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Harry James & His Big Band - The Harry James Sessions 1976 & 1979 (2013) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Artist: Harry James & His Big Band
Title: The Harry James Sessions 1976 & 1979
Genre: Jazz, Big Band, Swing
Label: © Sheffield Lab Recordings
Release Date: 1976/1979/2013
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Source: HDTracks
Duration: 01:34:00
Recorded: July 29-30, 1976; March 26-30, 1979 at Wylie Chapel, First Presbyterian Church, Hollywood, California

Sheffield Lab Recordings has released a new Harry James CD set with all their original direct to disk recordings. This is a great opportunity for audiophiles and trumpet fans to have a collection of one of the trumpet greats, Harry James, recorded at the highest standards. At the time, Harry James said, “In 36 years of recording, I have never been so pleased with the sound.”
The CD set is a reissue of a historic recording: The Harry James Sessions. Consisting of three albums originally recorded direct-to-disc by Sheffield in 1976 and 1979, and now spectacularly re-mastered by Seth Winner from analog disc originals, this program of music from the height of the swing era is a vital representation of one of the great big bands of the 20th century. To hear this music recorded by Sheffield from the perspective of a single stereo microphone, is to hear this magnificent band as dancers heard it in front of the bandstand, with the impact and energy that we don’t associate with historic recordings of another era. Pretty thrilling stuff!
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Wilhelm Fitzenhagen - Cello Concertos - Alban Gerhardt, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Stefan Blunier (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/48kHz

Сomposer: Wilhelm Fitzenhagen (1848-1890), Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Artist: Alban Gerhardt, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Stefan Blunier
Title: The Romantic Cello Concerto Vol. 7
Genre: Classical
Label: © Hyperion Records
Release Date: 2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 48kHz/24bit
Source: hyperion-records
Duration: 74 minutes 58 seconds
Recorded: August 2013, Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, Germany

The music of Wilhelm Fitzenhagen bursts into the Hyperion catalogue with two triumphant cello concertos, a couple of other original works, and his (in)famous version of the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations. Ace cellist Alban Gerhardt presides.
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Fabienne Ambuhl Trio - Glitterwoods (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/88.2kHz

Artist: Fabienne Ambühl Trio
Title: Glitterwoods
Genre: Jazz
Label: © Traumton Records
Release Date: 2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 88,2kHz/24bit
Source: Qobuz
Duration: 00:54:51
Recorded: Artesuono Recording Studio, Udine, Italy by Stefano Amerio in December 2013; Track 7 recorded at Gabriel Recording Stalden, Switzerland by Rolf Ambauen in December 2013

