pianist that started his career on the 20’s and had a strong left hand delivering a lot of energy to the music. He is almost an unknown guy nowadays and I hope to contribute to keep his name alive through this review.
When you listen to music recorded here you feel all the energy that Earl was capable of on the piano. In the solo track “Humoresque”, you can listen him playing like for fun (and it makes sense since it is a real time recording, commented in the following lines). The track “Birdland” is a classic standard from Zawinul, known by Weather Report and Jaco Pastorius fans and starts with a perfectly recorded Tuba in the center of the speakers, followed by Bill Douglas drums a Earl Hines keys.
This is a typical album that I don’t get satisfied with having only one version. In the above picture, you see the original cover of the LP from M&K Realtime records.
I owned a unit some years ago. I was looking for some records in the used music stores in my big city and I found a funny guy smiling to me. I was about to ignore it when the word “direct to disc” almost said: “yes, you want me”. I didn’t concern about the music quality (since it was my first contact with this musician) because I knew that there was (and is) high quality inside. When I put it to play in my Thorens turntable with ortofon MC cartridge, I got totally amazed with the quality of the music and also the so important quality recording.
Direct To Disc, in LP, is the technique to capture a live recording, usually inside a studio, and use the direct signal to cut a master disc. It is a totally unprocessed and lossless signal, with extremely high and natural quality.
Earl Hines, when started to record it, was a bit confused about this kind of recording technique. He had to play each side of the record without a break, like if he was in a live show. That’s one of the additional features of this work. You can really feel the liveliness of the session.
After I sold my Thorens turntable, I sold it also for a friend collector, but I started to search out for CD versions, and I found a compilation of 2 M&K Records: For Duke and Earl “Fatha” Hines

This is a very interesting remaster of the original LP version. It was done by the M&K owner Ken Kreisel. This is a very clean reissue and very important since joined two great records in only one.
In my opinion, this is not the best CD version. There is another one, released by Drive Archive:

The former CD here (gold) is very nice and has an incredible sound, but it seems that a filter was applied to minimize some noise from the original master disc and, then, make a more clear sound. For me it also removed some magic and some analog taste from the original issue, that are fully present in the latter CD version I presented (Drive Archive), which is my favorite.
Don’t worry. These differences between the CDs are subtle and you will have true state of the art recording of a great musician playing great musics.

Thank you
Leonardo


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