TAS Recommended List: <Rock, Pop, and Folk>, <Classical> & <Jazz>
(TAS issue 197, Nov. 2009, Page: 52, 54, 56, 58 & 60)
Best Audiophile Label Recordings
by Mark Lehman and the TAS Staff
The TAS Buyers’ Guide would be incomplete without suggestions about which music to listen to on the great gear we’ve recommended. So on the following pages our editorial staff offers a three-part list of great recordings, a goodly sampling of fifty discs in each of three categories—rock/pop/folk, jazz, and classical— encompassing some of the best-sounding and most musically worthwhile LPs, CDs, and SACDs issued by “audiophile” labels or by mainstream label special series dedicated to audiophile values. Anyone who loves great music well recorded is sure to find many of these recommendations worth exploring.
A large portion—indeed a majority—of our recommendations are re-masterings of “classic” LPs. This shouldn’t be surprising: The “golden age” of recording began half a century ago and left us a great wealth of irreplaceable treasures. But we’ve also included many recent releases, for the “golden age” is by no means over (even if it seemed as if it were when glassy, hard-edged digital sound first took over).
Three formats are represented: vinyl (whether 33 1/3 or 45 rpm), conventional compact disc, and high-resolution discs including hybrid SACD and hybrid multichannel SACD as well as a sprinkling of DVD-A and more recent high-res formats (Bluray, etc.). Many of the items on our list are currently available from distributors like Music Direct, Acoustic Sounds, and Elusive Disc, but since audiophile releases are typically produced by small, specialty outfits and often pressed in small quantities, they tend to sell out quickly. Out of print issues, however, can usually be found on eBay, Amazon, and other sources of collectable recordings. (See page 42.)
<Rock, Pop, and Folk>
Allman Brothers Band, At Fillmore East. Classic (two 180g LPs and two-disc hybrid SACD).
Duane, Greg, Dickey, et al. positively smoke on “Statesboro Blues,” “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” and “Whipping Post.” Recorded live at the Fillmore East in 1971.
Joan Baez, In Concert. Vanguard-Cisco (180g LP).
Now-iconic performances, recorded live at college concerts throughout 1961-62.
Joan Baez, Joan Baez. Vanguard-Pure Pleasure (mono 180g LP).
The album that carried the folk music craze of the late Fifties to a peerless peak. Joanie’s first and best, with gorgeous renditions of “Silver Dagger,” ”Fare Thee Well,” “All My Trials,” etc.
Jeff Buckley, Live at Siné. Columbia-Legacy (CD).
Enormously gifted, Buckley died too young, but his music and soaring talent were captured at their peak in this stunning live performance.
Johnny Cash, American IV: The Man Comes Round. Lost Highway (two LPs).
The fourth of Cash’s elegiac, Rick Rubin-produced albums, with haunted and haunting versions of “Wichita Lineman,” “Tear-Stained Letter,” and the heartbreaking closer “We’ll Meet Again.”
Johnny Cash, Johnny Cash At San Quentin. Columbia-Speakers Corner (180g LP).
40-year-old live recording captures Cash at his rawest in front of a crowd of inmates.
Jen Chapin, Revisions: Songs of Stevie Wonder. Chesky (SACD).
An unlikely collaboration of stand-out vocals, sax, and standup bass conveys a rewarding musical connection with familiar tunes from the catalog of the R&B legend.
Marc Cohn, Marc Cohn. Mobile Fidelity (180g LP and Gold CD).
Witty, urban-folksy, tuneful pop-rock by a gifted singer/songwriter.
Holly Cole, Temptation. Blue Note-Metro Blue (LP).
The distinctive Canadian songstress and her loyal combo in a smoky, jazz-fired take on the songs of Tom Waits.
Sam Cooke, One Night Stand! Live At The Harlem Square Club. Legacy-RCA (180g LP).
What more could you want? The great Sam Cooke in a staggering live set with great sound.
Creedence Clearwater Revival, Green River. Analogue Productions (180g LP).
One of five classic Creedence LPs issued in a 2-1/2 year period that spawned almost twenty hit singles. These LPs capture that magic beautifully.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Déjà Vu. Atlantic-Classic (200g LP).
A classic: Great songs, great performances, great sound.
Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde. Columbia-Sundazed (180g mono LP).
One of Dylan’s finest, beautifully realized in the original and terrific-sounding mono mix.
Marvin Gaye, What’s Goin’ On. Mobile Fidelity (180g LP and SACD).