“I like when a melody is easy to grasp”, Fabienne Ambühl says. “That’s why I tell myself, that it should sound a little more straightforward sometimes. But at the same time I love to experiment.” No wonder that the 28-year-old pianist and singer from Switzerland covers quite a broad spectrum on her album Glitterwoods. But in doing so, she exhibits substance and clear profile. Ambühl confidently explores lyrical depths and the beauty of breezy harmonies. With a keen sense for nuances she transcends melodic ideas, dresses these in finely detailed arrangements, which open space for her adept accompanists Asaf Sirkis (drums) and Yuri Goloubev (double bass).
Fabienne Ambühl’s unerringly dancing playing reveals multilayered experiences. Her attention was first drawn to the piano through a neighbor. “He played boogie and blues, which impressed me so much as a nine-year-old, that I also wanted to learn that, “Ambühl remembers. For four years she took classical lessons, then an extraordinary talent for improvisation was recognized in her and she switched to jazz. “With fourteen I began playing in a big band, with which I later also recorded a CD”, Fabienne Ambühl delineates her juvenile experiences. During her studies in Luzern she played in the horn-driven soul-jazz octet “X-elle”. She completed her “Master of Arts in Music Performance Jazz” and then relocated to Copenhagen to deepen her love for singing at the Complete Vocal Institute. While steadily widening her horizon, Ambühl sharpened her artistic view as well; also on her own music. A couple of years ago she threw out a partially recorded album, ”because ultimately I wasn’t quite satisfied with it.”
Glitterwoods is all the more convincing now. Radiating, occasionally generous melody phrases alternate with rhythmically enthralling passages, imaginative motifs and a few onomatopoeic moments. Ambühl’s compositions are finely balanced and often full of energy anyway. Furthermore she exhibits secure intuition for atmospheres and intensity as a singer. With bell-like sound and variable expression she changes between a touch of melancholy and restrained euphoric moods. In the most expressive composition of the album, the three-part title piece, her singing first meanders in dark registers, to then abruptly shoot into high range.
With Asaf Sirkis and Yuri Goloubev, Ambühl has two strong partners at her side. Three years ago she got to know and learned to appreciate them during concerts they played together with the Marco Cortesi EU project. “Asaf has a special sense for musical form and likes to experiment with my compositions”, Ambühl rejoices, “and in Yuri’s playing I especially love his unique way of bowing the bass, which is elsewise rather uncommon in jazz.” Goloubev - originally Russian, now living in Italy - first called attention to himself as a Classical virtuoso (i.e. with Rostropowitsch, Gidon Kremer), then as a jazz player (Paulo Fresu, Michel Portal, Gilym Simcock). Sirkis on the other hand came from Israel to London and has delivered brilliant performance with Gilad Atzmon, in Tim Garland’s Lighthouse Project, as well as with his own productions. Also with Fabienne Ambühl the flexible drummer behaves sensitively at one moment, then at other times powerful with impellent grooves. In addition, he plays the sonorous Swiss steel drum “hang”.
Fabienne Ambühl combines a profound jazz mindset with romantic power of imagination to an unmistakable personal style. She loves Johannes Brahms and has listened to the early Brad Mehldau just as much as to Alan Pasqua. She calls the airy-fairy concept-pop musician Efterklang one of her favorites, just as much as various singer/songwriters. The pieces on Glitterwoods also reflect her back and forth between the alpine homeland and European metropolises. She likes staying in London for weeks at a time, but leaving Switzerland altogether is out of question. In the end she feels too strongly connected to nature, likes being with horses and is fascinated “by the silence and the atmospheres of the forest”. She actually once secluded herself to a village in the mountains for composing. This leaves no question about how the solo-played “Black Horses Suite” came about. “Sea Son” is also inspired by nature: “I was picturing the ocean, but not only its wide panorama. Until this day I like damming up little creeks in the mountains and watching how the water still wins in the end, by somehow winding its way around me.”
Ambühl enriches some pieces with poetic words, which seem more suggestive than narrative though. “I don’t write ‘songs’ in the classic sense. My lyrics are rather meant to support or intensify moods. Nonetheless, some composition is based on a sung melodic line. Maybe also, because I used to play saxophone before I started singing.”
Fabienne Ambühl’s music changes between deliberate reduction and emotional profoundness, between maturity and playfulness. The balance of the album matches her own attitude towards life she says, and tells of her imperturbable love for small things. “The piece ‘Inchworms’ sort of sprung from this sentiment”, the charming and equally smart musician laughs, “namely, that I like running off to save every little earthworm.”
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Enrico Rava - New York Days (2009) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Artist: Enrico Rava
Title: New York Days
Genre: Jazz, Modern Creative, Post-Bop, Trumpet jazz
Label: © ECM Records GmbH | ECM Player | ECM Reviews
Release Date: 2009
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Source: Qobuz
Duration: 01:17:05
Recorded: February 2008 at Avatar Studios, New York

A new transatlantic quintet headed by Italian trumpeter Rava, recorded in New York in 2008 and a first ECM appearance for US tenorist Mark Turner, whose distilled, lean sound references Coltrane, Warne Marsh, Wayne Shorter and others. Turner’s searching, analytical tone is in marked contrast to Enrico’s lyrical flourishes, but the two make a fascinating pairing - especially with the resolutely musical pianist Stefano Bollani finding points of contact, and making his own statements. Add in the gifted bassist Larry Grenadier (last heard on ECM with Charles Lloyd) and that most unpredictable of all drummers, Paul Motian, and you have here a truly remarkable band.
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Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Armed Forces (1979/2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/192kHz

