Tag Archives: music review

2L Recordings, Three for the Winter Months Ahead | The Vinyl Anachronist

2L Recordings from Norway (website) tends to release its titles in clusters, and sometimes right before the holidays so that we secular folk can also have a soundtrack for the falling snow on the other side of that big open window over there. This is always a gift, in the purest of ways, but this year these three titles–Of Innocence and Experience, Beethoven’s Testaments of 1802 and The Horn in Romanticism–seem unusually suited to the waning weeks of a difficult year. Fortunately for me, these intimate recordings also shine for the audio system I have set up right now. I’m talking, in particular, about the Marten Oscar Duo loudspeakers that just arrived this week. They’re another in a long and splendid line of two-way monitors I’ve been evaluating, and their specific calling card is a fast yet delicate sound that’s the result of those Accuton ceramic drivers. After spending a few months with the Vimberg Ameas, which wined and dined me nearly every day, I’m headed down a long and dusty road where at the end I say yeah, maybe I’m kind of a ceramic driver kind of guy. Plus, you listen to these speakers, especially with the Jeff Rowland [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Matt DeMerritt, Fool’s Journey | The Vinyl Anachronist

It’s strange how music and the visual arts can bounce off each other, creating new echoes. Vincent Van Gogh has been my favorite artist for quite some time, ever since hundreds of his works toured the US back in 1999. My two favorite paintings? Wheatfield with Crows and Starry Night. Over the last couple of weeks, however, Van Gogh’s position on the top of the mountain has been threatened by Guadalajara-based artist Sergio Bustamante. In the middle of this turmoil, I listened to Matt DeMerritt. He has an opinion on all this, dipped in a knowing humor. Saxophone player Matt DeMerritt scores extra points integrating Starry Night onto the cover of his new album, Fool’s Journey, but the real genius of this album is just how appropriate that image is to the rich and melodic jazz featured in these tracks. These are dense and seductive original compositions, just as layered as millions of stars thrown across a clear night sky, music that might be played on a stage, outdoors, and shared with people you love. This is the first album from Matt DeMerritt as a leader. He spent the previous 25 years as a sideman, according to the liner notes. [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Ikue Mori, Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura, Prickly Pear Cactus | The Vinyl Anachronist

I’ve reviewed plenty of experimental albums, both jazz and electronica, that sound like little more than a collection of recorded noises. The real trick in evaluating such recordings is to find the weave of music that’s hidden among the random sounds. It’s always a matter of degree, the balance between Noise v. Music, especially when this is all so subjective. Prickly Pear Cactus from avant-garde instrumentalist-composer Ikue Mori turned out to be a tricky proposition, but one that ultimately led me to a strange, mysterious kind of music that haunted me days after listening to it. Ikue Mori had a great idea when she decided to enlist pianist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura for this collaboration. The three of them worked through Zoom, with Fujii and Tamura sending sound files recorded at home to Mori so she could wrap them in a blanket of odd synthesized and real sounds. (This is how a lot of music is being made during the Covid Age.) The genius of this approach is enhanced by the exquisite sound quality, so we get very clear delineations between the real and the artificial to the point where it all sounds real, all performed by three [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

John Finbury, Quatro | The Vinyl Anachronist

Wow, it’s amazing. The review pile is actually getting pretty low. The only problem I’m having is with those CDs and LPs that might have gotten buried under something else, or misplaced during the cross-country move this summer, and then they pop up out of nowhere. I think man, is this still considered new? Did I really miss an opportunity to write a review on something that was really, really outstanding? Here’s one: Quatro, from composer John Finbury. It came out back in May, and I had it weeks or even months in advance. When I first listened it those many months ago, I was quite impressed. Now I recall that I loved the softness of this quartet’s Latin sound, and the vocals were velvety AF, and quite well-matched. This is an album where four members of a jazz quartet, performing under no particular name, play the music of composer John Finbury. The quartet is actually a piano trio (veteran pianist Chano Dominguez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Antonio Sanchez) with a vocalist (Magos Herrera), who is the aforementioned velvet. It’s a little uncommon to record an album like this–it seems like Finbury wrote some compositions and arrangements, and asked [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Hazar Reincarnated | The Vinyl Anachronist

My father, who passed away in August, loved classical guitar recordings like Hazar Reincarnated. On his birthday that was one of the very few slam dunks, a sure thing for a man who was “notoriously difficult to buy for,” as my mom often said. I’m thinking about my dad a lot these days–after a couple of months I’m at the point where I’m trying to define the man, and distill his paradoxes into something more manageable. When we were kids we thought our father had pedestrian tastes in music. In the last few years, I’ve been curious about his deep love for Rodrigo and John Williams and Segovia. Where did it come from? He was, in his youth, a genuine Dust Bowl Okie, a farm boy who went back and forth between OK and CA, a father full of tales about car accidents on Route 66, an ill-advised shotgun blast when a water moccasin jumped into his rowboat, the axe that sliced his knee after a day of chopping wood. There was also the man who became a mechanical draftsman when that was a noble profession, had his name on a few patents, and wound up working in aerospace. He [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