The passionate soul singer’s Motown classic, as relevant today as it was 38 years ago.
Jimi Hendrix, Axis: Bold as Love. Track-Classic (200g mono LP).
JH’s marvelous, trippy and jazzy second LP reissued in the rare monophonic mix never sounded better.
Jimi Hendrix, Band of Gypsys. Capitol-Classic (200g LP).
Mature Hendrix in one of his most original sets, live at the Fillmore; the music and sound will astonish.
Lightnin’ Hopkins, Lightnin’. Prestige-Analogue Productions (two 45rpm LPs).
The great blues singer and guitarist in a terrific acoustic set, featuring lively covers of “Back to New Orleans,” “Mean Old Frisco,” and “You Better Watch Yourself.”
Mississippi John Hurt, Today. Vanguard-Pure Pleasure (180g LP).
The sweet-natured, soft-voiced oldMississippibluesman does himself proud in “Candy Man,” “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor,” “Corrina, Corrina,” etc.
Ian and Sylvia, Four Strong Winds. Vanguard-Cisco (180g LP).
This great Canadian duo’s high-lonesome harmonies convey unvarnished emotion in “Katy Dear,” “Long Lonesome Road,” and “Royal Canal.”
Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection. Island-Rocket (SACD).
This stellar stereo/multichannel remastering of the 1970 John/ Taupin concept album is brilliant in execution and artistry.
Norah Jones, Not Too Late. Blue Note (CD).
Inventive musings on love, life, and the politics of both.
Rickie Lee Jones, Pop Pop. Geffen-ORG (LP).
From one of music’s most unpredictable artists, an offbeat 1991 collection of blues, jazz, and rock standards.
Alison Krauss and Union Station, Live. Mobile Fidelity (three 180g LPs and two-disc DVD video).
The finest bluegrass singer in the world, backed up by her great band, mixes traditional and pop in a three-disc live set. Standouts include “Ghost in the House,” “Forget About It,” and “Down to the River to Pray.”
Led Zeppelin, I, II, III, IV. Atlantic-Classic (200g LPs).
Yo—here it is, the first four Zeppelin albums reissued with sound that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck!
Shelby Lynne, Just A Little Lovin’. Lost Highway (CD).
A tribute album to Dusty Springfield, Lynne adds her own unsettling, southern spin to these blue-eyed soul standards.
John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton, Blues Breakers. Decca-Speakers Corner (180g LP).
The album that gave Clapton, coming off The Yardbirds and heading for Cream, the showcase he needed. Terrific Brit-blues, with great covers of “All Your Love,” “Little Girl,” “Parchman Farm,” etc.
Joni Mitchell, Blue. Rhino-Warner (180g LP).
Maybe Joni’s greatest. “Carey,” “Blue,” “California,” and “The Last Time I Saw Richard” are among the highest of the highlights.
Keb’ Mo’, Keb’ Mo’. Okey-Epic-Pure Pleasure (180g LP).
His distinctive mix of traditional blues and pop make Keb’ Mo’s debut album special. Standouts include two Robert Johnson covers, “Come On In My Kitchen” and “Kind-Hearted Woman Blues.”
Van Morrison, Astral Weeks. Rhino-Warner (180g LP).
The definitive version of Van the Man’s first solo record. Timeless, one-of-a-kind jazz-flavored performances, near mystical singing, amazing sound quality.
Nickel Creek, This Side. Sugar Hill (SACD).
Inventive neo-bluegrass songs and instrumentals fronted by virtuoso mandolinist Chris Thiele with Sara and Sean Watkins on fiddle and guitar, respectively.
Roy Orbison, The All Time Greatest Hits Of Roy Orbison. Monument-Mobile Fidelity (two 180g LPs).
The honey-toned tenor’s finest work, neatly packaged in this great sounding Mo-Fi reissue.
Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon. EMI (180g LP).
Reissued for its 30th anniversary, Pink Floyd’s masterpiece in mind-bendingly superior sound.
The Police, Synchronicity. A&M (SACD).
Hugely popular final album produced by the incendiary prog-rocktrio in 1983.
Jimmy Reed, Jimmy Reed at Carnegie Hall. Vee Jay-Analogue Productions (two 180g 45rpm LPs)
The title may be bogus (this was actually cut in a studio), but the music and sound are as authentic as the blues gets.
Santana, Abraxas. Columbia-Mobile Fidelity (180g LP and CD).
