• SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • 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)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh History and Autoformer Technology (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - NAD Viso HP50 Headphones (May 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - GoldenEar Technology's Anechoic Chamber (May 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - PSB's M4U 4 Earphones (April 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - GoldenEar Technology's Triton Two+ and Three+ Loudspeakers (March 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- KEF's LS50 (February 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Monitor Audio's Platinum II Series (January 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Pryma 0|1 Headphones (December 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- KEF's Blade Two Loudspeaker (November 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- KEF and the Uni-Q (October 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Monitor Audio Acoustics & Aesthetics (August 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- PSB's Imagine T3 Loudspeaker (June 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Hegel's H160 Integrated Amplifier-DAC (April 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- MartinLogan's Neolith Loudspeaker (February 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Prestige Series (December 2014)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Vivid Audio's Giya Series (October 2014)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Totem Acoustic's Torrent Technology (August 2014)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Axiom Audio's M100 v4 Loudspeaker (May 2014)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Muraudio's Domain Omni Series (March 2014)

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.

BFM Jazz 302 062 429 2
Format: CD

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

 

On the Eric Clapton DVD, Planes, Trains, and Eric, an interviewer asks Steve Gadd, the drummer for Clapton’s 2014 tour, what he thinks about the guitarist’s impending retirement at age 70. Gadd points out that, as a freelance musician, retirement is just not an option for him. At least he is a busy freelancer. In addition to touring with Clapton, he is the drummer for James Taylor’s band and maintains a busy schedule as a session player.

Discipline Global Mobil DGMSP2
Format: CD/DVD-Audio

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

 

In the photo on the back of Live at the Orpheum: Los Angeles 2014, the somewhat formally attired members of King Crimson look like the science faculty of a small but prestigious university. Given the band’s precision and air of daunting intellectualism, the image seems appropriate. Even in the world of progressive rock, King Crimson stands out for the demands it makes of its listeners and its high standards of musicianship.

Labor LAB7091
Format: CD

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

 

The Blues & Salvation could easily get lost in the ocean of blues compilations. That would be a shame -- this terrific two-disc collection from Labor Records gathers 38 tracks by famous blues greats and lesser-known musicians, most of them previously unreleased, to show how vibrant and emotionally deep country blues is. Blues fans will know Rev. Gary Davis, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee, but George Higgs, Deneen McEachern, and others here impress just as deeply.

Monuments to an ElegyMartha’s Music 81012450-2
Format: CD

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

 

Smashing Pumpkins’ first album, Gish (1991), made it easy to have high expectations for the band, and for the most part they met those expectations with their next two discs, Siamese Dream (1993) and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995). Bandleader Billy Corgan is a skilled guitarist whose memorable songs are good vehicles for his occasional forays into jamming. But after personnel changes, and two subsequent albums that received mixed notices, the group broke up in 2000.

Live in TokyoEagle Vision EV306989
Format: DVD

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

 

Jeff Beck probably has not sold as many records as Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton, the other two players in the Yardbirds’ guitar triumvirate, but he places nearly as high on lists of great guitarists and is arguably the most technically proficient of the three. His command of the instrument rivals Jimi Hendrix’s, and when he played jazz/rock fusion in the ’70s his rock sensibility kept his music accessible. Blow by Blow (1975) and Wired (1976), both produced by George Martin, hold up better than many fusion records because, even at his most experimental, Beck did not descend into mindless riffing.

EclecticHeads Up International HUI-35768-02
Format: CD

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

 

Bill Milkowski’s liner notes for Eric Johnson and Mike Stern’s Eclectic call them “two guitar heroes from disparate worlds -- Mike Stern from jazz and Eric Johnson from rock.” The distinction is almost meaningless -- Johnson has always displayed the harmonic sophistication of a jazz player, and Stern has long shown a strong rock influence. But the word eclectic applies to both players, and this album is a thrilling collaboration. What could have been a mere guitar shoot-out -- and there’s plenty of flashy playing here -- ends up being a well-thought-out display of virtuosity that emphasizes memorable songwriting.