Kevin Mahogany – Pride & Joy (2002) {SACD ISO + FLAC 24/88,2}

Kevin Mahogany – Pride & Joy (2002) {2.0 & 5.1}
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 50:03 minutes | Scans included | 3,53 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,03 GB
Genre: Vocal Jazz / Bop | Features 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 multichannel surround sound

Kevin Mahogany’s decision to cover Motown hits in a jazz setting stems from his desire to not only increase the audience for jazz, but to add new material to the music’s repertoire, in addition to the established standards. The results are ear-opening, particularly for those who never seriously listened to the likes of Marvin Gaye or Smokey Robinson. Mahogany, whose richly textured baritone helped him become one of the top male jazz vocalists to emerge during the 1990s, arranged several of the tracks, including the stark “My World Is Empty Without You,” where his only backing is provided by bassist Melissa Slocum and percussionist Don Alias, as well as a swinging treatment of “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game.” The singer is backed by a quartet of singers for catchy doo wop interpretations of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There.” Pianist James Weidman, who provides just the right support on six of the CD’s 11 tracks, is the sole accompanist and arranger of “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me),” reworking this huge hit into a lush ballad. Gaye’s “Pride and Joy,” arranged by guitarist Dave Stryker, is recast in a driving hard bop setting, featuring Mahogany’s scat exchanges with the muted trumpet of Jon Faddis. Stryker also contributed the tasty chart of “I Can’t Get Next to You” and a startling, very slow ballad treatment of “The Tears of a Clown,” where his acoustic guitar is the only backing for Mahogany’s magical vocals. This stunning release is heartily recommended.

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Valery Gergiev, LSO – Ravel. Daphnis et Chloe, Pavane, Bolero (2010) {SACD ISO + FLAC 24/88,2}

Valery Gergiev, London Symphony Orchestra & London Symphony Chorus –
– Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé / Pavane / Boléro (2010) [2.0 & 5.0]

PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 78:36 minutes | Scans included | 4,15 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,38 GB

The first thing that will strike you when listening to this recording is its huge dynamic range. The opening bars of ‘Daphnis and Chloe’ (recorded in September 2009) emerge almost imperceptibly from inky black silence, and you may be tempted to immediately increase the volume setting, but beware, because as the music of the introduction rises to its climax (around 2’28”) the sound expands hugely, with the LSO trumpets cutting thrillingly through the massive orchestral and choral texture. Nevertheless this disc does need to be played at a high level to achieve the most realistic sound from it.

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Valery Gergiev, Kirov Orchestra (Mariinsky) – Shostakovich Symphony 5 & 9 (2004) {SACD ISO + FLAC 24/88,2}

Valery Gergiev, Kirov Orchestra (Mariinsky) – Shostakovich Symphony 5 & 9 (2004)
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 73:36 minutes | Artwork (PDF) | 4,24 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Artwork (PDF) | 1,36 GB
Features 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 multichannel surround sound | Decca/Philips # 470 651-2

The argument could be made that Valery Gergiev and his Kirov orchestra’s 2002 recording of Shostakovich’s Fifth and Ninth symphonies on Philips is the ne plus ultra of Shostakovich recordings. The sound of the recording is staggering: crisp, rich, and vivid. The playing of the orchestra is stunning: plush, powerful, and precise. The conducting is superb: strong, firm, and flexible.

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Valery Gergiev, Kirov Orchestra (Mariinsky) – Shostakovich Symphony 4 (2004) {SACD ISO + FLAC 24/88,2}

Valery Gergiev, Kirov Orchestra (Mariinsky) – Shostakovich Symphony 4 (2004)
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 64:14 minutes | Artwork (PDF) | 3,96 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Artwork (PDF) | 1,17 GB
Features 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 multichannel surround sound | Decca/Philips # 475 6190