Santana’s great and great sounding sophomore record reissued and better than ever, with left/right channels restored to original placement.
Mary Stallings, Live at the Village Vanguard. MaxJazz (CD).
This gifted and versatile old-school jazz singer is equally comfortable singing torchy ballads, blues, and swing in these cool, timeless performances.
Steely Dan, Gaucho. MCA (SACD).
Not only one of Steely Dan’s better albums, Gaucho is also perhaps the best sounding rock/pop record ever made. The SACD release fully reveals the immaculate production and masterfully crafted arrangements.
Steely Dan, Aja. Cisco (180g LP).
Approved by Donald Fagan and Walter Becker, this is one of the best-sounding LP reissues in memory. The disc features no compression (unlike previous masterings), tremendous sense of air, and precise soundstage focus.
Tierney Sutton, Something Cool. Telarc (SACD).
The sensual swing and scat singer and her trio unspool a collection of musical theater, big band standards, and other faves in this stereo/multichannel disc.
Stevie Ray Vaughan, Texas Flood. Pure Pleasure-Sony (two 180g LPs and stereo SACD).
The monsterTexasguitarist knocked the Top 40 on its ear with this rampageous debut of blues covers and originals.
Jennifer Warnes, Famous Blue Raincoat. Shout (CD) and Shout-Cisco (three 200g 45rpm LPs).
The 20th Anniversary reissue of Warnes’ stunning renditions from the songbook of Leonard Cohen. The CD is expertly remastered, while the Cisco 45 rpm LPs define the state of the art in vinyl playback.
Jennifer Warnes, The Hunter. Private-Cisco (200g LP).
Warnes’ post-Famous Blue Raincoat release that also showcases her own vivid songwriting talents in an exquisite performance and recording.
Doc Watson, Home Again. Vanguard-Cisco (180g LP).
The best country guitar-picker of his day plays folk ballads, bluegrass, and gospel classics.
Muddy Waters, Folk Singer. Chess-Classic (200g LP/ HDAD 24/96 24/192).
“Good Morning School Girl,” “You Gonna Need My Help,” “Big Leg Woman,” and “Country Boy” highlight this famous blues album by Chicago’s most famous bluesman.
The Who, Tommy. Track-Classic (two 180g LPs).
Classic’s reissue of Tommy must be heard to be believed—it brings this still amazing rock “opera” to astonishing life.
The Who, Who’s Next. Classic (200g LP).
Arguably The Who’s best LP with arguably The Who’s best song, the bitter, timeless, and, alas, time-and-again-tested anthem “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Sundazed-Nonesuch (two 180g LPs).
A modern masterpiece, in glorious analog sound.
Wilco, a ghost is born. Rhino-Nonesuch (two 180g LPs).
The follow-up to YHF, a ghost is born conjures Wilco from deep in the vinyl grooves right into your listening room.
Sonny Boy Williamson, Keep It To Ourselves. Analogue Productions (180g LP)
The legendary Mississippi bluesman sings “Keep It To Ourselves” and “The Sky Is Falling.”
Neil Young, Live at Massey Hall 1971. Rhino-Classic (two 200g LPs).
This awesome sounding 1971 concert album from Neil’s vault features a solo Young with just a guitar, a piano, and a microphone, debuting some of his now-famous new songs of the time.
Bach, Cello Suites. Starker. Mercury-Speakers Corner (three 180g LPs) and Mercury (SACD).
Starker’s incisive performances of these intimate, introspective works for solo cello are famously wonderful. So is the sound.
Baltic Voices I. Hillier. Harmonia Mundi (SACD).
Music for mixed voices by six Baltic composers. Finely modulated and expressive performances; the recording, from aTallinn church, has abundant “air.”
Bartók, Concerto for Orchestra. Boston, Leinsdorf. RCA (“High Performance” CD).
Few recordings offer a more realistic sonic picture, both in timbre and soundstage, of a full orchestra, and the Bostonians play with brilliance and panache.
Bartók, Concerto for Orchestra. Reiner, CSO. RCA-Classic Records (200g LP and SACD), JVC (CD).
Arguably the finest concertante work of the past century. Reiner’s and Chicago Symphony’s performance—in some of RCA’s finest sound—generates tremendous excitement.
Bartók, Divertimento for Strings. Barshai, Moscow Chamber Orchestra. King Super Analogue (180g LP).
Written just before the Second World War, this isn’t merely light and diverting; in the nightmarish second movement Bartók utters a riveting scream of horror at the coming catastrophe.The performance by Barshai and the MCO is perhaps the most powerful on disc.
