A Smooth Jazz Cd??

Printable View

  • 08-25-2004, 07:50 AM
    juneaudrey
    A Smooth Jazz Cd??
    Hello All,

    I'm looking for a few smooth jazz CD's to test my system. Please list a few titles to check my system. Also what do you listen for? I'm new the the audio world.


    June
  • 08-25-2004, 08:38 AM
    Davey
    Welcome June and hello back at you. I'm not a very big fan of smooth jazz but there are a few albums that probably fit that description that many, if not most, audiophiles acquire along the road to good sound.

    One right off the bat I would recommend wholeheartedly is the one that ForeverAutumn just inexplicably trashed in another thread, Holly Cole's wonderful take on some of Tom Waits most beloved songs on <i>Temptation</i>. If I was you I'd PM her right now and try to snag it for cheap! Really nice sounding album with lots of low level detail and clean bass. And Holly is in top vocal form. Has become somewhat of an audiophile classic over the years, even getting the 200 gram vinyl treatment at one point.

    I like sultry female vocals a lot, and so another favorite of mine is Cassandra Wilson's <i>New Moon Daughter</i>. I have the original Blue Note 2-LP set which sounds very nice and haven't actually heard the CD, but I'm sure it sounds great too. It's got a really cool image on some of the songs that you can almost stand up and walk into. Very fluid sounding. Her <i>Traveling Miles</i> tribute to Miles Davis has even more incredible sound quality and production, although the subtle nuances and shading she favors on it may lead some to call it boring. <i>Blue Light Til Dawn</i> is her real classic and probably what she will most be remembered for.

    And I'll finish with Patricia Barber who seems to generate a lot of love/hate type of confrontations with "real" music fans. Frankly, I don't either love her or hate her but I've played the snot out of my vinyl copy of <i>Cafe Blue</i> over the years and make no apologies for loving it, both musically and sonically. Her bass player is the real star and he is recorded very well with lots of body. Too much reverb on her voice at times for some and it may have been mastered from a digital source, but it sounds better than many certified all analog audiophile pressings even if there is a tiny lack of warmth that (may) betray its PCM recording heritage. Many versions are available now that far surpass the slightly anemic sounding original CD so do a search and seek out one of the premium versions on either SACD or HDCD or whatever.

    Not sure any of them fit your definition or if you even wanted vocal music, but that's what you get today :)
  • 08-25-2004, 08:59 AM
    DarrenH
    Define your meaning of smooth jazz. Modern day Kenny G stuff? I dunno.
  • 08-25-2004, 09:30 AM
    Ex Lion Tamer
    All those mentioned by Davey are seconded by me, for sound quality and musical quality. I have them all and like them all especially "Cafe Blue" which is a tour de force, but all three artists may be a trifle eclectic for some tastes, and I'm not sure they would fall into the "smooth jazz" category.

    Rather than mention the usual suspects...Diana Krall, Norah Jones, etc... I'll mention a couple of "classic late-50's albums that are easily likable and have good natural sound....

    Waltz for Debbie - Bill Evans Trio: wonderfully detailed sound from the famed piano trio recorded live at The Village Vanguard in NYC in the late 50's. It's companion album, "Sunday at the Village Vanguard" has just as good sound, but the set list is a little less accessible. Waltz for Debbie was instrumental in my becoming a fan of jazz.

    Saxophone Colossus - Sonny Rollins: another of those seminal albums that made jazz accessible to me. A wonderful album with a great mix of upbeat numbers ("St. Thomas") extended grooves ("Blues 7") and old standards ("Moritat" - aka "Mack the Knife"). The piano is a little muted, and the stereo mix is hard right/left, but the sound is natural and the sax very present. There are all kinds of audiophile reissues of this classic, my Absolute Analogue 180gm pressing sounds great. My favorite jazz album.

    Night Train - Oscar Peterson: lots of familiar standards on this album which has an easy upbeat groove throughout, with a rhythm section of Ed Thigpen (drums) and Ray Brown (bass), how can you go wrong. Speaking of which...

