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Muddy Waters – Folk Singer (1964/2011) [Official Digital Download DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz]

Muddy Waters – Folk Singer (1964/2011)
DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz  | Time – 00:40:33 minutes | 1.6 GB | Genre: Blues
Official Digital Download – Source: acousticsounds | © Chess Records
Recorded: September 1963, Tel Mar Recording Studios, Chicago, Illinois

There are a handful of landmark albums in any genre. In the blues, one of them is Muddy Waters’ Folk Singer. Originally released in 1964, Folk Singer was the only acoustic album Waters ever recorded, thus becoming the first and perhaps best blues concept album ever. Muddy of course started out playing acoustic blues in the Delta, and he’s clearly very comfortable in this return to his roots, which was designed to appeal to the mid-1960s surge of interest in folk music.

Muddy’s rich vibrant tones, sometimes pleading, sometimes whispering, occasionally shouting and chanting, tells us the story of a blues singer or for lack of a better word- a folk singer who can’t tell you his story the same way more than once, whose interpretation changes as his mood and nostalgia serves him as on that one memorable day I asked Muddy to sing “The Blues.”

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Symphonies Nos. 35-41 – Berliner Philharmoniker, Karl Bohm (1995/2015) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Symphonies Nos. 35-41 – Berliner Philharmoniker, Karl Bohm (1995/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz  | Time – 02:26:46 minutes | 2.84 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: prestoclassical.co.uk | © Deutsche Grammophon
Recorded: (#36, 39) February 1966, (#35, 38) October 1959, (#40) December 1961, (#41) March 1962 at Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, Germany

These performances come from the first ever complete set of the Mozart symphonies, dating from the 1960s, and they still represent ‘big orchestra’ Mozart at its most congenial. The contrast here between Bohm’s sparkling Mozart, both elegant and vigorous, and the much smoother view taken by Karajan with the same orchestra, works almost entirely in Bohm’s favour. Interpretatively, these are performances very much of their time, with exposition repeats the exception (as in the first movement of No. 40) and with Minuets taken at what now seem lumbering speeds. Yet slow movements flow easily, and finales bounce along infectiously. Consistently they convey the happy ease of Bohm in Mozart, even if the recording is beefy by today’s standards, not as transparent as one now expects in this repertory, whether on modern or period instruments.

There is some inconsistency between the different recordings, all made in the Jesus-Christus Kirche in Berlin between 1959 and 1966. The best sound comes from the sessions in 1966 for the Linz and No. 39 – satisfyingly full with no edginess on violins – and the least good from 1959 for the Prague, where high violins sound rather fizzy. Yet the very precision of the CD transfers encourages one to highlight such points. In practice most collectors will find the sound more than acceptable enough in all six symphonies to convey the warmth of Bohm in Mozart without distraction. Peter Cosse contributes an informative note on Bohm, rightly bringing out his ”natural, unforced approach to Mozart”, but much of the booklet is given over to advertising the other issues in The Originals series. After all, what harm is there in encouraging nostalgia by making the CDs look like vintage LPs and by reproducing the original sleeve designs? –Edward Greenfield, Gramophone

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Piano Concertos Nos. 23 & 19 – Maurizio Pollini, Wiener Philharmoniker, Karl Bohm (1976/2012) [Official Digital Download 24bit/192kHz]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Piano Concertos Nos. 23 & 19 – Maurizio Pollini, Wiener Philharmoniker, Karl Bohm (1976/2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz  | Time – 00:55:10 minutes | 1,82 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: e-onkyo.com | © Deutsche Grammophon
Recorded: April 1976 at Grosser Saal, Musikverein, Wien, Austria

[One] of the best versions of these works we have had in recent years… [O]ne could say that in general Pollini is a shade more open and direct in his projection of the solo part than Perahia, so that there are times when he suggests a greater freshness of feeling… Pollini is robuster in the finales, more overtly brilliant… Comments such as these are inadequate to pin down the qualities of…magnificent artists at the top of their form… –Gramophone

. . . la version de Maurizio Pollini, d’un luxe sonore inoui, présente une synthèse entre les grandes versions symphoniques et les approches chambristes, entre la simplicité de chant et la maîtrise supérieure de la forme . . . Il faudra attendre Wilhelm Kempff et la stéréo pour qu’enfin justice soit rendue à un ancien. La tendresse, la clarté, le style déclamatoire du pianiste sont incomparable. –Bertrand Dermoncourt, Classica – Repertoire

