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Thomas Enhco - Feathers (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/44.1kHz

Artist: Thomas Enhco
Title: Feathers
Genre: Jazz, Piano Jazz
Label: © Verve Records
Release Date: 2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 44,1kHz/24bit
Duration: 58:04
Recorded: October 6-9, 2014

Bercé par la musique classique émanant d'une lignée de musiciens doués (son père n'est autre que le chef d'orchestre Jean-Claude Casadesus), Thomas Enhco s'est fait un nom dans le jazz contemporain avec ses trois albums précédents travaillés en trio, Esquisse (2006), Someday My Prince Will Come (2010) et Fireflies (2012). Avec ce premier opus réalisé en solitaire, l'héritage familial ressort davantage au long des huit séquences composées par le pianiste.

Écrit en majeure partie à New York, Feathers évoque selon son auteur les différentes étapes d'une histoire d'amour, racontées par un piano volubile, instrument idéal pour ce qui est de transmettre toute la gamme d'émotions y afférant : la rêverie de « Watching You Sleep » que l'on croirait tirée d'un cahier de Debussy ; la passion folle de « Looking for the Moose », pièce maîtresse et savante exprimant l'enthousiasme et ses battements de coeur ; « Je voulais te dire » où la violence des sentiments laisse place à la réflexion, voire au doute ; et ainsi de suite du malicieux « Mischievous », multipliant les détours, et de « The Last Night of February », jouant sur deux tableaux (mineur et majeur).

Les plumes (feathers) du recueil sont à la fois celles de la légèreté des jambes, de la tête et du coeur qui s'emballent, et les traces qu'elles laissent quand l'histoire prend fin ou mauvaise tournure, comme dans « Letting You Go ». Les sentiments laissent alors place aux souvenirs de « Sand Creek Song » et de « I'm Fine, Thank You ». En équilibre entre l'écriture et l'improvisation, Thomas Enhco démontre une nouvelle fois ses qualités de compositeur éclectique et de virtuose sensible.
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The Staple Singers - Be Altitude: Respect Yourself (1972/2011) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/88.2kHz

Artist: The Staple Singers
Title: Be Altitude: Respect Yourself
Genre: R&B, Funk, Black Gospel, Southern Gospel, Country Soul
Label: © Stax Records | Concord Music Goup
Release Date: 1972/2011 Stax Remasters
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 88,2kHz/24bit
Source: HDTracks
Duration: 00:49:35
Recorded: 1971-1972 at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, Muscle Shoals, Alabama; Remastered at Joe Tarantino Mastering

Originally released in 1972, Be Altitude: Respect Yourself captures the celebrated family vocal group in what was essentially the third act of their career, according to music historian Rob Bowman. The Staple Singers had initially established themselves as a gospel group in the 1950s, then merged with the folk music closely tied to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and ultimately veered away from protest songs and toward what Mavis Staples termed “message music” in the early and mid-1970s.
“Obviously, there was a lot going on in America — politically and socially — around that time, and the Staple Singers took up the cause,” says Clough. “Stax provided a huge platform for that cause, and it worked. It wasn’t insincere or disingenuous. It was the real deal. The Staples had taken up the banner at that point.”
Be Altitude found a comfortable middle ground between gospel music and secular music. “Some of the messages in their music have that gospel element running through it, but it’s a broader message than what you’d find in traditional gospel,” says Phillips. “The soul, the gospel, the grooves — all those things blended together — really make for a unique sound that is the Staple Singers.”
The two previously unreleased bonus tracks — “Walking in Water Over Our Head” and an alternate version of “Heavy Makes You Happy” — were both recorded at the Muscle Shoals Studios in Alabama in 1970 and 1972, respectively. “We felt that it was appropriate to add these bonus tracks, not only because any undiscovered material by a group as great as the Staple Singers is worthy of a listen,” says Phillips, “but also because they’re such great performances that they fit right in.”
Simply put, says Bowman, “the recording you hold in your hands represents the Staple Singers at the very peak of their career.”
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Alexander Scriabin - Vers la Flamme: Works for solo piano - Vladimir Ashkenazy (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Сomposer: Alexander Scriabin (1872 - 1915)
Artist: Vladimir Ashkenazy
Title: Scriabin - Vers la Flamme: Works for solo piano
Genre: Classical
Label: © Decca is a Universal Music Company
Release Date: 2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Duration: 01:18:43
Recorded: Potton Hall, Suffolk, 4 & 5 September, 29, 30 November & 1 December 2014

