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Classical - Released July 3, 2015 | Channel Classics Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Classical - Released September 3, 2012 | naïve classique

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Jazz - Released June 1, 2012 | ESP-Disk

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Chamber Music - Released May 15, 2012 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Blues - Released April 22, 2011 | Columbia - Legacy

Distinctions Choc de Classica - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Classical - Released January 1, 2011 | Proprius

Hi-Res Distinctions Exceptional Sound Recording - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Classical - Released January 1, 2011 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Distinctions Diapason d'or - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Symphonic Music - Released September 27, 2010 | naïve classique

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 27, 2010 | Rykodisc

Distinctions 5/6 de Magic - Stereophile: Record To Die For
In the new millennium, the Posies exist as something less than a full-time band and something more than a side project. Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow dedicated themselves to the band whenever other commitments -- i.e., supporting Alex Chilton in Big Star whenever he needed them -- faded into the background. Released in the fall of 2010, roughly six months after Chilton’s unexpected death brought an end to Big Star, Blood/Candy bears the hallmarks of a project that’s tinkered on for a while. It’s not that it’s the work of fussy obsessives, the kind who can’t bear to have a single note out of place, but rather that it was completed track by track, whenever Auer and Stringfellow had the moment to finish a cut. Some of this disparity is deliberate: the duo wanted Blood/Candy to explore some sonic avenues they’ve yet to pursue, so they brought in a few guests (Kay Hanley harmonizes on “The Glitter Prize,” Hugh Cornwell shows up on “Plastic Paperbacks”), adopt a cool, relaxed groove for “Cleopatra Street,” get gently psychedelic on “Accidental Architecture,” turn in a clever little gem on “Holiday Hours,” generally dialing down the guitars to the level they were around the time of Dear 23. Around these slight departures are rushes of power pop that are recognizably the Posies -- bold guitars and hooks sweetened by their harmonies -- but the overall tone is different enough to make Blood/Candy feel like something more than another solid Posies album…albeit only slightly more. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Classical - Released July 4, 2010 | Past Classics

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Pop - Released June 21, 2010 | Nonesuch

Booklet Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
We haven't heard from Laurie Anderson in eight years -- since her Live at Town Hall NYC recording, cut two weeks after September 11, 2001 -- but that doesn't mean she hasn't been busy. Homeland began as a series of ideas recorded on the road in which she simply sang songs and told various stories about America. Some of them ended up as a concert poem about America that was a logical extension of her United States I-IV project -- and a non-didactic indictment of the Bush administration. The live recordings were combined with basic studio tracks, ending in 25 songs. She eventually ended up with the daunting task of sorting through, editing, and engineering a million audio files. Husband Lou Reed lent fresh ears when they were most needed; he is listed as a co-producer, as is longtime associate Roma Baran. Homeland features appearances from a stellar cast including Tuvan throat singers and igil players of Chirgilchin along with a number of experimental jazz and rock players, including Rob Burger, Omar Hakim, Reed, John Zorn, Kieran Hebden, Shahzad Ismaily, Eyvind Kang, Joey Baron, Peter Scherer, Skuli Sverrisson, Ben Wittman, and Antony Hegarty. Its songs -- whether spoken or sung -- are profoundly musical rather than simply conceptual. They ask questions about what it means to be an American in the 21st century, philosophically and personally, by way of references as diverse as Thomas Paine, Søren Kierkegaard, Aristophanes, and Oprah Winfrey -- and Anderson's wonderful sense of irony. While there isn't a single cut in this dozen that doesn't bear repeated listening, certain ones stand out. The trilogy that begins with "My Right Eye" and continues through "Thinking of You" and "Strange Perfumes" consists of nocturnal, low-key songs haunted by the beauty of Anderson's violin and voice with help from various singers, Kang's viola, Scherer's keyboards, and Burger's various instruments, including accordion. Hegarty assists on the last of these, lending it an ethereal quality. All are lyrical and haunting. "Only an Expert," driven by Hebden's keyboards and Reed's distorted guitar, is a scathing indictment of the rise of focus groups and the nebulous talking heads on television who analyze everything about modern life. The album's true hinge piece, "Another Day in America," employs Anderson's longtime male alter ego Fenway Bergamot. Zorn's bleating alto saxophone adds weight, dimension, and shock value to the lovely "Bodies in Motion." He also appears on "The Beginning of Memory," a song that relates the narrative allegory of a play from Aristophanes. Homeland is literally the most accessible Anderson recording since 1982's Big Science and easily stands among her masterworks. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 7, 2010 | ECM

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - Hi-Res Audio - Stereophile: Record To Die For
The reason to mention the "particulars" of this document of informal sessions is because Keith Jarrett went to the trouble of doing so in his liner notes: they came about in the aftermath of he and Charlie Haden playing together during Ramblin' Boy, a documentary film about Haden. The duo, who hadn't played together in over 30 years, got along famously and decided to do some further recording in Jarrett's Cavelight home studio without an end result in mind. The tapes sat -- though were discussed often -- for three years before a decision was made to release some of them. Jasmine is a collection of love songs; most are standards played by two stellar improvisers. Picking out highlights on this eight-song, hour-long set is difficult because the dry warmth of these performances is multiplied by deeply intuitive listening and the near symbiotic, telepathic nature of the playing. The entire proceeding flows seamlessly. The depth of emotion in Peggy Lee's and Victor Young's "Where Can I Go Without You" opens the world of the bereft lover -- and Haden's solo seems to make her/him speak. Jarrett's intro to "I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life," by Cy Coleman and Joseph McCarthy, reveals in its lyric just how woefully ironic this tune is. The loss and reverie steeped in false bravado are expressed in Jarrett's arpeggios and underscored by Haden's emphasis on single notes during the changes and a deep woody tone he gets in the combination of skeletal flourishes during Jarrett's solo. On the surface it might seem that the inclusion of Joe Sample's "One Day I'll Fly Away" is an odd inclusion; yet it acts on some level as the hinge piece for the set. Its simplicity and sparseness are offset by the profound lyricism Jarrett imbues it with. Haden asserts, quietly of course, that the complex emotions in the tune go beyond any language -- other than music's -- to express. After a devastatingly sad reading Gordon Jenkins' "Goodbye" with Jarrett at his most poignant and clean, a brief reading of Jerome Kern's and Oscar Hammerstein's "Don't Ever Leave Me" closes the set. The way it's played, this tune is not a plea, but a poetically uttered assertion between lovers. Jasmine is, ultimately, jazz distilled to its most essential; it not only expresses emotion and beauty, but discovers them in every moment of its performance. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | Capitol Records

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
Released on the heels of the stilted, static Cahoots, the double-album Rock of Ages occupies a curious yet important place in Band history. Recorded at a spectacular New Years Eve 1971 gig, the show and album were intended to be a farewell of sorts before the Band took an extended break in 1972, but it turned out to be a last hurrah in many different ways, closing the chapter on the first stage of their career, when they were among the biggest and most important rock & roll bands. That sense of importance had started to creep into their music, turning their studio albums after The Band into self-conscious affairs, and even the wildly acclaimed first two albums seemed to float out of time, existing in a sphere of their own and never having the kick of a rock & roll band. Rock of Ages has that kick in spades, and it captures that road warrior side of the band that was yet unheard on record. Since this band -- or more accurately its leader, Robbie Robertson -- was acutely aware of image and myth, this record didn't merely capture an everyday gig, it captured a spectacular, in retrospect almost a dry run for the legendary Last Waltz. New Orleans R&B legend Allen Toussaint was hired to write horn charts and conduct them, helping to open up the familiar tunes, which in turn helped turn this music into a warm, loose, big-hearted party. And that's what's so splendid about Rock of Ages: sure, the tightness of the Band as a performing unit is on display, but there's also a wild, rowdy heart pumping away in the backbeat of this music, something that the otherwise superb studio albums do not have. Simply put, this is a joy to hear, which may have been especially true after the dour, messy Cahoots, but even stripped of that context Rock of Ages has a spirit quite unlike any other Band album. Indeed, it could be argued that it captured the spirit of the Band at the time in a way none of their other albums do. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | Capitol Records

