Album Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Jan 29, 2020  |  6 comments
Tenor saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh's follow up to The Turn, a duet album with guitarist Greg Tuohey arrived quite some time ago. I've been playing it repeatedly trying to get a grasp.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 22, 2020  |  2 comments
R. Crumb’s cover illustration first drew me to this record, which recently arrived with others sent by Third Man Records. It opened to a triple gatefold that provided a fairly complete backgrounder on the folk violinist Alexis Zoumbas who was born in Ioannina, the capital of Epirus the Northern Greece region adjacent to Albania between the Pindus Mountains and the Ionian Sea. The notes by producer Christopher King suggest listening to the opening track “Epirotiko Mirologi” with undivided attention, which means stopping reading the extensive annotation.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 20, 2020  |  21 comments
It takes a rocker with "brass in pocket" to deliver a jazz album. It takes more than that to produce a great one, which is what Hynde does on Valve Bone Woe, the title of which was her trombonist brother's "beatnik haiku" response to hearing about the passing of Bob Brookmeyer. Hynde here is no jazz pretender.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 05, 2020  |  10 comments
For every reason, from mastering to pressing to packaging and annotation—and pricing, Craft’s 5 LP Chet Baker Riverside box scores the highest marks.

The recent RSD mono release of It Could Happen to You—Chet Baker Sings signaled what this set might and turned out to be. For those fans who might have some of these albums on original or OJC reissues, you can be sure the audio here soundly beats those.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 16, 2019  |  19 comments
When first released in America in 1978 Dire Straits’ debut was an immediate sensation, though cautious record labels at first rejected signing the group until Warner Brothers bit. The original Vertigo release hit the U.K. earlier. Eventually, propelled by the catchy single “Sultans of Swing”, the album was Top Ten throughout Europe and much of the world.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 15, 2019  |  23 comments
Single-line guitarist Grant Green's fourth Blue Note album released in 1962 is as easy to listen to and relaxing as the title suggests. Kenny Drew is on piano with Ben Tucker, bass and Ben Dixon on drums in a set of six tunes with inspiration and/or vaguely religious themes, three of which are Green originals.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 04, 2019  |  12 comments
The French Record Company’s first release is a limited to 200 copies edition of a “never before released but should have been” 1958 recording of pianist Marcelle Meyer playing a Debussy program recorded for the Les Discophiles Francais label (DF 211-212).

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 29, 2019  |  3 comments
Chet Baker was 29 years old when he recorded this album of vocals with occasional trumpet back in the summer of 1958 released today, 61 years later for RSD Black Friday.. He sounds like a kid. Actually you could argue he sounds positively girl-ish, which back then must have driven them pretty crazy—even crazier than did his chiseled, pugilistic face.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 27, 2019  |  0 comments
Newvelle’s Season Five Box is ready, but sorry, we’re behind so here’s coverage of Season Four’s box just in time for the subscription-based label’s Black Friday Record Store Day “open box” specials.

First the specials: eleven individual albums from the label’s first four years, including two from Season Four’s box, will be available exclusively from Wednesday, November 27th to Monday December 2nd, on the Newvelle website. There are albums from familiar names like the late Don Friedman and Ben Allison and others as well including from season four, Billy Lester’s From Scratch and Kenny Werner’s Church on Mars.

In addition, the label is offering during this Wednesday-Monday Black Friday RSD promotion, free shipping when you purchase the full Season Four box set.

Malachi Lui  |  Nov 27, 2019  |  17 comments
Before I get further into this follow-up review, a short disclaimer: other than the US Apple/Capitol singles of “We Can Work It Out”/“Day Tripper” and “Hey Jude”/“Revolution” (which, as expected, sound lousy), I don’t have any Beatles 7” singles other than this new The Singles Collection box. All my Beatles listening is on LP (the 2014 mono series, the Giles Martin remix LPs, and a few mono and stereo UK and European pressings) and the occasional lossless digital format, therefore from these recordings I’m used to great sound quality. My expectations for The Singles Collection (generously gifted to me by AnalogPlanet editor Michael Fremer) were likely different from most others’: sure, I expected the all-analog lacquer cuts to sound good, but sound quality on 7” singles isn’t the first thing I think about. With the 7” format, it’s primarily about the musical content, collectibility, packaging (when applicable), and finally, sound quality.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 26, 2019  |  7 comments
I'd be surprised if someone at UMe didn't look at the success of Blue Note's "Tone Poet" series and say to themselves "maybe the way to launch a Motown reissue series is to do it with the highest possible quality" because Motown/ UMe's new 5 LP Motown mono series duplicates in every way Blue Note's "Tone Poet" series: Kevin Gray cut from mono master tapes, RTI plated and pressed on 180g vinyl and the records are packaged in Stoughton tip on jackets.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 17, 2019  |  16 comments
Though you could argue that Bayou Country containing "Proud Mary" and "Born on the Bayou" was a better album, I'm going with Green River as a stronger, more consistent overall album (you remember albums, don't you?), which also had some hits like "Bad Moon Rising" (with it's refrain "there's a bathroom on the right"), "Lodi", which at the time made me wonder why Fogerty was writing about New Jersey and of course the title tune. In retrospect, despite the New Orleans musical setting, much of what Fogerty wrote was about his life growing up in Berkeley, Calfornia. But I digress.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 16, 2019  |  13 comments
How the original single LP of cellist Fournier and pianist Gulda performing Beethoven’s Cello Sonata in D (Deutsche Gramophon SLPM 138 083) ended up in my collection isn’t clear to me but I can narrow it down to either my college Beethoven symphony music appreciation class professor, or to Duane, the classical music expert at Minuteman Records in Harvard Square.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 15, 2019  |  29 comments
The Beatles The Singles Collection arrived the other day and it was opened with great anticipation and the embedded YouTube video was quickly produced in a single take before listening to a note. As you'll see when you watch, the packaging is "top shelf" and imaginative and Kevin Howlett's booklet notes are illuminating and useful. Using original artwork from around the world was a nice touch that every Beatles fan with appreciate!

Malachi Lui  |  Nov 15, 2019  |  5 comments
In 1964 while working for Canada’s National Film Board (NFB), filmmaker Gilles Groulx set out to make a documentary about winter, but instead used his then $75,000 budget to create Le chat dans le sac (English: The Cat In The Bag), an art house film about two lovers in early-mid ‘60s Montreal. An avid jazz fan as well, Groulx (through Jimmy Garrison) contacted John Coltrane to soundtrack the film. Coltrane agreed, and Groulx supervised the session at Rudy Van Gelder’s Englewood Cliffs, NJ studio. Instead of composing new material for the film (which he hadn’t seen), Coltrane, at Groulx’s request, re-recorded some of his older compositions such as “Naima” and “Village Blues,” after which Groulx, master tape in hand, drove back up to Montreal.

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