Lovely Recordings: Hosted By Joe Whip (part 2)

I had so much fun doing an entry in Audiostream's Lovely Recordings I thought it was time to do another. Thankfully, Michael agreed. Hence the second installment.

I have enjoyed reading all of the various reader installments as they seem to have one thing in common even though the music is so diverse, namely music that is off the general radar. I tried to do that in my first go around and will dig a bit deeper in that category here.

Duke Ellington, Ray Brown, Joe Pass & Louis Bellson: Duke's Big 4 (Pablo, 1974)
While most music lovers certainly know the four jazz greats featured in this set from the early 70's, this recording tends to be overlooked, in part because this type of jazz had become a bit passé by the 1970's. Too bad as they musicianship is superb. The recording quality is excellent as well. In fact, I always bring this recording to audio shows to test systems as this recording has some very realistic drum sounds, especially the kick drum which puts a system's low end to task. It is surprising how many show systems fail Duke's Big 4 test.

Available on Ponomusic

Kay Starr: I Cry By Night (Capitol Records, 1962)
Born on a Reservation in Oklahoma in 1922, Kay Starr is a vocalist from the 1950's and 60's that many music lovers have not heard of. Too bad because she is simply sensational. While she tended to record jazz and pop standards, she also put out blues and country albums as well. In fact, Billie Holiday has been quoted as stating that Kay Starr is the only white woman who could sing the blues. While this is hyperbole to be sure, there is no doubt that Kay Starr deserves to be heard by a much wider audience. I Cry By Night is my favorite recording she has produced. While this recording is available on Ponomusic, I have not heard that download and can't vouch for it. Give Kay Starr a listen, I am sure you will be glad you did.

Available on Qobuz

Será Una Noche (MA Recordings, 1999)
Será Una Noche is without a doubt, a reference audio track. The sonics are stunning on this recording of Argentinian Tango music. This music is simply beautiful. "Nublado" is my favorite track. I must admit that Todd Garfinkle's pricing is a bit, shall we say aggressive, but if you see him at an audio show, I am sure you can strike a better deal on his downloads. If you do, this recording is a must add to your collection.

Available at MA Recordings.

Anything from Sound Liaison
Sound Liaison is a small audiophile type record company from the Netherlands. They differ from many audiophile labels as they produce music that you will want to listen to over and over again for the quality of the music and the performances rather than just for the sound quality. Don't get me wrong, the entire Sound Liaison catalogue, which is very small as they are a new label, features excellent sound. My favorites are Andre Heuvelman's After Silence featuring classical music, Carmen Gomes Inc.'s A Thousand Shades of Blue and Little Blue both of which feature music more in the pop and standards vein and two jazz recordings, Impromptu featuring Tony Overwater and Bert van den Brink on piano and bass and The Witner's Trio's En Azul which features some very creative arrangements of some jazz standards.

Available at Sound Liaison

San Francisco Symphony: Masterpieces In Miniature (San Francisco Symphony, 2014)
If you are not all that familiar with classical music and want to dip your toes into the classical end of the music pool, this is the recording for you. It features classic pieces beautifully performed and recorded, that are all easily accessible. Each of the tracks are on the short side as well. In short, a perfect vehicle for an initial foray into the world of classical music.

Available at San Francisco Symphony

Cava Menzies | Nick Phillips: Moment to Moment (Nick Phillips Music, 2014)
When I first learned of this recording, the sales pitch was to the effect that if you loved Kind of Blue you will love this recording. Well, while it is no Kind of Blue (really, what is?), Moment to Moment is a superb recording of classic jazz music that sounds so smooth and alluring and beautifully played. As a good friend of mine would say, "Great Stuff".

Available at Nick Phillips Music.

Ahmad Jamal: Ahmad Jamal's Alhambra (Argo, 1961)
This download is a bit unusual as it is a DSD needle drop of a very quiet LP. Recorded in the early 1960's live at a small jazz club, this set features one great track after another. Yea, you hear the occasional click and pop, some surface noise and the rumble of the platter if your system goes down that low, but the music and performances are so good, who cares? I sure don't.

Available at Acoustic Sounds

Beegie Adair: I Love Being Here With You A Jazz Piano Tribute to Peggy Lee (Green Hill, 2011)
Beegie Adair heads a jazz piano trio based in Nashville. I have several of her recordings and this one to me, is her best. Yes, she is a bit on the smooth jazz side, but she knows how to play, her arrangements are excellent and she can swing, if oh so gently.

Available on Qobuz

Ella Fitzgerald: Ella Fitzgerald Sings Songs From "Let No Man Write My Epitaph" (Verve Records, 1960)
Yeah, I know, Ella Fitzgerald. Who's that? Ha! While this is an old audiophile chestnut, it is simply Ella Fitzgerald at her finest. Really, enough said!

Available at

John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman (Impulse!, 1963)
Many thanks to Clint Eastwood for reintroducing the great Johnny Hartman to music fans via the soundtrack to the film, Bridges of Madison County. Johnny Hartman's output was sparse but he had one of the finest set of pipes in music history. What an incredible deep and rich voice. For my money, this is the finest jazz vocal album in history. If you have only two jazz albums in your collection, this should be one you pair with Kind of Blue. It features a controlled and melodic John Coltrane who pairs beautifully with Mr. Hartman's vocals. Stunning stuff.

Available from HDtracks

Stacey Kent: Tenderly (Imports, 2015)
Yes, I know another Stacey Kent album. However, this one really deserves your attention. This recording features her husband Jim Tomlinson on tenor sax and flute and the great Brazilian guitarist and one of the founding fathers of Bossa Nova, Roberto Menescal on what else, guitar. The album features tracks from the Great American Songbook that, wth one exception, are the personal favorites of Mr. Menescal. This recording is not just lovely, it is beautiful. Get it, you won't be sorry.

Available from Qobuz

Share your Lovely Recordings with us!

2_channel_ears's picture

I plan on checking some of these out.

garrettnecessary's picture

Nice list! Have you heard the duets with Ray Brown on This One's for Blanton? I like it even better than Duke's Big 4 (which is great). Nothing tops Johnny Hartman singing Lush Life though!

Vhiner's picture

...the Kay Starr tip. She's streaming on Tidal. I'm going to have a friend hunt for the vinyl. I'm also glad you plugged this Beegie Adair album. It's a great treatment of some Peggy Lee classics and happens to be very well recorded.

Pup's picture

I saw that Joe wrote a great 5 star review on the new one microphone recordings from the Sound Liaison label over at Audiophile Style. It would fit right in with the review he wrote here but it is more up to date;
[quote]These guys and this recording just rocks. Pace, rhythm, tone and soundstage are just off the charts. The precise placement of all four of the musicians perfectly matches the photos of the sessions. The balance of all four instruments is darn near perfect. As you can no doubt tell, I am a huge fan of this recording. It is one of the best in terms of recording quality I have ever heard. [/qoute]