• SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister?
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh History and Autoformer Technology (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - NAD Viso HP50 Headphones (May 2016)

MPS 0210986MSW
Format: LP

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

Jamaican-born jazz pianist Monty Alexander began playing in Kingston clubs and recording with local bands, including Clue J & His Blues Blasters, in 1958, when he was 14. Three years later his family moved to the US, and Alexander headed to New York City, where he soon found work in jazz clubs, including Minton’s, and eventually met and befriended a number of great jazz musicians. One of them, Oscar Peterson, introduced him to Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer, who owned the German record label MPS.

Tompkins Square TSQ 5296
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

Chicago-based guitarist Harvey Mandel’s first appearance on record was in 1966, on Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite’s Southside Band. Over the next few years he played live with a number of other blues legends, including Muddy Waters and Otis Rush, and appeared on recordings by Canned Heat and John Mayall, his long, searing guitar lines earning him the nickname “the Snake.” When the Heat appeared at Woodstock in 1969, Mandel was their lead guitarist. In 1974, when Mick Taylor left the Rolling Stones, Mandel auditioned for his slot, and played in “Hot Stuff” and “Memory Motel,” from the Stones’ Black and Blue (1976).

Intervention IR-008
Format: LP

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

When guitarist Mick Jones was asked to leave the Clash in 1983, he formed Top Risk Action Company (T.R.A.C.), a band that soon folded. He then cofounded Big Audio Dynamite with filmmaker and musician Don Letts, who had directed a number of music videos for the Clash. The group’s debut album, This Is Big Audio Dynamite (1985), expanded on the sonic experimentation of the Clash’s Sandinista! (1980) and Combat Rock (1982), and continued Jones’s flirtations with disco, house, electronic pop, and other forms of music beyond punk rock.

BMG 538243611 LC19813
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

Chrissie Hynde released her first solo album, Stockholm, two years ago, but of the many records released under the Pretenders name since 1980, she’s the only constant. Hynde is the only original Pretender on Alone, but the album rocks as hard and tough as those from the band’s peak years, in the 1980s. Fellow Ohioan Dan Auerbach, of the Black Keys, produced Alone, and he gives it a vintage rock feel that ends up sounding utterly fresh.

Experience Hendrix/Legacy 88985354162
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

At the time of Jimi Hendrix’s death, in September 1970, he had released three studio albums (Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland), one live album (Band of Gypsys), and a compilation (Smash Hits). Since then, 12 albums of studio material have been added to his discography, and it’s almost impossible to keep track of the posthumous concert albums. On the plus side, the releases since 1995 have financially benefited Hendrix’s family, after years of his recordings being controlled by others.

dBpm/Anti- 87259-2
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Just last year Wilco released Star Wars, a great, experimental rock album filled with gnarly guitars and edgy songs. Their follow-up, Schmilco, is a quieter record that presents its own challenges. Beneath its calm surface are songs about not quite fitting in, and trying to pull hope from life’s difficulties and sadness.

Anti-/Red Floor 87471-2
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

When I first played Daniel Lanois’s new disc with Rocco DeLuca, it reminded me of Harold Budd’s music. Lanois helped produce The Pearl, a collaboration between Budd and Brian Eno, as well as La Bella Vista, a collection of Budd’s solo piano works. As I listened to Goodbye to Language more, I still heard a bit of a connection between Lanois and Budd, but only in the sense that both create densely complex music from seemingly simple and repeated elements.

John Varvatos Records B0025335-02-1802
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Amos Lee’s new album, Spirit, is his first for John Varvatos Records after his debut EP on Right at Home, five studio recordings for Blue Note, and a live set for ATO. Lee produced and recorded Spirit in Nashville, at Blackbird Studio and Sputnik Sound. His other records have shown the influences of everything from country and folk to jazz, but Spirit is full-on, gospel-inflected soul. In the very first track, “New Love,” Jaron Olevsky’s piano and Hammond B3 give clues that Lee has moved into a stronger R&B direction, but it’s the Stax-style horns that bring it home.

ECM 2490-93 (475 5832)
Format: CD (4)

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

Drummer Peter Erskine had been active in jazz for 20 years when ECM released You Never Know (1994), the first of four discs he made for the label with a trio that included British pianist John Taylor and Swedish bassist Palle Danielsson. As It Was gathers all four of the Peter Erskine Trio’s ECM releases into a boxed set that’s part of the label’s Old and New Masters Series.

Atco/Atlantic/Rhino R2 555546
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
***

If you don’t count his time with the Yardbirds, Jeff Beck has been making records since 1968, and I can’t recall a single album by him that is in any way political. But Loud Hailer (Britspeak for megaphone), Beck’s first studio album since Emotion & Commotion (2010), proclaims his opinions on current events.