Bartók, Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion. Heisser, et al. Praga (multichannel SACD).
Bartok’s spiky and mysterious chamber music masterpiece in a thrilling performance vividly rendered in the surround sound it much deserves.
Beethoven, Kreutzer Sonata. Heifetz, Smith. RCA-Cisco (180g LP).
While Heifetz’s quick tempi and flawless technique sometimes seem like mere showing off, they rise to the level of poetry in Beethoven’s astonishingly original, rhythmically innovative sonata. Great sound, too.
Beethoven, Violin Sonatas Nos. 5 and 9. Oborin, Oistrakh. Philips-Speakers Corner (180g LP).
Another superb Kreutzer, coupled with a wonderful Fifth, from two more passionate but no less accomplished players.
Berlioz, Requiem. Atlanta, Spano. Telarc (SACD).
This fine performance of Berlioz’s masterpiece represents Telarc’s redoubtable team not only at their multichannel best in Atlantabut at the best this sonic spectacular has ever sounded in recording.
Brahms, Cello Sonatas. Starker, Sebok. Mercury-Speakers Corner (180g LP).
Starker plays with his usual intelligence and strength, and Sebok matches him note for note in these magisterial sonatas.
Brahms, Violin Concerto. Heifetz, Reiner, CSO. RCA-Classic Records (180g LP), RCA (SACD).
When this 1955 recording session was finished, Reiner and his orchestra agreed that they had never heard a better performance of Brahms’ concerto. Neither have we. Though the violin is spotlighted, Heifetz’s playing makes it worthy of the spotlight. One of the great RCAs.
Brahms, Violin Sonata No. 1. Abel, Steinberg. Wilson Audio (180g LP).
One of the best-sounding chamber music recordings ever. The two players are palpably present in your room, their instruments sized exactly right. Solid and direct performances of the Brahms G Major Sonata, plus works of Debussy and Bartók.
Cantaloube, Songs of the Auvergne. Davrath. Vanguard-Classic (two 200g LPs).
By consensus, this 1960s recording of Canteloube’s uncannily beautiful folk song arrangements is definitive. One of those rare instances when the finest performance of a work just so happens to be—by a wide margin—the best-sounding.
Chesky, Urban Concertos. Derwinger, Gergov, Norrlands. Chesky (SACD).
Enjoyable and entertaining music that is also intelligently modern. The sound here is demonstration class: detail aplenty yet within a convincingly realistic sonic landscape.
Copland, Symphony No. 3. Minnesota, Oue. Reference Recordings (CD).
The best recording since Bernstein’s of a great American symphony. Gloriously impactful sonics.
Danses Anciennes de Hongrie et Transylvanie. HM-Speakers Corner (180g LP).
Unusual baroque-period instruments—the bombarde, or bagpipe, for instance—make this collection of Eastern European dances especially treasurable.
Debussy, Three Nocturnes. Paray. Mercury-Speakers Corner (180g LP).
Three lovely, languorous impressions of clouds, festivals, and the seductive song of the sirens. Paray’s idiomatic performances are given some of Mercury’s most exquisite sound.
Divertimento: Music by Britten, Bacewicz, Bjørklund, and Bartók. Trondheim Soloists. 2L (Music-only Blu-ray disc).
The future—perhaps—of high-resolution multichannel recording. Highly involving, immersive surround sound perspective.
Gloryland. Anonymous Four. Harmonia Mundi (SACD).
This beautiful program of American hymns, gospels, and folksongs is also a killer test of a system’s ability to resolve midrange detail and to image holographically.
Hindemith, Violin Concerto. Fuchs, Goossens, LSO. Everest-Classic Records (180g LP).
A big, tuneful concerto beautifully played, and captured in clear, spacious, detailed, dynamic sound.
Hindemith, Nobilissime Visione. Chicago Symphony, Martinon. RCA (“High Performance” CD).
CD remaster of Hindemith’s grand and glorious music reveals the marvelous sonics veiled on the original-issue “Dynagroove” LP.
Holst, The Planets. Mehta, LA Philharmonic. Decca-Speakers Corner (180g LP), Decca-JVC (CD).
Famously well-recorded rendition of the colorful Holst warhorse, with superb timbre, dynamics, and low end.
Janacek, Opera Excerpts. Czech State Philharmonic, Serebrier. Reference Recordings (HDCD).
