Author Archives: Marc Phillips

John Redmon, Honoring Louis Armstrong | The Vinyl Anachronist

I review a lot of contemporary jazz albums that are tributes to jazz legends. A big chunk of the jazz canon is about honoring traditions and keeping those musical pioneers at the forefront of the genre. But have I ever reviewed an album from a jazz impressionist, someone who wants to do more than just remind me of a towering star? I’m asking because John Redmon, a Colorado Springs-based singer, pianist and composer/arranger, is a Louis Armstrong impressionist. On Honoring Louis Armstrong, it’s clear that this is a role he takes seriously. Founder, president and CEO of Reaching Records–a position achieved when he was just 16 years old–John Redmon has recorded an album that emulates a big show at Satchmo’s peak. He teams with the Thomas J. Dawson, Jr. iOrchestra, a smooth and opulent ensemble that can handle both big band jazz and modern R&B, to perform some of Armstrong’s signature tunes such as “What a Wonderful World, “Smile,” and the obligatory “When the Saints Come Marching In” medley. Does John Redmon sound exactly like Louis Armstrong? He’s an impressionist and not an impersonator, so Redmon succeeds at letting everyone know he’s “doing Louis” while still bringing something deep inside [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

The Jeff Benedict Big Big Band, The Weather Is Here… | The Vinyl Anachronist

This new album from the Jeff Benedict Big Big Band (website) turned me into a mess for a few hours. That’s mostly because of the title: The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful.  I’m not a Jimmy Buffett fan, so I took this title rather literally and questioned whether it was a bit tone deaf. I wrote up about a paragraph and a half, and I stopped at mid-sentence. This isn’t turning out the way I thought. Sax player Jeff Benedict is a talented performer as well as bandleader, and I enjoyed the last release with guitarist Dave Askren. Maybe I’m tired. It’s been a long day. I should just go to sleep. So I saved the draft and planned on re-attacking this album in the morning. Funny thing is, the Jeff Benedict review was accidentally published in the morning. As is. I even hated my photo of the album cover and I was totally going to retake one. By that time, I was told by a friend that the title was a reference to Buffett, and Benedict’s peeps had sent an email telling me the irony of the album title and that the whole concept was big band [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Todd Mosby, Aerial Views | The Vinyl Anachronist

I wasn’t quite sure at first about guitarist Todd Mosby (website) and his new album, Aerial Views. It starts off very mellow, almost an equal blend of soft Pat Metheny and the better-than-average Windham Hill releases through the early ’80s, and I my first reaction was dismissive. Lately I’ve listened to plenty of guitarists emulating Metheny (aka “paying tribute” or “one of my main influences growing up”) While there was a time in my life when I really dug some of those pristine Windham Hill LPs in my collection, especially from the likes of Mark Isham and the late, great Michael Hedges. Yes, I thought of Hedges’ awesome Aerial Boundaries the first time I listened to Aerial Views. The first time I listened to this Todd Mosby album, I got through the first couple of tracks and then my mind wandered and I started doing other things. After about ten minutes, I was drawn back to my listening chair. Aerial Views, over the course of the first handful of tunes, turns into a first-class audiophile album. While the smooth and versatile guitar work from Todd Mosby is front and center for most of the album, the focus does shift to [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Stille Grender from 2L Recordings | The Vinyl Anachronist

Thought I’d get a jump on holiday music for 2021 with Stille Grender, the latest from 2L Recordings in Norway. If I had received it just a couple of weeks ago, it would have easily been my favorite Christmas recording of 2020. (Insert obligatory bah, humbug! here.) But for some reason, possibly an issue with customs or just the holiday shipping crush, Stille Grender arrived shortly after the New Year. Look at it this way–if you still have your Christmas decorations up while you’re reading this, it’s probably still okay to listen to it. Here’s another reason for me to listen to Stille Grender on January 5. (My new neighbors already had their doubts about me.) This is another beautiful and technically brilliant recording of a pianist (Tord Gustavson) accompanying a children’s choir (Det Norske Jentekor) as they sing Christmas carols. (This album even starts off with “Carol of the Bells.”) What’s not to like, right? Well, Stille Grender arrived at the same time as the Acora Acoustics SRB 2-way monitors with dedicated SRS stands. The flagship Acora Acoustics SRC-2s just received our rare Summit Award from reviewer Dave McNair–which was quickly seconded by NC neighbor Eric Franklin Shook. I’ve [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Monika Lidke, Let the World Be a Question | The Vinyl Anachronist

Wouldn’t you know it? I have two turntables up and rarin’ to go: the LSA T3 turntable and unipivot tonearm with a Soundsmith The Voice cartridge, and the Gem Dandy Polytable Signature with Sorane TA1-L 12″ tonearm and the brand new ZYX Ultimate Airy cartridge. I told myself that these were good days to be reviewing LPs, quiet wintry days following the holidays, but there was just one LP in the infamous review pile. Just one. Let the World Be a Question from Monika Lidke (website). That means one thing–I played this LP from Monika Lidke over and over while setting these turntables up and dialing everything in. On one level, that implies that I really enjoyed it. Would I listen to it over and over if I couldn’t stand it? But I stuck with this LP for days because there was more to it sonically, an introspective richness that drew me in each time I played it. Ostensibly a jazz singer, Monika Lidke’s deeply personal songs combine jazz with pop, folk and even country nuances. After a while it just becomes lovely music, similar to some of the work Anne Bisson’s been doing over the last few years. After [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura, Pentas | The Vinyl Anachronist

Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura’s Pentas (website) is a companion piece to Prickly Pear Cactus, the Ikue Mori album I reviewed a few weeks ago. Both CDs arrived the same day in the same package featuring the same Japanese composers and musicians, same label and art direction, so I assumed that they were meant to be enjoyed together, a sort of vol. 1 and vol. 2. Both albums qualify as avant-garde or even free jazz. What’s surprising about these calculated similarities is the differences between them, and how a rather difficult and focused genre can be so inclusive. Prickly Pear Cactus was set up with pianist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura on one end, and avant-garde composer Mori on the other side with the electronics and the production. (A necessity, since the recording was done during the pandemic.) Prickly Pear Cactus was sensational in the purest way, a thrilling and goosebump-inducing corralling of noise into streams of music. Pentas, by definition, takes away the ethereal effects from Mora and leaves a piano and a trumpet, naked on the stage, communicating in a spare but strangely formal way. Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura have recorded seven albums as a duo [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Nordost QKORE Ground Units and QKORE Wire | REVIEW

I enter the world of grounding, as it pertains to high-end audio, with some trepidation. When the Nordost QKORE products (website) first arrived at my doorstep—the QKORE1, QKORE 3 and QKORE6 Ground Units and quite a few runs of the QKORE Wire with various terminations—I instantly thought, “This is some serious equipment for grounding. Am I up to the challenge?” I’m not completely alien to the science behind grounding. In a past life I had to install Ufer grounds on new construction sites for the computer racks and associated hardware. But other than making sure the grounding lug is tight on the back of my phono preamplifier, I don’t think about grounding a lot these days—I haven’t had to hunt down a nasty ground hum in quite some time. The Nordost QKORE seems like an ambitious, all-out assault on ground hum and other spurious noise, and I started to wonder if I needed all this to combat whatever grounding issues I might discover. Was I walking into a minefield? Is this another controversy in the making that will make me hover over the comments section with my finger poised one steady inch from the delete button? Is the Vinyl Anachronist [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Bill Evans Live at Ronnie Scott’s | The Vinyl Anachronist

I reviewed a couple of Christmas jazz releases last week, something to play right before the holidays to get into the right mood. Well, consider Bill Evans Live at Ronnie Scott‘s an actual present to yourself, especially if you’re a fan of Bill Evans. (I am. I put him up there with Ellington and Brubeck, three corners of an equilateral jazz piano triangle.) This collection of previously unreleased performances, captured in 1968 over a month-long gig at the titular Soho club, wound up in a German vault for 50 years. If you know your Bill Evans, you’ll know his trio during this period included bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette–the crew that was featured in Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Resonance Records, which is fast becoming a label known for finding lost treasures in the world of jazz–I reviewed their early Nat King Cole collection, Hittin’ the Ramp, a year ago and even purchased it for my parents at Christmas–and you get the same great packaging. I didn’t know this until now, but Brian Hunter interviewed Resonance’s Zev Feldman, aka The Jazz Detective, two years ago on The Occasional Podcast. Because these are “historical discoveries,” as opposed [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Rich Halley, The Shape of Things | The Vinyl Anachronist

It’s not often that I bring up Tool in my jazz reviews, but saxophonist Rich Halley’s The Shape of Things constantly reminds me of those lyrics from the song “Schism”–“I know the pieces fit, cuz I watched them fall away.” I have a confession to make when it comes to the honest evaluation of free jazz, and it’s this: sometimes I sit there and absorb the chaos and I think I could do this. It’s a conundrum straight out of a Jackson Pollack painting, that you’re forgetting what it took to arrive at this point. Rich Halley (website) never lets you forget that. The Shape of Things almost has a stream of consciousness feel, but not in the usual free jazz sense. It flows in and out of that chaos, focuses, and suddenly this quartet (pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Newman Taylor Baker) is swinging through classic bebop. Then it isn’t. Then it is. The pieces, guided by Rich Halley and his wild and passionate sax, are being put back together. He’s showing you how they fit. He’s the IKEA of free jazz. He’s Tool. Maybe I’ve gone off on an equally wild and passionate tangent here, [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Henry Robinett Quartet, Then and Then Again | The Vinyl Anachronist

This might be a case of everything old being new again, but I waited so long to review Then: Jazz Standards Vol.1 from the Henry Robinett Quartet (website) that Then Again: Jazz Standards Vol. 2 arrived in my mail box. At first I thought the publicist sent me the same album twice–that has happened on quite a few occasions–but then I noticed the slight differences in the cover. The first volume, which had receded deep into the review pile, was so good, and I kept trying to share that but a lot of things got in the way, such as getting this year’s Buyers Guide out to the world. So if it’s not too late to save face with the Henry Robinett Quartet, I’d like to go back and state that Vol. 1 is a winner, a masterful outing from a very talented jazz guitarist. Vol. 2 is equally intriguing and is consistent enough with the first volume that this could have been released as a double album, which has been the trend this season. But that wouldn’t be telling you the real story behind Then and Then Again, which is that both albums were recorded twenty years ago. “Honestly, [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile