June 28, 2015

Playlist Weeks of 2015-06-20 & 27

* Virtuoso Chamber Music for Harp & Violoncello (Storck) (Telefunken LP)
* Brüggen, Leonhardt, Bylsma, Schröder: Spelen Voor Das Alte Werk (Telefunken LP)
* Toumani & Sidiki Diabaté: Toumani & Sidiki (World Circuit LP)
* Miles Davis: Seven Steps: Complete Recordings 1963-64 (d.4-5) (Columbia/Legacy  7CD)
* Miles Davis/Bill Laswell: Panthalassa (Columbia CD)
* Miles Davis/Bill Laswell: Panthalassa: The Remixes (Columbia CD)
* McCoy Tyner: Time For Tyner (Blue Note LP)
* McCoy Tyner: Atlantis (Milestone 2LP)
* Eddie Henderson: Sunburst (Blue Note LP)
* Larry Coryell: Coryell (Vanguard Apostolic LP)
* Larry Coryell: Basics (Vanguard LP)
* Billy Hart: Enchance (Horizon LP)
* John Abercrombie Quartet: Wait Till You See Her (ECM CD)
* John Abercrombie Quartet: 39 Steps (ECM CD)
* John Surman/John McLaughlin et al.: Where Fortune Smiles (Dawn LP)
* Robin Kenyatta: The Girl From Martinique (ECM LP)
* Chico Freeman: Beyond The Rain (Contemporary LP)
* Chico Freeman: Spirit Sensitive (India Navigation LP)
* Jayson Lindh: Ramadan (Metronome/CTI LP)
* Danny Heines: Aqua Touch (Silver Wave LP)
* Iassos: Celestial Soul Portrait (Numero Group 2LP)
* David Arkenstone: Valley In The Clouds (Narada CD)
* Nils Petter Molaever: Khmer (ECM CD)
* Grateful Dead: Lyceum Theatre, London 5/25/72 (selections) (GDP/Rhino 4HDCD)
* Jerry Garcia Band: Shining Star (d.1) (Arista 2HDCD) †/‡
* The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Axis: Bold As Love (Experience Hendrix/Sony LP)
* Jade Warrior: Jade Warrior (Vertigo LP)
* Spirit: Live Spirit (Potato LP)
* The Rugbys: Hot Cargo (Amazon/Akarma LP)
* Joni Mitchell: Court & Spark (Asylum HDCD)
* Yes: Close To The Edge (Atlantic/Audio Fidelity SACD)
* Emerson Lake & Palmer: Tarkus (d.3) (Razor & Tie 2CD/DVD-A)
* Neu!: Neu! (Astralwerks CD)
* Neu!: Neu! 2 (Astralwerks CD)
* Neu!: Neu! 3 (Astralwerks CD)
* Gong: Gazeuse! (Virgin LP)
* Steven Wilson: Hand. Cannot. Erase (KScope 2LP)
* Opeth: Blackwater Park (Music For Nations/Sony CD) †/‡
* Opeth: Deliverance (Music For Nations CD) †/‡
* Opeth: Damnation (Music For Nations CD) †/‡
* Opeth: Watershed (Roadrunner CD) †/‡
* Opeth: Heritage (Roadrunner 2LP)
* Deafheaven: Sunbather (Deathwish 2-45RPM LP)
* Wild Nothing: Nocturne (Captured Tracks CD) †/‡
* Wye Oak: Shriek (Merge LP) †/‡



Just got back from a week in Colorado -- what a spectacular trip! We got to see family (many of whom we hadn't seen in years) and then took off for a few days up in the mountains. The six-mile hike through Rocky Mountain National Park was one of the most awesome experiences of my life -- as in scary-as-hell, do-or-die awesome -- ascending to over 9880 feet, scrambling across rock faces and leaping across rushing streams of snowmelt. For a couple of acrophobics, it was challenging indeed. But we survived to tell the tale.