Vladimir Ashkenazy turns to the fine art of the piano miniature in this album, unlocking the poetic expression and vibrant colours of forty exquisite pieces by Alexander Scriabin (1872–1915). Vers la flame, released in April 2015 to mark the centenary of Scriabin’s death, opens with the C sharp minor Étude Op.2 No.1, written during its composer’s mid-teens, and comprises such late masterworks as the album’s title track and the five Préludes Op.74.
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Romain Collin - Press Enter (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/88.2kHz

Artist: Romain Collin
Title: Press Enter
Genre: Jazz
Label: © ACT Music + Vision GmbH & Co. KG
Release Date: 2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 88,2kHz/24bit
Duration: 46:17
Recorded: October 7 - 9, 2013 at the Clubhouse, Rhinebeck (NY)

'I always associate visuals with music - and music with visuals,' says New York based, french-born pianist and composer, Romain Collin. From the very first note on his ACT debut, Press Enter, his music creates evocative moving pictures which cast a spell on the listener. Vivid musical storytelling is at the core of Collin's vision. His compositions, built around powerful melodic themes, fascinate with their far-reaching dynamic and emotional range. Alongside drummer Kendrick Scott and bassist Luques Curtis, Collin's music moves seamlessly between dramatic crescendos and subtle ensemble interplay, whilst all at once creating striking imagery for the listeners.

Romain Collin first came to the piano at an early age through classical music. Shortly thereafter, he discovered Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner and Herbie Hancock, which unearthed a passion for jazz. After visiting New York for the first time at the age of fifteen, Collin made a vow to someday call this place his home. In 2001 - soon after his 20th Birthday - Collin took a major step towards his goal when he took up a scholarship to attend Boston's renowned Berklee College of Music. Romain was then accepted the highly coveted Masters Program at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in LA, after auditioning in front of his musical heroes, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Ron Carter. Soon after, Collin got the chance to tour Vietnam and India with his mentors, of which recalls: 'It was a unique opportunity not only to get to know them first hand as musicians, but also as human beings. We would all spend a lot of time together, go sightseeing before playing big shows where I would trade fours with Herbie! He's one of the reasons I became a pianist in the first place, so that was an unforgettable and incredibly formative experience.'

After graduating from the Monk Institute, Collin fulfilled the dream of his youth and moved to New York City. On life as a NY musician, Collin says “...what makes New York special is its sheer intensity. There are so many amazing musicians on the NY scene that I am lucky to call my friends, and who are constantly inspiring me. Nothing really ever sits still here - it's all growth and discovery.”

Since moving to New York, Collin has rapidly made a name for himself, recording alongside the likes of Mike Stern, John McLaughlin, and Christian McBride, whilst also releasing two critically acclaimed albums as leader: The Rise and Fall of Pipokuhn (2009) and The Calling (2012). NPR (National Public Radio) calls him 'a visionary composer, an extraordinary jazz pianist and a very bright young rising star in the jazz world', while The Boston Globe named him as being 'among the leading lights of a new breed of jazz players'. Meanwhile, Collin's flair for creating music with a strong visual element was given further expression over the course of several award-winning movie scores.

Press Enter merges Collin's influences into one cohesive and unique artistic vision; blending contemporary and traditional American jazz with European classical music and film scoring, framed within a modern production sensibility. The album title is indicative of Romain Collin's singularity of vision and uncompromised dedication to his path, qualities exemplified by the great Wayne Shorter. Collin remembers 'While I was in India with Wayne, we had a discussion about having big plans - in life, or in music - but oftentimes not really acting upon them. Wayne then paused, and said to me 'PRESS ENTER!'. Then he left...but that stayed with me.'
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Sergei Prokofiev - Cello Concerto Op. 58; Dmitri Shostakovich - Cello Concerto No. 1 Op. 107 - Steven Isserlis, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Jarvi (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Сomposer: Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953), Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
Artist: Steven Isserlis, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi
Title: Prokofiev & Shostakovich - Cello Concertos
Genre: Classical
Label: © Hyperion Records
Release Date: 2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 48kHz/24bit
Source: hyperion-records
Duration: 01:05:17
Recorded: in Frankfurt Radio Hall on 3–4 July 2013 (Shostakovich) and Alte Oper Frankfurt on 12–13 December 2013 (Prokofiev Concerto and March, live recording)

