New Blu-Rays and CDs for 8-16-13


Experience Montreux - Blu Ray 3D

Genre: Jazz, Pop, Rock, Americana,

Is a 3D Blu-Ray disc as good as being there? Not quite, but at least you don't have to convert your cash into Swiss Francs. Recorded during the 2010 festival, this disc features performances by Quincy Jones, Massive Attack, Elvis Costello, Angelique Kidjo, Joe Banomassa, and Herbie Hancock. The album was dedicated to Montreux producer Claude Nobs, who co-founded the festival and was the producer for 46 years. The sound and picture are both excellent, with immersive sonics and clean vibrant low-noise images. If your tastes lean toward modern jazz/funk you'll find many selections worthy of many repeat performances.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8



Growling Old Men - Chicken Feed and Baling Twine

Genre: Americana, Roots

Growling Old Men is the name adopted by the duo of Ben Winship and John Lowell. On their fourth recording they've added David Thompson's bass and harmony vocals to Winship's mandolin and Lowell's guitar. Material on this album includes two Winship and two Lowell originals as well as Norman Blake's "Billy Gray," and Dirk Powell's "Waterbound' among the tunes The music is intimate and relaxed in a way that only skilled musicians who've played together for many years can achieve. Released on the Snake River Records label, you can buy it directly from the artist's site.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 9, Sonically - 8



Gregory Alan Isakov - The Weatherman

Genre: Singer-songwriter, Folk

On his second release Gregory Alan Isakov continues to expand his unique form of folk music. His songs have a particular bittersweet emotional mood. The sonics, which have a mysterious, almost liquid characteristic, add to the depth of Isakov's music's mood. Although technically "folk" the arrangements are more atmospheric than acoustic, with lots of tempered and EQ'd instruments and layered effects. The final results are texturally intriguing while keeping the emphasis on the songs rather than any technological effects.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8



Adam Steffey - New Primitive

Genre: Bluegrass, Roots

Very few players have had a Gibson signature model mandolin created for them. Adam Steffey is among this elite group. His playing is known for his precise yet driving style. On Steffey's latest release he goes retro - honing down the music to a more basic and stripped down style. Not exactly bluegrass, the music here is more mountain stringband, with frailing banjo courtesy Tina Steffey, Zeb Snyder on guitar, Barry Bales on bass, and Eddie Bond on fiddle. Rather than adding modern ornamentation, on "New Primitive" Steffey and the rest of the band made a conscious effort to play in a more melodically direct style. The results are traditional yet have a fresher, cleaner, sound than traditional olde-timey bands.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8



The Definitive Doc Watson

Genre: Folk

It would be hard to find a folk musician who has been more influential than Doc Watson. Almost everyone who's picked up a metal-string acoustic guitar has been inspired by Doc's music. This new two CD album has 34 of Doc's best cuts compiled by Fred Jasper. It includes most of his classic tunes such as "Black Mountain Rag," "Tennessee Stud," Shady Grove," and "Weary Blues." Mastered by David Glasser at Airshow mastering using the Plangent tape recovery system the sound here is a definite step up from your usual slap and tickle post-mortem best-hits release. Even if you've got a complete Doc Watson collection, the sonics make this a very worthwhile acquisition.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 9, Sonically - 9



The Deadly Gentlemen - Roll Me, Tumble Me

Genre: Modern Acoustic, Bluegrass

What happens when you combine bluegrass, jazz, hip-hop, and old timey music? You might, if you are extremely lucky, come up with something that sounds like the Deadly Gentlemen. This quintet includes three Berkelee Music School grads as well as one of the most innovative five-string banjo players I've heard. Greg Lizst. This "new generation" string band even has David Grisman's son, Samson, on acoustic bass. Their music is raucous at times, but always played with virtuosic perfection. If the Punch Brothers and Crooked Still float your boat, you are going to love these gents.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 9, Sonically - 8

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