Pure DSD

The Definition of a Toy [Pure DSD]

Dylan van der Schyff


This is a Pure DSD album available in Pure DSD Stereo and 5 Channel Surround Sound DSD 256, DSD 128 and DSD 64 plus Stereo DSD 512.

Original Recording Format: DSD 64
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This is a Pure DSD album available in Pure DSD Stereo and 5 Channel Surround Sound DSD 256, DSD 128 and DSD 64 plus Stereo DSD 512.

Drummer-bandleader Dylan van der Schyff assembled a stellar ensemble of players from Vancouver, New York, the Netherlands and Germany for this captivating set of creative post-bop jazz, recorded in DSD.
– Mark Werlin (NativeDSD, HRAudio.net, All About Jazz)

The Definition of a Toy was the brainchild of Vancouver drummer and percussionist Dylan van der Schyff, who formed the group, brought it together for Vancouver’s 2003 jazz festival, and thoughtfully sequenced the record.

An excellent DSD studio recording and multi-channel mix accentuate the music’s colors and moods. Each of the performers (apart from Dylan) contributed a substantial composition or two to the session, resulting in a very diverse yet complementary range of styles, moving between modern and avant jazz and free playing.

With only one day of rehearsal, the collective depth of the musicianship is evident throughout in the soloing and group dynamic. The record comes across as a collective creation, often intense but with a high quotient of lyricism and humor.

You can sense that the musicians are having a good time and want to invite the listener in. As Dylan suggests: “Listen to Michael Moore’s sound, and Brad Turner’s sound — how friendly those horns are. How playful they are. And Mark Helias and Achim Kaufmann too. They draw you in and then they challenge you.”

The title of the record and Michael’s composition comes from a radio ad for a toy store that he heard while driving in Michigan: “It was telling us that in the definition of a toy, there were three things you had to look for — it’s open-ended, it’s interactive and it has to encourage creativity. As to distinguish a toy from a waste of time, or a video game or something like that. And I thought Wow, it sounds exactly like music to me.”

Brad Turner, Trumpet
Michael Moore, Alto Saxophone, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet
Achim Kaufmann, Piano
Mark Helias, Double Bass
Dylan van der Schyff, Drums


Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Trio #1
The Definition of a Toy
Queen of the Box Office
Siberian Elm and Furrowed Brown
Trio #2
Gaivotas Sobre Lapa

Total time: 01:01:17

Additional information





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Audio Engineer

Shawn Pierce


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Original Recording Format

Recording & Mastering

Recorded to DSD on June 19, 2003, and mixed in analogue on January 27-28, 2004, at The Factory, Vancouver BC, by Shawn Pierce. Edited and mastered by Graemme Brown at Zen Mastering, Vancouver.

Release DateJanuary 19, 2024

Press reviews


Except for a trumpet-bass duo track and an abstract feature for drums, piano and reeds, the pieces are full-flavored and remarkably consistent. Tight compositionally, they’re loose enough for individual expression. Van der Schyff is a model of restraint throughout, rhythmically guiding the tracks without turning up the volume. Turner impresses with muted echoes and sluicing tones on his own moderato “Queen of the Box Office”, while the pianist can switch from the off-centre dynamics he exhibits on Helias’ romp, “Broken” – which also has some liquid flutter-tonguing from Moore’s clarinet – to committed mainstream comping elsewhere. (…) Locking disparate component parts into a groove, the CD confirms van der Schyff’s talents as a top session organizer as well as a first-rate percussionist.

One Final Note

A summit meeting of major proportions, The Definition of a Toy features a roster of international talent. (…) Despite their diverse authorship, each piece finds sonic similarities with the others, and so a conceptual continuum is created; a mutual aesthetic that defines their sound. Rich, complex melodies alternate with free-form improvisation and tense atonal interjections. (…) An empathetic and enjoyable meeting between five masters, The Definition of a Toy is a stunningly democratic and collaborative offering by a young percussionist destined for much greater things.


The three toylike attributes are the gateposts for these players’ adventures. They get onto a fertile plain saturated with melody and swing, spearheaded by trumpeter Brad Turner and fanned by Schyff after the embers are stoked by Achim Kaufmann, whose piano runs dissect the threads of the melody. Michael Moore comes in to add deep, bold strokes. And then the tempo slows and melody is again shunted aside as Turner unleashes tight clusters of notes, drawing Kaufmann into the spaces. The mood has shifted dramatically but seamlessly. Free expression continues on “Duet, where the early probe and feel bursts into raucous cries. The flux continues, but the cutting edge remains.


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