Artist: Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Title: Armed Forces
Genre: Rock, New Wave, Rock & Roll, British Punk
Label: © Elvis Costello/Universal Music Group
Release Date: 1979/2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 192kHz/24bit
Duration: 40:03
Recorded: August 1978–September 1978, Eden Studios, London

#475 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of 'The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time'
#45 on Q magazine's list of 'The 100 Greatest British Albums of All Time'

Largely written on tour in hotel rooms and on the bus, Elvis Costello's Armed Forces takes personal politics to a new level. A supremely melodic and hook-laden record, the 1979 set is a showcase of scintillating keyboard lines, sharp guitar work, and the most cohesive arrangements of Costello and the Attractions' career. In every way, this is a pop masterpiece, defined by hits such as "Accidents Will Happen," "Oliver's Army," and the anthemic "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding?" You need this record. While less musically intense than the preceding This Year's Model, Armed Forces doesn't let up in the lyric department. Costello's narratives are loaded with paranoia, irony, bitterness, and scathing humor. Originally titled Emotional Fascism, the singer's third consecutive masterpiece is inspired by billboard sign slogans, insular observations, and social behavior that Costello found applicable to his own situation. "Oliver's Army," "Green Shirt," and "Senior Service" address systemic governmental control. "Big Boys," "Two Little Hitlers," and "Accidents Will Happen" also concern control and betrayal – but that of the interpersonal nature. Given the luxury of six weeks in the studio, Costello and the Attractions responded with spacious arrangements and a few extra touches and instrumental colors that add to the songs' charm. Steve Nieve employs a monophonic Minimoog keyboard and pianos patterned after Abba's sweet pop; whispers are exaggerated into black comedy shouts on "Goon Squad"; layered and echoed vocals provide the illusion of several Costello voices on multiple tracks. The band is of a piece, constantly in harmony and on the same page.
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David Helbock Trio - Aural Colors (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/44.1kHz

Artist: David Helbock Trio
Title: Aural Colors
Genre: Jazz
Label: © Traumton Records
Release Date: 2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 44,1kHz/24bit
Source: Qobuz
Duration: 00:49:51
Recorded: Traumton Studios, Berlin, June 2014

“It is a luxury, to be able to perform and develop pieces for some time before recording them”, David Helbock asserts happily. He met the partners for his most recent album, the two Viennese Raphael Preuschl and Herbert Pirker, back in 2010 when he moved from his old home Vorarlberg to the Austrian capital. “The two are very active in various formations and have been a well attuned rhythm section since 15 years”, Helbock says, “their playing goes perfectly with my compositions.”
In these years since 2010 the multi-award-winning 30-year old pianist created an international stir first and foremost with his non-conformist trio Random/Control. Its highly concentrated use of diverse brass and woodwind instruments presented and presents itself thus far on two albums and in many concerts as a virtuoso, witty anomaly. Helbock’s current trio shows unconventional and humorous facets as well. Raphael Preuschl (*1977) is not plucking a double bass or an electric bass, but a bass ukulele. „It sounds very loud and percussive, in some way quite African, which suits my music well“, Helbock explains happily. Herbert Pirker (*1981) plays his drums accordingly dynamical, sometimes almost eruptive. In lyrical passages highly sensitive, in fast moments with pronounced energy and hard beats that almost resemble rock esthetics. Pirker works with jazz-players (e.g. Louis Sclavis) as well as with pop bands, for example with the rapper Fiva alias Nina Sonnenberg from Munich. He is certainly not a quiet drummer; his powerful entries accentuate the occasionally ragged charm of Helbock’s pieces.
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David Friedman - Weaving Through Motion (2014) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/44.1kHz

Artist: David Friedman
Title: Weaving Through Motion
Genre: Jazz, Marimba Jazz
Label: © Traumton Records
Release Date: 2014
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 44,1kHz/24bit
Source: Qobuz
Duration: 00:57:33