Valery Gergiev holds the opening movement of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4 together by sheer willpower. Since the gargantuan movement sprawls like a drunken giant, lurching from pseudo-exposition through inchoate development and faux-recapitulation and amorphous coda, nothing else but willpower could possibly do it. And, amazingly enough, it works. With the tremendously muscular playing of the Kirov Orchestra, Gergiev makes chaos cohere and even convince, if not quite compel. After the opening movement, Shostakovich’s Fourth does hold together and hold together brilliantly. The central movement is as tight and hard as a blackjack and the closing movement, although even larger and longer than the opening, has a dramatic logic as rigorous and severe as a machine gun. But Gergiev’s will power never relaxes and his closing movement is not only coherent and convincing, it is immensely compelling. Indeed, taken altogether, Gergiev and the Kirov’s Fourth is surely the most compelling recording of the work to come out of Russia since Kiril Kondrashin’s premiere recording from the ’60s. No higher praise is possible. Philips’ sound has the impact and immediacy of a sledgehammer.

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Valery Gergiev, Kirov Orchestra (Mariinsky) & Rotterdam Philarmonic Orchestra – Shostakovich: Symphony 7 "Leningrad" (2004) {SACD ISO + FLAC 24/88,2}

Valery Gergiev, Kirov Orchestra (Mariinsky) & Rotterdam Philarmonic Orchestra
– Dmitry Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 “Leningrad” (2004)

PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 78:35 minutes | Artwork (PDF) | 3,84 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Artwork (PDF) | 1,35 GB
Features 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 multichannel surround sound | Decca/Philips # 470 623-2

By its very nature, patriotism is vulgar: loud and proud, bombastic and sentimental, and wholeheartedly simple-minded. Or is that less a description of patriotism than a précis of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7? Written during the siege of Leningrad at the start of the Great Patriotic War, the Seventh is incredibly vulgar — critics at its American premiere savaged it for its banality — and incredibly effective. Its trite themes, its hackneyed harmonies, its straight-four rhythms, its primary color scoring, its “play it to the last row of the balcony” climaxes: all of these things are vulgar, but all of them are — in the right performance — overwhelmingly effective and altogether inspiring. In this performance by Valery Gergiev conducting the Kirov Orchestra and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Seventh is incredibly vulgar and unbelievably loud, proud, bombastic, and sentimental. But it is also incredibly effective: the opening Allegretto is monstrously evil and absolutely devastating, the following Moderato is quiet but deadly, the following Adagio is heartbreakingly mournful, the closing Allegro non troppo is enormously celebratory, and the entire work is a colossal monument to patriotism. The conjoined Kirov and Rotterdam orchestras play with all the bloodthirsty enthusiasm of the Red Army taking Berlin in 1945, and Philips’ sound gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger until the walls of the Reichstag come crashing down. Vulgar or not, this is as great a recording of Shostakovich’s Seventh as there has ever been.

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Valery Gergiev, Mariinsky Orchestra and Chorus – Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos 3 & 10 (2011) {SACD ISO + FLAC 24/88,2}

Valery Gergiev, Mariinsky Orchestra and Chorus – Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos 3 & 10 (2011)
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 80:23 minutes | Full Artwork | 4,37 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Artwork | 1,41 GB
Genre: Classical

The trend in the 21st century has been to let the suppressed emotions detailed in the still-controversial Shostakovich memoir Testimony spill over into performances of his music, and this is all to the good: the emotional core of Shostakovich’s music is the experience of living under repression at a fundamental level. But that’s not to say soberer, more controlled readings don’t have their place, as well, and conductor Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra deliver some here. The program opens with the Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 20 (“The First of May”), one of the least-often-performed of Shostakovich’s 15 symphonies. Composed in 1930, the work carries overtones of the breakdown in freedom that accompanied the Soviet Union’s second decade; it’s as if the composer was unsure of what he could get away with and ended the work with some rather plain patriotic choral music. The Symphony No. 3 serves almost as a prelude to the much longer and weightier Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 93. In both works Gergiev’s readings are restrained, with the entire album recorded at very quiet dynamic levels, as if hesitant to make too much of a statement. The quick central movements, often taken as slightly angry commentary on Joseph Stalin, the dictator whom Shostakovich had managed to outlast, are crisp but not especially tangy, and in the giant 23-minute opening movement Gergiev sacrifices emotional intensity for a remarkable sense of the long line of the whole. There are plenty of other choices on the market for the Symphony No. 10, but those interested in letting the music speak for itself will find a masterly recording here, in audiophile-quality sound.

