Tag Archives: the vinyl anachronist

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

Squarewave’s Hazy | The Vinyl Anachronist

The vinyls. Remember those? Seems like I haven’t received a lot of vinyl to review in the last couple of months. I had a reader comment not too long ago that I should limit the Vinyl Anachronist music reviews to just LPs if I’m going to give this column that name. Deep down, I keep the name because it’s a continuation of my blog, which I just recently discontinued, and an extension of this persona I created back in 1998. But I agree with you. YES, I should limit this column to LPs. But I can’t because most artists who are just starting out, or in a very insular genre such as contemporary jazz, don’t have the money right now to send LPs all over the place hoping for reviews–hence the preponderance of CDs and digital downloads. I wish I received that many LPs for review, that daily front porch squeal of delight, especially since I’m running out of room for all these CDs. That doesn’t excuse my neglect when it comes to this LP, Squarewave’s Hazy. I’d forgotten all about it. I didn’t see it until a few days ago, when finally some more review LPs arrived. I said uh-oh, [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Simone Kopmajer, Christmas | The Vinyl Anachronist

As I mentioned in yesterday’s 3D Jazz Trio review, I only received two Christmas jazz releases for 2020. Fortunately, both were strong enough to review. The other holiday title came from Austrian singer Simone Kopmajer (website) and is simply named Christmas, which hints at the direct nature of this album. While Christmas in 3D was also direct–it’s basically a very talented piano trio taking on the holiday classics–Kopmajer is focusing on bringing Austrian holiday traditions into the mix, using musicians from both the US and her homeland and recording these performances in both countries. That means you get “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” right next to “Es Wird Scho Glei Dumpa,” and a fluid mix of “Silent Night” and “Stille Nacht.” The binder, in fact, is Simone Kopmajer and her rich and lovely voice. She knows how to keep the cutie-pie affectations under control in “Santa Baby,” and she brings a fire and passion to the folk songs, which sometimes have genuine folk arrangements. I am curious about the inclusion of “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” however–is it a statement on preserving traditions or a simple challenge to take another look? (I think a lot of the damage goes away [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

3D Jazz Trio, Christmas in 3D | The Vinyl Anachronist

Once again it’s that time of year when I look down at the review pile and notice, to my great consternation, that there are several jazz holiday releases mixed in there and I should probably write another survey of all those titles just like I have for the last couple of years. My usual flurry of humbugs aside–it’s not the year for it, I suppose–I was a little surprised that I found only two for 2020. Tough crowd, eh 2020? I thought about cramming them into an old-fashioned double feature but 3D Jazz Trio’s Christmas in 3D warrants its own time in the spotlight. I’ve reviewed several releases from the 3D Jazz Trio, not to mention associated acts like The Diva Jazz Orchestra–that’s where pianist Jackie Warren, bassist Amy Shook and drummer Sherrie Maricle first started playing together. I was a tad harsh on them early on for relying to heavily on that “diva” image in the first couple of releases, something about it being a little dated and that they should just play and show everyone just how good they are. Over the course of the last couple of albums, I’ve retracted that criticism because they’ve done exactly that. [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

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

The Music List: Is It Really Necessary? | The Vinyl Anachronist

A few weeks ago, I found myself editing an equipment review and I got to that section. You know the section, the one where the reviewer gathers up copious notes on the music used during the review and condenses it into a survey of sorts. I call it the Music List. In this particular case, the Music List went on and on and eventually became the largest section in the review. I asked myself an important question—do we really need all this? Is it necessary to discuss the fabled drum solo by Steve Gadd on “Aja” as extra punchy on a particular pair of speakers? Or how easily we can hear Yoko’s back-up vocals on “Obla-di, Obla-da” through the latest DAC? Maybe. I published a review not too long ago, and I didn’t mention any particular pieces of music in the “listening” section—on purpose. Within a few hours of publication, we received a comment on the website: “What music did you listen to? How are we supposed to put your review in context?” And I came to the realization that we all expect reviewers to go on and on about the records they listened to, a linguistic touchstone for the [...]

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