Bo Stief (b. 1946), a virtuoso on both electric and double bass is an established name on the Danish and International music scene. A veteran of the famous Jazzhus Montmartre in Copenhagen, Denmark, Stief has played with the likes of Ben Webster, Dexter Gordon, Philippe Catherine, Don Cherry, and many others. He has toured the world and played jazz festivals such as the Montreux and Newport Jazz Festivals.
"Heart" is taken from the album "Heart and Destiny", recorded by Bo Stief Dream Machine, one of many smaller groups and own initiatives in his long musical career. The song begins with a suspenseful dobro solo. Set in long reverb, it depicts a huge soundscape. Percussion starts, leading to the start and constant (heart)beat of a very deep big drum, the first hit both surprising and impressive. Shakers accompany it and set the pace for the following part of the song: synthesizers and electric guitars take over, moving further to something almost like a chorus. Essential in this recording are the heavily reverberated dobro, percussion and subsequent big drum sound, the latter impressively low and loud at the same time. The dobro is set in a huge space that sould be rendered nicely. Even though the song is a little bit over three and a half minutes long, it still feels short once the end is reached. "Heart" offers an addictive sound that may be difficult to reproduce on loudspeaker system with limited low-frequency extension.
Train Song (Tom Waits) From the album "Temptation" (1995) Label: Blue Note.
Holly Cole (b. 1963) is a jazz singer with a versatile repertoire. Throughout her career she has performed songs from many musical styles, but her most well known work is in jazz. In 1986, Cole founded a trio with bassist David Piltch and pianist Aaron Davis. With this trio she recorded a number records, of which "Temptation" is the most well-known. Lately, she has recorded with larger groups. All songs on the album are composed by Tom Waits. As such, it can be considered a tribute album.
Train Song is a perculiar recording. Basically, only Cole and double bass provide melody and accompaniment. Percussion then mimics the train; a steam engine, a railroad crossing, the sound of steel wheels on the train tracks, wheels screeching when braking, all effectively suggested with minimal means. Put into words, this sounds almost inadequate, yet as recorded, it sounds wonderfully complete and doesn't require enhancement. The bass sounds strong and deep, continuosly pushing the rhythm and helped by the shakers in the percussion. Well-balanced, they make up a strong audio image. The reverb and ambience on this recording are also very well-balanced. Cole's voice is nicely embedded in the mix, providing and getting support from the double bass at the same time. Her expression is very clear and all the nuances she puts into her performance are clearly audible.
Leather (Howe Gelb) From the album "Slush" (1997) Label:Thirsty Ear Records.
OP8 has so far released only one album, the creative and experimental “Slush” from 1997, but the members have managed to keep busy elsewhere. Howe Gelb (guitar, piano, vocals) is the man behind the successful Arizona based rock band Giant Sand with 20 albums behind them since their debut in 1985. Lisa Germano (violin, piano, mandolin, vocals) has released eight albums in her own name from 1991-2010. In her solo work and in collaborations with John Mellencamp, Simple Minds and Indigo Girls, she exhibits extreme creativity and willingness to experiment. The last two OP8 members, Joey Burns (bass, cello, guitar, vocals) and John Convertino (drums), have also been members of Giant Sand while performing on their own as Calexico.
Leather was recorded at Wavelab in Tucson, Arizona by Nick Luca and Craig Schumacher. One can immediately hear a more relaxed, experimental sound production than is the norm today. At this session, nobody seems to have been bothered by the clearly audible noise from microphone amplifiers and other extraneous sounds. But what makes this track stand out is the fact that the relaxed attitude to this experimental piece of music clearly reveals that it was recorded using microphones, mixing consoles, etc. of very high quality. There is no doubt that it is through sheer luck in combination with the relaxed recording procedure that all the instruments and especially the vocal sound so life-like, creating a distinct illusion of being present in the studio right in front of the performers.
Moonlight on Spring River (Zhao Cong) From the album "Sound of China" (2007).
Zhao Cong Zhao Cong plays the ancient Chinese pipa, a four-stringed instrument sometimes referred to as the Chinese lute. She learned to play from a very early age and won her first important award at the age of 13. Zhao was later recruited as first pipa soloist of the Central Orchestra for Chinese Music in Beijing. Zhao has toured in over 20 countries and performed for a dozen heads of state. Her popularity outside China and extensive touring have broadened her musical references to embrace other musical cultures and traditions, so that she now often performs a fascinating blend of classical Chinese music and music with Western references.
