Archive for April, 2010

Gonzalo Rubalcaba Trio – Diz (Blue Note)

April 19, 2010

Splendid! This is the first word that came to my mind when I started listening (after some years) again to this great Gonzalo Rubalcaba work. The cover is a bit sad, probably in memory of Dizzy Gillespie.
Gonzalo was born in Havana, Cuba and had a very intense musical life and was discovered by Dizzy Gillespie in 1986. Diz… the title of this albums, but, only 4 (of 9 tracks) are related to Dizzy. We can conclude that it is dedicated to Dizzy Gillespie, despite that.
Right after the first second of the first track, I realized that I was going to listen a real dense jazz work. I really heard that. Ron Carter at the bass started the first notes with a very precise and present walking. I have not comments about him and this name says everything by itself. At the drums, Julio Barreto doing everything you can imagine. Gonzalo has a very peculiar style in this album. He re-wrote completely all the standards and some tracks are unrecognizable, but still pretty. He is a true piano genius.
The recording quality is astonishing. The stage is very deep and airy. All the instruments are very well captured and have a perfect tonal balance. The piano timbre is very smooth at the left position. The bass at the center and the drums through the entire stage. It was recoded at McClear Pathé, Toronto 1993.

As a curious person, I decided to search information about this studio on Internet and found this web site: http://www.mcclear.com. The information I got is that it was closed in 2005 and this is a memorial site. That’s really also sad. The pictures show a very nice place with very nice people that produced very nice recordings.
I would like to dedicate this post to this great place and I hope everyone from McClear can continue working with the same quality as they did in the Diz album.

best regards
Leonardo

Igor Stravinsky (Chesky Records)

April 12, 2010

Petrouchka
Royal Philarmonic Orchestra
Oscar Danon, Conductor

Le Sacre Du Printemps
London Festival Orchestra
René Leibowitz, Conductor

It is not possible to write about this record without writing some lines about the composition and also Igor Stravinsky (and about my personal views, of course).
Petrushka and The Rite of Spring were composed sequentially and it’s good that this record present them in this order (The Firebird precedes them and should also be considered).
The main concern of the composers, at least before 20th century, was to build harmonies and melodies and arrange them in a format (like Symphony) that forms a great piece of art. In my view, this was, generally, the base of the 700 years of classical music since the medieval times. We have Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and many other Genius that keeps the very pleasant music immortal, but there are others that break the usual concepts and build totally new music formats. That’s what attracts me and makes me listen Stravinsky main pieces (Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring).
Imagine a music that has no melody and has no harmony. The music has form, rithm, figures and textures. Maybe it’s hard to explain in words. Hearing is much more understandable. The creativity required to reach such kind of form is not for everyone, that’s the reason why Stravisnky became also immortal. The Petrushka is yet more colorful than The Rite. The latter is more quiet and with more violent passages, representing pagan rites. It seems that Stravisnky wanted to do the extreme of its modern vision after Petrushka.
This is a real rupture of classic music and didn’t have a good acceptance in the first performance of The Rite of Spring, in Paris, 1913. A lot of confusion and rage. The world was not ready for that, despite its placed in recent history. Only 10 years later, or more, it stared to be accepted and acclaimed by its genius.
This is a Chesky record and I can save many words about its quality. It was remastered from original 60’s tapes and was in high quality form, what made possible to preserve all the performance details. It is one of the best orchestra recording I’ve ever heard in my stereo hi-fi system.

Best Regards,
Leonardo

Jessica Williams – Gratitude (Candid Records)

April 2, 2010

It is late at the night. I have just finalized a full listening session of this record. I don’t want to wait one or more days to write my impressions about it. It is fresh in my ears and this woman and this record deserves much more than the time I’ll spend here.
Jessica Williams is essentially a solo pianist. The reasons for that are explained in this album’s liner notes (by herself) and I suggest you to take a look on it. She is a true musician a has all my respect.
This record was in my wish list for some years and I confess that I didn’t expect so much. Someone told me in the past that J.William’s records plays very nice in our special stereo systems and I decided to try this one. What happened is that I knew a great musician that, for our luck, has many well recorded albums.
What impressed my here is the way Jessica explores the piano. From bass notes to treble, she keeps swinging. Very creative always doing new variations, new patterns and rhythms track by track. Each song has something new and you will be amazed with the dynamics she imposes to the keys. In music Justice she plays the harmony with the right hand and the solo with the left hand (she has inverted the conventional way, I was just wondering if she inverted the hands too).
This is a near-piano recording. It means that the piano seems to be near you and not far, like a big concert hall. The bass notes are in the left side (not at the left speaker) and goes to the right as the scales are increasing. It means that you have a complete piano keyboard in front of you, from left to right. You can follow each note, each harmonic in its own physical position. This recording is great to test how you stereo system manage the left hand piano, that should be extremely clear and separate, never mixing. The piano percussion dynamics are also great, mainly at the lower notes. Jessica uses a lot of harmony in the low register of the piano. It can lead to a lack of intelligibility, both live and at your home stereo, but that’s not the case here, absolutely.

Thank you
Leonardo