Haunting and beautiful orchestral music from The Cunning Little Vixen, The Makropulos Case, and two other late operas rendered with pristine clarity and huge dynamic power.
Lutoslawski, Concerto for Orchestra. Cincinnati Symphony, Paavo Jarvi. Telarc (multichannel SACD).
Spectacular symphonic showpiece in a sumptuous performance and you-are-there multichannel engineering.
Mahler, Symphony No. 4. San Francisco Symhony, Tilson Thomas. SFS (multichannel SACD).
Mahler’s apotheosis of pastoral loveliness, gorgeously played and recorded (in concert) in vivid, immersive surround sound.
Music for Organ, Brass, and Timpani. Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble. Sonoma (SACD).
A crack brass ensemble is joined by organist Anthony Newman for a program ranging from Monterverdi, Gabrieli, Bach and Handel to Rachmaninoff, Mussorgsky and Richard Strauss. The recording, from a large NYC church, is magnificent, loaded with impact and atmosphere.
Mussorgsky, et al., Witches’ Brew. Gibson, NSOL. RCA-Classic Records (200g LP).
Orchestral showpieces by Mussorgsky, Saint-Saëns, et al. The sound is as spectacular as Golden Age stereo gets.
Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition. James Boyk. Performance Recordings (CD).
An exceptionally realistic piano recording, with the same concert performance heard from the analog mastertape and from a digital mastertape.
Poulenc, Organ Concerto. Weir/English Chamber Orchestra, Leppard. Linn (SACD).
Recorded in an English church with organ in the rear and orchestra in front: these two powerful sound sources convincingly energize the space from opposite directions. Linn’s program also includes pieces by Barber and Pierre Petit.
Prokofiev, Piano Concerto No. 3. Janis, Moscow Philharmonic. Mercury (SACD).
One of the best-ever recordings (both performance and sound) of the most inventive and flamboyant piano concerto from the past hundred years.
Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 3. Janis, Dorati, LSO. Mercury-Speakers Corner (180g LP), Mercury (SACD).
Gorgeously tuneful, ferociously challenging, unabashedly Romantic, the Rach 3 has been assayed by most of the greats. None plays it better than Byron Janis does here. And none gets superior sound.
Rachmaninoff, Symphonic Dances. Johanos, Dallas. Turnabout-Analogue Productions (180g LP, CD).
This, the last and best of Rachmaninoff’s orchestral works, has an almost Prokofiev-like feel to harmonies, dynamics, and rhythms. Johanos’ performance may not be the very best recorded to disc, but it is one of the best sounding.
Rachmaninoff, Symphonic Dances. Minnesota, Oue. Reference Recordings (CD).
Supremely wide‑ranging and dynamic, with powerful bass‑drum thwacks and climaxes that open out gloriously, this is possibly Keith Johnson’s best recording of a symphony orchestra.
Ravel, Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2. Minnesota, Skrowaczewski. Mobile Fidelity (SACD).
Successful resurrection of a 1970s Quadraphonic recording that has the chorus for Daphnis at the back of Minneapolis’s Orchestra Hall. A decent Bolero and several other well-executed Ravel orchestral works are bonuses.
Ravel, Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2. Paray/Munch. Mercury-Speakers Corner (180g LP)/RCA, JVC (CD).
This relatively little-known Paray LP is one of the finest Mercurys. The suites, extracted by Ravel from his ballet for Diaghilev, are diaphanously beautiful, and so are the sonics.
Rimsky-Korsakov, et al., Espana! Argenta, LSO. Decca-Speakers Corner (180g LP), Decca-Lasting Impressions (CD).
Colorful and exciting “Spanish” music, played with genuine exuberance by Argenta and the LSO and recorded in some of Decca’s most vivacious sound.
Russian Nights. Cincinnati Pops, Kunzel. Telarc 60657 (SACD).
Exhilarating run-throughs of orchestral staples, including Rimsky’s Capriccio espagnole, Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances, and a half dozen other Russian showpieces. Telarc’s most impressive multichannel efforts originate from Cincinnati’s Music Hall, and this is one of its very best.
Russian Sketches. Baltimore, Zinman. Telarc (CD).
Zinman’s propulsive Russian Easter Overture is the lease-breaker here. And it just might be worth it to be put out on the street for the sheer joy of really cranking this one up.
Saint-Säens, Cello Concerto No. 1. Wispelwey, Bremen. Channel Classics (SACD).
