New Surround Sound SACDs by Geri Allen, Junior Brown & Eric Bibb, Rory Black and Maria Muldaur [HFR]

Telarc’s August release of Surround Sound Super Audio CDs features new three titles. The new SACDs include The Life of Song by jazz pianist Geri Allen, Down Home Chrome by country singer Junior Brown and Sisters and Brothers by blues singers Eric Bibb, Rory Block and Maria Muldaur. The Life of Song and Down Home Chrome are “day and date” releases with both the Surround Sound SACD and Stereo CD editions both coming out on August 24th. In addition to these releases, Telarc provided updates on planned Super Audio CD releases by Doc Watson and a Surround Sound SACD recording of Berlioz’ Requiem.

The Life of a Song
Geri Allen
SACD Surround Sound/SACD Stereo/CD Stereo

(Telarc SACD-63598)

The Life of a Song is the latest album by jazz pianist Geri Allen. It is her first new recording in 6 years. On the new album, Allen is accompanied by bass player Dave Holland and drummer Jack De Johnette. The final track, Soul Eyes, is performed by the trio plus flugelhorn player Marcus Belgrave, sax player Dwight Andrews and Clifton Anderson on trombone.

Allen says that “These compositions are timeless classics, and I wanted to challenge myself. I was so influenced by Strayhorn’s writing — it’s almost theatrical and so advanced harmonically. ‘The amazing’ Bud Powell was an innovator who mesmerized everyone, and all jazz pianists follow in his footsteps. ‘Soul Eyes’ is a personal tribute to Mal Waldron. I’m honored to have had a chance to work with him.”

The new album was recorded live, direct to DSD by Telarc’s Chief Recording Engineer Michael Bishop who also handled the albums mixing in stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound and mastering. Equipment used on the direct to DSD session included the Sony Sonoma DSD Workstation, the SADiE System 5 DSD Workstation, Genex DSD 9048 DSD hard disk recorder, EMM Labs Meitner Switchman Monitor Controller and EMM Labs Meitner DSD Converters.

The Surround Sound SACD edition of The Life of a Song has already been praised by those who have heard it – including veteran audiophile writer, producer and engineer Joe Hartley who noted on the Hi Rez Highway web discussion forum “Allen is a brilliant pianist I’ve worked with on Charles Lloyd’s last two ECM releases. In my opinion this is some of Michael Bishop’s finest work. The sound is absolutely stunning… a nearly perfect recording. I’m jealous! Music making of the highest order with sound to match. Bravo!”

Album Selections
1. LWB’s House (The Remix)
2. Mounts and Mountains
3. Lush Life
4. In Appreciation: A Celebration Song
5. The Experimental Movement
6. Holdin’ Court
7. Dance of the Infidels
8. Unconditional Love
9. The Life of the Song
10. Black Bottom
11. Soul Eyes

Down Home Chrome
Junior Brown
SACD Surround Sound/SACD Stereo/CD Stereo

(Telarc SACD-63612)

Down Home Chrome is the latest album – and the Telarc debut – by “guit-steel” singer Junior Brown. Guit-steel refers to the unique double necked, 12 string instrument Brown invented that is a combination electric and steel guitar.

Telarc refers to the album as “A mix of rock and roll and bluesy ballads — plus a few surprises for fans of traditional country. By the end of this entertaining 12-pack produced by Junior himself, the message is clear: this ain’t your father’s country record. Down Home Chrome showcases Brown’s combination of clever Southwestern songcraft and staggering musicianship. Listen closely and hear the echoes the voices of various past masters — Buck Owens, Chet Atkins, Dick Dale and countless others who’ve pushed the country, western, rockabilly envelope to its high-octane limit.”

This is a live, direct to DSD studio recording that was produced by Junior Brown, recorded, mixed and mastered by Telarc’s Michael Bishop with DSD Engineering by Tracy Martinson from the Sony SACD Project’s Nashville, Tennessee office. It was recorded with the Sony Sonoma DSD Workstation, the SADiE System 5 DSD Workstation, EMM Labs Meitner Switchman Monitor Controller and EMM Labs Meitner DSD Converters.