The blurbs advertising this album have it wrong: Shostakovich's blazing Cello Concerto No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 107, was not a "response" to Prokofiev's Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 58, but to its reworking, the Symphony-Concerto for cello and orchestra in E minor, Op. 125. As cellist Steven Isserlis points out in his excellent and enthusiastic notes, it's not even clear that Shostakovich knew the earlier version, which had a rocky performance history. The original concerto and the Symphony-Concerto are very different works, with the Cello Concerto's giant final set of variations essentially sliced in half and greatly simplified. The earlier work, spiky and difficult, makes a good counterpoint to the Shostakovich, one of the works in which he most perfectly married virtuosity to the grim gloom that animates so much of Shostakovich's later work. This concerto does have a real rip-roaring finale that Isserlis manages without a hint that he's doing anything less than having fun. But the real find here is the Prokofiev, which although championed by Mstislav Rostropovich has not often been played. It's a piece that demands the cellist wrestle with its dramatic contrasts in the variation set, and here again Isserlis, with clean backing from the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra under Paavo Järvi, excels. A strong release with a neglected Russian concerto of the 20th century.

Review by James Manheim
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Omnibus Wind Ensemble - Music By Frank Zappa (1995/2014) High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz

Сomposer: Frank Zappa (1940-1993), Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Artist: Omnibus Wind Ensemble
Title: Music By Frank Zappa
Genre: Avant-Garde, Jazz, Classical, Chamber Jazz, Classical Crossover, Jazz-Rock, Fusion, Modern
Label: © Opus 3 Records
Release Date: 1995/2014
Quality: DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz
Duration: 01:05:23
Recorded: June 1994 - June 1995; Mastered at Sony Music Studios, London

The Omnibus Wind Ensemble's interest in Frank Zappa's music dates back to the beginning of the 1980s, almost from the very beginning. Under the motto "From Mozart to Zappa", which also became the title of their first, widely acclaimed CD under the Opus 3 label, they have had many of Frank Zappa's compositions on their repertoire over the years.
The music of Frank Zappa has always defied classification, and those who have not studied it closely perhaps do not realize how much jazz and classical music it contains. (Zappa composed a percussion piece when he was only 15!) Arguably, Frank Zappa is one of this century's most interesting composers and perhaps the best kept musical secret in the USA.
The Omnibus CD "Music By Frank Zappa" is a grand tour of his music - from the beautiful "Peaches En Regalia", the highly complex "Revised Music For A Low Budget Orchestra", the outstandingly humorous "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" to the jazz-bluesy introduction etc. of "Inca Roads", with all the fireworks that follow it!
Also included are: How Could I Be Such A Fool, Let's Make The Water Turn Black, The Black Page No 2, No 7, Igor's Boogie, Be-Bop Tango, Alien Orifice, Dog Breath Variations, Uncle Meat and Sinister Footwear and 2nd Movement. The CD ends with a piece which was not written by Frank Zappa, namely Maurice Ravel's "Bolero" here in a big-band-influenced special arrangement inspired by Zappa's own version from 1988. Classical, Jazz or Rock!?
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Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Chasing Yesterday (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Artist: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Title: Chasing Yesterday
Genre: Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, British Trad Rock
Label: © Sour Mash Records
Release Date: 2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Source: Qobuz
Duration: 01:00:26
Recorded: 2014 at Strangeways and Abbey Road Studios, London

Opening with a minor chord strummed on an acoustic guitar somewhere off in the distance, Noel Gallagher's second solo album, Chasing Yesterday, echoes Oasis' second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory? -- a conscious move from a rocker who's never minded trading in memories of the past. He may be evoking his Brit-pop heyday -- "Lock All the Doors" surges with the cadences of "Morning Glory" even as it interpolates David Essex's "Rock On" -- but it amounts to no more than a wink because Gallagher knows he's two decades older and perhaps a little wiser as well. Certainly, Chasing Yesterday is the work of a musician very comfortable with his craft. Like the first album from High Flying Birds -- a largely anonymous group of pros who make no attempt to steal the spotlight from their leader -- it moves deliberately, never rushing and rarely rocking, preferring to find pleasure in majesty instead of hedonism. Where 2011's HFB kept things a shade too calm -- its reserve almost seemed like a rebuke to the messy id of Gallagher's brother -- Chasing Yesterday occasionally threatens to actually rock, delivering that signature wall of guitars on the aforementioned "Lock All the Doors," mustering up a bit of old-fashioned, cowbell-driven glam boogie on "The Mexican," and quickening the tempo on "You Know We Can't Go Back," a piece of incandescent pop that plays as a resigned companion to "Step Out." Better still, the self-styled epics -- which include the first single "In the Heat of the Moment" and closing "Ballad of the Mighty I," which features grace notes from a guesting Johnny Marr -- pulsate with quiet color, as does "Riverman," a signature piece of stately late-period Beatles pop that would've been drained to grey on HFB. Here, "Riverman" breathes and sighs, taking a moment to slide into a saxophone-accentuated guitar solo straight out of a pre-punk 1976, and this masterful flair is a testament to the control and focus Gallagher displays on Chasing Yesterday. He's not racing after the past, nor is he afraid to seem floridly fussy: he's reveling in his ascendency to the position of one of rock's wise old men. --Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Michael Formanek - Small Places (2012) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Artist: Michael Formanek
Title: Small Places
Genre: Jazz, Modern Jazz, Contemporary Jazz
Label: © ECM Records GmbH | ECM Player
Release Date: 2012
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Duration: 60:11
Recorded: December 2011 Avatar Studios, New York

