Born To Be Blue (2019)

Duke Ellington, Hugh Martin, Mel Torme, Robert Wells, Phil Markowitz, Rob van Kreefeld, Johhny Mandel, Thad Jones, Frits Landesbergen

REF Trio

Born To Be Blue is the latest release from Sound Liaison. It highlights the sound of the vibraphone in DSD and features the REF Trio - Rob van Kreeveld (piano), Edwin Corzilius (double bass), and Frits Landesbergen (vibraphone).  (The name REF Trio comes from the first letter of each member's name). This is a DSD Exclusive, Not Available on SACD release. 

The album was recorded live at MCO Studios in The Netherlands in front of a live audience. It includes performances of A Child Is Born (written by Thad Jones), Emily (written by Johnny Mandel), The Girl Next Door (written by Hugh Martin), Born To Be Blue (co-written by Mel Torme and Robert Wells) and a Medley of Duke Ellington favorites (Sophisticated Lady, Prelude To A Kiss and In A Sentimental Mood).

"I had been toying with the idea for a long time. I wanted to create a recording showing that the vibes can have a big warm sound and that it is possible to play 'beautiful music' on the instrument. The vibes is an instrument which lends itself for virtuoso music. Examples enough, Lionel Hampton, Terry Gibbs...but how about the melancholy side of the instrument, has that ever been fully explored?

A chamber ensemble seemed to me to be the best setting for realizing the sound I had in mind. I contacted master pianist Rob van Kreeveld and long time friend and superb bassist Edwin Corzilius to help me with the project. It turned out to be a dream team. The music came to us so easily. The ballads and waltzes turned out exactly as how I had pictured it; warm and relaxed, keeping the song central.

As a musician one always has wishes. One hopes to get to play in certain places, or play with one’s musical heroes... I have been most fortunate in my career, as many of the things I wished for when I was young, actually did happen. And now this new "mature" wish has been made possible by Peter Bjørnild and Frans de Rond, two producers with an incredible big heart for music and sound.

Thank you Rob, Edwin, Peter and Frans, I am so very happy with the result, I believe we have created some beautiful music."

-- Frits Landesbergen, Vibraphonist

"When creating the sound stage, Frans spent a great deal of time getting the balance of the REF Trio as optimal as possible using the ambient microphone stereo pair placed in the 'sweet spot' in Studio 2, before adding the spot microphones. We wanted to create a sound field that was intimate but also had enough depth to reflect a visual representation of the instruments. We wanted the melodic part of each instrument to stand out without overshadowing the whole.

Thus the piano and the vibes have been given a position in the sound field, instead of the more common, radio friendly approach, with the instruments piled on top of each other with no placement. The benefit of this approach is that you can actually see the trio in front of you between the speakers.

In a sense we are old fashioned, maybe we listened to too many old jazz recordings, but on the other hand.......this is what we believe a high-resolution recording should be about."

-- Peter Bjørnild and Frans de Rond, Producer and Recording Engineer at Sound Liaison

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Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington called his music "American Music" rather than jazz, and liked to describe those who impressed him as "beyond category". He remains one of the most influential figures in jazz, if not in all American music and is widely considered as one of the twentieth century's best known African American personalites. 

As both a composer and a band leader, Ellington's reputation has increased since his death, with thematic repackagings of his signature music often becoming best-sellers. Posthumous recognition of his work include a special award citation from the Pulitzer Prize Board.


• President Lyndon Johnson presented Duke Ellington with the President’s Gold Medal in 1966.

• President Richard M Nixon presented Duke Ellington with the Medal of Freedom in 1969.

• Duke Ellington received 13 Grammy Awards.

• Duke Ellington received the Pulitzer Prize

• Was awarded the French Legion of Honor in 1973.

• Has a United States Commemorative stamp with his image on it issued in 1986.

Duke Ellington influenced millions of people both around the world and at home. He gave American music its own sound for the first time. In his fifty year career, he played over 20,000 performances in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East as well as Asia.

Simply put, Ellington transcends boundaries and fills the world with a treasure trove of music that renews itself through every generation of fans and music-lovers. His legacy continues to live onand will endure for generations to come. Winton Marsalis said it best when he said "His music sounds like America." Because of the unmatched artistic heights to which he soared, no one deserved the phrase “beyond category” more than Ellington, for it aptly describes his life as well. He was most certainly one of a kind that maintained a llifestyle with universal appeal which transcended countless boundaries.