I also got to do some record shopping while we were there, stopping by Bart's and Absolute Vinyl in Boulder; Black & Read in Arvada; and Wax Trax and Twist & Shout in Denver. I had been saving up for this trip, knowing that incredible records can be found in Colorado. I made a little video showing my haul, if you're interested:

June 14, 2015

Playlist Week of 2015-06-13

* Le Sieur de Machy: Pieces de Viole 1685 (Savall) (Archiv LP)
* J.S. Bach: Musikalisches Opfer, BWV 1079 (Concentus musicus Wien) (Archiv LP)
* Vivaldi/Richter: The Four Seasons Recomposed (DG 2LP)
* Miles Davis: Seven Steps: The Complete Recordings 1963-1964 (d.1-2) (Columbia 7CD)
* Ornette Coleman: The Empty Foxhole (Blue Note LP)
* Donald Byrd: Black Byrd (Blue Note LP)
* Jack DeJohnette: Sorcery (Prestige LP)
* Jack DeJohnette New Directions: In Europe (ECM LP)
* Alphonse Mouzon: Mind Transplant (Blue Note LP)
* John McLaughlin: Electric Guitarist (Columbia LP)
* Bobbi Humphrey: Blacks & Blues (Blue Note LP)
* Bobbi Humphrey: Satin Doll (Blue Note LP)
* Simon & Bard Group with Ralph Towner: Tear It Up (Flying Fish LP)
* Simon & Bard Group: The Enormous Radio (Flying Fish LP)
* Marc Johnson & Eliane Elias: Swept Away (ECM CD)
* Emerald Web: Lights of the Ivory Plain (Fortuna LP)
* Emerald Web: Catspaw (Audion LP)
* John Serrie: And The Stars Go With You (Miramar CD)
* John Serrie: Ixlandia (Miramar CD)
* David Lanz & Paul Speer: Desert Vision (Narada LP)
* Serge Gainsbourg: Histoire de Melody Nelson (Philips/Light in the Attic LP)
* Alain Goraguer: La Planéte Sauvage OST (Pathé/Superior Viaduct LP)
* Love’s A Real Thing: The Funky Fuzzy Sounds of West Africa (Luaka Bop 2LP)
* Gram Parsons: GP (Warner Bros./Mobile Fidelity SACD)
* Grateful Dead: Civic Center, Hartford, CT 1981-05-10 (set 2) (selections) (SBD 2CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL 1991-06-22 (selections) (SBD 3CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Coliseum, Oakland, CA 1993-02-23 (selections) (SBD FLAC)
* Santana: Caravanserai (Columbia LP)
* Linda Perhacs: Parallelograms (Kapp/Sundazed LP)
* Tom Waits: Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards (d.2) (Anti- 3CD)
* Merzbow/B. Pandi /M. Gustafsson/T. Moore: Cuts of Guilt Cut Deeper (Rare Noise 2LP)
* Jim O’Rourke: Simple Songs (Drag City LP)
* Anathema: Judgement (Music For Nations/Sony CD)
* Sunn O))): Black One (Southern Lord 2LP)           
* Pelican: The Cliff (Southern Lord EP)
* Minsk: The Crash And The Draw (Relapse 2LP)
* Pallbearer: Foundations of Burden (Profound Lore CD)
* Lord Dying: Poisoned Altars (Relapse LP)
* Myrkur: Myrkur (Relapse EP)
* Alabama Shakes: Sound And Color (ATO 2LP)



Although I knew Ornette Coleman was not in good health (and 85 years is a plenty long run), it still came as a shock to hear that he passed away on Thursday.

Like many innovators, he was vilified by establishment critics for much of his early career but managed to persevere and survive long enough to become a respected elder statesman, receiving a Pulitzer Prize for his 2007 album, Sound Grammar.  Respectful obituaries appeared in not only The New York Times, but also Rolling Stone and Taylor Ho Bynum's musicianly take on Ornette is a must-read over at The New Yorker.

I myself found Ornette's music difficult to get into when I first heard it back in high school. His acerbic tone and unorthodox intonation put me off and the landmark Free Jazz LP just sounded like a bunch of noise. But my ears gradually acclimated to his approach and, being a rocker at heart, his electrified Prime Time band truly knocked me out. I was fortunate enough to see him live twice when I lived in Boston: once with Pat Metheny and the Song X band and one marathon concert at The Channel (of all places), featuring Prime Time and his original quartet with Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins, separately and altogether. Now that was amazing.