Wonderfully fluent and lyrical readings of the Saint-Säens concerto, plus a glowing Kol Nidre (Bruch) and two Tchaikovsky works. Spacious multichannel sound that subtly illuminates the character of the performance space.
Schoenberg, Five Pieces for Orchestra. Dorati, LSO. Mercury-Speakers Corner SR (180g LP, Mercury (CD).
A landmark of early twentieth-century music, these five highly chromatic, intensely evocative pieces for orchestra are a headfirst plunge into the realms of dissonance, dream, and the unconscious. Dorati’s performance is superb, as are Mercury’s sonics.
Shostakovich, Piano Quintet. Chamber Music Palisades. AIX (DVD-Audio).
A compelling performance of one of Soviet master’s greatest works. AIX offers “stage” and “audience” sonic perspectives; both are excellent.
Shostakovich, String Quartet No. 8. Borodin Quartet. Decca-Speakers Corner. (180g LP).
Shostakovich’s most celebrated quartet is intensely sad and elegiac; the Borodin Quartet plays with somber gorgeousness.
Shostakovich, String Quartets Nos. 3, 6, and 8. Mandelring Quartet. Audite 92527 (SACD).
The Mandelring Quartet nails the unique character of each work, and gets open, airy, and dimensional multichannel sound.
Shostakovich, Symphonies 1 and 15. Sinfonica di Milano, Caetani. ARTS (SACD).
Absorbing interpretations of Shostakovich’s first and last symphonic essays. Gorgeous sound, timbrally; spacious, with natural scaling of individual instruments.
Sibelius, Symphony No. 2. Royal Philharmonic, Barbirolli.
Chesky (LP and CD).
Perhaps the greatest performance on record of the glorious Finnish masterpiece, captured by sonic wizards Wilkinson and Gerhardt at fabled Walthhamstow Hall.
Stravinsky, Firebird Suite. Dorati, LSO. Mercury-Classic Records (200g LP), Mercury (SACD).
Arguably Mercury’s single most beautiful recording. The sound is stunning, and the music, taken from Stravinsky’s ballet score, exquisite and exquisitely well played.
Stravinsky, Firebird. Atlanta, Shaw. Telarc (CD and SACD).
A durably exciting Firebird, captured in vivid, dynamic stereo. Way back in the late1970’s, Telarc was getting digital right before everyone else started getting it wrong.
Stravinsky, L’histoire du soldat. Bremen, Järvi. PentaTone (SACD).
Bracing renditions of some well-known and less familiar neoclassical period Stravinsky. The multichannel program is exceptionally dimensional.
Tchaikovsky and Medtner, Piano Concertos. Sudbin, Sao Paulo Symphony. BIS (SACD).
A Tchaikovksy First to stand beside any in the catalogue, powerfully recorded in atmospheric sonics that recapture the occasion.
Wagner, Opera Excerpts. National Philharmonic, Gerhardt. Chesky (CD).
Popular orchestral selections from The Ring and Tristan and Isolde in immediate and immensely powerful sonics. Siegfried’s funeral march will shake walls and rumble foundations.
Cannonball Adderley, Somethin’ Else. Blue Note-Analogue Productions (two 180g 45rpm LPs, hybrid SACD).
Though the personnel is mostly different, Adderley teams again with Miles Davis for something of a modal follow-up to Kind of Blue.
Louis Armstrong, Satchmo Plays King Oliver. Audio Fidelity-Classic (180g LP).
ClassicNew Orleansjazz in stunningly alive sound.
The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album. JVC (XRCD).
This rare collaboration pairs a masterful singer with a most sensitive accompanist. JVC’s disc sounds superb.
Art Blakey And The Jazz Messenger’s, The Big Beat. Blue Note-Music Matters (two 180g 45rpm LPs).
The Messengers soar with Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter. The sound of this reissue will floor you.
Tina Brooks, Back To The Tracks. Blue Note-Music Matters (two 180g 45rpm LPs).
In a short career, Brooks proved to be an imaginative composer, leader, and sideman. He’s worth knowing.
The Ray Brown Trio, Soular Energy. Concord-Pure Audiophile (two 180g 45rpm LPs), Groove Note (SACD).
A gorgeous set led by one of the great bassists, in legendarily terrific sound.
Kenny Burrell, Midnight Blue. Blue Note-Analogue Productions (two 180g 45rpm LPs, hybrid SACD).
Famously wonderful sounding, Midnight Blue is a classic, and as moody as the title suggests.
Gary Burton, Chick Corea, et al., Like Minds. Concord (multichannel SACD).
One of the most airy, detailed, and holographic multichannel recordings; the music and playing are stellar.
Donald Byrd, The Cat Walk. Blue Note-Music Matters (two 180g 45rpm LPs).
Lyrical and inventive, trumpeter Byrd is joined by a superb lineup, in life-like sound.
The Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet, Voodoo. Black Saint (CD and LP).
Led by John Zorn, this terrific quartet tears through seven Sonny Clarkcompositions, captured in a vivid, dynamic recording.
John Coltrane, Blue Train. Blue Note-Analogue Productions (two 180g 45rpm LPs, hybrid SACD).
The music speaks for itself, and these top even other fine reissues.
John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman. Original Recordings Group (two 180g 45rpm LPs).
From a relatively new player in the reissue game, this superb pairing of like-minded musicians finds Coltrane at his most lyrical.
The Bill Cunliffe Trio, Live at Bernie’s. Groove Note (LP, CD, SACD).
Ex-Sinatra sideman and friends play jazz standards. Knockout sonics available on direct-disc LP or silver discs.
Miles Davis, Kind of Blue. Columbia (2 CD + LP 50th Anniversary Box, multichannel SACD), Classic (200g LP).
Whichever of its many formats you choose, for many this is the desert island jazz record.
Miles Davis, Sketches of Spain. Columbia-Legacy (CD and LP), Classic (200g LP).
Miles and Gil Evans team for another great set, with more multiple-choice editions, including an upcoming Classic 4-LP 45rpm version.
Eric Dolphy, Out To Lunch! Blue Note-Music Matters (two 180g 45rpm LPs).
The great multi-instrumentalist shines in his own compositions, beautifully recorded months before his death.
Duke Ellington, Ellington Jazz Party in Stereo. Columbia-Classic (180g LP).
The title says it all: superbly detailed sound, playful big band jazz, great soloists, and Ellington.
Duke Ellington and Ray Brown, This One’s for Blanton. Analogue Productions (two 180g 45rpm LPs).
A remarkable duet presented in “you-are-there” sound.
Bill Evans, Sunday at the Village Vanguard. Riverside-Analogue Productions (180g LP and hybrid SACD), JVC (XRCD).
The classic jazz piano trio disc, captured in a superb live recording.
Gil Evans, Out of the Cool. Impulse-Analogue Productions (two 180-gram 45rpm LPs, hybrid SACD).
Showcasing Gil Evans’ brilliance as a writer and arranger, a set of lovely, cerebral jazz meditations in excellent sound.
Ella Fitzgerald, Sings Songs From Let No Man Write My Epitaph. Verve-Classic (200g LP).
This intimate and excellent recording pairs the great singer with only a piano accompanist. “Black Coffee,” “Angel Eyes,” and more never sounded so good
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Ella and Louis. Verve-Speakers Corner (180g vinyl).
Ella and Louis live again in vivid sound—‘nuff said!
Dexter Gordon, Dexter Calling. Blue Note-Analogue Productions (two 180g 45rpm LPs, hybrid SACD).
One of this great tenor’s finest sessions, the sound really pops on this modal-themed outing.
Dexter Gordon, One Flight Up. Blue Note-Cisco (180g LP).
With Donald Bryd on trumpet, a gorgeous session in sumptuous sound.
Billie Holiday, Songs for Distingué Lovers. Verve-Classic (200g LP).
A rare stereoHolidayalbum, this late recording finds her in great form with a small group and superb sound.
Dick Hyman, Dick Hyman Plays Duke Ellington. Reference Recordings (CD).
Presented in knockout sound, a fine pianist interprets a slew of Ellington classics.
Milt Jackson Sextet, Invitation. Riverside-Mobile Fidelity (180g LP, Gold CD).
Surrounded by a small group of superb players, Jackson and his vibes spin pure beauty.
Hank Jones, Jimmy Cobb, Christian McBride, West of 5th. Chesky (multichannel hybrid SACD).
Veterans Cobb (drums) and Jones (piano) team with a young bassist in another superb Chesky recording.
Jackie McLean, Jackie’s Bag. Blue Note-Analogue Productions (two 180g 45rpm LPs, hybrid SACD).
McLeanshows exceptional talents as composer, arranger, and soloist in a series of rhythmically complex tunes that leave you just a little off guard.
