Agree for Eliane Elias, Diana Krall and Melody Gardot. Allison Krauss, René Marie, Damien Rice, Jonathan Wilson, Beirut, Tracy Chapman, Chantal Chamberland mixing and matching…
The last Melody Gardot album was recorded in 5 different studios in the UK, Paris and the USA over a period of months. A classical album, whether solo or full orchestra, can be recorded in 2 or 3 days with magnificent results, but it can take years of experience to do so. Usually classical artists work with the same engineers in the same venues for decades.
I’m listening to Knopfler / Tracker. You know it’s probably pretty good if the recording artist owns the recording studio.
Has anyone mentioned Yello yet?
If nothing else the deliberate building of “unnatural reverberant spaces” in very high quality (for the time) should qualify them.
Regarding quality of sound first Jazz oriented artist that comes to mind is Keith Jarrett. One he is a diehard audiophile, two he is fastidious regarding the recorded sound, and third he is recognized as a major player within jazz circles.
One album come to mind, but there are plenty, Keith Jarrett Trio Changeless in the ECM label.
Lonson brought up Maria Schneider, and I agree with him whole heartedly. Fine sound and performances on Sky Blue and The Thompson Fields. Both are worth checking out. Maria’s distribution model is direct to buyer with no streaming on Tidal, Qobuz etc.
Maria is a real stickler for quality sound, as is Keith Jarrett.
Music genre not withstanding, how do we know that great sounding recordings come from the efforts of the musicians or the engineers? Unless the artist makes specific declarations of their audio interest.
Like Michael Jackson for example, did he have a nose for high end audio?
I was going to mention something along these lines before I got peeved with this thread. For jazz especially in the early LP days and following the producer had more to do with the sound quality of the releases by working with the artist and engineer in many cases probably more than anyone else.
Phil Spector and Larry Levine come to mind; the Wall Of Sound…sound.
this is a great book title, Audio Quality as a Deliberate Part of the Art
Hey lonson, just wanted to let you know that based on @weedeewop’s suggestion I got hold of Maria Schneider’s Sky Blue album. It really is amazing sound quality. Of course the track “Cerulean Skies” is amazing - I guess she won a Grammy for it - but as far as sound goes, I think it was the previous track “Rich’s Place” that really grabbed me. At various places there was this incredible low “boom” that fit into the phrasing really interestingly - hard to describe - but definitely a deliberate nod to people whose systems would be able to produce it. The soundstage was really full and I found myself sometimes listening more as if it were a classical concert than a jazz piece. The only problem I had is not anything having to do with sound, but just a personal preference - her stuff is so DENSE - I think this might have been what bothered me before - but it grew on me as I went along. I was also bothered by something that I just have a hard time with in general - the bringing of the soloists way too far in front of the ensemble. I know they’re being featured, but I’m also a bit traditional in wanting the soloists to be in their sections - so it’s a tricky balancing act to figure out how to treat the soloists in this kind of thing. Sometimes I’m sure they even overdub solos and it sounds like the band is in a hall and the soloist in a bedroom. I’m still futzing with my “phantom center channel” and how it brings whatever is in the middle too far to the front, so that might also be my setup. Either way, thanks for the suggestion. Oh, one more thing (sorry) - I saw where the album was co-produced by Ryan Truesdell. I recently got a copy of Truesdell’s Gil Evans project, which is an amazing recording - one of the best for really hearing the 3-D setup of the band. It really does justice to Gil Evans’ approach to sound color, as does the Maria Schneider record.
Hey, I just wrote an extended thank you to lonson for suggesting Maria Schneider - I’ll let you read it if you’re bored. I agree that Keith Jarrett should fall in this list because everything I’ve heard him do has great sound - much better than many of his contemporaries. ECM has been mentioned a few times in this thread, for very good reasons, and like Chesky, Octave, Reference, and other audio-focused labels, it rarely disappoints, but I think it was more that ECM was the one insisting on the sound quality and not so much the performers, except Jarrett of course. Hey, I just thought of another - Chris Thile. His recordings with Nickel Creek, the Punch Brothers, solo work on Nonesuch Records, are always of very high quality, so I’m pretty sure he has a hand in that.
So glad to learn you revisited the Maria Schneider, and more importantly enjoyed the performance. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to it so from memory I can’t accurately speak to the forwardness of the soloists in the mix. I need to return to it once I work through my new acquisitions, both CD and vinyl. I have 200+ to work my way through. With the nice weather upon us it will be a while as listening takes a back seat to the outdoors.
I have no idea how many I have to work through. I have a friend who compares his approach to books with mine to music - we acquire with no guarantee we’ll ever read/listen to them. As for the outdoors, I need to get back to some hikes - did a lot a few years ago, but completing a basement and audio room sucked all my time last year.
Replying to my own thread, but I just found another person who obviously includes an insistence on audio quality in her recordings. Feist. Her latest album Multitudes is such a great mix of electronics, acoustics and creative musical creation - that includes things you really appreciate in a high-end system - and I’m pretty sure she knows it. She’s also doing something I really love in alternative music and Americana - creating the effect that she’s in the room and not singing into a microphone. There are moments I swear I could reach out and touch her (and get slapped). The track “Of Womankind” is a feast (feist?) for ears. I did go back and sample a few of her previous albums and she seems to have a solid audio focus through her career.