    Summer Wind - Ray Brown: this one's more contemporary than the others I've listed, recorded at a club date somewhere in LA in the late '80s I think. This set has great energy and lots of familiar tunes so most everyone would enjoy it. My redbook CD sounds pretty good, I don't know of any audiophile quality reissues on this one.

    Keeping with the contemporary theme and getting some female vocals into the mix there's "The Main Ingredient" by Shirley Horn, a very intimate recording done in Shirley's home studio in a few latenight sessions, apparently after some of the main players regular club dates...and the players are stellar; including Joe Henderson, Roy Hargrove, Elvin Jones among others. A very laid back album, as is Shirley's style, with great chemistry between the players.

    All of the above are favorites of mine and though they may not fall into what is now known as "Smooth jazz", there is no denying that all are smooth as silk and oh so cool.

    As for what to listen for in a recording, forget it; just listen to what you like.
  • 08-25-2004, 10:02 AM
    Davey
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ex Lion Tamer
    All those mentioned by Davey are seconded by me.......but all three artists may be a trifle eclectic for some tastes, and I'm not sure they would fall into the "smooth jazz" category.

    Hehehe, I think you're being arbitrarily restrictive in your definition :)

    Yeah, I know, but I just wanted to say hi to the newbie and didn't have any true "smooth jazz" up my sleeve. I'll hop on your train and go with some of the classics....June should also pick up one of the recent versions of the original Getz/Gilberto sessions. Beautiful sound stage on that one and Stan's sax sounds real nice and crazysexycool when the equipment is set up right :)

    Speaking of hopping on the train, everybody needs a copy of <i>Blue Train</i> too! Coltrane and Lee Morgan and Curtis Fuller and Kenny Drew and Paul Chambers and Joe Jones. Magic. I've got the 24/96 DVD playing in my computer right now and it makes even my notebook sound pretty fine :)

    Yeah, I'm sure most of us here could spew out a pretty big list of great sounding recordings, but truth be told, almost any recording can be used to test your system and some of the "smooth jazz" type recordings that you hear in the audio salons really aren't very good for "testing" a system since they sound good on just about all systems (and hence are often used to sell them).
  • 08-25-2004, 02:55 PM
    Hyfi
    Hey June
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by juneaudrey
    Hello All,

    I'm looking for a few smooth jazz CD's to test my system. Please list a few titles to check my system. Also what do you listen for? I'm new the the audio world.


    June


    I was in a Smooth Jazz groove for alot of years and have a modest collection. My favorite label was is GRP but many disks sound good. I made a few comps a ways back. My first comps I think......anyway they are packed with Craig Chaquico, Dave Valentine, Lee Rittenour, Bob James, ect. I'd be glad to share em with you. A fav of mine are the Rippingtons. Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Eric Marienthal, Acoustic Alchemy, the list goes on.

    What do I listen for?

    Depends on your system first of all. Some are high res. Some are bass laden. And some are Sony Rack Systems..... I listen for control of the bass mostly. Crisp distinct notes that don't sound like mush. I listen for seperation of all instruments and that they sound like the instrument....flute, violyn, steel vs nylon string acoutic guitar. With vocals, it's the breath, emotion conveyed and wether it hurts my ears...lol. Put it this way, if your tapping your feet, it sounds better as you turn it up, it sounds good. If it gets edgy and irritating after a while at high levels, it is probably recorded lousy or the system is lousy.

    Email your addy to hornerbc@netscape.net and I can send you the 2cd set of Smooth Jazz Pizzaz.

    What's your system?

    Hyfi
  • 08-27-2004, 05:01 PM
    Dusty Chalk
    Try any post-Cocaine-habit Miles Davis (from around 1980 onward). Aura actually stands out musically, but I don't know about the fidelity. Decoy, You're Under Arrest, and Tutu are probably the first three you should pick up.
  • 08-27-2004, 05:13 PM
    DarrenH
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dusty Chalk
    Try any post-Cocaine-habit Miles Davis (from around 1980 onward). Aura actually stands out musically, but I don't know about the fidelity. Decoy, You're Under Arrest, and Tutu are probably the first three you should pick up.

    Aura is very good. Tutu is enjoyable.

    You're Under Arrest and Decoy are horrible. Just horrible.

    Darren