Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Vinyl Gourmet 2016 TOP 15 Vinyl Reissues - Best Of 2016

Another year has passed here at and it's that time of the year when we look back and pick our Top 15 Vinyl Reissues of 2016:

Deutsche Grammophon celebrates Steve Reich's 80th birthday with a deluxe, numbered limited edition of his breakthrough 1974 recording of 'Drumming', 'Music For Mallet Instruments, Voices And Organ', and 'Six Pianos'. Presented in its original 3LP box format, it includes Reich’s original notes with many session photos and first publication of nearly 50 letters he wrote about this amazing recording.

Passion is Pires's keynote. With intensity and drama she relishes Chopin's central storms, creating a vivid and spectacular contrast with all surrounding serenity. Pires makes you hang on to every note, and with her burning clarity she has reinforced our sense of Chopin's stature and created a new range of possibilities. Maria João Pires is among the most eloquent master musicians of our time.

Tarentel's debut album From Bone To Satellite released in 1999 by Temporary Residence, then a new fledgling record label. The vinyl sold out in a matter of weeks, becoming Tarentel's most valuable contribution to the post-rock canon, and quite possibly their zenith. The album title makes clear reference to Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey, and the music is indeed of stellar quality!

Hot Rats cemented Frank Zappa as a musical force to be reckoned with. The album, recorded on a prototype 16-track recorder, sounds as fresh and sonically superior on this 180g audiophile analog edition as it did when first released in 1969. Blending rock and jazz stylings with top call studio musicians, the album opened the door to 'Fusion Music' while putting Zappa on the guitar player map.

Waiting to Exhale was one of the first movies to feature African-American women in leading roles. Its soundtrack took the music industry by storm, topping the Billboard Pop and R&B charts for several weeks. The soundtrack was masterfully produced and mostly written by Babyface, featuring divas Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, Brandy, Toni Braxton and Mary J. Blige.

The Dave Matthews Band celebrates their 25th anniversary with this 20th Anniversary Edition of the their best-selling album, Crash, for the first time on vinyl. The album features some of their biggest hits such as 'Crash Into Me', 'Two Step', '#41', and 'So Much To Say'. Produced by Steve Lillywhite and originally released on RCA Records in 1996, Crash brought the band three Grammy nominations.

In 1973, when this album was released in Japan, Monk had all but disappeared from the scene. Concerts? Far from it! Something new from the studio? No way! The 1963 tour with appearances in Japan and the resulting album offered solidly played favorites such as 'Just A Gigolo' or 'I’m Gettin’ Sentimental Over You' that made the audience and record collectors alike sit up and listen.

Collector's Edition 7LP 45rpm Box! Complete Blues Alley Collection featuring 12 Previously Unreleased Recordings & 8 Never-Before-Heard Songs! Eva Cassidy is remembered in Nightbird which affords everyone the opportunity to experience Eva Cassidy's complete tour de force performance at the Blues Alley jazz club in Washington, D.C. on January 3, 1996 for the first time.

The middle album of Neil Young's 'Ditch Trilogy', 1974's On the Beach was actually recorded after Tonight's the Night but released almost a year prior. Meticulously mastered from the original analog master tapes and pressed on high quality vinyl, this analog reissue presents the album in unsurpassed sound and brings On the Beach back to standalone LP for the first time in decades.

Engineered by Parsons after he performed the same duties on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, I Robot from 1977 remains a true audiophile showcase with extended frequency range and impressive dynamic range. Inspired by Isaac Asimov stories, I Robot delves into themes of artificial intelligence and technological dominance that make the record increasingly relevant in the 21st century.

1980's Once In Every Life served as quintessential romantic balladeer Johnny Hartman's second-to-last album cut at the age of 57 with a smooth and sophisticated quintet. Hartman's baritone voice sounds as rich and mellow as ever and jazz lover Clint Eastwood even used four tracks from Once in Every Life in his acclaimed 1995 film Bridges of Madison County.

Chris Jones, well-known from the Nautilus Tour 2002 as a guitar-virtuoso, arises on his new solo album also as an impressive songwriter and vocalist. The brilliant guitarist from Reno, Nevada, sadly passed away much too early in 2005. His last album with Stockfisch from 2003 has posthumously been established over the years as a de facto standard for audiophile listening tests and demo sessions.

The final album by the original Love lineup, Forever Changes regularly draws epic praise. Rolling Stone described it as 'elegant armageddon', another rave review called it 'one of the most distinctive masterpieces in that era of masterpieces'.  Produced by band frontman Arthur Lee and The Doors' engineer Bruce Botnick, presented here on 2LP 45rpm vinyl for the first time.

This live recording from the famed festival by Lake Geneva qualifies as one of the best piano trio classics of the 1970’s as well as a milestone in Monty Alexander’s catalogue. The 1976 recording captures the moment in his young career when he began to be compared to such giants as Oscar Peterson. Another perfect sounding MPS all analog mastering of this dynamic and exciting recording!

Second studio album from the Carlos Santana band and widely acclaimed as his masterpiece, presented here with corrected stereo channel orientation, newly remastered and sounding better than ever as the result of being expertly remastered from the Original Analog Master Tapes by MFSL with the new Ultradisc One-Step UD1S process!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Monty Alexander Live At Montreux MPS 2016... Improving a Jazz Audiophile Classic!

In the last few years legendary label MPS from Germany has been reissuing some of its famous recordings, and few can be more important, well known and even over-played than Montreux Alexander from 1977, one of the best piano jazz trio recordings ever made in a live setting, and definitely one of the best performances with impressive rhythm and constant excitement, not a dull second on this LP, with a gracious blend of creativity, spontaneity and virtuosity that are not easy to repeat, at least not sounding this good!