Small Places is double bassist/composer Michael Formanek’s follow-up to “The Rub and Spare Change”, his widely lauded ECM debut as a leader. That 2010 release garnered a rare five-star review in DownBeat magazine, while The New York Times described the disc as being “graceful in its subversions, often even sumptuous.” The review in Progression perhaps puts it best: “This type of listening experience, dense yet luminiferous, treads the tightrope between cerebral and streetwise in a damn cool way.” The new album features the same powerhouse band of long-time confreres, with Formanek in telepathic league with saxophonist Tim Berne, pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver. If anything, Small Places is a step beyond this quartet’s first release, with the compositions and improvisation blending so seamlessly that a listener is scarcely able to tell where one leaves off and the other begins. Earthy yet atmospheric, this is very 21st-century American jazz, the music brimming with piquant riffs and muscular ostinatos, rich in melodic possibility and the sound of surprise.
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Metallica - Death Magnetic (2008/2014) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/88.2kHz

Artist: Metallica
Title: Death Magnetic
Genre: Rock, Thrash, Heavy Metal
Label: © Warner Bros. Records
Release Date: 2008/2014
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 88,2kHz/24bit
Source: PonoMusic
Duration: 01:14:46
Recorded: Sound City Studios, Van Nuys, CA, Shangri La Studios, Malibu, CA and HQ in San Rafael, CA from April 2007 to May 2008.

Call Death Magnetic Kirk Hammett's revenge. Famously browbeaten into accepting Lars Ulrich and producers Bob Rock's dictum that guitar solos were "dated" and thereby verboten for 2003's St. Anger -- a fraught recording chronicled on the 2004 documentary Some Kind of Monster -- Metallica's lead guitarist dominates this 2008 sequel, playing with an euphoric fury not heard in years, if not decades. This aesthetic shift isn't because Hammett suddenly rules the band: powerless to add solos to St. Anger, he couldn't reinstate them without the blessing of Ulrich and James Hetfield, the politburo of Metallica. The duo suffered some combination of shame and humility in the wake of the muddled St. Anger and Monster, convincing these two unmovable forces to change direction. They ditched longtime producer Rock -- who'd helmed every album since 1991's breakthrough blockbuster Metallica -- in favor of Rick Rubin, patron saint of all veteran rockers looking to reconnect with their early spark. Rubin may be the go-to producer for wayward superstars but as the producer of Slayer, he's also rooted in thrash, so he understands the core of Metallica's greatness and gently steers them back to basics on Death Magnetic.
Of course, Metallica's basics are pretty complex: intertwined guitar riffs, frenetic solos, and thunderous double-bass drums stitched together as intricate seven-minute suites. Metallica slowly weaned themselves away from labyrinthine metal during the '90s, tempering their intensity, straightening out riffs, spending nearly as much time exploring detours as driving the main road, all the while losing sight of their identity. This culminated in the confused St. Anger, a transparent and botched attempt at returning to their roots, crippled by the chaos surrounding the departure of bassist Jason Newsted. With all their problems sorted out in public -- including replacing Newsted with Robert Trujillo, who acquiesces to the Metallica custom of being buried far, far in the mix -- the group embraces every gnarled, ugly thing they eschewed in the years since "Metallica." Death Magnetic bounces the band back to the days before Bob Rock, roughly sounding as if it could come after ...And Justice for All. Such a deliberate revival of the glory days can be tricky, as it could make a group seem stuck in the past -- or, just as badly, they can get essential elements wrong -- but Death Magnetic is a resounding success because they hunker down and embrace their core strengths, recognizing that their greatest asset is that nobody else makes noise in the same way as they do.
That's the pleasure of Death Magnetic: hearing Metallica sound like Metallica again. Individual songs and, especially, Hetfield's lyrics -- less the confessional ballast of St. Anger, more a traditional blend of angst and terror -- are secondary to how the band sounds, how they spit, snarl, and surge, how they seem alive. Metallica isn't replicating moves they made in the '80s, they're reinvigorated by the spirit of their early years, adding shading they've learned in the '90s, whether it's the symphonic tension of "The Unforgiven III" or threading curdled blues licks through the thrash. Listening to the band play, it's hard not to thrill at Metallica's mastery of aggression and escalation. There is no denying that the band is older and settled, no longer fueled by the hunger and testosterone that made their '80s albums so gripping, but on Death Magnetic older doesn't mean less potent. Metallica is still vitally violent and on this terrific album -- a de facto comeback, even if they never really went away -- they're finally acting like they enjoy being a great rock band. --Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy - Symphony No. 2 - Chor & Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Pablo Heras-Casado (2014) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/44.1kHz

