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Chesky JD412
Format: 16-bit/44.1kHz download

Music: ********
Sound: ********
Overall: ********

I’d wager few audiophiles could tell you who won Record of the Year at last year’s Grammy Awards. But for many audiophiles, including this one, the best record of 2017 was obvious: Inside the Moment, jazz saxophonist/vocalist Camille Thurman’s debut side for Chesky Records. Inside the Moment, recorded live at New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall using Chesky’s Binaural+ technique, captured the sound and emotion of a jazz group in a small club as well as any album I’ve heard -- and Thurman’s talents on tenor and vocals left many listeners wondering how she’d been overlooked by the big (well, relatively speaking) jazz labels.

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Chesky JD371
Format: 24-bit/192kHz download

Music: *********
Sound: *********
Overall: *********

David Chesky is a jazz musician, a classical composer, a record producer and engineer, and, with his brother Norman, owner of one of the most revered jazz labels around: Chesky Records. With Chesky’s Binaural+ format, recorded using a dummy head with microphones inserted in its ear canals, he’s also the world’s most prominent producer of recordings made especially for headphones. This Binaural+ recording of original compositions pays tribute to the Jewish experience, bright and dark. The excellent chamber orchestra is the Chelsea Symphony, conducted by Yaniv Segal, and the two superb instrumental soloists -- violinist Artur Kaganovsky and cellist Kristina Reiko Cooper -- are drawn from its ranks.

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Chesky JD414
Format: 24-bit/192kHz download

Music: ********
Sound: **********
Overall: ********

Not yet 30, Casey Abrams couples experience and virtuosity with youthful exuberance. Whether playing his double bass, or most often singing while playing it, Abrams combines disparate elements into a style that is uniquely his. There’s a little jazz here, a little blues there, with pop and rock licks along the way. He can be reminiscent of a somewhat raspy Bob Seger (“Robot Lovers” and “Cougartown,” both originals) or come up with sweet falsetto that harmonizes perfectly with his backup musicians, Jacob Scesney (saxophone, cajón) and Taylor Tesler (guitar), who, with Abrams, make up the Casey Abrams Trio.

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Chesky JD380
Formats: 24-bit/192kHz download

Music: *********
Sound: *********
Overall: *********

This is Noah Wall’s first solo album for Chesky Records; previously a member of The New Appalachians, she was heard on their album From the Mountaintop, also on Chesky. Wall is front and center for all 16 cuts of the 55-minute-long Down Home Blues, backed by two other New Appalachians, Tommy Norris (mandolin and guitar) and Chuck Palmer (percussion), as well as Ed Snodderly (guitar, banjo, resonator, dobro, vocals) and Ariel de la Portilla (double bass). Wall fearlessly sings some of the best-known classics of the blues and spiritual traditions, including “St. Louis Blues,” “St. James Infirmary,” “Down by the Riverside,” and “Battle of Jericho.” By comparison with others, she gets a solid “A” on these covers.

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Chesky JD381
Format: 24-bit/192kHz download

Music: ********
Sound: ********
Overall: ********

Because this is the first in a series of reviews of binaural recordings, I’ll begin by describing the format.

SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Reference 160M Amplifier (February 2019)

SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)

SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)

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