SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

SACD and DVD-A Reviews, Part 1 of 3 Jazz


Published on May 1, 2004

47 SACD and DVD-A Reviews This Month!

May 2004, Pt. 1 of 3 – Jazz

[Part 2]     [Part 3] click on any cover to go directly to its review

Calimari Jazz - AIX DVD-A Bill Evans SACD - Fantasy Wes Montgomery SACD - Fantasy Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane SACD
Cannonball in SF SACD
Scott Hamilton w/ strings Wyton Kelly, piano SACD Art Pepper Eleven SACD
Sonny Rollins Tenor Madness kinda jazz, kinda funky SACD sampler Hiromi, piano - Brain Stan Getz SACD
Eric Dolphy - Out There Concord SACD Jazz Sampler Vol. 2



Calamari jazz ens. - AIX Calamari – featuring Emil Richards, vibes; David Garfield, piano; Mike Valerio, bass; Joe Porcaro, drums – Aix Records DVD-A, DVD-V 80023:

Richards is one of the leading vibists and percussionists working in the Hollywood studios today. He has played with jazz ensembles and symphony orchestras, and his drummer on this date has been with him almost 60 years. The ten tunes are all Emil’s except for one by drummer Porcaro. They play around with odd meters but they are all tuneful, tonal and swinging. The other members of the quartet get to shine at solos, not just Richards. The video side of the disc is again very worth watching, with a variety of shots and even occasional moving cameras. Split screens often give the opportunity of watching Richards’ vibes up close while also seeing the rest of the group on the other screen. I like the fact that the DTS-encoded video mix is usually the one with the “stage” (closer) acoustic perspective. But the 96K DVD-A side is a tad cleaner and subtly more detailed.

Tracks: Ciao Bella, Calamari Blues, Yo Go Jo Po, Sheep Lie, Betune, Horace, Celesta #4, Jeff’s Strut, Sew Buttons on Your Old Man’s Pants, Turn Up the Audio for Claudio

– John Henry

Bill Evans SACD Bill Evans Trio – Portrait in Jazz (with Scott LaFaro, bass; Paul Motian, drums) – Riverside/Fantasy stereo SACD RISA-1162-6:

This landmark album was recorded about a month after Evans had been the strong piano voice in Miles Davis’ masterpiece Kind of Blue (1959). The pianist had assembled a dream trio with a rhythm section that shared his musical thoughts. He worked within the familiar jazz piano trio form, but with subtle chordal voicings and lyrical strengths not heard from anyone before. You have to listen closely to appreciate what this trio was doing, and the clean hi-res reproduction aids that effort. A pair of bonus tracks have been added to the original LP release material – a mono version of Autumn Leaves and a Take 2 of Blue in Green (the original used Take 3 and both are here). The sound of Bill’s piano is better here than on some of the other classic Evans sessions that have been issued on SACD so far.

Do I hear Two Guitars?…

Wes Montgomery SACD The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (with Tommy Flanagan, Percy heath & Albert Heath) – Riverside/Fantasy Stereo SACD RISA-1169-6:

Guitarist Montgomery exploded on the jazz scene in l960 and this was one of the two albums he recorded that impressive year. He was noted for his octave passages and unusual use of his thumb. Plus speeds that would leave listeners breathless. Pianist Tommy Flanagan is a perfect cohort for Montgomery. This is only a 44 minute disc but every minute of it is terrific modern guitar jazz, with a clarity that surpasses what we heard on either LP or CDs. Tracks: Airegin, D-Natural Blues, Polka Dots and Moonbeams, Four On Six, West Coast Blues, In Your Own Sweet Way, Mr. Walker, Gone with the Wind

Kenny Burrell & Coltrane SACD Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane (with Tommy Flanagan, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Jimmy Cobb, drums) – New Jazz/Fantasy stereo SACD NJSA-8276-6:

