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  1. #1
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Awesome acoustic music?

    Just getting into the mid/hi-fi thing, and I find myself re-discovering a lot of acoustic music.

    Anybody have recommendations of pristinely produced acoustic stuff that will really show off a good rig? I'm talking chorus-like acoustic guitars, harp-like pianos, earthy acoustic basses, beautiful breathy female voices, and the like.

    Of course it helps if it's good music too!

    Thanks,
    Mike

  2. #2
    Audio Addicted
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    A few artist

    Mike,
    I suggest, Michael Franks, Diane Krall, Any Windham Hill, Clanad, Michael Hedges, William Ackerman, Acoustic Alchemy and Oystein Sevag to begin with. The music these artist create is most wonderful.

    Good Luck,
    Mike
    Michael
    2-Channel Traditionalist Audiophile
    Maggie Fan, Bob Carver Sunfire groupie

  3. #3
    Nobody Special LeoFenderBender's Avatar
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    For acoustic guitar:

    Acoustic Alchemy
    William Ackerman
    Alex DeGrassi
    Michael Hedges
    Doug Smith

    While you are searching for these, look out for one of the Narada acoustic guitar retrospective CDs - these are excellent compilations of some of the better received Narada recordings.

    For piano:

    Suzanne Ciani
    Michael Gettel
    Michael Allen Harrison
    Fred Simon
    Liz Story
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  4. #4
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Thanks for the recommendations, I'm looking into them.

    Advice on specific albums and tracks is also helpful.

    Mike

  5. #5
    Forum Regular opt80's Avatar
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    I"d go with Madeleine Peyroux, Norah Jones and the ever constant Nanci Griffith

    Alan

  6. #6
    It's just a hobby
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    One of the finest guitarists:

    Antonio Forcione

    He is on the Naim label, Try his last two releases, excellent music and recordings.

    and for female singers

    I recommend Rebecca Pidgeon, the Raven

    This recording is on JmLab's demo disk which is testament to the quality of the recording, needless to say the music is excellent.

    Finally,

    Eleanor McEvoy, Yola

    Fine music and recording.

    Any of these recordings will delight musically as well as show off the finer aspects of well thought out 2-ch rigs.
    Last edited by theaudiohobby; 10-15-2005 at 11:19 AM.

  7. #7
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    Don Ross has great accoustic guitar tone.
    Thelonious Monk for piano

  8. #8
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    A must-have...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Anderson
    Just getting into the mid/hi-fi thing, and I find myself re-discovering a lot of acoustic music.

    Anybody have recommendations of pristinely produced acoustic stuff that will really show off a good rig? I'm talking chorus-like acoustic guitars, harp-like pianos, earthy acoustic basses, beautiful breathy female voices, and the like.

    Of course it helps if it's good music too!

    Thanks,
    Mike
    ...if you're into acoustic guitar: "Friday Night in San Fransisco", by DiMeola, DeLucia, and McLaughlin (sp?).

    This was recorded live in 1980, and I bet you can guess where! :^)

    Seriously, this is top-notch guitar work, and the sonics are a bonus - one of my best.

    I have this on LP, and it has tremendous presence and feel... if I knew more about giutars, I would probably be able to name the maker. I'm sure the CD is great as well.

    You can thank me later :^P

  9. #9
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Yes, I have Friday Night in San Francisco. It's a real masterpiece as far as guitar playing goes, but I wouldn't consider the recording quality that great. Sounds like it was recorded with nothing but a pair of ambient room mics, instead of having each guitar properly mic'd individually and up close.

  10. #10
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    Hhmmm...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Anderson
    Yes, I have Friday Night in San Francisco. It's a real masterpiece as far as guitar playing goes, but I wouldn't consider the recording quality that great. Sounds like it was recorded with nothing but a pair of ambient room mics, instead of having each guitar properly mic'd individually and up close.
    ...you must have the CD :^)

    I think this is one of my MOST up-front, close to the stage recording I have. I mean, you can hear exactly where each musician is standing, left to right, and front to back. Row "A" all the way.

    Interesting...

  11. #11
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy C
    ...you must have the CD :^)

    I think this is one of my MOST up-front, close to the stage recording I have. I mean, you can hear exactly where each musician is standing, left to right, and front to back. Row "A" all the way.

    Interesting...
    There's and SACD release now too...which I have not heard but am curious.

    I was just listening to Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers: Everybody's Talkin' 'Bout Miss Thing. (big band swing/boogie woogie). I'm always impressed with the quality of this recording. Big voice, however, not breathy. "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You" stands out among many strong cuts. Its HDCD encoded as well, although I don't think it say so on the sleeve.

  12. #12
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    I listened to Friday Night again for the first time in a long time, this time on my HD-650s, and I take back what I said about it being recorded on ambient room mics; each guitar is clearly mic'd separately (or at least one of them is).

    However, I still don't think it's a great recording. There's only so much you can do in a club (here the Warfield Theater), as opposed to a controlled studio setting. That's not to say there aren't great live acoustic recordings out there, but it's a lot less controlled and more random in nature.

