Tag Archives: the vinyl anachronist

John Daversa Jazz Orchestra, All Without Words | The Vinyl Anachronist

The John Daversa Jazz Orchestra (website) is certainly on a roll. Last year there was a Grammy amid a string of beautiful recordings with socially-conscious themes such as DACA Dreamers, and quarantining with your family and strengthening those bonds. Many of these albums have featured vocalists and/or spoken-word performers, so it’s striking that the latest album is named All Without Words. It’s exactly like it sounds, a rich jazz orchestra, led by a master trumpeter, performing ambitious instrumentals that sound like they could be part of a movie soundtrack. We’re not talking just any soundtrack, but something special and distinctive like Bernard Herrmann’s score for Taxi Driver, something that tells stories without words. Another surprising element is the choir that accompanies the John Daversa Jazz Orchestra–again, performing without words, but soaring just as high as the musicians. That story, however, is fascinating here. Justin Morell, a guitarist, composer and longtime friend of the John Daversa Jazz Orchestra, composed All Without Words: Variations Inspired by Loren as a trumpet concerto about the “trials, tribulations, successes, and heart-warming moments of raising a 16-year-old non-verbal son.” Morell’s son Loren lost his ability to speak at age three, so this music speaks for him in [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Hilary Hahn, Paris | The Vinyl Anachronist

There’s something exhilarating about the arrival of Paris from violinist Hilary Hahn (website). It’s an all-out big budget classical music release from a major label, Deutsche Grammophon, that sounds like it was put out by some small, independent audiophile label. We’re talking a 2-LP 45RPM set on 180g vinyl, absolutely glowing sound quality, lavish gatefold packaging and that unmistakable feeling of glamour, as if classical music is finally making a comeback in the US. I bought this almost on a whim. I have some unexpectedly sophisticated phono preamplifiers in for review from Pass Labs (the XP-27), Allnic Audio (H-5500) and Brinkmann (Edison Mk. 2), and I just wanted to buy some killer new vinyl. Paris from Hilary Hahn stood out on one site’s New Release section–was this a remaster? This looks like an all-out big budget classical music release from a major label. That’s not possibly, is it? Why it is! This is a new release from Hilary Hahn. 2021’s right on the back cover. Hmmm, I thought. Interesting. And then I almost moved on until I caught something on the front cover: Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1. That’s my favorite violin concerto of all time, but I primarily know [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Innuos Zen Mini Mk.3 Music Server with LPSU Power Supply | REVIEW

Do I really need a music server like the Innuos Zen Mini Mk. 3 at this point in my life? I’m still pretty old school when it comes to physical media. I have large CD and LP collections, and I’ve envisioned keeping them until the day I die—at least the LPs, anyway. The CD collection is starting to lose its charm because it has doubled or even tripled in size over the last few years thanks to my chores as a jazz reviewer. They’re all over the place. There is something incredibly appealing about putting my entire collection of digital music on a hard drive and accessing everything through an app on my iPhone. I think about it all the time, in fact. It goes back to my days as an import and distributor, when I’d see other exhibitors running the entire show from a seat in a corner in the back of the room. I was always the guy who had to float near the front of the room, next to the system and yet somehow out of the sound field to avoid distraction, swapping out CDs and LPs after nearly every track. No wonder my feet hurt so [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Ahmed Warshanna, Ishta | The Vinyl Anachronist

Think about Northern African influences on jazz, and eventually you’ll start thinking about “Caravan.” It’s one of those jazz standards that have received a lot of play in the last few years, possibly due to its role in the film Whiplash. But I’ll tell you a little secret: I’ve loved “Caravan” ever since I first listened to it, probably Ben Webster’s version, because of the mood it imparts. It’s exotic and melodically and rhythmically gorgeous, sort of symbolic of the global reach of jazz. Perhaps that’s why this new album from guitarist Ahmed Warshanna, Ishta, is so stunning. No, Ahmed Warshanna (website) doesn’t cover “Caravan” here. But he does know how to play straightforward jazz and infuse just enough of those Middle Eastern influences to deliver those same goose bumps, that same sense of the universal appeal of jazz. Warshanna is still a young man, raised in Baltimore in an Egyptian-American household, and music has always been an important part of his upbringing. Surprisingly he didn’t discover jazz until 2012, when he was in high school. (I told you he was young.) When his mother battled breast cancer, Ahmed Warshanna dove into the music of her childhood and found so [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Jakob Dinesen, Anders Christensen, Laust Sonne, Blessings | The Vinyl Anachronist

The Danes are coming! The Danes are coming! Blessings, the new jazz trio recording from sax player Jakob Dinesen, bassist Anders Christensen and drummer Laust Sonne made me realize that I’ve been getting a lot of Danish jazz releases from April Records. I just finished reviewing the fascinating LP from Little North, Finding Seagulls, and that was from April Records as well. It sounded wonderful–great jazz on a gorgeous vinyl pressing. Now we have Blessings on CD, and maybe there’s an explosion of creativity in the Copenhagen jazz scene because this jazz is on fire. That’s almost a crazy way to explain introspective ballads from a sax trio, as if these three musicians were jumping about the stage, but no. This is music that’s on fire because every bar is infused with passion, and there’s always a chance of total deconstruction far out on the horizon. Jakob Dinesen’s sax, of course, is flat out in front, pulling ideas from the Great American Songbook and diving deep into the volcano, down where it’s very quiet except for the rumbling in the distance. The tension is hypnotic at times. Most of these new jazz releases are impacted by the pandemic, and perhaps [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Michael Whalen, Future Shock | The Vinyl Anachronist

