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Records for listening tests

not only the audiophile ones work well...

Maarten van Casteren's choice
[Italian version]

My favourite music

As you can see from my list I mostly play jazz, and mostly from the period 1955-1965. That is just because the best music was produced at that time, and it was (almost) all recorded in a single take, straight to disk or 2 channel tape. Nothing can go wrong that way, and you get the benefit of an almost 'live' recording, except that it is in the studio. Look out for music recorded by Rudy van Gelder. He produced some of the best sounding recordings. I do like pop music too, but play less of it nowadays. I like the feeling that musicians are actually performing in my living room. Music that is too processed, or on a very large scale cannot create that impression. Perhaps that is why I like jazz so much.

Bill Evans: Waltz for Debbie

Desert island music. Deceptively simple, but extremely rewarding. Recording quality is probably not 'audiophile'. It is recorded live at the Village vanguard club in New York, and contains a lot of 'atmosphere' in the sense that you can hear people talk and move around. But musically very intense, especially because of the great interaction between Scott la Faro on bass and Bill Evans on the piano.

Miles Davis: Kind of Blue

I'm slightly embarrassed to include this one, as it is such an obvious choice. But there is no way around the fact that this is excellent music and the recording is very good too. A very long time favourate of mine.

Chick Corea trio: Past, Present & Futures

A good example of modern jazz. Thoroughly enjoyable, time after time. Perfect interaction between the three musicians. Good modern recording too.

John Coltrane: Blue Trane, My favorite things, Giant steps

Just the best saxophone player ever. I could listen to him all day long. Every record of Coltrane is worth owning, but of the ones I own I think these are the best. Again, not really audiophile in the sense that it is the best material to judge a system with, but it is excellent music, and what do we have these systems for anyway?

Sonny Rollins: Saxophone colossus

Excellent, simple and effective. Sonny Rollins when he was still playing just jazz the way I like it.

Sarah Vaughan: Sarah Vaughan

Also known as 'Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown'. One of the best vocal albums I know (but I don't know that many). It is an old recording (mid 50's) so the resolution isn't fantastic. It is mono too. But it still sounds great to me. Great voice, great music.

Duke Ellington: Back to back, Blues in Orbit

Duke Ellington is best known as a (big) band leader, but he was an excellent piano player too. Back to back is a small group recording of standard blues (jazz blues, that is). It is very relaxed and you can just feel the players having fun. Blues in orbit is very energetic big band music.

Dave Brubeck: Time out

A classic. Very well known, especially 'Take five' of course. But this is a very good album too. No bad tracks, actually.

Oscar Peterson: We get requests

Very interesting recording. I've read several reviews now where this disk was used to prove a point. One reviewer can hear the rivets in the cymbals of the drum kit, but only on extraordinary equipment. Another one can hear the bass player put away his bow, or hear him mumbling. There are a lot of small details like that on this disk, and it is a very clear recording indeed. Very good to test the resolution of your system with (or check the ears of other reviewers..) Even the music is excellent, by the way, even if most pieces are maybe a bit too 'popular'.

King Crimson: Discipline

This one is unique. The power, rhythm and creativity on this album is remarkable. Recording quality could be better, but is certainly good enough to convey the message. You will either love or hate this music, there is no middle way.

Frank Zappa: Hot Rats, One size fits all, Overnight sensation

I had to include a Zappa album, but couldn't decide which one, so I included my three favourates. Zappa is, well.. Zappa. It is difficult to describe him. He likes a good sound and slightly obscene lyrics. Also love or hate music.

Tom Waits: Swordfish trombones, Rain Dogs

Fantastic, creative music with great atmosphere. Lost of little details in the back ground for us audiophiles to hear. Listening to Tom Waits is almost like watching a film: he just takes you on a journey through his world.

Talking Heads: Remain in light, Fear of music

This just has a rhythmic quality that I find very enjoyable. I just keep playing these albums. Great for parties too.

Peter Gabriel: 1

Gabriel made lots of good music, but I still like his first solo album best. Also a very good test for a system, as the recording is very dense and can sound 'processed' on lesser systems.

David Bowie: Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust

Just very good pop music. Great atmosphere and real people playing real instruments. Very little processing, actually quite well recorded if you ask me. Certainly for pop music..

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Energy, rhythm, speed. Play it loud and enjoy. Can sound dense and noisy on a lesser system, but is actually quite well recorded. You will need a system that can produce bass and power, though.

Copyright 2005 Maarten van Casteren - www.tnt-audio.com

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