SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

Showcase 2013 [TrackList follows] – Opus 3

Audiophile label issues an excellent hi-res sampler combinng the best elements of music and technology.

Published on December 3, 2012

Showcase 2013 – Opus 3 stereo-only SACD CD 23000, 53:13 ****:

(Featuring B.B. Driftwood; Eric Bibb; Dan & The Electros; Eva Taylor; Tomas Ornberg’s Blue Five; Maria Winther; Rebecka Sjoberg; Bert “East” Ostlund; Theresa Mercedes Myrhed)

Opus 3 Records has been producing technically superior music since 1976. Under the direction of founder/producer/recording and mixing engineer Jan-Eric Persson, these recordings are facilitated with the finest analogue and digital equipment. The engineering techniques concentrate on acoustic music, utilizing natural environments like churches and concert halls. In addition to the apparatus, there is a significant amount of attention to logistical detail. This involves the actual positioning of microphones and the placement of the musicians relative to them. The overall effect captures the complete tonality and sound of instruments and voices. There are several genres of music on the label, including classical (orchestral, choral & organ, wind ensemble, chamber & solo instrumental, guitar and piano), blues, folk & world music and jazz (classic, swing, mainstream & modern). Also, the label is known for a variety of music collection albums, many of them on SACD.

Showcase 2013 is a generous serving of highly stereophonic material. Several acts contribute a couple of songs to this SACD. B.B. Driftwood is represented by two cuts off his debut album, Southward Bound. “Sweet Elizabeth” kicks off with a sprightly Caribbean riff before Driftwood’s mellow voice joins in. The infectious rhythm is surrounded by a variety of stringed instruments, including dobro and lap steel. Another tune (“Strange How Things Can Turn Around”) employs a pulsating gospel vibe with a lush vocal chorus. It is apparent how the production quality gives the music an aural glow. Continuing with the folk blues theme, Keb’ Mo’ offers a lively version of “Sophisticated Shade”. It feels like Delta roots with a first-rate sonic upgrade. The other Bibb selection is a ruminative blues. There is a gentle harmonious interaction between the guitar and voice.

The attention to guitar is also prevalent on Dan & The Electros’ “Grey Hound Ride”. The slide guitar (in quasi-slack key) approximates a rockabilly/surf instrumental elegance. This dynamic elevates the slow-burning dance aesthetic of “It’s Never Too Late” (also by Dan & The Electros). The note-sliding and bending is superb. In a purer folk context, “No One But Myself To Blame” incorporates traditional stringed instrumentals with Rebecka Sjoberg’s plaintively gentle vocals. She returns on a country swing track, “Sticks And Stones”. The high-register backup singing blends prominently with the jam.

There is ample jazz music on this sampler. Classic old-school jazz can be found on “Blues Avec Un Pont” (Tomas Ornberg’s Blue Five) with a soulful clarinet lead. There is even a New Orleans-style romp (“Cake Walkin’ Babies”) with a gutsy vocal performance by Eva Taylor. Adding to the feast, a New Age arrangement by East-Pathfinder is graceful. Jazz purists will appreciate a modern update of “We’ll Be Together”. Maria Winther exudes delicate sensuality, backed by a piano trio.

Showcase 2013 combines the best elements of music and technology.

TrackList: Sweet Elizabeth; No One But Myself To Blame; Sophisticated Shade; I Can Hear It; Grey Hound Ride; Strange; Sticks & Stones; Come Back Baby; The Milky Way; We’ll Be Together; Blues Avec Un Point; Cake Walkin’ Babies From Home; It’s Never Too Late

—Robbie Gerson




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