Another great guitarist and a session from two years earlier which was only done in mono – notice the sticker on the front says only Hybrid and nothing else. Tommy Flanagan again at the keyboard. Coltrane was well into his avant explorative sounds at this point but he stressed the lyrical in this session. His strong melodic emphasis is heard especially in the unaccompanied duet with Burrell on Why Was I Born? Only 37 minutes, same as the original LP, but well worth it for the increased clarity from Rudy Van Gelder’s master tapes. Tracks: Freight Trane, I Never Knew, Lyresto, Why Was I Born?, Big Paul

– John Henry

Cannonball Adderley in SF The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco, featuring Nat Adderley – Riverside/Fantasy stereo SACD RISA-1157-6:

This was a live recording made at the famous Jazz Workshop in San Francisco and is regarded as one of the most successful live recordings in jazz. Cannonball is of course on alto, brother Nat on cornet, Bobby Timmons is the pianist, and the rhythm section is Sam Jones, bass and Louis Hayes, drums. The alto and cornet combo is delicious and the audience was going wild. The disc has one bonus track over the original LP – the final one. While it’s not seriously distracting, the louder low end drum hits tend to distort – almost like an analog signal being recorded at too high a level. I heard the problem on both the CD and SACD layers, so it is probably on the master tapes. Tracks: This Here, Spontaneous Combustion, Hi-Fly, You Got It!, Bohemia After Dark, Straight No Chaser

Scott Hamilton with String SACD Scott Hamilton with Strings – Arranged and conducted by Alan Broadbent – Concord Jazz multichannel SACD-1028-6:

Going back into their library to select material for their sizable SACD reissue program, Concord immediately latched onto Scott Hamilton’s most popular album – this one. Broadbent was the arranger, conductor and pianist on the session and a 20-piece string orchestra backs Hamilton and his rhythm section. I’ve always enjoyed jazz-soloist-with-strings albums and this one is a winner, especially in the warm envelopment of the multichannel version. Nice super-romantic stuff good for all sorts of listening needs. Tracks: My Foolish Heart, Goodbye Mr. Evans, The Shining Sea, Angel Eyes, Heart’s Desire, The Look of Love, Nancy With the Laughing Face, Young and Foolish, I Concentrate on You, Tonight I Shall Sleep with a Smile on My Face

– John Henry

Wynton Kelley - Kelly Blue SACD Wynton Kelly – Kelly Blue (Kelly, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Jimmy Cobb, drums – expanded to sextet for three tracks) – Riverside/Fantasy stereo SACD RISA-1142-6:

Since this album opens with one of my top favorite jazz numbers (the title tune), I’ve got to give it a rave review. I got to know Kelly Blue from Cannonball Adderley’s version, also on Riverside. This recording date was early l959, the same year Kelly was performing and recording with Miles Davis. That and this Riverside LP got him some well-deserved recognition. The album title points up the emphasis on the blues in these eight tracks. Kelly’s style is clearly imbued with the blues but I like that it doesn’t drift into funk. Only three of the tracks are his originals, four are standards and one is an alternate take. The two tunes with the sextet are expanded to feature Nat Adderley on cornet, Benny Golson on tenor sax and Bobby Jaspar on flute. There are two different takes of the other sextet number by Kelly, Keep It Moving. The alternate take and the Ellington trio number are bonus tracks added to the original LP material. The two-channel sonics are – as with most of these Fantasy SACDs – just cleaner and freer of distracting sounds than CD or LP versions. And I don’t mean the “scrubbed TOO clean” sound of bad CDs either. Tracks: Kelly Blue, Softly As In a Morning Sunrise, Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me, On Green Dolphin Street, Willow Weep for Me, Keep It Moving – takes 4 & 3, Old Clothes

Art Pepper Eleven SACD Art Pepper + Eleven – Arrangements by Marty Paich – Contemporary/ Fantasy stereo SACD CSA-7568-6:

This 1959 Contemporary Records date is probably Pepper’s most important album and has been reissued in almost as many different forms over the years as Miles’ All Blues. He had over a decade of drug use and imprisonment behind him and the lineup of some of the top jazzmen of the era plus terrific arrangements propelled Pepper to new heights of achievement. Among his cohorts were Peter Candoli, Russ Freeman, Richie Kamuca, Mel Lewis, Bill Perkins, Bud Shank and the young trumpet player Jack Sheldon. Pepper performs not just on his primary axe, the alto, but also on tenor sax and clarinet. The 15 tracks on this SACD include three bonus tracks not on the original LP, plus two alternate takes of one tune and one of another. These are thoughtfully placed at the very end of the program so you can cut out early if you want – thank you.

Tracks: Move, Groovin’ High, Opus de Funk, ‘Round Midnight, Four Brothers, Shaw ‘Nuff, Bernie’s Tune, Walkin’ Shoes, Anthropology, Airegin, Walkin’ (3 takes), Donna Lee (2 takes)

– John Henry

Sonny Rollins - Tenor Madness SACD Sonny Rollins Quintet – Tenor Madness (Rollins, tenor sax; John Coltrane, tenor {track 1 only}; Red Garland, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums) – Prestige mono SACD PRSA-7047-6:

The title tune of this 1956 session LP was its claim to fame in the second half of the 50s. The two top tenor players of the time had a 12-minute face-off that players still study for its model of advanced tenor improvisation. It would have been nice to hear in stereo, but this was l956 and Prestige delayed getting into that bag till much much later. Also would have been nice to have more than the 35 minutes music of the original LP, but I gather no other appropriate material could be dug up in the vaults for bonus tracks. For the rest of the album Rollins encountered pianist Red Garland rather than Coltrane, and together they come up with some very inventive and quirky improvs to be sure. Rollins particular somewhat brash sound is not my favorite among saxists, but I dig his humor and unexpected turns of tune. Tracks are: Tenor Madness, When Your Lover Has Gone, Paul’s Pal, My Reverie, The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

Kinda Jazzy Kinda Funky SACD Kinda Jazzy , Kinda Funky – A Collection of Soul Jazz (Melvin Sparks Band, Papa John DeFrancesco, Rodney Jones, David “Fathead” Newman, Joey DeFrancesco, Randy Johnston, Bill Heid, Houston Person)- High Note Stereo SACD HCD 6011:

One of the first SACD releases from this label is a compilation priced lower than any SACDs I have yet seen. The nine tracks include seven based on the B3 organ, so even though I confess my funk factor is mostly missing I was bound to enjoy this stuff. The proceedings get off to a groovy start with guitarist Melvin Sparks and The Governor (wonder if Schwartzeneger’s people have every used that tune for some event?). “Papa” John DeFrancesco is indeed the B3-shakin’ father of Joey, and the guitarist on this number is yet another DeFrancesco – Johnny. Fathead Newman generates such a rich funky tenor sound on this track, Off the Hook, that John Hicks’ piano becomes a workable substitute for the gutsy B3 sound. Houston Person is also heard on tenor on Sweet Sucker. Seems like tenor just goes with B3 like BBQ sauce ‘n ribs. The cover says this disc “puts your in a pleasure zone.” Yeah, if this is your music it does that, and the price will be a pleasure too. Tracks: The Governor, FD’s Attitude, Live Bait, Off the Hook, The Cat, The Hat Man, Peach Cobbler, Sweet Sucker, Another Joe

Hiromi - Brain SACD Telarc HIROMI UEHARA, piano – Brain (with Tony Grey or Anthony Jackson, bass; Martin Valihora, drums) – Telarc multichannel SACD-83600:

This release is reviewed this issue in our JAZZ CD Section. What can I add for the hi-res version? Not much you don’t already know if you have compared the CD and SACD layers on most any disc on a good system. The SACD stereo is more transparent, more detailed, wider range. The multichannel option is all that plus a natural sound environment around all the instruments, which take on realistic sizes and spatial locations in your listening room.

