As originally published in The Absolute Sound, this article addressed three genres of music: Rock, Pop, and Folk; Classical; and Jazz. As a convenience for our online readers, we have broken the article into three parts—each covering one genre grouping. –Chris Martens
A large portion—indeed a majority—of our recommendations are re-masterings of “classic” LPs. This shouldn’t be surprising: The “golden age” of recording began half a century ago and left us a great wealth of irreplaceable treasures. But we’ve also included many recent releases, for the “golden age” is by no means over (even if it seemed as if it were when glassy, hard-edged digital sound first took over).
Three formats are represented: vinyl (whether 33 1/3 or 45 rpm), conventional compact disc, and high-resolution discs including hybrid SACD and hybrid multichannel SACD as well as a sprinkling of DVD-A and more recent high-res formats (Blu-ray, etc.). Many of the items on our list are currently available from distributors like Music Direct, Acoustic Sounds, and Elusive Disc, but since audiophile releases are typically produced by small, specialty outfits and often pressed in small quantities, they tend to sell out quickly. Out of print issues, however, can usually be found on eBay, Amazon, and other sources of collectable recordings.
Cannonball Adderley, Somethin’ Else. Blue Note-Analogue Productions (two 180g 45rpm LPs, hybrid SACD).
Though the personnel is mostly different, Adderley teams again with Miles Davis for something of a modal follow-up to Kind of Blue.
Louis Armstrong, Satchmo Plays King Oliver. Audio Fidelity-Classic (180g LP).
Classic New Orleans jazz in stunningly alive sound.
The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album. JVC (XRCD).
This rare collaboration pairs a masterful singer with a most sensitive accompanist. JVC’s disc sounds superb.
Art Blakey And The Jazz Messenger’s, The Big Beat. Blue Note-Music Matters (two 180g 45rpm LPs)
The Messengers soar with Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter. The sound of this reissue will floor you.
Tina Brooks, Back To The Tracks. Blue Note-Music Matters (two 180g 45rpm LPs).
In a short career, Brooks proved to be an imaginative composer, leader, and sideman. He’s worth knowing.