Audio Fidelity Releases Sonny Clark Trio SACD i Announces March SACDs [HFR]

Earlier this week, Audio Fidelity released their latest SACD – A Session With the Sonny Clark Trio. They also moved the SACDs they debuted at the CES 2003 show by Ritchie Valens and John Lee Hooker into general release. Wrapping up the news from Audio Fidelity, they also provided details of their planned SACD releases for this March. Here are further details on these announcements from Audio Fidelity.

A Session With The Sonny Clark Trio
Audio Fidelity’s 7th SACD release is the new album entitled “A Session With The Sonny Clark Trio” (Audio Fidelity AFZ 006).

This album features 13 tracks that were recorded in January 1959 at Bell Sound Studios. The SACD was compiled and remastered by Steve Hoffman with DSD engineering handled by Lon Neumann at Kevin Gray’s AcousTech Mastering Studios in Camarillo, California. Each of the album’s stereo tracks were mastered from the original 3 Track Session Tapes and 2 Track Master Tape Mixes.

I had a chance to listen to this new Hybrid Stereo SACD and can tell you that it’s another fine SACD from the Audio Fidelity folks. The SACD captures the trio in a clean, well defined sound field with the bass appearing in the left channel, the brushes on the drums in the right channel and the piano in phantom center. Very nice.

A Session With The Sonny Clark Trio (Audio Fidelity AFZ 006)A Session With The Sonny Clark Trio (Audio Fidelity AFZ 006)

Ritchie Valens and John Lee Hooker SACDs In General Release
Music fans will also be pleased to hear that the two SACDs that Audio Fidelity debut at CES 2003, Ritchie Valens Greatest Hits (Audio Fidelity AFZ008) and Boogie Chillen by John Lee Hooker (Audio Fidelity AFZ005) have now been made available in general release. I’m told that a limited number of copies of these SACDs were made for sale at CES 2003. Sales of these SACDs went quite well and now Audio Fidelity is replenishing the web stores that carry SACDs and other outlets with the general release of these two titles.

As I noted in our first story on Audio Fidelity (see web link below), the Ritchie Valens Greatest Hits SACD features 18 tracks that include several of Valens’ best known songs. These include “La Bamba”, “Donna” and “Come On Let’s Go”. To supervise the SACD remastering work on this album, Audio Fidelity brought in Bob Keane, who produced the original Valens sessions for Del-Fi Records. All of the tracks except the last one, an alternate take of “In A Turkish Town” are presented in mono. The lack of compression and limiting in the original sessions provides for a very dynamic and raw sound on each of the tracks. I think Valens fans will want to pick up a copy of this SACD.

Ritchie Valens Greatest Hits (Audio Fidelity AFZ 008)Ritchie Valens Greatest Hits (Audio Fidelity AFZ 008)

Boogie Chillen’ by John Lee Hooker features 20 of Hooker’s classic blues songs. They were transferred from session tapes during the period of 1948 – 1954 to SACD. The only exception is the title track (Boogie Chillen’) which was apparently transferred from a “surviving 78 rpm acetate record” to DSD “as recording tape was not used at United Studio in 1948” according to the SACD’s liner notes! As with the Sonny Clark Trio and Ritchie Valens SACDs, this album was also compiled and remastered by Steve Hoffman with DSD engineering by Lon Neumann. Despite the “Stereo SACD” label on this SACD, all of the tracks are in mono. The liner notes note that “rock artists like Canned Heat, the Doors, the Animals, George Thorogood and countless others have cut their musical teeth on” this music. Listening to the classic blues tunes on this SACD, I can believe that.

The New Audio Fidelity SACD Cover Design
I should also note that the SACDs by Ritchie Valens, John Lee Hooker and the Sonny Clark Trio feature a new Audio Fidelity SACD cover design. You will recall that there was some criticism of the design used on the first 4 Audio Fidelity SACDs.

In response, Audio Fidelity proposed a more conservative design that used a black background instead of the original blue.

This was then dropped in favor of the new design which uses each album’s design and cover for the entire front cover with small SACD, DSD and Audio Fidelity logos at the bottom of the cover. I think this one is the winner of the 3 concepts and I understand this is the way future Audio Fidelity SACD covers will be designed.

Audio Fidelity’s March SACD Releases
Audio Fidelity has also announced that they plan to release 3 more SACDs in March. These releases will be:

  • Bob James – In Hi-Fi (Audio Fidelity AFZ009)
  • Lightnin’ Hopkins – Broken Hearted Blues (Audio Fidelity AFZ 010)
  • Various Artists – Man Of The World: Reflections on Peter Green (Audio Fidelity AFZ011)

    According to information from Audio Fidelity, Bob James In Hi Fi will feature 14 of Bob James’ favorite tracks from his Tappan Zee recordings as well as liner notes by James. Among the tracks on this album will be “Angela”, better known by many as the instrumental theme from the popular TV series “Taxi”.

    Broken Hearted Blues is an SACD that will feature 16 songs recorded by blues great Lightnin’ Hopkins. The songs are from the period of 1950 – 1952 and include two of his best known: “Hello Central” and “Coffee Blues”.

    The final SACD on the Audio Fidelity March release list, Man of the World: Reflections on Peter Green, features a number of artists offering their interpretations of songs written by Peter Green, the founder of Fleetwood Mac. Among the artists featured on this 15 song SACD will be Ian Anderson, Rory Gallagher, Savoy Brown and Harvey Mandel.

    The 3 new Audio Fidelity SACDs are now available from several of the web stores that carry SACDs including Acoustic Sounds, Elusive Disc, Music Direct and Red Trumpet. They will be available in retail stores that carry SACDs in the near future.