    EDIT: I dug out my CD w/inserts, including photos of the event, and turns out it's both: The three guitars are mic'd individually, and there are two ambient room mics on top of that. Some of the tunes (the duets in particular) sound a lot better; on the trios, there's too much ambient mic in the mix (like Track 4, Fantasia Suite).

    The best recorded song on the CD - Track 5, Guardian Angel - wasn't in the club, it was a studio recording.
    Last edited by Mike Anderson; 10-16-2005 at 12:11 AM.

  13. #13
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    I have a...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Anderson
    I listened to Friday Night again for the first time in a long time, this time on my HD-650s, and I take back what I said about it being recorded on ambient room mics; each guitar is clearly mic'd separately (or at least one of them is).

    However, I still don't think it's a great recording. There's only so much you can do in a club (here the Warfield Theater), as opposed to a controlled studio setting. That's not to say there aren't great live acoustic recordings out there, but it's a lot less controlled and more random in nature.

    EDIT: I dug out my CD w/inserts, including photos of the event, and turns out it's both: The three guitars are mic'd individually, and there are two ambient room mics on top of that. Some of the tunes (the duets in particular) sound a lot better; on the trios, there's too much ambient mic in the mix (like Track 4, Fantasia Suite).

    The best recorded song on the CD - Track 5, Guardian Angel - wasn't in the club, it was a studio recording.
    ...used (natch) LP and CD shop in my town, I'll see if I can find it on disc previously owned. I don't want to pay $18 for a CD I don't really need, but I have to admit, I'm curious.

    For $6, I'll see what it sounds like.

  14. #14
    very clever with maracas Davey's Avatar
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    These two are a little off the path you may be on, but both are very nice recordings with unique female vocalists and lots of acoustic instruments, especially the first one.

    Gillian Welch - Time (the Revelator)
    This one is a few years old now (2001) but still one of my favorites. Recorded simply, live in the studio with just a couple of Neumann mikes, Gillian and David, banjo and vintage acoustic guitars, and a lot of good music. Gillian describes the album "As opposed to little tiny folk songs, they're really tiny rock songs performed in an acoustic setting. In our heads we went electric without changing instruments."

    Over The Rhine - Ohio
    A sprawling 2-CD (or gatefold LP) epic with both acoustic and electric sections. One of the best of 2003. Karin Bergquist has such a wonderfully expressive voice and you won't find music and lyrics much more compelling than this. Think maybe something along the lines of Fleetwood Mac meets Gram Parsons (or maybe Whiskeytown covering Gram Parsons). The lush sound is a little reminiscent of the Cowboy Junkies or Blue Rodeo. Not as overtly pop sounding as the Fleetwood Mac reference would suggest (nor as dreamy and hedonistic either). Think more "Tusk" than something like "Rumours". Somewhat spiritual. Nicely recorded by Paul Mahern at Echo Park in Bloomington, Indiana on 2" analog tape.

  15. #15
    Forum Regular nobody's Avatar
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    There are two CDs from David Johanson and the Harry Smoths on Chesky records that are wodnerfully recorded verwsions of o0ld blues tunes, all done acoustically. Excellent sound and excellent music.

    As long as we're talking acoustic blues stuff...Muddy Waters: Folk Singer is really great as well. There are a bunch of versions of it from the standard CD to an MFSL version to a Classic Records DAD that I've got and that sounds great.

  16. #16
    Forum Regular nobody's Avatar
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    Oh yeah...a classic for good sound, even though it isn't exactly acoustic in the Cowboy Junkies: Trinity Sessions. It was recorded live to a single stereo mike in an old church, giving the recording tons of atmosphere. I've only heard the original vinyl, so I don't know if CD versions are as good, but then record is fantastic. Great song selection with some Hank Williams and Patsy Cline mixced in with originals. The vocals on this one will abslutely keep you coverd for that breathy female vocal thing.

  17. #17
    Suspended 3-LockBox's Avatar
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    acoustic music eh?

    Without mentioning some of the early Unplugged series...some of those are good but I figure you've already gone down that path.

    John MellencampRough Harvest - its an acoustic set played in real time with no overdubs or touch-ups and just a smattering of an audience. Very well done with an emphasis on his late '80s/early '90s stuff. Sounds superb.

    Bob James TrioStraight Up - all acoustic, classic three piece ensemble (piano, upright bass, drums) Very original sounding jazz with great sound quality. I prefer this version of James to the GRPish pablum he puts out with Four Play.

    Harry Connick JR TrioLofty's Roach Suffle - more acoustic, trio based jazz in the same vien as the afore mention Straight Up. Not as original as Bob James, but still some entertaining stuff.

    Andreas VollenwiederWhite Winds - not a huge fan of this guy, but I love this album from '84. It is partially acoustic; he lists all of the instruments in the liner notes and most of them are acoustic. There is some kinda modified electric harp that he was famous for, but the bass in this album (which sounds phenominal IMO) is played by a very large bass-harp, according to the liner notes. You kinda have to be in the mood for this (new age jazz).

  18. #18
    Forum Regular opt80's Avatar
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    Ellis Paul ~ Carnival of Voices

    Alan
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  19. #19
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    A few of my favs already were mentioned.

