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Back Cover

Gryphon Diablo 300

Elizabeth ShepherdLinus 270155
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****1/2
Sound Quality: ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment: ****1/2

I listen to a lot of recordings by jazz singers, and though there might be a bit of difference among them, at times they can all seem to sound alike. So it was with no particular hope that I put this one in the player and sat down to listen. What I heard was a pure breath of fresh air from Canada, an album so original and appealing that it seemed to blow all the cobwebs out of the corners of my listening room.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet: Time OutColumbia/Analogue Productions CAPJ 8192 SA
Format: Hybrid Multichannel SACD

Musical Performance: *****
Sound Quality: *****
Overall Enjoyment: *****

Few jazz recordings from the LP era have enjoyed the enduring popularity of the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Time Out. A brisk seller when released in 1959, it has remained in print ever since, and sold enough copies to be certified platinum. That was a great year for jazz -- Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue and Charles Mingus’s Mingus Ah Um were also released in 1959. All three were produced by Teo Macero, engineered by Fred Plaut, and released by Columbia Records.

Too Much in Love to CareLinn Records
Format: 24-bit/96kHz FLAC (download)

Musical Performance: ****1/2
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****1/2

Midway through Too Much in Love to Care, I thought, "Score another hit for Claire Martin." I hear a lot of music, and always look forward to new albums by a favorite entertainer. Peggy Lee was an example; I gobbled up every new album of hers that I could afford. I didn’t need reviews -- I knew that if Lee had recorded it, it would be wonderful. Claire Martin has become my most eagerly anticipated artist for this decade -- and, as she’s only 45, probably for a few decades to come.

Ray Charles and Betty CarterABC Paramount/Analogue Productions CAPP 385 SA
Format: Hybrid Multichannel SACD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Miles Davis is credited with having brought Betty Carter to the attention of Ray Charles, who used her talents on tour in the late 1950s and recorded this duet album with her in 1961. Charles had switched from Atlantic Records to ABC Paramount, where he could have more control over his master tapes and thus make more residual money, not to mention have more control over his recording sessions.

NightclubPremonition 90763-1
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: *****
Overall Enjoyment: *****

Patricia Barber is an audiophile favorite, and her record label, Premonition, has recently revisited some of her earlier recordings to see if they could be improved on. Although Café Blue was already admired for its sonic quality, last year’s vinyl reissue was a pronounced improvement over both the original CD release and Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab’s reissue. Remixed, remastered, and pressed by RTI on high-quality, 180gm vinyl, this new edition removed some heavy-handed reverb and presents Barber and her band more honestly and likeably.

We Get RequestsVerve/Analogue Productions CVRJ 8606 SA
Format: Hybrid Multichannel SACD

Musical Performance: ****1/2
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: **** 

This 1964 set can polarize jazz lovers. Many find it the consummate recording of this trio, which had been together five years when it was taped. Others think the repertory is trivial. Peterson chose for this set such popular favorites as "Quiet Night of Quiet Stars (Corcovado)," "People," "The Girl from Ipanema," "The Days of Wine and Roses," and "My One and Only Love." Balancing these chestnuts are some slightly less familiar standards: "Have You Met Miss Jones?," "D & E," "You Look Good to Me," and "Time and Again." Here's the formula: Peterson usually makes a clear statement of the tune up front, then goes off on one or more of his incredible variations, manipulations that give him a chance to show off his fleet, refined, and graceful fingerwork. Bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen are virtuosos in their own rights, but also know how to fit in as part of the ensemble. To say that the three are tightly knit is to understate the obvious.

The Voice that Is!Impulse!/Universal Music/Analogue Productions CIPJ 74 SA
Format: Hybrid SACD

Musical Performance: ***1/2
Sound Quality: ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment: ****

The posthumous reputation of jazz singer Johnny Hartman (1923-1983) got a boost in 1995, when Clint Eastwood chose some of his recordings for the soundtrack to The Bridges of Madison County. Hartman had never been a household name. Hardcore jazz fans probably know him best for John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, the sole album by the saxophonist to feature a singer. Coltrane knew Hartman from their brief stints in Dizzy Gillespie’s late-1940s big band, and in 1963 he brought the singer to Impulse! Records, where Hartman would record two more LPs.

Tania Maria: "Tempo"Naïve NJ621711
Format: CD

Musical Performance: *****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: *****

You might have heard of Tania Maria as a Brazilian bombshell whose fusion performances have been spicing up jazz clubs and recordings for 30-plus years. On this album she has just one partner, double bassist Eddie Gomez, known to many for his work with Bill Evans. Tania Maria is earthier than ever on Tempo, on which her singing, piano playing, and composing skills can be easily heard.

Cat Stevens "Tea for the Tillerman"A&M/Analogue Productions CAPP 9135 SA
Format: Hybrid SACD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: *****
Overall Enjoyment: ****½

Tea for the Tillerman was Cat Stevens’s fourth album, and his second with producer Paul Samwell-Smith. Stevens had enjoyed some success in England in 1966 with his first LP, Matthew and Son (Decca), but had been dissatisfied with the production of his second, New Masters, the following year. He was leaning toward a simpler, folk-rock sound, and his producer had made an overly elaborate record that didn’t even chart. After a lengthy recuperation from tuberculosis in 1969, Stevens changed record labels (Island in Europe, A&M in the US), released Mona Bone Jakon in July 1970, and then, just four months later, became an international star with the release of Tea for the Tillerman.

Getz/GilbertoVerve/Analogue Productions CVRJ8545 SA
Format: Stereo SACD/CD

Musical Performance: ****1/2
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****1/2

In the early 1960s, after tenor saxophonist Stan Getz heard Brazilian jazz played with a new beat called bossa nova (Portuguese for “new trend”), he and guitarist Charlie Byrd collaborated on the album Jazz Samba (1962). Having gotten a taste of bossa nova in the soundtrack of the mesmerizing Brazilian film Black Orpheus (1959), US listeners and musicians were primed for something new and innovative, and Jazz Samba was one of those rare jazz albums that topped the pop charts.