“Solo records are a wonderful opportunity to create own textures”, David Friedman rejoices about his new album “Weaving Through Motion”. It is in fact only his second solo-CD and at the same time a kind of anniversary. 20 years ago Friedman’s first solo album named “Air Sculpture” appeared, also on Traumton. Of course the American hasn’t been deedless in Berlin before and since then; he played concerts and recorded albums with notables such as Chet Baker, John Scofield, Wayne Shorter, Dino Saluzzi, Jean-Louis Matinier, Bobby McFerrin and many others - just never alone. “Usually the label and the studio don’t give you much time to unhurriedly develop something”, Friedman explains. This was completely different on his current production. With the producer Wolfgang Loos he tried out many ideas, improvised, developed melodies and harmonies. By carefully overlaying individual motifs as overdubs “a vertical sound architecture” evolved in the end.
In other words: the pieces on “Weaving Through Motion” emanate an individual beauty. It shimmers gently, cryptically, decidedly stays away from heavy make-up or pretentious accessories. Thereby it immediately appears attractive, but not boastful. With each further regard - in this case of course with each further listening - the pieces allure a little more, reveal additional nuances. Some seem to eradiate a contemplative, almost Zen-like calmness, though without the strictness of a tee-ceremony or a calligraphy. Friedman’s music flows without haste, but with a distinct aim. “It was important to me, that every piece creates its own atmosphere”, he describes his basic idea. One could add: an atmosphere that competently combines lightness with depth.
Alone the encounter of the two instruments brings forth oscillating dialogs. The metal bars of the vibraphone develop a floating, sometimes airy sound; the rather dry patterns of the wooden marimba associate earthy timbres. Not as a harsh contrast, but rather a mutually enriching communication. This time he did without extra percussion, which Friedman had additionally played in 1994. Nevertheless, many pieces exhibit a sublime rhythmic energy, partly also groove, like on “No (Changes)”, a personal approach to the rock-band Yes. “Compared to my first solo album, I thought more freely this time and less in odd meters”, Friedman comments, “I was after the challenge of creating melodies out of nothingness that stay in your ear.”
Four non-originals, arranged in typical Friedman-style, are to be found on the CD. He had wanted to record Thelonious Monk’s Round Midnight for a long time already, “only its main theme” however. Friedman also shows a forceful volition to reshaping in his interpretation of Michel Legrand’s “Windmills of Your Mind”. “I always thought his basic idea was kitschy and ingenious at the same time”, Friedman says, “now I have changed the harmonic structure and a couple of harmonies, left out a part and underlayed it with a groove in 7/4 instead of 4/4 time.” David Friedman used to play the piece Atom by Ferenc Snetberger together with the guitarist; the Hungarian temper is in his nature, because he has family roots in this region. David Friedman was born in 1944 in New York City and grew up in the jazz-metropolis. “Jazz was very important back then and present everywhere”, he remembers, “all of its pioneers who had defined the style were still alive. In Manhattan you could see really fantastic swing players playing in clubs even during the daytime. And if you dared going to Harlem… I played there with Hubert Laws as one of two white guys among many Afro-Americans.” In 1977 he performed at the festival in Moers for the first time, right after the Art Ensemble Of Chicago. This was a provocation for the local free jazz audience. Just like today Friedman was interested in the connection of melody, structure and improvisation at that time. “What has always fascinated me, is improvisation that is not atonal, but rather sounds tonal and harmonic”, he says drawing the connection to the melodic playing of Keith Jarret or Dave Liebman.
“If a piece doesn’t motivate dreaming, it seems shallow to me”, Friedman says, “it has to spur my imagination.” After all, that is the power of music: “To put people into a different mood, transferring them into a different world for a short time.” With a wink of the eye Friedman calls it “aural tourism” and declares: “the notes play a secondary role, as long as the atmospheric tension remains.”
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David Ackles - David Ackles (1968/2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/192kHz

Artist: David Ackles
Title: David Ackles
Genre: Rock, Folk Rock, Singer/Songwriter
Label: © Elektra Records
Release Date: 1968/2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 192kHz/24bit
Duration: 38:08
Recorded: 1968

