Fortunately, the batches come frequent-ly. The latest releases, as I write in late October 2020, are very solid, musically and sonically.
Herbie Hancock’s reputation, at least with me and I think generally, is as a pianist of great versatility, which is to say, he is all over the place stylistically. That’s true on My Point of View, Hancock’s second record as a leader, which veers from soul-jazz (with Grant Green on guitar on several tracks, including “Blind Man, Blind Man” and the final track, “And What If I Don’t”), to modal jazz (at least it sounds modal to me; I’m thinking of “King Cobra” here) and to straight-ahead hard bop. All six cuts are Hancock compositions. I’m a sucker for that 1960s groove, so for me, the supersimple, unpretentious soul-jazz tracks are the record’s highlights.
Like most Blue Notes of its era, My Point of View was first issued in mono; it is reissued here in stereo. As for sonics, there’s some variation from track to track; “A Tribute to Someone” sounds very fine indeed. On other tracks, the sound is slightly fuzzy, a little hooded. In general, the horns come off well, especially Donald Byrd’s trumpet. The piano is less muffled than it sometimes is on Rudy Van Gelder recordings. Chuck Israels’s bass is balanced well— prominent—but also a little wooly: Some things even mastering engineer Kevin Gray can’t fix. The vinyl is flat, clean, and quiet.
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The magnificent eight
The Story of the Grateful Dead, a 14-LP, 8-album collection of Grateful Dead recordings with booklet and deluxe packaging, from Vinyl Me, Please (VMP-A006, 2020), is intended as a curated sampling of the high points in the Dead’s extensive catalog. The first seven albums were cut from analog tape, while Without a Net comes from the original digital master. The sound is breathtaking.
T+A Solitaire P headphones and HA 200 DACheadphone amplifier
What I categorize as mainstream, dealer-based, fancy-pants stream-ers and big-speakers audio is actually only the gold-plated tip of a gigantic asteroid-like monolith that extends (underground) from New York to Hong Kong, from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica. This immense audio-social mass is mostly invisible to the Madison Avenue mainstream, but simple Google searches expose millions of proletarian audio-gear constructers (DIY’ers) working in shops, basements, and garages, scratch-building everything from turntables to tonearms to phono cartridges, to capacitors and vacuum tubes, to amplifiers, headphones, ribbon and electrostatic speakers.
MAKE MORE NOISE!
The title of this set—4 CDs and a book—comes from British suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst’s call to arms for women to fight for their rights: “You have to make more noise than anybody else,” said Pankhurst, who died in 1928.
EDITOR’S PICK - RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Landscape into music
It says something about the power of music that some individuals fading into dementia can still recognize the music they knew earlier in their lives. Not to denigrate new music, or music one hasn’t heard before, but our mental jukeboxes award top chart numbers to music that we have lived with over time. Those DJs making their playlists in our brain are the toughest of critics. They don’t care what anyone else might think, “Close to You” is staying in the rotation. Music and memory are linked.
Some great new reissues
For jazz fans, a new batch of releases in Blue Note’s Tone Poet series—vinyl reissues remastered with care and cut from the original analog tapes—is the reason for celebration.
PS Audio Stellar M1200
MONOBLOCK POWER AMPLIFIER
Marantz Model 30
KEF LS50 Meta LOUDSPEAKER