MACK AVENUE RECORDS VINYL RELEASES, ASSORTED ARTISTS


What is it about vinyl records that cause listeners to swoon? As a recent convert myself (I’ll cop to the fact that I’ve recently invested in a Clearaudio turntable rig), I can say that despite the slight nuisance of getting up every 15 minutes to turn over the platter, the sound of vinyl captures the essence of a performance in a way that digital media cannot. The warmth of analog sound, together with the depth and dynamic range of vinyl is sonically apparent to most listeners and even non-audiophiles. A welcome resurgence of interest of vinyl has not gone unnoticed by recording labels, since most of them offer a vinyl edition and CD to accompany their current digital releases.

To satisfy this renaissance of vinyl, the classy, independent label Mack Avenue Records, founded by Detroit businesswoman Gretchen Valade and Tom Robinson, have recently issued some of their best recordings on audiophile-quality 180-gram double-LP records:

·       Cecile McLorin Salvant, WomanChild
·       New Gary Burton Quartet, Common Ground
·       Christian McBride & Inside Straight, Kind Of Brown
·       The Christian McBride Big Band 
·       Stanley Jordan, Friends
·       Kenny Garrett, Seeds From The Underground
·       Kevin Eubanks, Zen Food
·       Yellowjackets, Timeline

So, back to the swooning thing -- out of all of these Mack Avenue LP releases, two albums stand out in particular. Apart from getting extra-deluxe gatefold packaging on Christian McBride’s Kind Of Brown two-record set, it’s the only one in this group that’s pressed on 210-gram vinyl, which results in a flatter LP and a lower noise floor when played on your own turntable. And it includes a link for a digital download of the full album. Like each of the Mack Avenue LPs, this sings with clarity and astonishing vividness – there’s a tangible feeling to McBride’s band as if you are sitting directly in front of them. Drummer Carl Allen, pianist Eric Reed, sax player Steve Wilson and vibraphonist Warren Wolf blend seamlessly across the soundstage.

The album from singer Cecile McLorin Salvant is a solid candidate for 2013 jazz vocal record of the year. Winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk International jazz Competition, Salvant is accompanied by label mate and swinging pianist/arranger Aaron Diehl, bassist Rodney Whitaker, guitarist James Chirillo and drummer Herlin Riley, on beautifully crafted tunes that will make you think of singers like Ella and Sarah Vaughan, not stylistically, but rather in terms of originality and poise. Salvant’s version of “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” is seized with a vitality that bursts out of your speakers. Not in a long while has one heard as captivating a performance, one that brings together groove and grace so beautifully. A once and future star, let’s hope that Ms. Salvant continues to light up the night in song for a long time to come.

Vinyl has come full-circle, no longer on life-support or sustained by handful of rebel labels, collectors and fringe audiophiles. Mack Avenue Records is supporting the effort by partnering with the well-respected vinyl producer, RTI Technologies (the same company that produced the invaluable Miles Davis monaural LPs.) Each of their eight initial offerings provides an exceptional reason to reinvest in vinyl. Perhaps it’s time to repurpose the phrase coined at the launch of CD technology back in the ‘80s, which promised “perfect sound forever” – turns out it never went away.

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JAZZ IN SPACE: MACK AVENUE RECORDS VINYL RELEASES, ASSORTED ARTISTS

Thursday, December 5, 2013

MACK AVENUE RECORDS VINYL RELEASES, ASSORTED ARTISTS


What is it about vinyl records that cause listeners to swoon? As a recent convert myself (I’ll cop to the fact that I’ve recently invested in a Clearaudio turntable rig), I can say that despite the slight nuisance of getting up every 15 minutes to turn over the platter, the sound of vinyl captures the essence of a performance in a way that digital media cannot. The warmth of analog sound, together with the depth and dynamic range of vinyl is sonically apparent to most listeners and even non-audiophiles. A welcome resurgence of interest of vinyl has not gone unnoticed by recording labels, since most of them offer a vinyl edition and CD to accompany their current digital releases.

To satisfy this renaissance of vinyl, the classy, independent label Mack Avenue Records, founded by Detroit businesswoman Gretchen Valade and Tom Robinson, have recently issued some of their best recordings on audiophile-quality 180-gram double-LP records:

·       Cecile McLorin Salvant, WomanChild
·       New Gary Burton Quartet, Common Ground
·       Christian McBride & Inside Straight, Kind Of Brown
·       The Christian McBride Big Band 
·       Stanley Jordan, Friends
·       Kenny Garrett, Seeds From The Underground
·       Kevin Eubanks, Zen Food
·       Yellowjackets, Timeline

So, back to the swooning thing -- out of all of these Mack Avenue LP releases, two albums stand out in particular. Apart from getting extra-deluxe gatefold packaging on Christian McBride’s Kind Of Brown two-record set, it’s the only one in this group that’s pressed on 210-gram vinyl, which results in a flatter LP and a lower noise floor when played on your own turntable. And it includes a link for a digital download of the full album. Like each of the Mack Avenue LPs, this sings with clarity and astonishing vividness – there’s a tangible feeling to McBride’s band as if you are sitting directly in front of them. Drummer Carl Allen, pianist Eric Reed, sax player Steve Wilson and vibraphonist Warren Wolf blend seamlessly across the soundstage.

The album from singer Cecile McLorin Salvant is a solid candidate for 2013 jazz vocal record of the year. Winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk International jazz Competition, Salvant is accompanied by label mate and swinging pianist/arranger Aaron Diehl, bassist Rodney Whitaker, guitarist James Chirillo and drummer Herlin Riley, on beautifully crafted tunes that will make you think of singers like Ella and Sarah Vaughan, not stylistically, but rather in terms of originality and poise. Salvant’s version of “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” is seized with a vitality that bursts out of your speakers. Not in a long while has one heard as captivating a performance, one that brings together groove and grace so beautifully. A once and future star, let’s hope that Ms. Salvant continues to light up the night in song for a long time to come.

Vinyl has come full-circle, no longer on life-support or sustained by handful of rebel labels, collectors and fringe audiophiles. Mack Avenue Records is supporting the effort by partnering with the well-respected vinyl producer, RTI Technologies (the same company that produced the invaluable Miles Davis monaural LPs.) Each of their eight initial offerings provides an exceptional reason to reinvest in vinyl. Perhaps it’s time to repurpose the phrase coined at the launch of CD technology back in the ‘80s, which promised “perfect sound forever” – turns out it never went away.

Labels: , , ,

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