    Craig Chaquico
    Jon-Luc Ponty-Al Dimiola-Stanley Clarke - Rite of Strings
    Ahmad jamal - Digital Works
    One Alternative
    Cat Stevens old stuff
    Kevin Eubanks - Shadow Prophets
    Phil Keaggy

    Madman Across the Water...the song, not the album

    Jazz at the Pawnshop....one of the most life like in your living room disks I have ever heard.

    A blues artist on Mapleshade named Drink Small

  20. #20
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Mike Wofford Trio-Live at Athenaeum Jazz by Capri Records. CD/SACD

    I find this to be the best live recording, I don't have a SACD player but it is very impressive. I also love the Live in SF. Most of the sound do ringger in the auditorium, but I find this LP to be just stunning. Haven't heard the CD so can't say.

  21. #21
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    Passion Grace and Fire is...

    ...a superior album to FNinSF: Better composition, brilliant playing, but never obnoxious in its virtuosity.It's also recorded quite well. The latest "Guitar Trio" album of theirs from 1996 has much better production but isn't quite the masterpiece that is "Passion Grace and Fire."

    A really well produced album is Al Di Meola's first "World Sinfonia" album (I forget the exact title). Lots of Bandeon and liquid guitar production -- very slick. From a compositional standpoint it suffers (Al tends to be a little on the trite side as far as I'm concerned) but the playing and production are remarkable.



    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Anderson
    Yes, I have Friday Night in San Francisco. It's a real masterpiece as far as guitar playing goes, but I wouldn't consider the recording quality that great. Sounds like it was recorded with nothing but a pair of ambient room mics, instead of having each guitar properly mic'd individually and up close.

  22. #22
    Forum Regular BinFrog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noddin0ff
    There's and SACD release now too...which I have not heard but am curious.

    I was just listening to Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers: Everybody's Talkin' 'Bout Miss Thing. (big band swing/boogie woogie). I'm always impressed with the quality of this recording. Big voice, however, not breathy. "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You" stands out among many strong cuts. Its HDCD encoded as well, although I don't think it say so on the sleeve.

    The SACD of FNISF is awesome, but it's only in stereo.

    Some good acoustic discs to check out:

    -Don Ross: Passion Session
    -Tommy Emmanuel: Only
    -Billy MacLaughlin: Fingerdance (for the love of all things that do not suck, do NOT get "Finally! Live")
    -Michael Hedges: Aerial Boundaries
    -Adrian Legg: Guitars and Other Cathedrals
    -James Robinson: Colours
    -Bill Evans Trio: Sunday At The Village Vanguard (Featuring Scott La Faro)
    -John Fahey/Peter Lang/Leo Kottke
    -Gambale & Colonna: Imagery Suite
    -John Williams: The Magic Box
    -Laurence Juber: Guitarist

  23. #23
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    I just picked up....

    ..."The complete Village Vanguard Sessions" 3 cd boxed set. It was released in Japan in 2003, but just released in the US in September of this year. Any lover of Bill Evans (and/or his Vanguard sessions) needs to own this box set.



    Quote Originally Posted by BinFrog
    The SACD of FNISF is awesome, but it's only in stereo.

    Some good acoustic discs to check out:

    -Don Ross: Passion Session
    -Tommy Emmanuel: Only
    -Billy MacLaughlin: Fingerdance (for the love of all things that do not suck, do NOT get "Finally! Live")
    -Michael Hedges: Aerial Boundaries
    -Adrian Legg: Guitars and Other Cathedrals
    -James Robinson: Colours
    -Bill Evans Trio: Sunday At The Village Vanguard (Featuring Scott La Faro)
    -John Fahey/Peter Lang/Leo Kottke
    -Gambale & Colonna: Imagery Suite
    -John Williams: The Magic Box
    -Laurence Juber: Guitarist

  24. #24
    Nobody Special LeoFenderBender's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyfi
    A few of my favs already were mentioned.

    Craig Chaquico
    Jon-Luc Ponty-Al Dimiola-Stanley Clarke - Rite of Strings
    Ahmad jamal - Digital Works
    One Alternative
    Cat Stevens old stuff
    Kevin Eubanks - Shadow Prophets
    Phil Keaggy

    Madman Across the Water...the song, not the album

    Jazz at the Pawnshop....one of the most life like in your living room disks I have ever heard.

    A blues artist on Mapleshade named Drink Small
    Rite of Strings is a great CD...
    Cary Audio Designs SLP-05 Preamp [Sylvania 6SN7GTB]
    Cary Audio Designs CAD 500 Monoblocks
    Cary Audio Designs 303/300 HDCD [Mullard 12AU7s]
    Rotel RCD-1072 HDCD
    Luxman T117 Tuner
    Magnepan 3.6Rs
    JL Audio Fathom F110 subs

  25. #25
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    For ethereal classical vocal this is a beautifully haunting and emotional piece

    Pergolesi: Stabat Mater
    London Symphony Orch (Abbado, conduct.) w/ Lucia Valentini-Terrani (contralto) and Margaret Marshall (soprano)

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