May 2007

Kartet - The Bay Window
Songlines SGL SA1560-2
Format: Hybrid Multichannel SACD
Released: 2007

by John Crossett

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

Right from the opening track, Thelonious Monk’s "Misterioso," you get the feeling that Kartet is not just another jazz quartet. They take a tune that is already outside the norm and deconstruct it further -- stretching it, manipulating it, redefining it. Sure, you can recognize the theme, but not the entire melody. That’s the difference. Their influences, many and varied as they are, are right out front. Kartet doesn’t believe in the quaint custom of modern jazz that dictates each band member should have his own solo space. Instead they think, write and perform as a group -- for the music’s common good.

Factor in sound that is clear, clean, defined, and spacious and you get an album to truly savor. Sure, The Bay Window was recorded at 24-bit/48kHz on a Pyramix machine, mixed in analog to stereo and multichannel DSD. How can I praise a PCM recording manipulated in analog then transferred to DSD? Because it works. Whether listening to the SACD stereo or multichannel layer you get clear sound that contains plenty of space together with wonderful tonality. The 5.0 mix places you in the midst of the band, while the stereo mix places the band in front of you. Either way, you can hear what each musician is doing at any given moment -- and how that affects his fellows. This is yet another excellent recording from Songlines.