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October 2010: Sinatra and Sextet, The Magic Flute, No Better than this, Historie Du Soldat

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Sinatra and Sextet Live in Paris

Sinatra and Sextet Live in Paris
Mobile Fidelity 180g
No. of Discs: 2

Tracks:
1. Introduction – Charles Aznavour
2. Goody Goody
3. Imagination
4. At Long Last Love
5. Moonlight in Vermont
6. Without a Song
7. Day In – Day Out
8. I’ve Got You Under My Skin
9. I Get a Kick Out of You
10. Second Time Around
11. Too Marvelous for Words
12. My Funny Valentine
13. In the Still of the Night 14. April in Paris
15. You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You
16. They Can’t Take That Away from Me
17. Chicago
18. Night and Day
19. I Could Have Danced All Night
20. One for My Baby
21. Foggy Day
22. Ol’ Man River
23. Lady Is a Tramp
24. I Love Paris
25. Nancy With the Laughing Face)
26. Come Fly With Me

It has always been a disappointment to me that favorite Frank Sinatra recording, DCC’s Sinatra ’57 In Concert was only available on CD. Now comes MoFi’s reissue of Live in Paris. No, it’s not the same album, but it fills a void I have had for a Sinatra album like this on vinyl. I can’t imagine a live Sinatra recording that better captures the essence of his great voice, his showmanship, and one which has such great accompaniment. He is backed by a simple sextet that allows the main focus here on his incredible voice and ability to phrase.

Not only is the performance great, but this is such a great collection of songs. Top it off with Mobile Fidelity remastering the album from the original master tapes and pressing them on really quiet 180-gram vinyl, and you have a chance to enjoy Ol’ Blue Eyes as you seldom have before.

Highly Recommended.

Karl Bohm – Mozart: Die Zauber Flote (The Magic Flute)

Karl Bohm - Mozart: Die Zauber Flote (The Magic Flute)
Deutsche Grammophon
180 gram vinyl

The Magic Flute was one of the first opera I ever heard, not because I knew it was an opera though. I did not grow up with any exposure to classical music, much less opera. When I was in college I begin to listen to some classical music and discovered I liked some of it.

One day while in the campus bookstore, I saw an LP called the Magic Flute by Mozart. I purchased it because I liked flute music. I guess you can guess how surprised I was when I got back to my dorm room and listened to the LP, but I did like it very much. It takes the listener into the realms of heaven and hell with a colorful succession of contrasting pictures of sound. I found the singing beautiful and the music wonderful. I know so little about classical music, much less opera that I dare not say more. Instead, I will keep the rest of my comments on the sound.

I really like this 180 gram version of this Deutsche Grammophon LP, but like nearly all DG recordings I have listened to over the last 38 years, it does have some distortion, especially in the treble region as it gets closer to the center of the disc. If it does this with my 12-inch Shindo tonearm, I assume it may be worse with most shorter tonearms. Still it has a more romantic sound than most DG recordings, and the soundstage is precise and very realistic. The voices are very alive sounding and the strings and woodwinds are nicely sweet. All I can say is I enjoyed it very much and I would recommend it to anyone who likes the “Magic Flute”.

John Mellencamp – No Better Than This

John Mellencamp - No Better Than This
Rounder
Two mono vinyl LPs

Tracks:
1. Save Some Time To Dream
2. The West End
3. Right Behind Me
4. A Graceful Fall
5. No Better Than This
6. Thinking About You
7. Coming Down The Road
8. No One Cares About Me
9. Love At First Sight
10. Don’t Forget About Me
11. Each Day Of Sorrow
12. Easter Eve
13. Clumsy Ol’ World

This is John Mellencamp’s twenty-first studio record, but it’s his first album for Rounder Records. It is also a marked departure from his other recordings, very much a folk-blues LP. Mellencamp is known for pushing the envelope and living on his own terms. Still even for him, No Better Than This is a little strange. It’s an album of brand new songs sonically stripped-down and recorded in mono. The songs are recorded in historically significant locations, including Sun Studios in Memphis, the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia, and room 414 of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio. The room where blues master Robert Johnson was recorded in 1936. The album is produced by T Bone Burnett.

Burnett and Mellencamp chose to use a single vintage microphone and a refurbished 55-year-old tube Ampex tape recorder to record No Better Than This. The band includes musicians like guitarist Marc Ribot and bassist Dave Roe. Mellencamp and Burnett recorded 13 new songs to tape the old-fashioned way. With all the musicians and singers gathered around the one old microphone. Now you’ve got to admit that this is an unusual way to make a brand new album of brand new music in 2010.

The good news is that this album works. It works musically, and it sounds great.

Highly Recommended !!!

Igor Markevitch/Stravinsky: Histoire du Soldat

Igor Markevitch/Stravinsky: Histoire du Soldat
Speakers Corner (Philips)
180 Gram Vinyl

Tracks:
1. Le Recitant
2. La Diable
3. La Soldat
4. La Princesse

This LP caught me off guard in several ways. My only real relationship with Stravinsky’s Historie Du Soldat has been strictly orchestration only. So the amount of dialogue came as a surprise. It was created though as a theatrical work for a small ensemble consisting of a narrator, two actors, a dancer and seven musicians. This is what you get here and I was surprised it turned out to be a pleasant one.

The music has a very dance-like energy, that kind of combines marches, dances, and even a hint of ragtime. While there is a little more dialogue than I would like, I was very surprised by how rhythmically and musically it was spoken. Igor Markevitch certainly seems to get the most out of his little orchestra. Maurice André’s trumpet parts manage to steal the show without ruining it.

I also want to give a thumbs-up to Speakers Corner for another great reissue. Admittedly, this LP stretched me just a little out of my comfort zone, but I still recommend it for both performance and sound.

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