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
The Beach Boys' post-1966 catalog is littered with LPs that barely scraped the charts upon release but matured into solid fan favorites despite -- and occasionally, because of -- their many and varied eccentricities. Surf's Up could well be the definitive example, beginning with the cloying "Don't Go Near the Water" and ending a bare half-hour later with the baroque majesty of the title track (originally written in 1966). The album is a virtual laundry list of each uncommon intricacy that made the Beach Boys' forgotten decade such a bittersweet thrill -- the fluffy yet endearing pop (od)ditties of Brian Wilson, quasi-mystical white-boy soul from brother Carl, and the downright laughable songwriting on tracks charting Mike Love's devotion to Buddhism and Al Jardine's social/environmental concerns. Those songs are enjoyable enough, but the last three tracks are what make Surf's Up such a masterpiece. The first, "A Day in the Life of a Tree," is simultaneously one of Brian's most deeply touching and bizarre compositions; he is the narrator and object of the song (though not the vocalist; co-writer Jack Rieley lends a hand), lamenting his long life amid the pollution and grime of a city park while the somber tones of a pipe organ build atmosphere. The second, "'Til I Die," isn't the love song the title suggests; it's a haunting, fatalistic piece of pop surrealism that appeared to signal Brian's retirement from active life. The album closer, "Surf's Up," is a masterpiece of baroque psychedelia, probably the most compelling track from the SMiLE period. Carl gives a soulful performance despite the surreal wordplay, and Brian's coda is one of the most stirring moments in his catalog. Wrapped up in a mess of contradictions, Surf's Up defined the Beach Boys' tumultuous career better than any other album. © John Bush /TiVo
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Classical - Released October 19, 2007 | ECM New Series

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Classical - Released August 15, 2007 | harmonia mundi

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
Grant Green's third album to be released, Grantstand teams the clear-toned guitarist with an unlikely backing group of musicians who rarely appeared with Blue Note otherwise: tenor saxophonist Yusef Lateef (who doubles on flute), organist Brother Jack McDuff, and drummer Al Harewood. Although Lateef was beginning to delve deeply into Eastern tonalities and instruments around the same time, his playing here is pretty straightforward and swinging, fitting the relaxed, bop-tinged soul-jazz that makes up most of the session. For his part, McDuff is mellower than his usual ferocious self, laying back and swinging with a blissful ease. Green contributes two bluesy originals, the nine-minute title track and the 15-minute "Blues in Maude's Flat," which are turned into loose, loping jams that rank as some of the best examples of Green's ability to work an extended groove. (The CD bonus track, "Green's Greenery," is in much the same vein, though not as long.) Elsewhere, Green leads a delicate, sensitive exploration of "My Funny Valentine" that ended up as his greatest standard performance to date, setting the stage for a great deal more work in this vein that was soon to be forthcoming (including his brilliant sessions with Sonny Clark). Still, the groove is what reigns supreme for most of the album; if you're looking for Green the soul-jazz groovemaster, Grantstand is an excellent place to find him. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Concertos - Released November 4, 2006 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Classical - Released October 2, 2006 | Warner Classics

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2006 | Blue Note Records

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
This is one of the best-known Hank Mobley recordings, and for good reason. Although none of his four originals ("Workout," "Uh Huh," "Smokin'," "Greasin' Easy") caught on, the fine saxophonist is in top form. He jams on the four tunes, plus "The Best Things in Life Are Free," with an all-star quintet of young modernists -- guitarist Grant Green, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones -- and shows that he was a much stronger player than his then-current boss Miles Davis seemed to think. [Some reissues add a version of "Three Coins in the Fountain" from the same date, originally released on Another Workout.] © Scott Yanow /TiVo