Acoustic Sounds

Music Reviews: Vinyl

In 1961, John Lee Hooker recorded "Burnin’", an album accompanied by an early version of Motown's legendary Funk Brothers band for Vee Jay Records in one session, probably four hours in length. Vee Jay was an independent label based in Chicago, owned by an African American married couple, Vivian Carter and James Bracken, which had achieved considerable success selling R&B, blues, gospel, and jazz records to Black audiences. Hooker had been recording... Read More

genre Blues format Vinyl

Olivia Jean is a jack of all trades. When a demo of Olivia Jean’s material found its way into Jack White’s hands in 2009, she relocated to Nashville and joined Third Man Records’ (founded by White) stable of artists. After carving her way as a session musician for the likes of Wanda Jackson and Karen Elson, in 2010 Olivia became the lead vocalist/guitarist/primary songwriter of the all-female garage goth band The Black Belles. The material that didn’t quite fit the... Read More

genre Rock format Vinyl

Back in 2014 when I was an undergraduate student at the Manhattan School of Music, I remember the Jazz department in a perpetual uproar over the release of the film Whiplash. It seems every Jazz musician I knew had something to say about that movie, from praise to condemnation, from astonishment at what it got right, to a laundry list of everything it got wrong (it didn’t help that supposedly the fictional “Schaefer Conservatory” was based on our own institution).... Read More

Why saxophonist Harold Vick's Blue Note debut as bandleader was also his last, isn't clear. It certainly couldn't have been because the session was a musical disappointment. Far from it! Maybe it's because the date produced an album closer to the hard charging warm up for an r&b review than what Blue Note was typically releasing in 1963. Vick had played with all here but trumpeter Blue Mitchell and all had played in or skirted the r&b... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

Two new LPs from Yarlung Records offer great sound and even greater performances.

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genre Classical Acoustic format Vinyl

Live albums aren’t always my preferred format. Sure, there are certain tracks that I’ve grown accustomed to hearing performed in the live vein, but I’m not often excited about the prospect of an album “captured” in a live setting, or of a particularly excellent live recording. I’m primarily interested in music that’s created in the studio; that’s what I consider the recording artist's ultimate canvas. However, Hungarian guitarist Gabor Szabo is one of my... Read More

genre Jazz Jazz-Funk format Vinyl

ECM is arguably the most influential jazz label since the heydays of Blue Note and Impulse!. The German label recently announced Luminessence, its first ever audiophile vinyl reissue series. The two first releases, reviewed here, are Kenny Wheeler's Gnu High and Nana Vasconcelos' Saudades.

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genre Jazz Acoustic format Vinyl

Ducks aren't an endangered species but in 2023 feedback drenched, electric guitar driven 4/4 rock music so popular in the 1970s seems to be just about over, Jack White and a few others notwithstanding. While Crazy Horse is Neil Young's best known live collaborator, the Ducks prove they are equally worthy on this adrenaline producing 3 LP live set recorded summer, 1977, Santa Cruz, California—and the sound recorded by Tim Mulligan is remarkably hi-fi... Read More

genre Rock Grunge format Vinyl

Zev Feldman's Jazz Detective label lived up to its name with the discovery of two previously unreleased and unheard since their first airing in 1979 on Dutch Radio, Chet Baker performances, released for RSD 2023 as a double LP set. Unlike many newly discovered recordings, this one's excellent sound matches the quality of the music.

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genre Jazz Cool Jazz format Vinyl

As someone who’d missed the early psycho-garage days and didn’t care all that much for the “Jelly” song, I was fully unprepared for the full force of what the Flaming Lips had become when they touched down in Athens, Georgia in September of 2000. Sure, the LSD helped, but long before we were inside of its fluorescent metallic grip, it was clear that the Category-5 euphoria of their live show could not be denied. Let’s remember that at the time, they were performing as... Read More

After a failed Netflix deal to put Gorillaz cartoon band members into a full length film, Damon Albarn and illustrator Jamie Hewlett regroup under a slick pop banner to deliver album number eight with the help of mega-producer Greg Kurstin.

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Upon reaching a certain age, it’s inevitable to ponder the impending end of the run, to embrace - as Warren Zevon once wryly observed - the importance of enjoying every sandwich. Unfortunately, these thoughts aren’t reserved only for card-carrying members of the octogenarian or nonagenarian membership club. The reality is that this experience of life is something that humans of all ages should appreciate, explore and enjoy. After all, one never knows how long a life... Read More

genre Rock Britpop format Vinyl

No one knows why this Andrew Hill album recorded October 11th 1968 wasn’t released until 1980 as part of a Michael Cuscuna produced series. “Tone Poet” Joe Harley doesn’t know, nor, he told me, does Cuscuna. Harley posits a few possible reasons, none of which have anything to do with the music here, which in 1968 clearly was release-worthy. The vinyl revival/resurgence whatever you wish to call it has been a boon to artists like the late composer/performer/academic... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

Recorded during the same 2011 and 2012 Zipper Hall, Los Angeles sessions that produced the remarkable percussion record “Smoke & Mirrors” (Yarlung 17255-195V), “Earth & Wood” is another sonic spectacular recorded directly to tape using a single AKG C24 stereo microphone (with Elliot Midwood mic amplification). The one-mike recording technique required “just so” placement of both it and the seven member Smoke and Mirrors Percussion Ensemble that performed the... Read More

Rather than writing the usual written review of this extensive, well-produced and brilliantly curated set, I chose a video review to better show the box and associated records. The set includes a double LP containing the Painted From Memory collaboration spread to 3 sides. Side 4 contains selected songs from the never fully realized Bacharach/Costello musical Taken From Life performed by various artists including Cassandra Wilson and Bill Frisell, Audra Mae and of... Read More

genre Pop Pop Rock format Vinyl

In commemoration of Van Morrison's new album Moving On Skiffle, we revisit a past era of Van mediocrity via our archive review of 1996's How Long Has This Been Going On?

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genre Jazz Big Band format Vinyl