But it was by trying to play his music in UYA that I came to really appreciate what is really going on with it. His "Harmolodic" theory is something that is perhaps more effectively intuited than easily explained or understood, something that helps focus the improviser on what is happening in its totality while in the moment of its creation. In any event, Free Jazz sounds fairly tame and orderly to me now -- and not all that free, after all.

Thanks, Ornette, for opening my ears and changing my life.

June 7, 2015

Playlist Week of 2015-06-06

* J.S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier Bk.1 (Kirkpatrick) (Archiv 2CD)
* Steve Reich: Another Look At Counterpoint (Amiata CD)
* Bill Evans: The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings 1961 (d.1-2) (Fantasy/Concord 3CD)
* Lloyd McNeil & Marshall Hawkins: Tanner Suite (Asha/Universal Sound LP)
* Marilyn Crispell Trio: Live in Zurich (Leo CD)
* Billy Cobham: Simplicity of Expression/Depth of Thought (Columbia LP)
* Weather Report: Mr. Gone (Columbia LP)
* David Torn: Best Laid Plains (ECM CD)
* Gary Burton/Chick Corea/Pat Metheny/Roy Haynes/Dave Holland: Like Minds (Concord CD)
* Pat Metheny Group: American Garage (ECM LP)
* Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays: As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls (ECM LP)
* Daybreak ltd.: Daybreak ltd. (Deva LP)
* Stephan Micus: Athos: A Journey to the Holy Mountain (ECM CD)
* Emerald Web: Dragon Wings and Wizard Tales (Sebastian Speaks LP)
* John Serrie & Gary Stroutsos: Hidden World (Narada CD)
* Marcos Valle: Vento Sul (Odeon/Light in the Attic LP)
* Thievery Corporation: Saudade (ESL LP)
* Vince Matthews & Jim Casey: The Kingston Springs Suite (Delmore Recording Society LP)
* Grateful Dead: Coliseum, Greensboro, NC 4/30/81 (selections) (SBD 3CDR)
* It’s A Beautiful Day: At Carnegie Hall (Columbia LP)
* Vashti Bunyan: Heartleap (DiCristina LP)
* Latin Playboys: Latin Playboys (Slash/Warner Bros. CD)
* Los Super Seven: Los Super Seven (RCA CD)
* Robert Pollard: Faulty Superheroes (GBV, Inc. LP)
* The Mars Volta: Deloused in the Comatorium (Universal/Music on Vinyl 2LP)
* The Mars Volta: Scabdates (GSL/Universal CD) †/‡
* Enslaved: In Times (Nuclear Blast 2LP)
* Mew: Frengers (Sony CD)
* White Hills: h-P1 (Thrill Jockey CD)
* White Hills: White Hills (Thrill Jockey CD)
* Locrian: The Crystal World (Utech 2CD)
* Minsk: With Echoes in the Movement of Stone (Relapse CD)
* Alabama Shakes: Sound & Color (Ato 2LP)



My Clearaudio Maestro V2 arrived this week and, thanks to the precision Clearaudio Cartridge Alignment Tool and digital Weight Watcher stylus pressure gauge (which is accurate to one-hundredth of a gram), set-up was a breeze—much to my relief. I was back up and spinning records in less than an hour.

Of course, I was expecting the Maestro to sound significantly better than the stock Concept cartridge (as it should, being exponentially more expensive) but I was unprepared for how shockingly good it sounds. 

Seriously, all the usual audiophile superlatives apply here: more slam, deeper bass, cleanly extended high frequencies, more finely resolved inner details, with a silky smooth presentation from top to bottom. But most impressive to me are the almost dead-quiet backgrounds, with surface noise (when present) recessed deep behind the music. 

The Maestro features the same Trygon P2 stylus and boron cantilever found in their highest-end moving coil designs, with the magnets’ motor assembly housed in ultra-dense, resonance-damping ebony, resulting in luscious sound quality with superb tracking, even on the most dynamic LPs. Listening to vinyl records has never been so rewarding—or downright fun!

Worth every penny, and then some.