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Michael Leser Johnson  |  May 16, 2022  |  1 comments
In my previous review of the Korppoo Trio by the Sibelius Piano Trio and Yarlung Records, I spoke a great deal about the recording philosophy of this boutique classical outfit and their AAA, 45rpm chamber music records. From the same recording sessions that brought us that exquisite romantic delight, we have another outing with musicians Petteri Iivonen, Juho Pohjonen, and Samuli Peltonen, this time with a decidedly different program.

Michael Fremer  |  May 16, 2022  |  38 comments
LOS ANGELES, May 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Sony Music and the Estate of Michael Jackson today announced that it will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the biggest selling album of all time, with the November 18 release of Michael Jackson Thriller 40, a double CD set comprised of Michael’s original masterpiece Thriller and an exciting second disc full of surprises for fans including never-released tracks which were worked on by Michael for the Thriller album. To date, the album has amassed in excess of 100 million in sales worldwide.

Michael Fremer  |  May 08, 2022  |  16 comments
What seemed like an unlikely pairing in 1962 of “jazz elder” 63 year old Duke Ellington with John Coltrane, who had just assembled his ”classic quartet” destined to explore uncharted musical (and spiritual) territory, produced a surprisingly cohesive and satisfying album.

Michael Fremer  |  May 05, 2022  |  36 comments
Los Angeles – May 5, 2022- Verve/Ume and Acoustic Sounds announces the following titles coming throughout the year following the April 29th release John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman (Impulse!, 1963).

Malachi Lui  |  May 01, 2022  |  93 comments
There’s plenty already said about the musical content of Marvin Gaye’s 1971 classic What’s Going On so I’ll avoid redundancy and just say that its scope—from the sociopolitically-minded lyrics to the carefully assembled song cycle structure and luscious musical arrangements—pushed the boundaries of what a Motown release could be, and truly stands the test of time. It’s an endlessly relevant record (decide yourself if that says more about the album’s excellence or society’s failures), and also one of the most exhaustively reissued: in the past 20 years, we’ve seen Universal’s 30th anniversary 2CD featuring the original Detroit mix, more alternate mixes, and a Kennedy Center live recording from 1972; Mobile Fidelity’s SACD and 33rpm single LP releases; UMG’s 40th anniversary “super deluxe” edition adding further session material and alternate versions; quite a few run-of-the-mill digitally-sourced vinyl reissues of the core album, done at United for the US and GZ for Europe; an Abbey Road half-speed 4LP mirroring the 2001 2CD; and MoFi’s 45rpm double LP UltraDisc One Step cut from tape. That’s not including the “Vinyl Lovers” Russian reissues of dubious legal origin cut and pressed at GZ, the 192kHz/24bit hi-res download, a Blu-ray Audio release (remember that format?), and the Japanese SACDs, CDs, and MQA-UHQCDs featuring a flat transfer of the original master tapes (yes, really!).
Michael Fremer  |  Apr 13, 2022  |  65 comments
Craft Records today announced Miles Davis’s Relaxin’ as the next “Small Batch” limited to 5000 copies release. The pre-sale launches Friday April 15th at 2:00 PST/5:00 EST on the “Small Batch” website.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 09, 2022  |  45 comments
When Craft Recordings rolled out its exclusive "Small Batch" limited edition "One Step" series last year it thought it had done a good thing.

Paul Seydor  |  Apr 08, 2022  |  5 comments
Chasing The Dragon, a British audiophile label that has been around for about ten years now, has distinguished itself with digital and analog releases that can fairly be said to have pushed the state of the art in recorded sound. As is not the case with many audiophile labels, the founders Mike and Françoise Valentine have paid equal attention to the musical contents of their label, notably with classical music and jazz, for which oftener than not they eschew studios in favor of venues where acoustic music is typically performed, such as concert halls or other places with appropriately sympathetic acoustics (e.g., churches). One of the best concert recordings I own is CTD’s 45-RPM album with the Interpreti Veneziani Chamber Orchestra in marvelously stylish, spirted performances of pieces by Vivaldi, Marais, and Sarasate, so beautifully captured—London’s St. John’s Smith Square the venue—that if you set the level right and close your eyes, you easily imagine yourself transported to the best seat in the house (VAL45001). Even their studio recordings are so carefully miked they don’t sound studio bound: the singer Clare Teal’s A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, with Chris Dean leading The Syd Lawrence Orchestra, is sonically of reference caliber and musically so stylistically on point as an example of Swing that but for the sonics you’d swear it was made in the 1940s. These are but two albums from a pretty impressive catalog. For a small label to concentrate its repertoire on classical and vintage jazz is not without risk in this day and age, and it is testament to the Valentines’ expertise, taste, commitment, and courage that they have maintained such high sonic and musical standards.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 03, 2022  |  28 comments
The Southern California retro-band Calling Cadence signed to Hi-Res Records recently released an eponymously titled debut album recorded, mixed and mastered "the way they used to" make albums: recorded and mixed to analog tape and mastered by Kevin Gray from the analog master tape, and pressed at RTI on 180g vinyl. The cover image of an 8-track tape helps seal the retro-deal as does the music.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 25, 2022  |  49 comments
The original British pressing of Are You Experienced? (Track 612 001) was a tepid looking and sounding monophonic affair and despite the label’s name, the jacket didn’t list the tracks, nor did the front offer the band’s name.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 24, 2022  |  14 comments
Blue Note today announced the next series of affordable Classic Vinyl 180g, all-analog reissues mastered by Kevin Gray using the original master tapes plated and pressed at Optimal in Germany. The records come in standard packaging to keep the costs down. Blue Note president Don Was and Cem Kurosman curate.

Michael Leser Johnson  |  Mar 20, 2022  |  5 comments
Grammy award winning Yarlung Records out of Los Angeles California has been releasing classical music albums on CD, LP, and R2R tape since as far back as 2006, but they had somehow managed to escape my radar. Better late than never, as they possess all the ingredients necessary to delight readers of this website; including a dedication to minimalist analog recording techniques, and the curation of the finest up-and-coming classical talent working today. This label is run by people (primarily producer and engineer Bob Attiyeh) who care deeply about classical music, and are connected to first rate performers, particularly those who orbit the many concert halls of the greater Los Angeles area. In addition to running a record label, Yarlung also has an associated nonprofit called Yarlung Artists which focuses on getting promising new artists started on their touring career.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 19, 2022  |  15 comments
Candid Records, founded in 1960 with Nat Hentoff as A&R director produced a catalog of great jazz and blues releases that also featured superb sound. A label relaunch was announced last week with 5 exceptionally fine titles leading the way, mastered by Bernie Grundman. The press release didn't specify if BG mastered from tape or from hi-res files so before posting this I asked the publicist to clarify.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 08, 2022  |  11 comments
First their Woodland Studio took a direct hit from the tornado that tore through Nashville March of 2020, and then came the Covid lock down.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 02, 2022  |  18 comments
Crescent, John Coltrane’s 9th Impulse! Album, released in the summer of 1964, followed a pair of live albums (Live at Birdland and Impressions [mostly live tracks from the Vanguard dates]) and a pair of collaborations (Duke Ellington & John Coltrane, and John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman) with Ballads—a quickly recorded album of standards sandwiched in between.

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