Future Shock, the new album by keyboardist/composer Michael Whalen, comes at you from so many directions that you’ll wonder what it is, other than good and snappy and vibrant. It’s closer to ’70s prog rock than fusion, and while it has the same jazz underpinnings as Steely Dan, you might hear a shade of Daft Punk here and there. The energy is consistent, though, even though each of these ten original compositions lives in its own distinct aural neighborhood. The common thread in Future Shock is Michael Whalen himself. He plays all keyboards, synthesizers and programming, he composed and arranged and even mixed the results. He provides plenty of layers to the sound, which is perhaps why these tunes are so difficult to pigeonhole. On the title track, Michael Whalen sounds like he’s skirting along the edge of hip-hop with sampled voices and steady beats. On softer tunes, reed player Bob Magnuson takes over and draws the soundscape into something more panoramic, with feelings that might be normally expressed through films that use a lot of saxophone themes. Simon Phillips’ drumming, however, keeps pulling quartet back into the arena with rock and roll rhythms pulled from the ’70s and ’80s. [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Matty Stecks & Persiflage, Night Cravings | The Vinyl Anachronist

Jazz isn’t meant to be precise or carefully thought out, which seems like an obvious statement. When you hear something like Matty Stecks & Persiflage’s new album, Night Cravings, you immediately start to appreciate the truer essences of jazz, the wild abandon, the sheer inspiration and intuition, that feeling like you can play anything you want to and then you do just that. Matty Stecks is a composer, saxophone player and flautist who also manages to be one of the mainstays of the Brooklyn Jazz scene. He spent the last 11 years making his name through constantly performing, so you can see how the pandemic upset his upward trajectory in the world of contemporary jazz. At the end of that 11-year period of growth, Matty Stecks spent some time at Avatar Studio just before it closed down. He gathered his friends under the aegis of Persiflage (meaning “light and slightly contemptuous mockery or banter”)–trombonist Curtis Hasselbring, guitarist Todd Neufeld, bassist Dave Ambrosio and drummer Satoshi Takeishi. Night Cravings is the result of these sessions. What makes this album so intriguing and original? It’s that “anything goes” attitude. Matty Stecks is out front for all of these original tracks, but there’s [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Matt Panayides, Field Theory | The Vinyl Anachronist

Contemporary jazz, by design, can be easily divided into things you’ve heard before and things you haven’t heard before. If that sounds like oversimplifying, and maybe it is, then think of a jazz album that isn’t either a tribute to past traditions and compositions or a venture out into the unknown. That latter group, the one that drives the momentum of jazz, can be problematic for casual listeners (think of free or experimental jazz genres), but there are times when it came be merely original, as is the case with guitarist Matt Panayides and his new album Field Theory. Matt Panayides isn’t so far out there that you’ll wonder if he’ll ever come back, but he is making jazz that defies description. It isn’t outwardly strange or different music, but his quintet (Rich Perry on tenor sax, Robert Sabin on bass, Mark Ferber on drums and–here’s a twist–Matt Vashlishan on wind synth) is full of ideas, ones that escort you into a neighborhood where all of the houses look just a tad different than normal, a collection of shapes and light that inform you of your sudden departure from familiarity. This is the third album for Matt Panayides, but his [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Little North, Finding Seagulls | The Vinyl Anachronist

I’ve come to the realization that I like my jazz on the soft side. I’m not talking about lite jazz or soft jazz or any of that twinkly keyboard stuff, nor am I just thinking of ballads. I’m talking about quiet rather than soft, music that’s full of space so you can change perspectives on the performance. I want to spend time with teeny tiny details rather than big, chugging orchestral machines. This is a realization that arrived alongside of Finding Seagulls from Little North. This Little North album came out of nowhere. Someone just sent it to me, and then weeks later sent a follow-up as to what I thought. I couldn’t find this album anywhere in the review pile; they sent another. It sat unopened for nearly a week, just so much going on around here lately, and when I finally got around to listening to it I was quickly enthralled with the quiet and the space. Little North sounded familiar. Not so much the individual components of this jazz piano trio, pianist Benjamin Jacobsen, bassist Martin Rasmussen and drummer Lasse Jacobsen, but in the overall tone. The quiet, the beauty that’s equally offset by a measure of [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Steve Gadd Band at Blue Note Tokyo | The Vinyl Anachronist

I can imagine a hardcore Steely Dan fan, one who probably does agree with that popular YouTube video that makes the case for Steve Gadd’s drum solo in “Aja” being the all-time greatest, listening to the Steve Gadd Band (website) and thinking just wait, he’s gonna get rolling here in a second. You’ll see. You’ll laugh if you’re a fan of the Steve Gadd Band, and you consider yourself knowledgeable about the man behind the drum kit. On this new live album, At Blue Note Tokyo, he spends the first few songs developing the slow burn, the steady tension, and then he’ll deliver a quick solo, nothing as mind-blowing as The Aja Solo, and then he’ll keep it tight and let the rest of his crew step into the spotlight. That’s when you notice that Steve Gadd is doing the Mick Fleetwood thing. (Or perhaps Mick Fleetwood was doing the Steve Gadd thing.) Do you know what I mean? For more than a decade, Playboy picked Mick Fleetwood as their favorite rock drummer in their annual music awards. This wasn’t Hef picking the winners, but genuine music critics and writers. This was back when I was young, back when I’d [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile