Power of Nine is a Jazz album by Anthony Wilson featuring the super talented and top selling jazz vocalist Diana Krall with whom Anthony has been recording and touring with for the last three to four years. The very special guest Ms. Krall appears on the track entitled “Looking Back” on vocals. This album features a mixture of Anthony Wilson originals with some jazz standards mixed in.
The Anthony Wilson Nonet with very special guest vocalist Diana Krall gathered in Studio 2 of Sunset Sound in Hollywood (the quite legendary recording location for Led Zeppelin 2 and 4, almost every Doors album, Janis Joplin’s Pearl, James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James and many other classic rock & pop albums). Producer Joe Harley and engineer Mike Ross got things going around midday and Anthony and the Nonet had recorded 3 original Anthony Wilson tunes (featuring teenage mandolin sensation Eva Scow) by the late afternoon when Diana Krall arrived. Ms. Krall stayed for several hours and recorded a brilliant and deeply moving performance of the tune Looking Back which was written and arranged by one of her mentors, the legendary Jimmy Rowles. No exaggeration to say that this selection could be one of the best vocal cuts ever recorded by Groove Note and one of the audiophile highlights of the year to come.
Days two and three were spent recording a further dozen songs including a fabulous Duke Pearson cover Make It Good which with it’s 21st century Basie-esque sound will most likely open the album. Other standout tracks include the superbly performed and beautifully played Tokyo Vamp featuring the ultra-talented Darek Oles on bass; the dynamic and powerful original, Amalgamation, featuring drummer Mark Ferber; and the third part of a suite called Quadra 3 with a sublime samba segue.
The album is the latest and most ambitious effort by Anthony Wilson. Following upon his two Groove Note releases (Our Gang and Savivity), Anthony, who has been playing full time with Diana Krall for the last 3-4 years is increasingly regarded as one of the most talented guitarist-composer-arrangers working in jazz today. This album will surely cement that reputation and with its programme of original tunes and rewarding arrangements, influences ranging from Gil Evans and Charlie Mingus all the way to Weather Report and John Mclaughlin, as well as its dense and highly diverse palette of complex chords, sounds and textures, this release will provide continual listening pleasure for serious jazz fans & audiophiles alike.
Expect sound that will be punchy and dynamic with many crescendos from the horns that retain a rich and seductive sonority but also with layers of sound as well as individual instruments to be resolved. The Diana Krall track will surely become ‘the’ audiophile vocal demo of choice in years to come but other tracks like Make It Good and Amalgamation will put any audiophile system through its paces, testing rhythm, dynamics and tonal balance!
The album was mixed by Joe Harley and Mike Ross at LA-FX on Jan. 19th-21st with Gus Skinas handling the direct to DSD mixdown from the 2 inch multitrack analogue masters.
* NativeDSD makes this recording available for the first time as a DSD Download to a wider audience, outside the US and Canada.
* NativeDSD exclusively offers this recording as DSD 128 and DSD 256 Downloads (see Tech Specs for more info).
Total time: 01:10:28
David Glasser, Airshow Studios
|Original Recording Format|
EMM Labs Meitner (DSD 64), Merging Technologies Horus (DSD 128, DSD 256)
DSD 128 and DSD 256 Download Files Created by Tom Caulfield at the NativeDSD Mastering Lab, Marshfield, MA
Gus Skinas, Super Audio Center – Analog Tape to DSD 64 Transfer
We are pleased to announce the availability of Groove Note releases in DSD 128 and DSD 256, in addition to the original DSD 64 releases. These higher bit rate DSD 128 and DSD 256 releases are all pure DSD created. They are not up samplings, for there are no PCM or DXD conversions involved in their production. They are re-modulations of the original DSD 64 encoding modulation that produced the DSD 64 releases. The sonic advantage to these new Stereo and Multichannel DSD 128 and DSD 256 releases, as with all higher DSD bit rate releases, is the wider frequency passband prior to the onset of modulation noise.This results in the listener’s DAC using gentler and more phase linear filters for playback of the music.
Michael C. Ross
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
Sunset Sound, Hollywood CA
|Release Date||May 5, 2018|
Wilson shines both as an arranger, comfortably in the grip of Gil Evans, and as a precise master of the hollow-bodied electric guitar. The set opens strongly with a reworking of “Make It Good,” an old Duke Pearson tune that harkens back to a pleasing time before jazz got over intellectualized, when it was sufficient for it to just swing and make you feel good. The arrangement is appropriately anchored by Donald Vega’s piano, though there’s room for others to solo. Wilson stays back, preferring to take the spotlight on the introspective second tune “I and Thou,” from “Tokyo Wednesday,” a suite of compositions written by Wilson during a period of extensive international travel. Sumptuously arranged for brass and reeds, the tune evokes the glow of a relaxing, satisfying late night interlude after a strenuous day. At least that’s what it did for this listener.
The Krall guest spot is equally evocative and inviting. “Looking Back” is a forthright recollection of a childhood home that Krall brings to life effectively, and appropriately, without vocal embellishments. Wilson’s arrangement drives the point home without sinking into cornpone.
Wilson’s notes explain both the inspiration (a New Year’s holiday in Brazil) and the musical construction of Quadras. A mandolin joins the Nonet on two of Quadras, adding a nimble texture to the setting. The side ends with the slinky “Amalgamation,” a segment of a suite commissioned by the Cerritos Center For The Performing Arts as part of a double bill in which Joe Lovano’s Nonet played selections from Miles Davis’s Birth of the Cool. The title, Wilson says in the notes, concerns the joining of two musician’s unions in L.A., an event that took place back when Davis issued the original album.
Engineer Michael C. Ross’s pickup of drummer Mark Ferber’s snare drum on “Melatonin Dream” will blow your cookies! As for the rest of the sound of this album, it is easily the best sounding album of Ross’s Groove Note recordings, possessing a transparency, three dimensionality and harmonic fullness his previous efforts, excellent as they were, cannot match. He’s backed off the drums a bit, especially his tendency to pan them across the stage, and this gives the album a greater sense of “live” and less of a “studio” sound.
The horns, reeds, and keyboards sound alarmingly real, with the recording delivering both image and ensemble three dimensionality in spades. Especially impressive though in terms of recording quality are the textures and timbres of Wilson’s guitar playing: they are crystalline clear yet warm and full bodied, so you get the pluck delivered cleanly with a bell-toned follow through and the harmonic structure intact.
A super album on all counts: atmospheric, evocative, richly drawn and emotionally complete. You couldn’t ask for more. Producer Joe Harley has put it all together to deliver his best production to date. At least that I know of.
If jazz isn’t your thing but you’d like a way in, I can’t think of a better introduction musically and especially sonically. Highest recommendation!
Music: 10 out of 10
Sound: 11 out of 10
It’s rare for a guitarist to act selflessly and even rarer for him or her to compose with ambition. Anthony Wilson, whose leader work may have finally outshined his gig as a Diana Krall sideman, makes the ensemble and the music his first priority on Power of Nine. As overstated as it might sound, Power of Nine communicates an elegant authority similar to that of Oliver Nelson’s seminal Impulse! recordings, particularly Blues and the Abstract Truth. Wilson’s horn arrangements, like Nelson’s, breathe and swell in spacious, majestic statements and often demand more attention than the solos. The two albums also share the sparkling clarity in production that audiophiles crave.
Highlights include the opening cover of Duke Pearson’s “Make It Good,” where Wilson coaxes swing-era grandeur from a mid-size ensemble, and the title track where Wilson exercises Kessel-style bop mastery and the rest of the group burns with equal deftness atop frantic swing. The album’s centerpiece is four Brazil-inspired “Quadras,” during which the ensemble tackles an array of compositional shades and textures: from straightahead to world-influenced, meditative to feverish. “Quadra 3 (Coisinha)” sambas delicately before Wilson and mandolinist Eva Scow engage in a thrilling game of cat-and-mouse. “Quadra 4 (Javali Witness)” explodes in a full-ensemble passage that relinquishes focus briefly to the rhythm section and ends with a powerhouse horn-section-only melody.
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