Pollini plays with classical poise and clarity, and the accompaniment, from Karl Böhm and the Vienna Philharmonic, is very lively . . . as a Mozartian he was almost faultless. –David Mellor, Mail on Sunday

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Claudio Monteverdi – Vespers of 1610 – The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (2014) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Claudio Monteverdi – Vespers of 1610 – The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz  | Time – 01:46:02 minutes | 1,76 GB | Genre: Classical, Baroque, Choral
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | © Coro/The Sixteen Productions Ltd.
Recorded: St Augustine’s Church, Kilburn, London, 31 March – 3 April 2014

Following the success of their Monteverdi Selva morale e spirituale recordings, The Sixteen and Harry Christophers release a work often classed as one of the most significant collections of sacred music ever written: Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610. It is a work grand in conception and structure; revolutionary techniques established in his secular music, such as recitar cantando – speak through singing – are brought to the church platform with stunning effect.

Harry writes: ‘Its variety alone makes it unique – thrilling psalm settings with virtuosic writing for both multi-part choir and instrumentalists to exotic and sensual settings of texts from the Song of Songs for solo voices. Every movement is full of luscious harmonies, drama and an evocative musical language which is so beautifully constructed for all concerned.’

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Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton: This Is Stones Throw Records (2013) Blu-ray 1080p AVC DTS-HD 5.1

Title: Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton: This Is Stones Throw Records
Released: 2013
Genre: Documentary, Biography, Music
Director: Jeff Broadway
Cast: Common, Mike Diamond, Daniel Dumile, Flying Lotus, Mayer Hawthorne, Thebe Kgositsile, Talib Kweli, Madlib, Oh No, Amir Ghalib Thompson

Issued: United States, United Kingdom
Duration: 1:32:53
Size: 22.44 GB

OUR VINYL WEIGHS A TON: THIS IS STONES THROW RECORDS is a feature-length documentary about avant-garde Los Angeles-based record label Stones Throw Records. The film weaves together rare concert footage, never-before-seen archival material, inner-circle home video and photographs and in-depth interviews with the artists who put Stones Throw Records on the map. OUR VINYL WEIGHS A TON: THIS IS STONES THROW RECORDS gives an exclusive look into the label’s left-of-center artists, history, culture, and global following. The film features exclusive interviews with Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Common, Talib Kweli, Mike D, Tyler, The Creator, and many more.

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Keith Jarrett – The Survivors’ Suite (1977/2015) [Official Digital Download 24bit/192kHz]

Keith Jarrett – The Survivors’ Suite (1977/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz  | Time – 00:48:39 minutes | 1,7 GB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © ECM Records GmbH
Recorded: April 1976 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg.

A quick perusal of the personnel and mechanics of this album is practically all one needs to get an idea of the tonal colors and moods with which its imagery is composed. The Survivors’ Suite finds Jarrett in a multi-instrumental role along with the all-star cast that makes up his American Quartet. The sheer synergy of the playing truly makes this music shimmer. For this reason, I hesitate to single out particular solos and motifs. Suffice it to say each member has his moment of glory in the concisely knit fabric of the album’s 49-minute duration.

The music shifts dramatically from soulful dirges to upbeat thematic variations in a vibrant flow of ideas. A sense of control reigns. One never feels lost while listening (or is, in fact, lost but doesn’t care), for the surroundings are so resplendent with life. This is a supremely evocative experience and the similarity of associations it has inspired in so many listeners is striking to say the least (peruse a few other reviews, and you’ll see what I mean). The Survivors’ Suite reaches beyond jazz, even if firmly rooted in jazz’s soil. Its sound is vast yet intimate, breathing with the sheer life force of its music-makers. There is a marked difference between its two sections, simply titled “Beginning” and “Conclusion.” They are not polar opposites and are more than complementary. They walk the same trails, perhaps pointing out different sights along the way, all the while knowing they will soon meet again. Where the former is timid yet progressive, the latter is democratic and viscous.

This is, without a doubt, a high point among Jarrett’s many ECM outings. It is expertly recorded (as evidenced by its superb balance of warmth and coolness), fluidly played, and widely cherished, as I am sure it will continue to be for decades to come. –ecmreviews.com

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Keith Jarrett – Shades (1976/2015) [Official Digital Download 24bit/192kHz]

Keith Jarrett – Shades (1976/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz  | Time – 00:33:59 minutes | 1,36 GB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | © Impulse! Records , The Verve Music Group
Recorded: Tracks 1, 3 recorded December 11, 1975; Tracks 2, 4 recorded December 12, 1975 at Generation Sound Studios, NYC

