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Hi-Res Audio Reviews, Pt. 2 - April 2002

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~~~   SACDs ~~~

Wayne Horvitz, piano/prepared piano; with Timothy Young, 6 & 12-string electric guitars; Keith Lowe, acoustic bass; Andy Roth, drums - Sweeter Than the Day - Songlines multichannel SACD SGL SA1536-5:

As a local example of albums' travels before they get to your player, this one was recorded in Seattle, mixed in Portland and mastered in Boulder. Horvitz is a Pacific Northwest jazz pianist on the avant side, but that doesn't mean his prepared piano tracks sound anything like John Cage. He skirts loft jazz atonality on some tracks but most of them are quite accessible and highly original music-making. Several may remind one of Pat Metheny with the multiple guitars and meandering, atmospheric long lines. The final track was originally composed for a modern dance company. No explanation is offered for the evocative photos on the cover and those inside of a piano being loaded (or unloaded) at a large outdoor gathering and finally of the ruins of a piano spread on the ground. Subtle use of the surrounds contribute only to a more natural presence of the instruments in front of you. Tracks: In One Time and Another, Julian's Ballad, LTMBBQ, Sweeter Than the Day, Irondbound, Waltz from the Oven, In the Lounge, The Beautiful Number 3, The Little Parade, George's Solo.

- John Henry


David Johansen and The Harry Smiths; Chesky SACD Multichannel/CD 225:

Johansen plays rock with his unique voice-rough and edgy. Some of the tunes have a little bluesy quality and even some folk. There are both upbeat and mellow tracks that are very catchy with good hooks. Some of the songs are harder-rockin' tunes more like Neil Young. David's voice may not appeal to everyone, but for those who can appreciate it for what it is, they will be rewarded by this honest performance. The SACD offered better sense of space, and voice is larger and more dimensional. High frequencies are more liquid and silky smooth. On the CD portion, cymbals are lackluster in comparison with the SACD material. Voice is not as pleasing, and other instruments end up being hidden in the mix. The Songs included are: James Alley Blues, Darling, Do You Remember Me, Delia, Little Geneva, Well, I've Been To Memphis, Katie Mae, Old Dog Blue, Somebody Buy Me A Drink, Poor Boy Blues, On The Wall, Don't Start Me Talking, Oh Death, Richland Woman.

Christy Baron -- Steppin'; Chesky SACD Multichannel/CD 227:

This disc is not only full of interesting interpretations of popular/rock tunes, but has great sonics. Some of the songs have a jazz flavor, while other tunes sound more Middle Eastern, or even hip-hop oriented. The vocals are succulent, while the instrumentals are powerful and dynamic. Unlike many older "jazz" artists who chose show tunes to cover, Christy does Prince, Phil Collins, and the Beatles (among other more conventional standards). Since this disc has both SACD and CD versions, I compared the two. The SACD had more air, much more depth, and a better sense of the recording acoustic. Transients were improved in comparison with the CD version, and the sound was sweeter on voice, harmonica, and other instruments in that range. CD had less presence and less impact. There was more sibilance heard on the vocals, and overall the sound was not as extended and smooth. Songs included are: Will It Go 'Round in Circles, Mercy Street, Tomorrow Never Knows, Thieves in the Temple, This Must Be Love, Delays on the Downtown 6, She's Not There, The Shadow of Your Smile, Is Love Enough, Ain't No Half Steppin', Spooky, Nite and Day.

- Brian Bloom

Nancy Bryan -- Neon Angel; Analogue Production Originals SACD/CD APO 2013 SA:

What you have here is light guitar rock 'n' roll with the feel of folk music. Either Nancy or John Bryan wrote all but one of the songs. Nancy has a lovely voice, and the SACD really did justice to it, making it almost touchable with lots of range. The guitar sound is rich and full. Most of the tunes feature soft vocals with accompanying instrumentation. Overall this is a very natural sounding recording. Versus the CD layer, the SACD made the guitar sound more natural and resonant. There was a feeling of higher resolution and clarity, and hearing more into the recording. The dynamic range is amazing with the SACD version! The CD had more spittiness and sibilance on the vocals. Although the sound was still very good, there was not as much power and the sound fell noticeably short of the SACD layer. Songs included are: Nobody's Buying, Blame It On The Moon, Pulse And Time, Chicago Skyline, Neon Angel, Salvation, Bending Road, Skating At The Edge, Deep As The Sea, I Hear Voices, I'll Be Waiting, My Love Is A Message, Come Thou Fount.

Jimmie Lee Robinson -- all my life; Analogue Production Originals SACD/CD APO 2011 SA:

This disc is a straightforward blues recording. Robinson's vocals are reminiscent of John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters. The tunes are mostly upbeat (considering the genre), with a few slower songs. Robinson has a very rich, expressive voice, and the accompanying band is very good. If you close your eyes, you can almost imagine yourself in a small blues club. With the SACD portion of the disc, the range of the instruments is improved and dynamics are better. The music is much more palpable and has more impact. The CD section does not have as much depth. Vocals are not quite as rich and fleshed out as with the SACD. Songs included are: Forty Days and Forty Nights, I'll Be Around, Love My Baby, Driftin' Blues, The Girl I Love, All My Life, I'm Ready, Too Late, The Sun Is Shining, Easy Baby, If I Get Lucky, Ludella, What A Wonderful World.

- Brian Bloom


Mary Chapin Carpenter -- time* sex* love*; Columbia SACD Multichannel CS 85176:

The quality of this recording is not nearly as impressive as the Chesky discs reviewed earlier. It sounds more like a CD with a little better range. The sound is harder, and with less resolution and fidelity in comparison to the other discs. Of course, part of this is related to the fact that Chesky takes so much care in the recording process, and the result is clearly evident. Voice could be harsh at times, and imaging and dimensionality is only good, not great. The songs on this disc are very pop oriented, and the record sounds mass produced (in the way the songs are crafted). Many of these tracks will appeal to different listeners. Songs included are: Whenever You're Ready, Simple Life, Swept Away, Slave To The Beauty, Maybe World, What Was It Like, King Of Love, This Is Me Leaving You, Someone Else's Prayer, The Dreaming Road, Alone But Not Lonely, The Long Way Home, In The Name Of Love, Late For Your Life.

- Brian Bloom

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