A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)

A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jun 01, 2015  |  0 comments
44. 1kHz/24-bit WAV/FLAC/ALAC, Naim CD210 (supplied bywww. naimlabel. com) So what’s with the Hitchcockian title? Well, London-based trio Troyka tells us the title of its new album comes from guitarist Chris Montague’s fear of birds – this ‘escalated into an album set in a fictionalised London: a post-apocalyptic dystopian nightmare in which people have contracted a form of avian flu that is slowly turning them into human-size birds’.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jun 01, 2015  |  0 comments
Belgian singer/songwriter Caroll Vanwelden takes another stab at the Bard’s back-catalogue with this collection – the follow-up to her first disc of sonnets, released a couple of years back. Ms Vanwelden has a decent set of pipes, which are unleashed full-blast on tracks such as her take on Sonnet 124: ‘If My Dear Love’. She is well recorded, as is her backing trio of Thomas Siffling (brass), Mini Schulz (bass) and Rodrigo Villalon (drums), even if the overall sound is perhaps a bit ‘in yer face’ and relentless in some instances. However, her vocal style is somewhat mannered, at times sounding almost like a parody of female jazz singers, and the incongruity of this and the words being sung, plus a sense that there’s often a disconnect between the subject-matter of the sonnet and the music we hear, makes this set something of an acquired taste.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Jun 01, 2015  |  0 comments
We’ve only just been introduced, and already 32-year-old Cuban-born Ms Pacheco is sitting at her piano in just her drawers – what is one to think? Actually, Marialy Pacheco already has six previous releases under her belt (not that she’s wearing one), and is an acclaimed classical and jazz pianist. This is simply her first album for the Neuklang label, and finds Pacheco going back to her Havana roots, accompanied by Colombian bassist and drummer Juan Camillo Villa and Miguel Altamar. It’s a tight little trio, able to kick back on tracks such as ‘Cambodian Smiles’ or motor through ‘En El Camino’, while the album centres around the pianist’s three-part ‘Cuban Suite’, exploring the country’s dance styles. And the ‘klang’ here is certainly impressive: yes, the piano is rather spotlit, but the bass and drums are resolved well, and this is a very attractive-sounding set.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  May 01, 2015  |  0 comments
Blank & Jones is not so much a band as a brand: a duo of producers specialising in trance, techno and electronica, based in Köln, Germany and with a dozen or so albums and even more singles to their name since they got together to create Sunrise back in 1997. All of which might suggest what to expect here: banging choons, and a bit of ambient trippiness, right? Erm, no: here the duo teams up with German pianist and composer Marcus Loeber to create an album all about intimately recorded solo piano, playing gentle, melodic pieces. And that’s about it: this is, as the title suggests, a relaxed, slow-paced set of tracks, none of them especially memorable but all suitably chilled out. The piano sounds nicely weighted and detailed, and the whole thing might be just the thing to play at a dinner party (or a laid-back hi-fi show demonstration).
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  May 01, 2015  |  0 comments
There’s nothing like being ambitious: according to Punch Brothers lead singer and mandolin player Chris Thile, this album grew out of the question ‘how do we cultivate beautiful, three-dimensional experiences with our fellow man in this day and age?’. So we have songs about recognising a song – the epic ‘Familiarity’, all ten minutes plus of it – and about shining your light by holding a smartphone in the air at a gig, complete with a backing chorus comprising vocals submitted by fans, these two topping and tailing the set. All sound a bit icky and navel-gazing? Far from it: with the assured production of T Bone Burnett, some serious dynamics and close focus on the performers, this set is at turns attention-grabbing, unpredictable, quirky and sincere. It swings from folk to classical to even a little rocky, but all in a good way, and is hard not to like.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  May 01, 2015  |  0 comments
The veteran vibes player Bobby Hutcherson marks his return to the venerable Blue Note label with this all-star set, produced by label president Don Was and with an all-star line-up including saxophonist David Sanborn, organist Joey DeFrancesco, and drummer Billy Hart. None of these stalwart performers are exactly strangers to the recording studio thanks to extensive careers. As you might expect, this is a joyful set, with DeFrancesco’s Hammond bouncing off Hutcherson’s understated vibes, and assured rhythm-keeping by Hart. It’s a relaxed, good-time set of tunes, played by a bunch of old masters completely at ease with themselves and what the others are doing.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 02, 2015  |  0 comments
Recorded by the Swiss Italian-language broadcaster RSI, this album by oudist Anouar Brahem apparently draws its inspiration from the recent political and social traumas of his native Tunisia. It sees Brahem’s lute-like instrument front and centre in the mix. He’s helped by close miking, and partnered by Francois Couturier (piano), Klaus Gesing (bass clarinet) and Bjorn Meyer (bass) – oh, and the small matter of the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana. Here the orchestra performs the function of the backing drone so often heard in Middle Eastern and North African music, underpinning Brahem’s lyrical, reflective playing and the rich interjections of Gesing’s clarinet.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 02, 2015  |  0 comments
Jazz pianist Vijay Iver’s been busy of late: having changed label from ACT to ECM last year, he’s managed to put out three albums, of which this is the latest, as well as being appointed a Professor of the Arts at Harvard. Here he rejoins with long-term travelling companions Stephan Crump on double-bass and Marcus Gilmore wielding the sticks – the three have been playing together for over a decade – for a set combining Iver’s takes on some jazz classics as well as self-compositions. Iver and company pay tribute to Monk, Coltrane and Strayhorn with impressive takes on ‘Work’, ‘Countdown’ and ‘Blood Count’ respectively, but it’s in the original pieces that there’s the strongest sense of musicians who know each other well both locking together and playing off each other. It’s all recorded with typical ECM clarity by label founder Manfred Eicher.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Apr 02, 2015  |  0 comments
Almost 50 years on, this is the companion to Dylan’s original The Basement Tapes album. In 2013 Dylan’s publisher sent musician and producer T Bone Burnett a collection of lyrics unused at the time of the original sessions. Burnett then assembled a group of musicians including Elvis Costello, Jim James and Marcus Mumford to compose music for these lyrics. Of 40 recorded, the 20 tracks here make up Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes Vol 1.
A. Everard (Music); P. Miller (Lab)  |  Mar 06, 2015  |  0 comments
Coming to this one hot on the heels of the Craig Armstrong's It's Nearly Tomorrow, it might be tempting to think ‘Not another album of film music’, but though German-born saxophonist Jason Seizer has created an album drawing on music from some celebrated movies, he combines with his band – Pablo Held on piano, Matthias Pichler on bass and drummer Fabian Arends – to come up with a set that’s both smooth of sound and perfect for a little late-night listening. Not surprisingly Seizer’s breathy sax is to the fore, underpinned by delicate playing from his fellow musicians, with plenty of brushwork and cymbals in the percussion department, a rich, warm bass and every touch of the piano crystal-clear. It’s not the most challenging jazz album you’ve ever heard, but the musicianship is beyond question, and the recorded sound serves the performers well. AE Sound Quality: 85% Hi-Fi News Lab Report Digitally recorded and mastered, this 96kHz rendering offers very low levels of white noise (hiss).

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