The album is certainly different from what one usually expects from the Telarc label. It features country, swing and blues songs along with a cover of Jimi Hendrix’ Foxy Lady – the latter complete with what Telarc refers to as “howling guitar feedback and a growling vocal attack”. The Surround Sound mix captures the live recording quite well as well as the energy and fun of Brown’s performance. Songs like Little Rivi-Airhead, Hill Country Hot Rod Man, Are You Just Cuttin’ Up and Monkey Wrench Blues showcase the singer’s energy and versatility.

Album Selections
1. Little Rivi-Airhead
2. It Hurts When I Do That
3. Where Has All the Money Gone?
4. The Bridge Washed Out
5. Hill Country Hot Rod Man
6. Jimmy Jones
7. Let’s Go Back
8. Two Rons Don’t Make It Right
9. You Inspire Me
10. Are You Just Cuttin’ Up?
11. Foxy Lady
12. Monkey Wrench Blues

Sisters and Brothers
Eric Bibb, Rory Block & Maria Muldaur
SACD Surround Sound/SACD Stereo/CD Stereo

(Telarc SACD-63588)

Sisters and Brothers is a new album that brings together blues singers Eric Bibb, Rory Block and Maria Muldaur. Bibb is familar to SACD fans through his blues recordings on the Opus 3 record label in Sweden. Rory Block released a well received blues Surround Sound SACD entitled Last Fair Deal (Telarc SACD-63593) last year on the Telarc label, while Muldaur hasn’t appeared on Surround Sound disc since the 1970’s when her album Waitress in a Donut Shop was released in CD-4 Quadradisc and Quad 8 Track formats.

The album is a collection of three different approaches to singing the blues. Telarc notes that “The three musicians’ voices and riffs merge seamlessly in this collection, and for good reason. While their respective careers represent a diverse cross-section of the blues tradition, all three came from the same place. As the son of the young folk singer Leon Bibb, Eric Bibb grew up in the mid-1960s folk music boom that recaptured the essence of country blues from the early 1900s. As a young teen, Rory Block grew up amid the Greenwich Village folk scene which included music at her father’s famous sandal shop and Sunday jam sessions in Washington Square. At the same time, Muldaur was also making the rounds in the Greenwich Village scene and joining in on nightly jams in various clubs and coffeehouses.”

Sisters and Brothers was recorded in 24 bit PCM by producer Randy Labbe and was recorded and mixed by Lincoln Clapp. High Fidelity Review readers will recall that Labbe was also the producer of the well received Surround Sound SACDs Big Mouth by Colin Linden (Accord S6001) and Greatest Find by Colleen Sexton (Accord S6002). On Sisters and Brothers, each of the three singers take turn singing lead on the well known songs on the album. Highlights include Eric Bibb’s take on Bob Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody” and Rory Block’s version of “Lean On Me”.

Album Selections
1. Rock Daniel
2. Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down
3. Get Up Get Ready
4. Lean On Me
5. Bessie’s Advice
6. Good Stuff
7. Rolling Log
8. Gotta Serve Somebody
9. Travelin’ Woman Blues
10. Little Rain
11. Maggie Campbell
12. Give A Little More
13. My Sisters and Brothers

The new Surround Sound Super Audio CD releases from Geri Allen and Junior Brown on the Telarc label are now available for purchase at the Telarc web site as well as record stores such as Tower Records. They are also available from the Acoustic Sounds, CD Universe, Elusive Disc, Music Direct and Red Trumpet web sites.

The Sisters and Brothers by blues singers Eric Bibb, Rory Block and Maria Muldaur is now available from the Telarc web site and
the Acoustic Sounds, CD Universe, Elusive Disc and Music Direct web sites. However, its in store date has been moved to September 28, 2004.

An SACD Update
Telarc International gave us an update on the scheduled Surround Sound SACD releases by Doc Powell and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Berlioz’ Requiem. The SACD edition of Doc Powell’s latest album entitled Cool Like That on Telarc’s Heads Up Jazz label has been cancelled.

Turning to the long-awaited Surround Sound SACD edition of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Berlioz’ Requiem (Telarc SACD-60627), Telarc informs me that there has been a slight production delay in the availability of the SACD. However, it is still very much on the release schedule and should be appearing within the next week or so. We’ll keep an eye out for it.