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Two Really Strong Reference Quality CDs for Audiophiles

06-29-2015 | By Robert H. Levi | Issue 80


Sagebrush Rebellion

Papillon Recordings 

BluePort Jazz, BPJ-024

Producer: Dmitri Matheny

Recording Engineer: Jim Merod

Mastered by: Jim Merod and Steve McCormack

Recorded Live at Dizzy's in San Diego, CA, 11/29/13 

[Image courtesy of Dmitri Matheny and BluPort Jazz]

Dedicated to the artistry of Art Farmer, four stellar jazz musicians (Dmitri Matheny on flugelhorn, Nick Manson playing piano, Justin Grinnell, bass, and Duncan Moore on drums) combined in front of a live audience to play in the "grand jazz tradition." Jim Merod, recording engineer extraordinaire, using state-of-the-art gear and cables, laid down the live sound that puts Jazz at the Pawnshop to shame. Focusing on the flugelhorn artistry of Dmitry Matheny, Merod injected pure musical protoplasm into the digits and created a bona fide reference quality recording for compact disc.

Audiophiles should rush to get this mellifluous disk, because if your system is dialed in, it sounds alive—right as rain. No digititus here. The recording is very analog-like and smooth as silk. Excellent tunes too! Featuring nine strong selections with composers like Charley Haden, Duke Ellington, Nat Adderley, and two by Dmitry as well, it is a fun and sexy set of straight ahead jazz performances one can really enjoy. Plus, the recording quality throughout is simply outstanding.

This may be the best effort of veteran BluePort recording topper Jim Merod to date! My highest recommendation.

Performance A

Sound A+



Saint-Saens Symphony No. 3

Michael Stern, Kasnsas City Symphony

Reference Recordings CD, RR136

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

Recording and Mastering Engineer: Keith Johnson

Recorded June 20-21, 2013, Helzberg Hall

[Image courtesy of Reference Recordings]

This tour de force has it all. Not only do we have the most bombastic symphony ever written, we also have the violin spectacular of the "Introduction" and "Rondo Capriccioso" with "La Muse et Le Poete." The excellent Noah Geller plays with authority and elegance the very complicated scores. Jan Kraybill makes the organ leap for joy and thrill the listener to the max. Mark Gibbs cello performance is superb.

Michael Stern, Isaac Stern's son, is on point as usual, creating powerful and moving performances. He conducts like Leonard Bernstein, full of surprises just as the ear gets used to his pacing. 

Now for the sonic gusto:  Keith Johnson has done it again. Wonderful definition is combined with depth and breadth to create a sonic picture that is gargantuan. Plus, this CD has the best recorded bass power and definition I have ever heard...even compared to the best Telarcs of old. My house shuddered and my sofa quaked. This is the ultimate CD for bass and expansiveness of image. A Reference Recording reference disk!

Overall, brilliant work across the board. Keith Johnson is at the top of his game; he is a truly amazing recording genius. How about Beethoven's Nine Symphonies next please???!!!

My highest recommendation.

Performance A

Sound A+