Pianist Warren Bernhardt’s eighth release for DMP and his second DSD Stereo and DSD Multichannel recording (following up on the album So Real – also available from NativeDSD) is further proof that there ain’t no justice.
This session, with Jay Anderson on acoustic bass and Peter Erskine on drums, is as good as it gets, musically and technically: no gobos, no headphones, no second takes, absolutely no boring moments.
The longest track is the title tune, a Bernhardt original, which he hints was channeled through him by his maternal grandma, Amelia. Most of the rest are standards, revealing Bernhardt’s fertile harmonic thinking. They include Polka Dots & Moonbeams by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen, E.S.P. by Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis, Prelude To A Kiss by Duke Ellington, and Desafinado by Antonio Carlos Jobim.
Warren Bernhardt, Piano
Jay Anderson, Acoustic Bass
Peter Erskine, Drums
Total time: 00:57:20
DSD 256 fs, DSD 128 fs, DSD 64 fs, FLAC 192 kHz, FLAC 96 kHz
Anderson, Arnheim, Baker, Bernhardt, Burke, Davis, Ellington, Erskine, Gasparre, Gragos, Homer, Jobim, Lees, Lemare, Mendonca, Shorter, Tobias, VanHeusen
EMM Labs Crypton Solid Copper
EMM Labs A/D & D/A Converters designed by Ed Meitner
Tom Caulfield (DSD 64 to DSD 128, DSD 256 Transfer)
Signalyst HQ Player Pro 4 Mastering Tools
Earthworks 1024 & Manley
Shure KSM32 & KSM44, Sennheiser MKH40 & Earthworks QTC 1
|Original Recording Format|
Warren Bernhardt & Tom Jung
Tom Jung assisted by Mark Conese
Recorded Live to DSD Stereo & DSD Multichannel at Ambient Recording, Stamford, CT
Sony Sonoma 8 Channel DSD Workstation
|Recording Type & Bit Rate|
|Release Date||October 23, 2020|
Bernhardt, who has been recording for the DMP label for some years now, titled his latest after its opening tune. And that tune was created in homage to a grandmother he never met but who he knew had played an old upright piano and turned his father on to music and the piano. His father than transferred this musical DNA to Warren, and thus the pianist-composer’s appreciation signified by this tune.
There’s only one other Bernhardt tune on the date, but the pianist has a good ear for tunes to select for improv and well-known standards share with unknowns here. The DSD minimal-miked approach of DMP produces a deep clarity to the piano tone and a more realistic size and complexity to the drum set than any two-channel recording could impart.
Altogether a most enjoyable piano trio session in un-showy but nevertheless state-of-the-art sound. Tracks: Amelia’s Song, Polka Dots & Moonbeams, I Hear a Rhapsody, Vals para Warren, E.S.P., Prelude to a Kiss, Desafinado, Sweet & Lovely, Boilermaker.
Warren Bernhardt’s eighth release for DMP, Amelia’s Song, is further proof that there ain’t no justice. Why, at 65, Bernhardt is still not a household name is unfathomable. This session, with Jay Anderson on acoustic bass and Peter Erskine on drums, is as good as it gets, musically and technically: no gobos, no headphones, no second takes, absolutely no boring moments.
The longest track is the title tune, a Bernhardt original, which he hints was channeled through him by his maternal grandma, Amelia. (Long story, as tender as the tune.) Most of the rest are standards, revealing Bernhardt’s fertile harmonic thinking, typified by whole stretches of “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” where each separate note is supported by a reharmonized chord.
“Boilermaker” and Wayne Shorter’s “E.S.P.” provide plenty of solo room for Erskine, but he shows better percussive skills on “Desafinado.” Fortunately, the amazing Anderson solos on every track. “Boilermaker” lists all three as composers. It seems to evolve freely from a G pedal into a medium-tempo funky swinger. Overall, slow tempos dominate the session. Bernhardt’s lyrical side is his best, as in “Prelude to a Kiss,” but when the spirit moves him, as it does on “I Hear a Rhapsody,” he can overwhelm you with a torrent of single-note bop flurries.
This is a golden age of audio where, for less than the average price of an “A rated recommended component” power amplifier, you can assemble a system that can reproduce music better than you can hear it at a live performance. This DSD recording has the best audio quality of the many excellent DSD recordings in my collection.
One reason I was prompted to write this review was the unusual fact that it was recorded using the inexpensive, non-exotic, top end Shure microphones. I don’t think I have ever seen this before.
Jazz appreciation is a very subjective thing, but I enjoy this recording very much (helped by the crystal-clear audio) and, for what it’s worth, highly recommend it.
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