Today we take high fidelity sound quality for granted, but how did it start? When was the moment when compressed and scratchy sound gave way to natural, realistic sound that captured the whole picture of a performance?
Decca Sound ‘Mono Years’ seeks to answer that question and shows how, 70 years ago, amidst war-time privations, a small team at Decca made technological breakthroughs that brought hi-fi to the world. This latest cube explores Decca’s earliest high-fidelity history, and restores some restores critically acclaimed albums from ensembles such as the Trio di Trieste, Quintetto Chigiano and Griller Quartet which have not been available since their original LP release more than sixty years ago. An equally impressive array of soloists includes pianists Clifford Curzon, Julius Katchen, Friedrich Gulda and Moura Lypmany and violinists Ruggiero Ricci and Alfredo Campoli. Several generations of cellists are represented with recordings by Pierre Fournier, Maurice Gendron and Zara Nelsova.
While its title and cover certainly suggest a record firmly in the bachelor pad/lounge music camp, Cool and Sparkling: The Liquid Sounds of Paul Smith nevertheless boasts a melodic ingenuity and technical emphasis that reward deeper listening. What keyboardist Smith dubs "liquid sound" is in fact a space-age pop precursor to soul-jazz, with an energy and groove all its own. Aided by clarinetist Abe Most, guitarist Tony Rizzi, and bassist Sam Cheifitz, Smith is too good a player and too clever a composer to settle for mere background music – structure is as important here as sound, and while Cool and Sparkling blends effortlessly with its surroundings, it never sacrifices substance for style.
Orbison recorded the majority of his best work between the mid ‘50s and the early ‘60s, including hits like “Only the Lonely,” “Ooby Dooby,” “Running Scared,” “Crying,” “Dream Baby,” and “Workin' for the Man,” to name just a few. The aforementioned songs, and many others, have been included on this essential CD, which compiles all of Roy Orbison's 7” singles (A & B sides) released between 1956 and 1962 by such iconic labels as Sun, RCA, and Monument. The original gems presented here have been brilliantly remastered to achieve the most pristine sound. These sides helped to consolidate “The Big O” (Orbison's nickname) as one of the all-time-great singers.
When one thinks of altoist/flutist Bud Shank's recordings of the 1950s, it is normally of his work with Stan Kenton's orchestra or collaborations with Laurindo Almeida or Bob Cooper. However, Shank led a superior quartet from 1956-1958 that also included pianist Claude Williamson, bassist Don Prell, and either Chuck Flores or Jimmy Pratt on drums. This typically magnificent five-CD limited-edition box set from Mosaic has the quartet's four albums (including a set that was recorded in Johannesburg, South Africa), a selection by Shank with a sextet that includes vibraphonist Larry Bunker, and three slightly later sets.
Yves Nat made most of his recordings near the end of his life, after he had been diagnosed with a fatal disease, long after he had ended his concert career. Knowing these factors, you might hope to hear some superb interpretations even if the pianist’s technique may be compromised. The surprise is that Nat’s playing on most of his recordings is so immensely powerful.