A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)

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A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 12, 2018  |  0 comments
There’s something familiar about this latest album from the surfer-turned-environmental activist, who appears on the cover surrounded by artfully-arranged plastics from the sea. Trouble is, it’s not comfortingly familiar in its continuation of the feel-good Hawaiian-tinged sounds of past offerings. Rather, it’s just more of the same, with Johnson showing little sign of moving on or developing, but instead just resting on his laurels. Or his palm-fronds, or whatever.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 08, 2018  |  0 comments
Whether or not it was intended as such, recorded while Allman was suffering from the liver cancer that finally claimed him in 2017 at just 69, Southern Blood serves as a suitable epitaph by combining a self-written opening track with nine takes on songs by friends and acquaintances. There’s a suitably dirty and authentic feel about the set, recorded in FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals and produced by Don Was.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 05, 2018  |  0 comments
Is it just me, or is Van the Man having a bit of an Indian summer, seemingly banging out albums at a remarkable pace? Certainly even at 72 the old boy is showing no signs of slowing down, and this rootsy set of Chicago blues tracks, mixing covers and originals, is one of his strongest offerings of late.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Oct 01, 2018  |  0 comments
Appropriately, the veteran bass player’s second album with his trio starts with a delicate, considered bass-led piece, ‘Contact’. It starts with taut, cleanly-recorded solo bass, gradually joined by the slightest of shimmers from Joey Barron’s cymbals and the odd subtle chord from pianist Marc Copland, before settling into a more familiar piano trio form. Even then, Peacock is constantly busy in the background, and Barron rock-solid.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 21, 2018  |  0 comments
Even those who have recovered from the waves of affected horror attracted by Sam Smith’s title song for the last James Bond movie will find little comfort here. This is an album of relentless introspection and downbeat thinking, all plaintive vocals and mournful accompaniment, with nothing much to raise the spirits. Smith’s voice is undeniably a matter of taste, but is heard here in all its close-miked glory, albeit with more than a touch of sibilance to distract the ear. Or maybe irritate even more.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Sep 14, 2018  |  0 comments
Start to play this set by Polish saxophonist Obara, note the label on which it’s released, and you’ll be pretty sure what you’re in for – the opening track has all the tinkle, breathiness and ethereal plaintiveness you’d expect from an ECM release. But before one dismisses it on those grounds, listen a little longer, for while that opener may show off Obara’s sax and the sympathetic piano accompaniment of regular collaborator Dominik Wania, with Gard Nilssen’s cymbals pattering and shimmering away, things take on added textures when bassist Ole Morten Vågan steps up and plays a greater part.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jul 30, 2018  |  0 comments
As one whose knowledge of the accordion stretches all the way from ’Allo ’Allo! to the Tour de France theme music, I approached this homage to the instrument over the years with un peu d’inquiétude. However, led by Vincent Peirani – ‘le “Jimi Hendrix” de l’accordéon’, apparently – this set is strangely captivating, with a mixture of ‘where have I heard that before?’ and unfamiliar music. It’s all very Gallic, and there might be a temptation for quite a lot of the tracks here to sound a bit similar on a casual listen, but both the performances and the recording justify closer attention, at which point it’s much easier to appreciate the quality of both. Yes, the artists will be new to most listeners, but this is actually a fascinating set, and one that rewards repeated listens.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jul 23, 2018  |  0 comments
We’re constantly being told times are tough, so if you’ve had to tighten the old belt and forgo this year’s cruise, then this one could be for you. Put yourself back in the ‘late night and rather overfed Ocean Bar & Lounge’ mood with this collection of ‘so lightweight they’re almost flimsy’ jazz covers. Austrian singer Kopmajer is big in Japan, and that’s not surprising, given that this is audiophile jazz at its finest, of the kind essayed by many a Japanese chanteuse. True, PM has his own observations on the provenance of some of the tracks – see his Lab Report below –, but there’s no denying the smoothness of the entire enterprise.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jul 16, 2018  |  0 comments
There’s not exactly a shortage of piano trio albums out there (despite the strong challenge seemingly being staged by accordions in this month’s hi-res selection), and while Martin Tingvall’s trio’s album starts unpromisingly with the low-key ‘Evighetsmaskinen’ (it means ‘Eternity Machine’) – a mid-set track if ever I heard one – it soon hits its groove with the impetus of ‘Bumerang’. That sets the pace for the rest of the album, notably the pacy ‘Skånsk Blues’ and ‘Sjuan’, and while the set has its contemplative, introspective moments – well, it is a jazz trio album, after all! – there’s more than enough here to have the listener coming back for second helpings. True, this isn’t the cleanest-sounding recording ever, with occasionally a bit too much cymbal splash, for example, but it’s certainly punchy and definitely enjoyable – and goes out with bang. AE Sound Quality: 85% Hi-Fi News Lab Report There’s evidence of mixed sample rate content here (trks 3, 4, 7, 8, 11 and 13) while the piano feed carries a deal of spuriae at 26kHz, 28kHz and 33.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jul 09, 2018  |  0 comments
Those of the view that audiophiles only like obscure and ‘plinky-plonky’ music, of the kind no-one would actually sit down to listen to for pleasure, are going to have a field day with the title of this one, but behind the ‘lost in translation’ is a truly lovely album. In contrast to our other squeezebox offering this month on p95 (and there’s a phrase I never thought I’d find myself writing!), this album is of tango pieces associated with guitarist Roberto Grela, and beautifully played by Louise Jallu on bandoneon together with acclaimed Japanese guitarist Hiroki Fukui. It’s a delightfully simple set, treated to a wonderfully intimate recording, combining crispness and warmth to winning effect. And boy, can these two play, with an easy rapport and that sense of firing off each other that’s the sign of true musicianship.

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