Hi-Res Downloads, December 2023

Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Barry Altschul (96kHz/24-bit, WAV)
www.ecmrecords.com; ECM 1009

A note to those behind the 50th anniversary Vince Guaraldi Peanuts album also reviewed this month: this is how you do it! This 96kHz/24-bit digital release of A.R.C., also available on LP, marks half a century since this ECM debut by Chick Corea first saw the light of day, and is also sourced from the original analogue tapes, PM's lab notes below giving an overview of the process involved. It was worth all the effort as Corea's piano, Dave Holland's powerful bass and Barry Altschul's meticulous but punchy drumming really burst out of this set, which originated back in 1971 in the Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg, Germany. Both Corea and Holland contribute tunes, there's thoughtful improvisation, and the trio's version of Wayne Shorter's 'Nefertiti' is a tight, crisp standout, with every element of the trio crystal clear. This is one glorious-sounding album. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
The original analogue tapes have been meticulously restored after 50 years using a Studer A820 and PrismSound, Mytek and Antelope ADCs. The 96kHz sampling is generous but dynamic range beats many modern digital releases. PM


To Vanish (44.1kHz/16-bit, FLAC/WAV)
www.earshift.com; Earshift Music EAR070

Full disclosure: I must admit to more of an affinity with the work of Australian jazz trio Trichotomy than is usual with much of the music making its way into these pages. In recent years I've experienced the band playing live a handful of times in the UK in different venues, including the salubrious surroundings of a Surrey golf club, home to the excellent Watermill Jazz. Having listened to the three – Sean Foran on piano, Samuel Vincent on bass and drummer John Parker – it's easy to appreciate the musicianship captured on this latest release, all three being classically trained. That solid foundation and effortless interplay is much in evidence here, in a set that pushes the limits of what just three musicians can deliver, from easy-going jazz to more avant-garde styles and even elements of prog rock. And it sounds every bit as good as it is entertaining. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Aside from the title track (7) all these CD-resolution files are slammed into the 0.0dBFs digital endstops and possess a typical peak-to-RMS range of just 10dB. The recording is otherwise mercifully clear of aliasing and other artefacts. PM


Leverton Fox
In The Flicker (48kHz/24-bit, WAV)
www.not-applicable.org; Not Applicable NOT062

Well, this one's hardly a toe-tapper, but it's as intriguing as it's fine-sounding. Leverton Fox comprises trumpeter and electronic musician Alex Bonney, drummer Tim Giles, and electronic musician/sound artist, Sam Britton, the latter also known by his solo alias Isambard Khroustaliov. In The Flicker was recorded in one day in September 2020, out of doors in a Sussex wood. Pairs of microphones were used to capture both the performances and the ambient sounds, and the album takes its inspiration from Stockhausen and its title from Conrad's Heart Of Darkness. Now that may well seem all very arty, but the effect is relaxing, natural, and very organic, even if you'll spend the first couple of minutes wondering if anything's going to happen. Oh, and if you're set up for Dolby Atmos, call the album up in Apple Music and go for total immersion! AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
With few discernible 'instruments' in this electronic/ambient improvisation, In The Flicker is at times intense (a fine speaker warm-up album!) but all tracks are capped below –1dBFs and also possessed of an above average dynamic range. PM


Jørn Øien
Cosmopolitan (48kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.curlinglegs.no, www.grappa.no; Curling Legs CLPCD301

Oslo-based jazz pianist and composer Jørn Øien cites as one of his major influences keyboardist and bandleader Joe Zawinul, whose band Weather Report the young Øien first discovered when just 16, getting on for 40 years ago. This long-lasting fascination is instantly apparent from the title track, opening an album Øien describes as 'a tribute and celebration of [Zawinul's] legacy' in a laid-back splash of electronic accents set against a rhythm section with its roots firmly in the 'World Music' genre. The pianist's other influences range from 'Sami folk music and joik, to the African continent – from Babylon to Brooklyn', and they're all on display in this relaxing, but always musically fascinating, set, aided by a detailed sound that really brings out the layers of performance and recording. Not just for Weather Report fans, this is an excellent listen. AE

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
With every track normalised to –1dBFs this 48kHz rendering should avoid tripping up those DACs that get into trouble at 0dBFs. However, with a typical peak-to-RMS range of ~11dB the available 24-bits are not fully utilised. PM


Vince Guaraldi
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (192kHz/24-bit)
www.mendelsonproductions.com; LMFP LM02301

In the mid-1960s, the jazz piano of Vince Guaraldi set the tone for animated TV versions of Charles M. Schulz's iconic Peanuts comic strip. In 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas mixed Guaraldi originals with jazz reworkings of festive standards by the pianist and his trio, featuring drummer Jerry Granelli and bassist Fred Marshall. That album was a big seller, and more followed but, sadly, what we have here is disappointingly short of a 'must have' tribute to the pianist, who died in 1976, aged just 47. It lacks the sparkle of that festive original, both musically – familiar themes are trotted out, and the multiple takes of some tracks are for completists only – and sonically. PM's lab notes [below] give an insight into why the sound is so muddy and vague, so you'd do better to find a decent release of the original Christmas album, and stick to that. AE

Sound Quality: 65%


Lab Report
Originally aired 50 years ago, and more recently 'restored and re-mastered', this analogue recording looks, at some point, to have been limited to ~18kHz (lossy data compression?), resampled at 96kHz and resampled again at 192kHz. PM