SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

Quincy Jones Band – Big Band Bossa Nova – Mercury/Universal Pure Audio Blu-ray

A most enjoyable though somewhat dated-sounding big band bossa nova album.

Published on December 18, 2013

Quincy Jones Band – Big Band Bossa Nova – Mercury/Universal Pure Audio Blu-ray

Quincy Jones Band – Big Band Bossa Nova [TrackList follows] – Mercury/Universal Pure Audio Blu-ray 00602537317646, 32:47 [10/30/13] *****:

(Including Jerome Richardson, Lalo Schifrin, Roland Kirk, Paul Gonsalves, Clark Terry, Jim Hall & Phil Woods)

This was originally a 1962 session arranged and conducted by the great Quincy Jones. (The back of the album oddly states “with largely unknown big bands” but does mention the above performers.) It was originally released on a Mercury LP and then much later on a Verve CD with an added track, which is Track 11 here.

Some of the great bossa nova hits are brought back here in excellent arrangements, and the very first track knocked me out because I hadn’t known that Mike Myers chose this Quincy Jones track for the opening music of his first Austin Powers movie with the big dancing in the streets scene. (You can see it on YouTube.) Love it – it’s perfect for the film parody, complete with the flutes and a crazy voice shouting here and there. In addition to the hits such as “Desafinado” and “Morning of the Carnival,” it has bossa nova versions of “A Taste of Honey,” and “On the Street Where You Live.”

You can choose from three different audio files on the Blu-ray disc, and no video display is required. You may need to push the Play button twice though, to get it started. There are a 96/24 PCM stereo track, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix and a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. The Blu-ray was made from the original two-track analog tape masters, and if you happen to still have the original LP I’m certain it sounds a great deal better than that, although of course it wasn’t hi-res digital to begin with. It’s also nice to have the 5.1 mixes – many of the Pure Audio pop releases are just stereo.

However, there are a number of things that seem to indicate Universal doesn’t really know what it’s doing with these audio-only Blu-rays. For one thing, in their publicity and on the jewel-box they leave out the hyphen: Blu ray. Second, the top front of each of the Pure Audio Blu-ray box says “High Fidelity.” That’s a terrible choice since it connotes mono and probably not hi-res. They also say in their publicity “between 96K and 192K.”  Wrong, it’s one or the other, not “between.” And they claim all the recordings are uncompressed. They ignore that there are two sorts of compression, and although these recordings are not horribly compressed as is most music today (even classical), they still employed dynamic compressors. Digital compression is used in Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA, so it is completely untrue to say there is no compression involved here.

I disagree with some experts who feel physical discs are on their way out and there will be only audio downloads, and also disagree that hi-res digital remasterings of great analog recordings don’t sound much better than the originals, but Universal has a ways to go to equal the Pure Audio releases of 2L, Naxos, Sono Luminus, and AIX, which do come from hi-res digital originals. 2L has been including an SACD version of the same material as the Pure Audio Blu-ray and I frankly can’t tell the difference, but I think the Blu-ray approach is a sensible way to go for a hi-res surround physical disc, since more people have the required players.

TrackList:

1. Soul Bossa Nova
2. Boogie Stop Shuffle
3. Desafinado
4. Manhã De Carnaval (Morning Of The Carnival)
5. Se É Tarde Me Perdoa (Forgive Me If I’m Late)
6. On the Street Where You Live
7. One Note Samba (Samba De Uma Nota So)
8. Lalo Bossa Nova
9. Serenata
10. Chega de Saudade (No More Blues)
11.  A Taste of Honey

—John Henry




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