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Premier Review: Yuko Mabuchi Trio Live Concert Recording from Yarlung Records

10-06-2017 | By Robert H. Levi | Issue 93

Yuko Mabuchi Trio; Yuko Mabuchi piano, Bobby Breton drums, and Del Atkins bass; Yarlung Records 80161 CD, pressed in Germany on high definition special composite materials. Available in PCM and DSD on HDTracks, and NativeDSD.com up to DSD256 (Quad DSD). 2017. Recorded before a live audience at the Brain and Creativity Institute’s Cammilleri Hall.  

Yuko Mabuchi plays a Steinway Piano. Recording Engineers: Bob Attiyeh and Arian Jansen. Mastering Engineers: Steve Hoffman and Bob Attiyeh. Executive Producer: Randy Bellous. Producer: Bob Attiyeh. www.yarlungrecords.com

Technical Information for the Audiophile for Stereo

  • Recorded in stereo on analog tape, and in DSD256 and 5 Channel Surround Sound in DSD256. 
  • Stereo version: One AKG C-24 Tube Stereo Microphone and two Schoeps M222 tube microphones and a 5ZERO7 microphone. An Elliot Midwood tube microphone preamp fed the signal to a SonoruS ATR12 analog tape recorder using SonoruS Holographic Imaging Technology. A Merging Technologies Hapi converter recording DSD256 using Merging Technologies Pyramix software was fed a separate signal from the microphone preamp. 

Technical Information for the Audiophile for 5 Channel Surround sound

  • Yarlung recording engineer Tom Caulfield recorded 5 Channel Surround Sound using three DPA 4041SP and two DPA 4006A microphones fed directly into Merging Technologies Hapi converter to record in DSD256. Go to Yarlungrecords.com for links to DSD downloads in stereo and surround sound. 

The Performance

Yuko Mabuchi plays the ivories with the touch of an angel and the understanding of an artist many times her young age. She is backed by seasoned musicians with strong drive, plus an acute sense of playing with, and not over, the pianist. This is Yarlung’s third jazz album recorded like you wish all performances were recorded:  listening is just like being there. All that's missing here is the expensive tickets and a sticky floor!

The selection of mostly standards and stand-outs is delightful and hard to leave. I liked every one of them, particularly the "All The Things You Are," "Take The A Train," "Satin Doll Medley," and "St. Thomas," a Sonny Rollins classic. The "Japanese Medley" was hauntingly gorgeous and intriguing. I played it twice in my first listening pass. 

The album is all about Yuko Mabuchi, and the bass and drums rarely step out from a supporting role. When they do, it is lovely to hear. The recording is natural and neutral with a bullet. I hear no tinkering or sweetening that does not belong there. 

Definition is top notch. Ambient cues, imaging solidity, and airiness are state of the art. The soundstage is huge and lifelike, and you will be drawn into it even in the stereo CD recording which I auditioned. I could easily hear the size of the venue.

Though recorded live, the audience did not interrupt any of the performance, and was well behaved. I really liked the "recorded before a live audience" vibe. What a superbly entertaining and natural sounding effort on Yarlungs part. They do it for the artists and not for profit. Buy a copy for yourself and for all of your holiday gift giving needs. By the way, Yarlung is a 501(c)3 non-profit and does these great recordings for the benefit of young musicians to give their career a boost. Support them please!

The Yuko Mabuchi Trio Concert CD has my highest recommendation. Should knock your socks off in hi-rez!