Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • 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)

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.

In 2013, Gadd and his bandmates in Taylor’s group recorded Gadditude under the drummer’s leadership. That band returns for 70 Strong, a celebration of Gadd’s own 70th birthday. He is joined again by Walt Fowler on trumpet and flugelhorn, Larry Goldings on keys, Jimmy Johnson on bass, and Michael Landau on guitar. They play a brand of easy soul jazz that reveals more depth and feeling with each play of the disc.

70 Strong

These old pros can breathe life into an overplayed track like Eddie Harris’s “Freedom Jazz Dance,” laying down a vibe reminiscent of Miles Davis’s early ’70s fusion, with Goldings playing a wash of chords on electric piano that creates a slightly ominous atmosphere. Fowler adds a hint of delay to his trumpet and his economical lines show Davis’s influence. Landau’s slide guitar gives the mostly edgy and angular tune a blues undercurrent. Gadd makes the track swing, but he also adds accent and color in much the same way that Paul Motian used to do.

Fowler pays tribute to the recently departed George Duke with “Duke’s Anthem,” a laid-back and heartfelt slice of gospel-influenced jazz that features terrific solos all around. Chico Buarque’s “De Volta Ao Samba” gives the musicians a chance to play bossa nova, with Goldings’s elegant electric piano establishing just the right tone, but each musician steps up to the challenge of the music easily. The Jan Hammer/Fernando Saunders composition “Oh, Yeah?” is another stylistic shift, and what could have been a dated visit to the ’70s sounds funky and new.

The variety of music here is impressive -- not just because the musicians show so much versatility, but because they manage to do so many things while having a recognizable style. And years of experience playing together give them the knowledge to put their songs across. The central instrument in Goldings’s mournful “Written in Stone” is his accordion, but Landau’s guitar lines and, especially, Gadd’s funereal drumming help the track build in emotional impact.

Fowler provided color for the most part on Gadditude, but his solos on 70 Strong are delightfully understated and filled with unexpected twists. It is easy to forget Johnson’s bass until you pay close attention because he keeps himself in the background, but he and Gadd are in a close conversation throughout the disc. In the end, 70 Strong belongs to the leader. Even after all these years of playing, Gadd is tasteful and technically impressive without dominating a song. He drives this very good band to even greater heights than on Gadditude. Well recorded by Dennis Moody, excellently mastered by Greg Calbi, and warmly recommended.

. . . Joseph Taylor