Pianist Keith Jarrett’s mid-’70s quintet was the strongest regular group that he ever led and all of its recordings (even some that ramble a bit) are worth picking up. Thanks to its strong start, Shades is one of this unit’s most rewarding recordings. “Shades of Jazz” has a memorable melody and logical (if unpredictable) improvisations by Jarrett and tenor-saxophonist Dewey Redman. The momentum slows down a bit with the gospellish “Southern Smiles” and “Rose Petals” but picks up again with the final number, the rather intense “Diatribe,” an excellent vehicle for this classic group. Throughout, bassist Charlie Haden, drummer Paul Motian and percussionist Guilherme Franco keep the band’s juices flowing. –Scott Yanow

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Keith Jarrett – Mysteries (1976/2015) [Official Digital Download 24bit/192kHz]

Keith Jarrett – Mysteries (1976/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz  | Time – 00:42:16 minutes | 1,6 GB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | © Impulse! Records , The Verve Music Group
Recorded: Generation Sound, NYC, December 1975

Mysteries was originally released in 1976 and features performances by Keith Jarrett’s ‘American Quartet’. It was produced by Esmond Edwards and recorded at Generation Sound Studios in New York City.

Another in Impulse’s extensive series of Keith Jarrett Quintet recordings, this CD isn’t one of the more coherent products of the run. It opens on a faltering note with the hopelessly diffuse and rambling “Rotation,” and “Everything That Lives Laments” doesn’t really get going until a lyrical Vince Guaraldi-like statement from Jarrett sets the track in motion. “Flame” is certainly novel, with Jarrett on Pakistani flute and Dewey Redman on Chinese musette, which combined with the percussion makes for a diverting India/Third World jam. The Coltrane-ish 15-minute title track has passages of meditative beauty and others of listless torpor. For completists only. –Richard S. Ginell

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Keith Jarrett – Fort Yawuh (1973/2015) [Official Digital Download 24bit/192kHz]

Keith Jarrett – Fort Yawuh (1973/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz  | Time – 00:42:12 minutes | 1,7 GB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | © Impulse! Records , The Verve Music Group
Recorded live at the Village Vanguard, New York City on February 24, 1973.

Fort Yawuh is one of Jarrett’s early acoustic albums.

On Fort Yawuh, Keith Jarrett is joined by Dewey Redman (tenor sax), Charlie Haden (bass), Paul Motian (drums), and Danny Johnson (percussion) to produce this set recorded live at the legendary Village Vanguard in New York City on February 24, 1973. About two minutes into “Fort Yawuh,” Jarrett prepares the listener for a piano solo by announcing himself with quick and sharp keyboard jabs that evolve into spared and beautiful crescendos that before too long involve the soulful wails of Redman on the sax. The following song, “De Drums,” is the one track that really swings on this album. Another long one, at 12 minutes in length, “De Drums” is much more focused on a steady and consistent rhythm that is established immediately by a smooth five-note bassline accented by the piano and shakers. Although describable as smooth and cool, this song has a palpable energy perhaps due to the construction of the bassline whose pauses give an enjoyable sense of suspense. A little more than five minutes into this song there is a thematic shift that speeds up the tempo and makes this title swing even more while involving Redman’s sax and Motian’s drum kit. Half past the eight-minute mark the tempo settles back down to its original drawl, and the song finishes with a lazy bop that makes this the standout track on the album. Fans of Jarrett’s avant-garde liberalism will find “De Drums” to be the track most unlike the other four selections on this album. “Still Life, Still Life” is more like a ballad in that it’s very slow, but it still maintains the structural freedom featured in the “Fort Yawuh,” “(If the) Mysfits (Wear It),” and “Roads Traveled, Roads Veiled.” –Qa’id Jacobs

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Keith Jarrett – Facing You (1972/2015) [Official Digital Download 24bit/192kHz]

Keith Jarrett – Facing You (1972/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz  | Time – 00:47:39 minutes | 1,53 GB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © ECM Records GmbH
Recorded: November 10, 1971 at Arne Bendiksen Studio, Oslo

The stunning ECM debut that unleashed one of the greatest piano players of our time. Using jazz as an excuse, Jarrett initiated and indoctrinated us with improvised solo piano, something to which listeners would become used to over the next three decades. Facing You is boogie-woogie, country hoedown, blues, folk, rock ‘n’ roll-flavoured jazz, and is still an astonishing album. The music press at the time of issue were bereft of ideas about how to categorize him; it would have been much simpler just to wallow in the music. Much of Jarrett’s and Manfred Eicher’s future musical philosophy started out with this important record.

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