Gil Melle, Patterns in Jazz. Blue Note-Music Matters (two 180 gram 45rpm mono LPs)
The first 12-inch platter Rudy Van Gelder recorded for Blue Note is a musically delightful and little-known gem. The mono sound is focused, warm, and beautiful.
Charles Mingus, Ah Um. Columbia (180g rpm LP).
Columbiadid a terrific job with this recent edition of one of Mingus’ finest and funkiest albums.
Charles Mingus, Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus. Impulse-Analogue Productions (two 180g 45rpm LPs).
Mingus gathers a 10-piece group to revisit some of his very best compositions—featuring the great Eric Dolphy.
Thelonious Monk Septet, Monk’s Music. Riverside-Analogue Productions (two 180g 45rpm LPs).
Yo! Monk, Coltrane, and Coleman Hawkins, in a superb set with astonishing sound.
Thelonious Monk Quartet with Johnny Griffin, Thelonious in Action. Riverside-Analogue Productions (two 180g 45rpm LPs).
Recorded at the Five Spot, one of the funkiest, fieriest, and most alive sounding of all jazz records.
The Wes Montgomery Trio, A Dynamic New Sound. Riverside-Analogue Productions (two 180g 45rpm LPs, hybrid SACD).
A terrific set with organ and drums, this legendary jazz guitarist captured in a rich sonic brew.
Lee Morgan, Candy. Blue Note-Music Matters (two 180g 45rpm LPs).
One of the great classic Blue Note LPs, Music Matters’ mono reissue sounds absolutely fabulous.
Gerry Mulligan Meets Scott Hamilton, Soft Lights & Sweet Music. Concord-Mobile Fidelity (hybrid SACD).
Teamed with tenor player Hamilton, Mulligan’s baritone is richly captured in this fine and mellow set.
Oliver Nelson, The Blues and the Abstract Truth. Impulse-Speakers Corner (180g LP).
A gorgeous record—wonderful playing, great tunes, luscious and detailed sonics. Soon to be issued by Analogue Productions on 45rpm LP and hybrid SACD.
Red Norvo Quintet, The Forward Look. Reference Recordings (CD).
One of Keith Johnson’s earliest recordings, this 1957 set is loose, fun, and great sounding.
Horace Parlan, Speakin’ My Piece. Blue Note-Music Matters (two 180-gram 45rpm LPs).
This truly beautiful record displays this funky and soulful pianist’s bluesy side.
Art Pepper, Meets The Rhythm Section. Contemporary-Analogue Productions (180g LP, hybrid SACD).
From Miles Davis’ classic quintet (Jones, Chambers, Garland), one of the greatest sounding of all jazz reissues.
Sonny Rollins, Our Man in Jazz. RCA-Classic (180g LP).
Rollins at his best, improvising in concert with Don Cherry and a fine rhythm section in lifelike sound.
Sonny Rollins, Way Out West. Blue Note-Analogue Productions (180g LP, hybrid SACD).
Rollins dons his chaps for this classic jazz makeover of cowboy tunes. Awesome sound.
The Horace Silver Quintet Plus J.J. Johnson, The Cape Verdean Blues. Blue Note-Music Matters (two 180g 45rpm LPs).
Arguably Silver’s crowning achievement, this hard-bop brew of Cape Verdean/Portuguese folk music and blues never sounded better.
Frank Sinatra, Only the Lonely. Mobile Fidelity (180g LP, gold CD).
This glorious sounding mono reissue unveils Sinatra’s unmatched phrasing, impeccable timing, and emotional expressiveness.
Frank Sinatra, The Voice. Columbia-Classic (180g LP).
Originally released in 1955, this mono recording captured Sinatra’s voice at its most lovely and lyrical. This reissue is exceptionally intimate and natural sounding.
Gabor Szabo, Spellbinder. Euphoria-Sundazed (LP).
In more than good enough sound, Budapest-born Szabo’s gypsystyle standards made a huge impression on Carlos Santana.
Clark Terry, One on One. Chesky (multichannel SACD).
In a string of duets with 14 different pianists, Terry is conjured into the room by Chesky’s superb recording.
Clark Terry, The Chicago Sessions 1994-95. Reference Recordings (CD).
This superbly natural recording finds Terry spinning gold with a fine university band.
Anthony Wilson Trio, Jack of Hearts. Groove Note (two 180g 45rpm LPs, hybrid SACD).
WithWilsonon guitar, accompanied by drums and aHammond B-3, Groove Note has a stunningly real sounding and funky in-thestudio success.