John Daversa Quintet, Cuarantena | The Vinyl Anachronist

What do you do for an encore after you win three Grammy Awards for a jazz album that celebrates the contributions of young DACA Dreamers to our society? If you’re trumpeter and flugelhorn player John Daversa and you’re living in a COVID world, you stay at home, call a few friends and make an extraordinary new album that celebrates the strengthening of family ties during these unusual times. You don’t have to speak Spanish to know what cuarantena means–but you do need to be prepared for the rather uplifting message in this new album from the John Daversa Quintet. Cuarantena: With Family at Home is all about overcoming loneliness by spending more time with your loved ones, by giving and absorbing as much love as you can from the people who are truly important to you. Daversa brought this up to the great Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, who once recorded one of the albums that truly got me into jazz–1993’s Suite 4 y 20–and the idea for Cuarantena was born. Once these two legends hammered out some of the scope of the project, John Daversa called on a handful of true masters to help including bassist Carlo De Rossa, drummer [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Julian Gerstin, Littoral Zone | The Vinyl Anachronist

I almost started off with telling you how much I love pure percussion records, but I think I’ve done that recently–perhaps it was the last time I reviewed an album from Julian Gerstin. Instead, I’d love to ask you a question: have you ever linked, in your mind, a specific piece of music with a hi-fi component? I’m sure it’s happened to me at least a hundred times, but not recently. Julian Gerstin’s Littoral Zone arrived almost the same day as the new Volti Audio Razz, so naturally it became the first choice during the break-in period. That was several days ago, maybe a whole week, and I’m still listening to Littoral Zone through the Razzes. No other recording has snuck in. They’re such a natural match, a dynamic and sensitive horn speaker with some gorgeous percussion pieces that Gerstin has sifted and retrieved through his years of playing music from Cuba and Ghana and the Balkans.   These are simple percussion compositions, not wild, sprawling drum circle sessions that you might hear from the likes of Mickey Hart or David van Tieghem or even Shelley Manne. In most cases, you might even believe that Julian Gerstin is playing everything [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Nicholas Brust, Frozen in Time | The Vinyl Anachronist

After a week of decidedly avant-garde recordings that glance off the side walls of contemporary jazz, Nicholas Brust and his latest album, Frozen in Time, are a needed respite. Referred to as a “premiere saxophonist of his generation,” Brust has that smoky, sexy way of playing the sax that will sound familiar to most jazz fans–his notes are long, extended and heartfelt, just like words. It’s a moody sound, one that speaks of big cities and open windows and the gentle breezes that can be persuaded to drop by for a cup of coffee. That’s not to say Nicholas Brust takes the easy way out with his playing, or his compositions and arrangements. That sweet tone of his is usually employed as an open window as well, one that encourages you to follow his themes and ideas into a thoughtful, somewhat dreamy world where you might learn a few truths. Brust’s quintet–guitarist Ben Eunson, pianist Tuomo Uusitalo, bassist Josh Allen and drummer Jay Sawyer–all have a secret weapon at their disposal to bring out the dense and complex moods. It might be a lush turn at the cymbals with a brush that paints and animates the sound like a blossom, [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Samuel Leipold, Viscosity | The Vinyl Anachronist

Samuel Leipold and his album Viscosity reminds me of the first few times I tried to play guitar. My best friend had learned how to play when he was young, piano too. Every time I’d go to his house I’d pick up one of his guitars and make various sounds with the body and strings, all without any concept of how to extract a chord or even a single tolerable note. I can even remember getting in the zone, coming up with something that sort of resembled music–just not normal guitar music. It was probably still unlistenable, but I learned a lot about guitars before Lesson One. When I actually learned how to play the guitar many years later, all those exotic, weird and atonal noises disappeared forever. I learned chords. I played notes. I left all that fooling around behind, but at the same time I always remembered the type of music all that fumbling produced. Samuel Leipold, an exquisite and adventurous guitar player, seems to have brushed up against those memories. Remember when that interviewer asked Jackson Pollock if he knew when he was finished with a piece, and how Pollock replied “How do you know when you’re [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Zen Zadravec, Human Revolution | The Vinyl Anachronist

My first impression of Zen Zadravec‘s piano, processed when I first received Human Revolution a few weeks ago, is nearly the same right now. Zadravec, born in Winnipeg, has assembled a bright and energetic quintet, heavy on horns, maybe with a vocalist on one or two cuts, and he still plays as their equal. That’s right, five on one. He’s not pounding the keys so loudly that no one else on stage can think. He’s the gas. He makes the whole thing go, and once they get going he makes them go fast. Human Revolution isn’t designed, however, as a getaway car. Zen Zadravec views these tracks, mostly originals, as based upon the philosophies of Nichiren Buddhism. The liner notes mention that he “strives to create music that inspires, encourages and touches people’s hearts.” There’s nobility in that, but it doesn’t come at the cost of fun, a relaxed and jumpin’ vibe that helps you to forget the world instead of re-imagining it–even during the group’s softer ballads. These two themes, delivered by a propulsive style on the keyboards and perhaps by some Zen-like appreciation for the pace and tempo, is what makes this album so fascinating. But it’s unfair [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile