It’s the time of year for saving money!
I continue to be impressed by the sonic quality of the Master Music series; XRCD 24 Bit Super Analog, audiophile quality works from JVC in Japan. My latest review sample is from the Duke Jordan Trio. On So Nice Duke, Duke Jordan, along with a bassist and a drummer supplies five covers of standards and two original works. Recorded on June 4, 1982, this 2014 remaster of traditional jazz is both sonically and musically magnificent. With the sound quality of the XRCD 24 mastering process, this work by Duke Jordan is something that can be enjoyed not only for the sonic quality but also for the enjoyment factor of the music. If you like traditional, small-scale, trio style jazz, you’ll like this one.
The Ying Quartet occupies a place of prominence in the classical music world and particularly so in specific regard to chamber music. They have performed in many of the world’s most prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House. This work is comprised of three Schumann string quartets originally composed in 1842. When Op. 41 Nos. 1,2 and 3 are considered as a set, and that they were originally written in a few short weeks, the simple elegance at times, the dynamic energy at times, and still other times with subtlety and nuance, the performance is all the more impressive. If you like Schumann this is a selection that will be played over and over again. My review sample contained both the Pure Audio Blu-ray version and also the standard CD version. While the Blu-ray Audio version was marginally superior sonically, both were quite musically satisfying.
Loretta at her finest. And in case you don’t know who Loretta might be, it is the name of the guitar Chris Cortez had custom built just for this project. Cortez is a standout guitarist and Top Secret includes a couple of original tracks but also some diverse covers. For instance, and done in a fast paced, jazz guitar style, you will find a cover of Earth, Wind and Fire’s That’s The Way of the World. Contrast that to the classic Stompin” At The Savoy and Leon Russell’s This Masquerade and what results is a new take on classic tunes from a variety of genres. Not overdone, mostly simple and down to Earth, but not really ever subdued, this is a jazz guitarist with a new six string named Loretta that just goes.
Originally from Western Massachusetts, Andrew DiRuzza was a featured performer from 2013 to 2014 at the Iowa City jazz festival. His influence is quite varied, and in this release, the goal was a cross between traditional and contemporary jazz styles. DiRuzza is technically skilled on the guitar and tenor sax, keyboards, bass and drums compliment the quintet. Shapes And Analogies is a great example of a skilled guitarist, bandleader, composer and improviser and a release that is captivating in a traditional jazz style.
Nazia (“Naz”) Chaudry is the featured jazz soloist with the internationally acclaimed South Florida vocal group Jubilate and has performed with them throughout the world. Among her vocal credits include performances with Bobby McFerrin and Harry Belafonte, concerts at the Kennedy Center, The London Symphony Orchestra and the New World Symphony. Chaudry’s voice on her debut release seems effortless and her ability to convey emotion perfectly at ease. This ten-track work is a variety of music all performed in a very pleasing and soothing style. Covers include Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time, If I Loved You by Rogers & Hammerstein and my particular favorite, Fly Me To The Moon (originally titled “In Other Words”) by Bart Howard. All ten tracks have a simple elegance that just conveys relaxation.
This selection headlined by Brian May and Kerry Ellis contains both a Blu-Ray recording of a live performance at the Montreaux Jazz Festival, and also a CD of a UK concert titled “The Candlelight Concerts” recorded live. Dr. Brian May of Queen fame, and also an astrophysicist, basically needs little introduction. Kerry Ellis is a UK born musical theater actress now crossed over into strictly music. Both the Montreaux jazz festival as well as the UK concert is May on acoustic and electric guitars with little or no accompaniment. Kerry Ellis’ voice on both is positively mesmerizing. The Montreaux concert and the UK concerts mostly mirror each other in terms of content, however, the tracks are not exactly identical. Officially this was the Born Free tour. Born Free, of course, was the classic title song from the 1966 movie about a rehabilitated lion. Both concerts were intended to raise awareness of animal rights – one of May’s causes. Other covers include a Queen favorite called “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” Well no surprise there. In fact, there are several Queen songs performed on both the Blu-ray and the CD. And yes, We Will Rock You makes an appearance. There is also a wonderful rendition of Barbara Streisand’s timeless classic The Way We Were. I’m not so sure I didn’t like this one just a little better. There is also a cover of the Kansas hit- “Dust In The Wind” as well as a number of other noted songs by a wide range of artists. I tried to pick which was my favorite musically – the Blu-ray or the CD. Ultimately, I called it a draw. Because frankly, I was blown away by both. This was fantastic.