• SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)

Columbia 88875 08914 2
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
****

When I saw the cover of Leon Bridges’s debut CD, Coming Home, I thought I was looking at a compilation of tunes by a little-known regional soul singer from the 1960s whom I’d somehow missed. I expected to find a Wikipedia page that would tell me of his passionate following in England among Northern Soul fanatics. Turns out that Bridges has just turned 26, and hails from Fort Worth, Texas.

TOSOD Music
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Rickie Lee Jones moved to New Orleans a few years ago, and the city’s spirit and rich musical heritage have obviously inspired the music on The Other Side of Desire, her first disc since 2012’s The Devil You Know. She recorded it in studios there, with local musicians. She writes warmly of New Orleans in her liner notes and she seems to have been revitalized by her time there -- The Other Side of Desire is Jones’s first disc of all new songs in ten years.

Concord CRE-35380-00
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

James Taylor hasn’t recorded an album of new songs since 2002’s October Road, although he released a Christmas album in 2004 (reissued by Columbia in 2006), and a collection of material by other songwriters, Covers, in 2008. In his liner notes to his new disc, Before This World, Taylor says he took 2013 off to write. He found somewhere to isolate himself, and began writing lyrics to melodies that had begun as demos he recorded with his band in 2010.

Capitol Records/ATO Records B002282802
Format: CD

Musical Performance ***1/2
Sound Quality **1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***

 

My Morning Jacket is the kind of band I tend to like. They are beyond category, encompassing everything from prog to Americana, and the band’s guitarist, Jim James, writes tunes that are both challenging and hummable. For me, the group showed its depth and versatility when it played “Ophelia” and “It Makes No Difference” for an appearance on Love for Levon, a tribute concert to Levon Helm that is available on DVD. While retaining their own identity, they showed an understanding and deep appreciation of the Band that many of the acts on the bill with them lacked.

Cleopatra CLP 2103
Format: CD

Musical Performance ***1/2
Sound Quality **1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***

 

Canned Heat began when two blues lovers and avid record collectors, Bob Hite and Alan Wilson, decided to start a band. Wilson, who sang and played guitar and harmonica, was an avid scholar of the blues who had appeared on a 1965 recording with Son House shortly before meeting Hite. Canned Heat played at the two key late-1960s festivals, Monterey and Woodstock, and had two big hits, “Going Up the Country,” and “On the Road Again,” both reworked from earlier blues tunes.

Consolidated Artists Productions CAP 1040
Format: CD

Musical Performance ***1/2
Sound Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

 

When Dizzy Gillespie appeared at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, in London, in August 1973, he hadn’t recorded for a few years, but was about to enter a period of regular studio work courtesy Norman Granz’s Pablo Records. As Doug Ramsey explains in his liner notes to Dizzy Gillespie’s Live at Ronnie Scott’s, Volume 1, the great trumpet player was coming off a month of one-nighters when he arrived at Scott’s for a two-week stand. This disc is one of four, separately available, documenting that extended stay.

Verve Records B0022726-02
Format: CD

Musical Performance ****
Sound Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

 

Amazon’s editorial review of Mark Knopfler’s new disc, Tracker, calls him the “former lead singer of Dire Straits.” I think of him as a remarkable guitarist. Both descriptions are too narrow. Knopfler is as good a songwriter as the ’80s produced, and he is an unusually acute and observant lyricist. His attention to the right details in the small space of a song lyric enables him to create narratives as vivid as those of the best short-story writers.

RCA 88875-06844-2
Format: CD

Musical Performance ***1/2
Sound Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

 

When I saw that Van Morrison was releasing a CD of duets, my heart sank a little. It’s the kind of project that signals a career’s end -- think of Frank Sinatra’s and Ray Charles’s duet recordings. Morrison has subtitled his set Re-working the Catalogue, and again I wondered if it was a holding pattern. Morrison has released something new almost yearly since the early 1990s, all of it workmanlike, some of it inspired, but it’s not as if he’s broken any new ground, as he did with his earlier records. He’s followed the career path of many of the blues singers who inspired him, such as Bobby Bland, by turning out solid records that reaffirm his position as a music icon.

Jazz Village JV579003
Format: CD

Musical Performance ****
Sound Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****

 

Jazz pianist Justin Kauflin was the subject of a documentary film, Keep On Keepin’ On, which chronicled his tutelage under the great trumpeter Clark Terry. Terry, who died in February, mentored Kauflin for five years and helped him overcome stage fright. Kauflin, blind since age 11, had studied music at William Paterson University and went on to further education with pianist Mulgrew Miller before coming under Terry’s wing.

Columbia 88875057961 (LP), 88875057962 (CD)
Formats: LP, CD

Musical Performance ****
Sound Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

 

It’s natural to wonder what Bob Dylan is up to when he releases an album of standards, just as people wondered why he recorded a Christmas record. Count me among those who liked the Christmas album, but I share Dylan’s affection for those songs. And Dylan’s love of American music is, in part, what Shadows in the Night is about. His albums since “Love and Theft” (2001) have included hints of everything from 1920s jazz to Tin Pan Alley, along with the blues and rock’n’roll, and he’s long been aware of and embraced many influences.