Hi-Res Downloads

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J. Black (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jan 15, 2018
For me, blues has become increasingly a turgid art form, endlessly regurgitating its past, rarely daring to look ahead. Chicago-born, but raised in Colorado, Otis Taylor is a glorious exception to the rule. As a child he focused on banjo, which very probably saved him from learning the same guitar cliches as most bluesmen, and this album is a joy from start to finish, as he explores the true potential of the music he clearly loves. It’s not just that his guitar and banjo playing is tight, precise and terse, but that each note is absolutely right for the space it occupies.
B. Willis (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jan 08, 2018
‘World Music’ is a catch-all genre covering a wide and deep territory and Mali In Oak is among the best of the cultural hybrid variety. This gloriously happy blend of traditional Malian music is updated and westernised by performers who themselves are cross-cultural phenoms, including kora player Tunde Jegede, of Nigerian/Irish ancestry, and South African guitarist Derek Gripper. Gripper manages to interpolate melodies for the 21-string kora to the six-string western classical guitar, and also to accompany the kora when used as a lead instrument. This album is the first recording by the pair, and their interplay is marvellous to experience – simultaneously serene, contemplative, and uplifting.
B. Willis (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jan 01, 2018
The emotional tenor of this journeyman jazz ensemble ranges from joyous and celebratory, as in the title track, to imploring (‘No. 9’, ‘Lycklig Resa’), to near-rock frenetic (‘Bullet Train’) to insistently screechy (‘The Poet’). Among the eleven tracks are a few that touch on all these (‘Song For Jorgen’), then there’s the mysteriously compelling ‘Dance Of Masja’. Capable of swinging hard or taking it easy, Lundgren and bandmates Jukka Perko, Dan Berglund and Morten Lund are never far from moody traditional late-night musings (‘Never Too Late’), nor are they strangers to extended improvisation (‘Twelve Tone Rag’).
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 25, 2017
Still thriving, Bologna’s Accademia Filharmonica was opened in 1666: a magnet for aspiring composers and performers. This (appropriately) 66m selection of unfamiliar concertos and sinfonias spans from primarily vocal 17th-century composers – Colonna, Perti – to followers whose music was exclusively instrumental. Director Julia Schröder proves well able to meet the technical demands of the ornate decoration in the violin concertos, and while a lot of this music will only interest the specialist collector, works such as Zavateri’s ‘A tempesta di mare’ or the dramatic first section of Perti’s Sinfonia ‘Gesù al sepolcro’ are worth investigating. As are Laurenti’s four-movement Violin Concerto and the anonymous galant tribute to Bologna’s patron saint Petronius.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 18, 2017
96kHz & 192kHz/24-bit, ALAC/FLAC*; Linn CKD552 (supplied by www. linnrecords. com) The previous UK Soldier’s Tale with an actress narrating (Glenda Jackson) was disastrously cast with Nureyev as the Soldier. Here Harriet Walter does a terrific job of the Flanders/Black English translation while composers Harrison Birtwistle and George Benjamin play respectively the Soldier and Devil.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 11, 2017
This set by German saxophonist Weidner is just one of a growing number of titles available on highresaudio. com both in straight FLAC and also in MQA, more or less halving the file size. I also tried it with my Meridian Explorer 2 DAC into the system, and can confirm that the MQA process proves entirely transparent, the ‘folded’ version sounding just like the bulkier FLAC files. The music itself, played by Christian Weidner with his quartet partners Achim Kaufmann on piano, Henning Sieverts on bass, and Samuel Rohrer on drums, is either endlessly inventive or a series of squeaks and parps, depending on your view of the freer end of the jazz spectrum.
B. Willis (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Dec 04, 2017
This contemporary jazz release covers a wide territory – the title track which opens the album is a sort of exposition with a restless introspective quality that draws the listener in, provoking without providing resolution. The questioning continues with each succeeding track – from the hesitant, semi-morose ‘Intensive Care’ to the almost-uplifting ‘Triad Song’ and ambling ‘Wolfgang’s Waltz’. Most pieces here are lengthy, taking their time to roll out, but all have the sense of being fully developed compositions rather than improvisational exercises. Performances are moderately paced and melodically engaging, but sacrifice emotional engagement for intellectual stimulation.