Moonlight on Spring River is a brilliant production made by Hans Nielsen, Focus Recording. He used Neumann U47, DPA 4040 microphones and his SSL mixing console for this project. The “Sound of China” recordings took place partly in China, in Denmark and in Prague, Czech Republic. The crispness of Zhao’s pipa is well defined with fine balance from the subtle opening, through the dynamic middle section, right to the end of the piece. The huge soundstage, deep bass notes and impressive dynamics make this a unique sound experience, providing a glimpse of the potential for new modes of expression that can result from collaboration between musicians of very different cultural backgrounds and training. Remember that modern R&B, rock and pop are mostly derived from Afro-American blues, Portuguese Fado and the Spanish Flamenco tradition.
My Treasure (Sinne Eeg) From the album "Waiting for Dawn" (2007).
Danish jazz singer Sinne Eeg received a Danish Grammy for the album “Waiting for Dawn”, which was nominated as the best Danish jazz album of the year. Uncharacteristically, even Denmark’s normally highly critical jazz reviewers were effusive in their praise. Sinne received her musical education at the Academy of Music in Esbjerg, Denmark and has toured throughout Europe, Japan and China. Relatively rare among jazz singers, Sinne also writes some of her own material and even has her own label, Sinne Music.
My Treasure, a Sinne Eeg original composition begins with an extremely well recorded acoustic bass solo by Mads Vinding. The moment before she sings, you can actually hear Sinne breathe in and the ambience around the two performers possesses palpable presence and realism. The extraordinary quality of this recording is made even clearer when pianist Lars Jansson and drummer Morten Lund join in. This track fully demonstrates not only the potential of modern state-of-the-art recording equipment, but also that the symbiosis between rare recordings like this and loudspeakers of a similar standard can create the stunning experience of cheating your senses into believing that what you are hearing is real life and not just a reproduction.
Stormy Weather (Teitur Lassen/Nick Woodbridge) From the album "Let the Dog Drive Home" (2011) The Faroe Islands located between Scotland and Iceland is a self-governing country under the sovereignty of Denmark. The islands are populated by approximately 50,000 people, including Teitur Lassen (1977). Since his debut in 2003, Teitur has released four albums and his career and reputation as songwriter, musician and vocalist have constantly grown. Perhaps under the influence of his cultural background in those isolated islands, it seems as if Teitur studiously avoids superfluous and disturbing elements in his artistic attitude. His cultural background seems to have led to a certain kind of clarity in both music and lyrics.
Stormy Weather is no stranger to the rugged, rocky islands and the typical transition from calm and pleasant to something quite the opposite is what this track is all about. Teitur’s crisp vocal and distorted guitar are among the musical ingredients that bring the windswept landscape to life. The crystal clear sound, deep bass notes, potent dynamics and amazingly wide and deep soundstage paint a vivid picture of the enormous forces of nature so frequently experienced in the North Atlantic. Forces that make anyone feel small and humble – even artists like Teitur!
Samb-Adagio (Morten Friis, Michael Parsberg, Uffe Savery) From the album "Episode II" (2001) Safri Duo Morten Friis and Uffe Savery met as youngsters playing in The Tivoli Guard Orchestra, at Tivoli in Copenhagen, Denmark. Later, they both completed classical conservatory training and became esteemed classical musicians. It was a big surprise to their audience, when they came out as percussive pop musicians in 2001 with their first dance album "Episode II". The first hit from this album, "Played-A-Live", went to the top 10 in many European countries as well as in Asia and South America.
Samb-Adagio and "Sweet Freedom", Safri Duo has become one of Denmark's biggest musical export products. Samb-Adagio The track has a typical dance song flow. During an almost two-minute long intro, a number of essential elements are introduced to the listeners, gradually building up in layers and loudness. Then, everything falls quiet and the actual theme is introduced, softly and again building to a climax. From this point on, the theme is repeated several times until a small interlude occurs. The theme is once again repeated and a gradual closing is set in motion, eventually marking the end of the song. Loudness Almost from start to end, "Samb-Adagio" is very loud. Already from the starting sound of a match being struck, there is fair warning that one can deduct this song is going to be loud. And lovers of this genre will not be disappointed. However, the mix and mastering are done with taste, keeping details, dynamic effects, and structure intact. As a result, played out loud or at lower volume, "Samb-Adagio" is a song that offers a full blast experience.