November 2004

Clark Terry - Portraits
Chesky SACD 267
Released: 2004

Musical Performance ***
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***

Phil Woods - Here's to My Lady
Chesky SACD 268
Released: 2004

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

by John Crossett

When Chesky releases SACDs, expectations can run extremely high. These hybrid SACD releases of past Chesky compact discs easily meet those expectations. Both of these are reissues of original Chesky sessions from 1988. Both were initially PCM recordings and benefit greatly from their conversion to DSD, and subsequent issuance on multichannel SACD.

Clark Terry and Phil Woods are fine musicians and supported by sidemen of serious caliber -- for Terry it’s Don Friedman on piano, Victor Graskin on bass, and Lewis Nash on drums; for Woods it’s Tommy Flanagan on piano, George Mraz on bass, and Kenny Washington on drums. Each has the group performing songs that fit the leader’s chosen style -- big-band swing and standards for Terry, bebop/hard bop for Woods. Neither leader breaks any new ground, but that wasn’t Chesky’s intention. Instead, we are given jazz masters playing their favorite music, recorded in a manner they’ve rarely received before.

These multichannel SACDs place the band in front of you, using the surrounds only for ambiance fill-in -- there is no center channel used. Results? An excellent reproduction of the original recording sessions. While both of these reissues are not quite as clear as pure-DSD recordings, I doubt very much if anyone will be disappointed by the sonics of either the multichannel or stereo mixes given that both are major improvements over their Red Book counterparts.

Sensitivity, faithfulness to the original recordings, and an excellent musical ear are the hallmarks of Chesky SACDs, and those traits are admirably displayed here.