B. Willis (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Nov 27, 2017
Steve Hicks is the kind of guitarist who can keep a crowd entertained for hours. This sweetly varied collection covers popular tunes reaching back to ‘Hungarian Dance No 5’ and ‘Maple Leaf Rag’ and forward into the modern era. His deft interpretation of ‘Funeral March Of A Marionette’ is as much fun as his conflation of Led Zeppelin and Mozart in the closing piece ‘Stairway To Mozart’, but he ventures into darker territory with ‘Bohemian Three-Step’. Here and there, he can’t help quoting melodically related tunes.
B. Willis (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Nov 20, 2017
Cellist Metcalf and pianist Varga coax great drama from eight classical pieces, playing off each other with amazing sensitivity and awareness of the other. ‘First Day’ opens with a composition by José Bragato reminiscent of tango master Astor Piazolla, then segues into the sometimes mournful ‘Variations On A Slavic Folksong’ by Martin? – not a logical choice, but one that makes perfect dramatic sense. The tracks are carefully chosen so that each seems to lead to the next, making the assemblage a musical artform of its own. The overall mood is darkly contemplative but never depressing, with undercurrents of wonder and mystery.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Nov 13, 2017
Our ‘MQA-encoded album of the month’ has no bass, rather no bass player – unusual for a jazz album. In practice there’s no shortage of low end in this largely improvisational set, treated to the usual excellent ECM sound quality. The album brings together Italian pianist Guidi and compatriot trombonist Petrella, who have previously worked together in bands and as a duet, and then adds to them American drummer Cleaver and French clarinettist Sclavis. The title track is treated to a considered, contemplative reading, there’s a slow-growing cover of ‘Per I morti di Reggio Emilia’, and the quiet interplay of ‘Rouge Lust’ lets one almost sense each performer step forward to take his place in a conversational series of near-solos.
Paul Miller  |  Nov 06, 2017
MQA promises to move us closer to the original performance. Paul Miller glimpses beneath the noise. . .
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 30, 2017
Recorded live in March 2016 at the Art Tower Mito concert hall, this has a Beethoven Fifth notable above all for fidelity to dynamic markings. The first-movement repeat is given but not that in the finale – where the Piu allegro leading to final Presto is especially well judged and where the piccolo player articulates his tricky phrases without a fluff. There’s wild applause after both works but it’s possible that the Concerto is soloist-directed (there’s no booklet PDF but the Mito concert listings say Ozawa only conducted a part of the programme). One-time Philadelphia principal Ricardo Morales has a reedy sounding clarinet and he makes neat dynamic distinctions piano/mf but it’s all very traditional, whereas the BIS download with Martin Frost is in an altogether more relevant class for today’s listeners.
C. Breunig (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 23, 2017
This new coupling faces serious competition from my Jan ’14 ‘Album Choice’ Queyras/Harmonia Mundi – Dvorák fillers there, and with Pentatone the Pezzo Capriccioso and two other short Tchaikovsky transcriptions. One important difference, however, is that Moser plays the original Rococo Variations rather than the Fitzenhagen version which so angered the composer. Moser won a special prize at the 2002 Tchaikovsky Competition for his interpretation. He seems to repeat his success here and there’s much charm in the short pieces too.
S. Harris (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 16, 2017
The ever-glamorous great-great-grand-daughter of the author of War And Peace claims a Swedish heart and a Russian soul, and has recorded albums with those titles to prove it. Since then she’s most often been heard singing with her life partner, pianist Jacob Karlzon, but she has chosen a guitar trio format for this album of theme songs. Guest stars Iiro Rantala on piano and Nils Landgren on trombone flesh out the lush opener, ‘Calling You’ from the 1987 movie Baghdad Cafe. ‘Marlowe’s Theme’ from Farewell My Lovely has a neat solo from Rantala while guitarist Krister Jonsson really comes into his own when he switches to electric rock guitar – for example on Seal’s ‘Kiss From A Rose’ from Batman Forever.
B. Willis (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 09, 2017
The title implies a haunted existence – by whom or by what we cannot tell from the imploring nature of this collection of often lengthy jazz instrumentals, some murky and meandering (‘Abandoned Reminder’, ‘The Great Silence’) and others quirky and upbeat (‘New Glory’). Taborn and crew tentatively explore a musical netherworld, here and there casting light into the shadows – ‘Ancient’, for example, opens with an extended, almost inarticulate bass solo, before other instruments reluctantly enter the fray. The repeated, intensifying figures near the end of this piece do achieve an intellectual resolution, if not an emotional one, while the sweetly mournful ‘Jamaican Farewell’ has the listless ambience of a sailing venture undertaken on a nearly windless morning. ‘Phantom Ratio’ follows a similar trajectory, while ‘The Shining One’ provides a bumpier ride.