Stan Getz Quartet The Stan Getz Quartet – Pure Getz (Getz, tenor sax; James McNeely, piano; Marc Johnson, bass; Victor Lewis or Billy Hart, drums) – Concord Jazz multichannel SACD-1000-6:

Now here’s the sort of tenor sound I dig – perfect intonation and smooth phrasing with a sensual and rich tone. Not to mention his superb command of varied dynamics – many tenor players seem to forget to every play softly. This session comes from 1982 and has notes by noted jazz writer Phil Elwood. The album opens and closes with compositions by jazz pianists – the initial one Getz’s own pianist on the session Jim McNeely and the closer one from the great Bud Powell. Bill Evans is another pianist represented here, and Billy Strayhorn and Miles Davis are the sources of other tracks. Getz was in the midst of the bossa nova explosion and he toured with fusion players and groups with electronic instruments, but he eschewed the avantgarde loft-jazz area, stating “I want to communicate with people but I won’t put on funny hats to do it.” If you want lyrical virtuosity from your tenor man, this is your disc. I’m continually surprised that Concord is able to get such excellent multichannel mixes from their original tapes while Fantasy is only mixing their SACDs to stereo. Evidently the late founder of the label was really thinking ahead.

– John Henry

Eric Dolphy & Ron Carter SACD Eric Dolphy – Out There (Dolphy, alto sax/flute/B-flat & bass clarinets; Ron Carter, cello; George Duvivier, bass; Roy Haynes, drums) – Prestige New Jazz/Fantasy stereo SACD NJSA-8252-6:

The free jazz movement came to the fore in l960 with Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry and Eric Dolphy among others. Most listeners rejected most of it, but I still have the LP of a favored Coleman/Cherry duo on Atlantic which I find fascinating listening when I’m in the right mood. I was somehow only exposed to the more mainstream work of Dolphy and missed out on this exciting avant duo session he recorded with bassist Ron Carter on mostly bowed cello. I find it very similar, and the timbres of the visionary reed player combined with the amazing cello virtuosity of Carter make for a gangbusters album, even if there is only 34 minutes of it. There’s no piano – just the two melody instruments – and the melodies are plenty atonal – but they have a swing and impetus to them entirely missing from most classical atonal music. Dolphy does one standard blues number – Serene – but in general he eschews standard jazz and pop structure. He might use 18-bar or 35-bar forms, giving the pieces fresh new shapes. Carter keeps up with him all the way. Great stuff! And the subtleties of their speeding avalanches of notes are now cleanly registered via SACD. Tracks: Out There, Serene, The Baron, Eclipse, 17 West, Sketch of Melba, Feathers

– John Henry

Concord Jazz SACD Sampler Concord Jazz Super Audio CD Sampler Volume 2 – multichannel SACD-1035-6:

Concord went back as far as l974 for the master material for this latest SACD sampler. They first transfer the original tapes to 24-channel DSD before mixing to 5.1 surround. This eliminates an analog tape step in between which is used by many other SACD producers, and enhances the sound quality. The choices of these dozen tracks seems, well…choice! It’s like listening to the world’s best jazz FM station without any annoying announcements and in hi-res surround. Nothin’ to do here, man, ‘cept list the tracks:

Reggae-Later – Monty Alexander’s Ivory & Steel; Nature Boy -Nnenna Freelon; The Real Blues – The Ray Brown Trio; Seven Come Eleven – Herb Ellis/Joe Pass; Goodbye Mr. Evans – Scott Hamilton; The Waters of March – Susannah McCorkle; Whatcha Gonna Do – Peter Escovedo; It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing – Maynard Ferguson; Funk Pie – Jack McDuff & Joey DeFrancesco; Elucidation – Gary Burton; Silent Pool – Marian McPartland




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