Composer: Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809-1847)
Artist: Christiane Karg, Christina Landshamer, Michael Schade, Chor & Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Pablo Heras-Casado
Title: Mendelssohn: Symphonie Nr.2 "Lobgesang" (1840)
Genre: Classical
Label: © Harmonia Mundi
Release Date: 2014
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 44.1kHz/24bit
Source: eClassical
Duration: 01:01:48
Recorded: Enregistrement juin 2012, Philharmonie am Gasteig, Munich

Mendelssohn’s Second Symphony (known as Lobgesang, or Hymn of Praise), was described by him as a “symphony-cantata”; in a similar manner to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, it consists of three purely instrumental movements followed by an extended closing section featuring choir and soloists. It is a piece that often seems to sit in the shadow of that masterpiece of Old Testament storytelling, Elijah.
The opening motif is a tricky one to handle; so simple in its own right, yet the linchpin of the entire work. Here it is subtly phrased rather than declaimed dramatically; Heras-Casado is evidently keeping his powder dry, treating this initial statement as the seed from which the rest of the performance grows.
The subsequent Allegro sets a cracking pace, with the dotted rhythms tucked in crisply, but there’s somehow still room for the internal details to come out of the texture in a way I’ve never heard before. This attention to these details (which so could easily be drowned in the richness of the choir and brass) turns out to be a running theme throughout this performance, and something that sets it apart from any others I’ve heard.
This is not a conspicuously “period” performance– the instruments are modern – but it’s nevertheless a taut, lean one. Any fears that this might be a self-indulgent wallow of the kind that have historically given Mendelssohn’s choral works an undeserved reputation as bloated Victoriana are quickly dispelled.
For me the first entry of the chorus after the extended symphonic prelude makes or breaks this piece. Often, the long wait before a bold forte entrance causes choirs to come in too enthusiastically. Here everything is underpinned wonderfully by the organ’s sonorous pedal register, which lends gravitas without being overpowering. This is a particularly nice touch, and indeed the organ forms a welcome solid base to many other passages throughout the work. Over all this, once again the details shine through – the rhythmic motif in the strings is clearly audible, helping to maintain a sense of drive to this initial entry.
Following soprano Christiane Karg’s suitably seraphic response to the anguished pleading of the tenor (Michael Schade) in the extremely angular “Stricke des Todes” (The snares of death), the shadows are decisively banished with “Die Nacht is vergangen” (The night is past); here again, as at the chorus’s first entry, a dancing string motif that sits atop the texture is brought to the fore, helping to lighten an otherwise ponderously self-important passage.
Heras-Casado does allow himself one moment of slight self-indulgence – in the unaccompanied first verse of the chorale “Nun danket alle Gott” one can sense that he is letting the choir enjoy their moment in the spotlight. This sensitive and expressive episode sets the stage very well for the majestic second verse, but it’s the beginning of the next number that really caught my attention. The use of the low strings (violas, divisi cellos and basses) to accompany the tenor is a stroke of genius in terms of orchestration, and the Bavarians’ sound is as rich and dark as one could wish for.
The bottom line? Simply put, this is a recording that made me remember why I love this piece. Mendelssohn’s Bach-inspired grasp of polyphony shines through with total clarity, and a work that can sometimes seem unwieldy here has an inexorable logic driving it from start to finish.
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