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James Carter – Gardenias For Lady Day (2003) {SACD ISO + FLAC 24/88,2}

James Carter – Gardenias For Lady Day (2003) [2.0 & 5.1]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD/DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 46:08 minutes | Scans included | 4,24 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | 46:02 mins | Scans included | 984 MB
Genre: Jazz

As James Carter’s career has progressed he’s always attempted something new, never just producing an album without building on the previous one. On this album of Billy Holiday tracks he not only places himself within the confines of what could seen as an album of covers,(relatively well known tunes as well) but also chooses to add strings to the mix, as well as three tracks with vocalist Miche Braden. That it works so well and so effectively is a tribute to both Carter and his arrangers Greg Cohen and Cassius Richmond.

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Randy Brecker with Michael Brecker – Some Skunk Funk (2005) {SACD ISO + FLAC 24/88,2}

Randy Brecker with Michael Brecker – Some Skunk Funk (2005)
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 67:27 minutes | Scans included | 4,53 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,39 GB
Features 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 multichannel surround sound | Telarc # SACD-63647 | Genre: Jazz

In the mid ’70s, trumpeter Randy Brecker and his saxophonist brother Michael were the Wynton and Branford Marsalis of their jazz fusion day. This live date features the brothers performing with the WDR Big Band in Koln, Germany in 2003. Augmented by conductor/arranger Vince Mendoza, bassist Will Lee, and drummer Peter Erskine, the Breckers revive some of their hits from their classic LPs Back to Back, Don’t Stop the Music, Heavy Metal Be-Bop, Detente, and Strap-Hangin’. Randy’s full-bodied trumpet tones and Michael’s Tranish sheets-of-sound sax appeal reveal their tradition-born technique applied to funk, world, and pop-oriented soundscapes. The peppery title track and the mid-tempo backbeat on “Sponge” reveal their mainstream jazz cred, and the oblique “Wayne Out” is a tribute to Wayne Shorter. The Latin-tinged “Shanghigh” is a shout-out to Randy’s former boss Horace Silver, while the percussive “For Barry” reveals Michael’s type of tenor madness. Contrary to some critics, these fusion cats could swing.

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Rory Gallagher – Big Guns: The Very Best Of (2005) [2x SACD] {SACD ISO + FLAC 24/88,2}

Rory Gallagher – Big Guns: The Very Best Of (2005) [2x SACD]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 111:56 mins | Scans included | 7,4 GB
or FLAC 2.0 (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 2,38 GB
Features 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 multichannel surround sound | Genre: Rock, Blues

Rory Gallagher is the man who, without question, spearheaded the entire Irish Rock and Blues movement. More than that, he has had a significant influence on scores of musicians everywhere and has legions of loyal fans around the world to this day, despite his untimely death on June 14th, 1995.

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Lester Young – Supreme Jazz (2006) {SACD ISO + FLAC 24/88,2}

Lester Young – Supreme Jazz (2006) [2.0 & 5.1]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 70:39 mins | Scans included | 3,91 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,21 GB
Features 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 multichannel surround sound | Label: Membran Music Ltd.

A tenor sax legend, known as Pres, whose melodic, smooth-flowing lines made him the most influential and inventive player of the pre-bop era. Lester Young was one of the true jazz giants, a tenor saxophonist who came up with a completely different conception in which to play his horn, floating over bar lines with a light tone rather than adopting Coleman Hawkins’ then-dominant forceful approach. A non-conformist, Young (nicknamed “Pres” by Billie Holiday) had the ironic experience in the 1950s of hearing many young tenors try to sound exactly like him.

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