I've had my original Germany first pressing release for a while, played it many times at home and audio events, always a show stopper for the sound energy and awe inspiring performances. Clearly an LP engineered to sound larger than life, with a huge "you are there" factor, I've always loved its sound and it never failed to impress me, even if I could tell that it was somewhat exaggerated...

Come 2016, and MPS released a new Montreux Alexander vinyl LP remastered by Dirk Sommer from the Original Analog Master Tapes as part of MPS AAA reissues program featuring all analog mastering chain and 180 Gram Vinyl pressings. I just couldn't resist buying this one and making a serious comparison with my original pressing. I was curious, expecting it to be really good, but what I found was much more than just good, it was a complete paradigm change, from impressive sound, to real sound!

It takes a lot of courage to do this with such an audiophile classic, but they did it. There are huge differences and all for the better, first of all the overall volume is much lower on the reissue, I had to really crank it up a few notches to match the db volume of the original pressing. Then, the second thing that strikes you after the "loudness" is removed, is the natural EQ, the natural sound of all instruments, specially the piano that now makes the original appear a little "glassy", where the original had a pinching quality, the new reissue presents a vivid piano sound with fast transients but not really hammered and with an organic quality that was somehow missing on the original pressing. The third wave of changes comes in the form of present and tonal bass, something that was clearly recessed on the original but now the bass is there, it blooms and helps to recreate the live setting atmosphere with a pneumatic effect and expanded scale. How's that for making a classic sound better than ever?

The piano notes always sounded articulate with impressive transient response, but the decays were always a little tucked in by the pinch of the notes percussion, that has been corrected with the piano sounding more organic and integrated with the rest of the trio. The drums, probably the area where less was changed in terms of sound presentation, retain the same sonic signature with clean extended cymbals and very nice attack to keep the music charging forward with the same energy as before.

So this was a big surprise, because the new remaster brings life back to this recording, what before sounded edgy and intrusive, now sounds natural and real, keeping the original recording spirit untouched, but making it much more a classic live jazz performance. This reissue is where the goods really show, the deep sounds, the breathe of life, a perfect choice to let yourself become immersed in these impressive performances sounding better than ever before.

Overall it can be said that this new reissue presents this amazing and popular performance with a much more balanced EQ, less compression and more resolution, for a more natural and realistic sound, exactly like you'd expect to hear in a live setting. The contrast between slow lower level moments, and the higher paced large volume bursts is now much more obvious with increased dynamics and a sense of crescendos that makes the performance and musicians real, in the room with an expanded view of the live set. The pressing on perfectly silent vinyl is the cherry on top, absolutely highly recommended!

Find it here, at Vinyl Gourmet Online Store:

Monday, June 6, 2016

Bill Evans ‎Some Other Time 2LP 180 Gram Vinyl The Lost Session From The Black Forest

Never before released 1968 studio album by legendary pianist Bill Evans with Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette. Recorded by Georg Brunner-Schwer and Joachim-Ernst Berendt at MPS Studios, Villingen, in The Black Forest in Germany. Special limited edition, exclusive Record Store Day 2016 hand-numbered 2LP set mastered by Bernie Grundman and pressed on 180 Gram vinyl at RTI, USA.

Now out of print, a couple of units available at Vinyl Gourmet online store, here:

  • Limited Edition (4000 units worldwide)
  • Numbered Edition (hand-numbered)
  • Exclusive Record Store Day 2016 Relesase
  • Recording Never Released Before
  • 2LP 180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl
  • Pressed at RTI, USA
  • Mastered by Bernie Grundman
  • 8 Page Insert with exclusive interviews, essays and rare photos
  • Gatefold Cover

Newly unearthed studio session from the iconic pianist Bill Evans, Some Other Time: The Lost Session from The Black Forest is a landmark discovery for jazz listeners around the world. Unique studio recording made on June 20, 1968, five days after the Bill Evans Trio's triumphant performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Only the second album — and the only studio album to feature the Bill Evans in trio, duo and solo configurations with brilliant drummer, Jack DeJohnette, and great bassist and Evans Trio veteran, Eddie Gomez.

8 page booklet features interviews with Bill Evans Trio members Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette and essays by celebrated author and critic Marc Myers, producer Zev Feldman and MPS Studios engineer and studio manager and German jazz authority Friedhelm Schulz, along with extraordinary rare and previously unpublished photographs by David Redfern, Giuseppe Pino, Jan Persson and Hans Harzheim, including two images by German Hasenfratz taken at the June 20, 1968 session.

These recordings were only recently discovered in the Brunner-Schwer family archives. Bill Evans Some Other Time: The Lost Session From the Black Forest, a previously unknown and extremely rare studio album by the Bill Evans Trio recorded on June 20, 1968 by legendary German jazz producers Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer and Joachim-Ernst Berendt. Resonance will release this album — which has never before been issued in any form — on Saturday April 16, 2016 in a special limited-edition hand-numbered two-LP set on Record Store Day.

Track Listing:

LP 1 Side A
01. You Go To My Head
02. Very Early
03. What Kind Of Fool Am I?
04. I'll Remember April
05. My Funny Valentine

LP 1 Side B
06. Baubles, Bangles and Beads
07. Turn Out The Stars
08. It Could Happen To You
09. In A Sentimental Mood
10. These Foolish Things
11. Some Other Time

LP 2 Side C
01. You're Gonna Hear From Me
02. Walkin' Up
03. Baubles, Bangles and Beads
04. It's All Right With Me (Incomplete)
05. What Kind Of Fool Am I?

LP 2 Side D
06. How About You?
07. On Green Dolphin Street
08. Wonder Why
09. Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)
10. You're Gonna Hear From Me (Alternate Take)