August 2007

Jerry Granelli & V16 - The Sonic Temple (Monday & Tuesday)
Songlines SGL SA1564-2
Format: Hybrid Multichannel SACD
Released: 2007

by John Crossett

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

What do you get when you combine a "been there, done that" drummer with an innovative jazz label? When the drummer is Jerry Granelli, with a musical heritage that runs the gamut of West Coast styles, and the label is Songlines, you get an eclectic, exciting two-disc album like The Sonic Temple. Songlines recorded Granelli’s V16 group on back-to-back nights in July 2006 at the Atlantic Jazz Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Musically, The Sonic Temple is a sojourn through cool-bop, avant-garde and fusion jazz, and the psychedelic-rock era. The first two tracks, "Ballad of El Leo Nora" and Immeasurable," show first Granelli’s mixture of jazz styles and then him playing at his psychedelic jam-rock best. The balance of the album continues this musical stew.

The multichannel recording was achieved using 24-bit/88.2kHz PCM, not pure DSD, which is SACD's native language. Does this affect the sound? Not really. It’s surprising how good high-rez PCM can sound, even when converted to DSD. Here, the sonics are both tonally and spatially correct, with a fast transient response that results in a good sense of drive. I found both the stereo and the multichannel tracks to be good, with the latter offering a tad more in the way of acoustic space. Both place the band vividly in front of you -- as was the case at the concerts, I'm sure.