Duke Ellington is best remembered for the over 3000 songs that he composed during his lifetime. His best known titles include; "It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That Swing", "Sophisticated Lady", "Mood Indigo", “Solitude", "In a Mellotone", and "Satin Doll". The most amazing part about Ellington was the most creative while he was on the road. It was during this time when he wrote his most famous piece, "Mood Indigo"which brought him world wide fame.

When asked what inspired him to write, Ellington replied, "My men and my race are the inspiration of my work. I try to catch the character and mood and feeling of my people".

Duke Ellington's popular compositions set the bar for generations of brilliant jazz, pop, theatre and soundtrack composers to come. While these compositions guarantee his greatness, whatmakes Duke an iconoclastic genius, and an unparalleled visionary, what has granted him immortality are his extended suites. From 1943's Black, Brown and Beige to 1972's The Uwis Suite, Duke used the suite format to give his jazz songs a far more empowering meaning, resonance and purpose: to exalt, mythologize and re-contextualize the African-American experience on a grand scale.

Duke Ellington was partial to giving brief verbal accounts of the moods his songs captured. Reading those accounts is like looking deep into the background of an old photo of New York and noticing the lost and almost unaccountable details that gave the city its character during Ellington's heyday, which began in 1927 when his band made the Cotton Club its home. ''The memory of things gone,'' Ellington once said, ''is important to a jazz musician,'' and the stories he sometimes told about his songs are the record of those things gone. But what is gone returns, its pulse kicking, when Ellington's music plays, and never mind what past it is, for the music itself still carries us forward today.

Duke Ellington was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1966. He was later awarded several other prizes, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969, and the Legion of Honor by France in 1973, the highest civilian honors in each country. He died of lung cancer and pneumonia on May 24, 1974, a month after his 75th birthday, and is buried in the Bronx, in New York City. At his funeral attendedby over 12,000 people at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Ella Fitzgerald summed up the occasion, "It's a very sad day...A genius has passed."

photo: from booklet 'The The A Train' (2xHD)

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Born To Be Blue (2019)

Duke Ellington, Hugh Martin, Mel Torme, Robert Wells, Phil Markowitz, Rob van Kreefeld, Johhny Mandel, Thad Jones, Frits Landesbergen

REF Trio


Pianist Rob van Kreeveld, double bass player Edwin Corzilius, and vibraphonist Frits Landesbergen meet in the REF Trio. The starting point is the statement by the great Bobby Hutcherson: "The whole thing about being in music is not to control it but to be swept away by it ...." Without a percussionist, the ensemble makes a kind of chamber jazz with well-known pieces such as 'A Child Is Born', 'Emily', 'Born To Be Blue' and 'The Girl Next Door'. The musicians give each other space and rarely has a vibraphone, with its typical complex sound, been recorded better.

Cyriel Pluimakers[read full review]

    Native DSD Senior Reviewer

I love this album!

Bill Dodd, Native DSD Senior Reviewer

Born To Be Blue (2019)

Duke Ellington, Hugh Martin, Mel Torme, Robert Wells, Phil Markowitz, Rob van Kreefeld, Johhny Mandel, Thad Jones, Frits Landesbergen

REF Trio

Amplifier: Moon 760A
Cables: AudioQuest Microphone and Power Cables
Digital Converters: Horus, Merging Technologies
Editing Software: Pyramix, Merging Technologies
Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG 702
Mastering Engineer: Frans de Rond
Microphones: Main system AB - Schoeps MK5 (2x), Piano - Sonodore RCM-402 (2x), Double Bass - Josephson C700, Vibraphone - Josephson C617 (2x)
Piano Technicians: Charles Rademaker & Naomi van Schoot
Power Conditioners: AudioQuest
Producer: Peter Bjørnild
Recording Engineer: Frans de Rond
Recording Location: MCO, Studio 2, Hilversum, The Netherlands, on the 12th of November 2017
Recording Software: Pyramix, Merging Technologies
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DXD
Speakers: TAD Compact Evolution

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Album Download duration price
SL1033A: Born To Be Blue
00:47:31   Select quality & channels above
Miss Jo
Frits Landesbergen
00:05:22   Select quality & channels above
A Child is Born
Thad Jones
00:06:16   Select quality & channels above
Johhny Mandel
00:05:44   Select quality & channels above
Dear Elsa
Rob van Kreefeld
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Snow Peas'
Phil Markowitz
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Born To Be Blue
Mel Torme,Robert Wells
00:05:37   Select quality & channels above
The Girl Next Door
Hugh Martin
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Solo Duke Ellington - Sophisticated Lady, Prelude To A Kiss, In A Sentimental Mood
Duke Ellington
00:06:25   Select quality & channels above

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