Ackles' self-titled debut LP introduced a singer/songwriter quirky even by the standards of Elektra records, possibly the most adventurous independent label of the 1960s. Ackles was a pretty anomalous artist of his time, with a low, grumbling voice that was uncommercial but expressive, and similar to Randy Newman's. As a composer, Ackles bore some similarities to Newman, as well in his downbeat eccentricity and mixture of elements from pop, folk, and theatrical music. All the same, this impressive maiden outing stands on its own, though comparisons to Brecht/Weill (in the songwriting and occasional circus-like tunes) and Tim Buckley (in the arrangements and phrasing) hold to some degree too. This is certainly his most rock-oriented record, courtesy of the typically tasteful, imaginative Elektra arrangements, particularly with Michael Fonfara's celestial organ and the ethereal guitar riffs (which, again, recall those heard on Buckley's early albums). As a songwriter, Ackles was among the darkest princes of his time, though the lyrics were delivered with a subdued resignation that kept them from crossing the line to hysterical gloom. "The Road to Cairo," covered by Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger, and the Trinity, is probably the most famous song here. But the others are quality efforts as well, whether the epics tell of religious trial, as in "His Name Is Andrew," or the mini-horror tale of revisiting an old home in "Sonny Come Home." --AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger
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Frederic Chopin - Sonata No. 3; Polonaise-Fantaisie; Nocturnes - Charles Richard-Hamelin (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/192kHz

Сomposer: Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)
Artist: Charles Richard-Hamelin
Title: Chopin - Sonata No. 3; Polonaise-Fantaisie; Nocturnes
Genre: Classical
Label: © Analekta
Release Date: 2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 192kHz/24bit
Source: Qobuz
Duration: 00:53:40
Recorded: May 2015 at Salle Françoys-Bernier of the Domaine Forget, Québec, Canada

Charles Richard-Hamelin is one of today’s most promising Canadian pianists. He was the the winner of the 2011 Prix d’Europe and, in 2014, he won the second prize at the Montreal International Musical Competition. As well, in October 2015, Charles will compete at the 17th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw.

The works of Chopin on this recording were composed between 1843 and 1846, a period in which Chopin’s final compositional style came to the forefront. He emerged from this period even more of a perfectionist than before. The spontaneity and passionate impulses of youth gave way to a more pensive, meditative mood that in turn could express a much wider palette of emotions. Accomplished virtuosity!
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Carrie Underwood - Storyteller (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/44.1kHz

Artist: Carrie Underwood
Title: Storyteller
Genre: Pop Rock, R&B, Country
Label: © 19 Recordings Limited/Arista Nashville
Release Date: 2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 44,1kHz/24bit
Duration: 45:51

"Something in the Water," the new single tacked onto Carrie Underwood's 2014 compilation Greatest Hits: Decade #1, was an operatic blowout on par with her 2012 smash "Blown Away" -- something grand and melodramatic, suggesting Vegas as much as it suggested inspirational music. Storyteller, her fifth album and first since her career recap, certainly contains cinematic elements -- Underwood has been proud to be a diva ever since she prowled the stages of American Idol a decade prior -- but the title isn't a feint; she spends a good chunk of the album reiterating, singing about heartbreak, hair triggers, red wine, dirty laundry, and smoke breaks, the mundane details that turn life so joyous and tragic. Subtlety isn't Underwood's strong suit so the songs tend to be a bit on the nose, whether she's pledging devotion to her newborn son on the sweet closer "What I Never Knew I Always Wanted" or streamlining Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billy Joe" via the stomping "Choctaw County Affair," but that directness is key to her appeal: there are no greys in Carrie's music, only blazing primary colors. Appropriately enough, Storyteller gleams with steely assurance, perhaps the toughest and boldest record yet but one that hardly soft-pedals her softer side. Carrie isn't an unapologetic spitfire like her "Something Bad" duet partner Miranda Lambert. She is, as she says in her album title, a Storyteller, and there's an unmistakable distance between her theatrics and the subjects of her tunes; she isn't living these songs, she's performing them. Like a skilled actor, Underwood chooses her roles wisely -- she's comfortable swaggering through the leadoff pair of "Renegade Runaway" and "Dirty Laundry," while she eases into the comforting melancholy of "The Girl You Think I Am" -- and she knows how to deliver the essence of each song, modulating her performances not only so they match the grand productions of Jay Joyce, Mark Bright, and Zach Crowell but so they always are the focal point. That's no small feat and Storyteller is no small album: it demands attention and it deserves it, too. --AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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