SoundStage! Music Online Editor's Pick Archives
November/December 2001

Strictly Sousa
Reference Recordings RR-94, 2001

SnapShot! Rating:
****

America's rise in patriotism following the September 11th attacks is well known, and if any music deserves to be an anthem to this vast sentiment, it is the work of John Philip Sousa, "America's March Master," as this collection is subtitled. Every Sousa march that you can think of is here, including a few like "El Capitan" and "The Picadore" that you may not know were by Sousa but you have heard, and often. The playing and arrangements are stirring, with the Dallas Wind Symphony, Jerry Junkin conducting, creating some real heavy metal. The HDCD sound is very open and hugely powerful, many of the marches ending in a bang that only Telarc's 1812 Overture recordings match in terms of sheer dynamic range. Like a pot of black coffee to your flag-waving soul, Strictly Sousa is a collection that I, as an American in late 2001, wouldn't do without, and one for which we audiophiles can once again thank Reference Recordings....Marc Mickelson


Anthony Wilson Trio - Our Gang
Groove Note GRV2008-2, 2001

SnapShot! Rating:
****

"Something from Medeski, Martin and Wood" was my first observation of Our Gang, but repeated listening has helped me appreciate the lyricism and depth of the music Anthony Wilson on guitar, Joe Bagg on Hammond B-3, and Mark Ferber on drums make. Covers of "Luck Be a Lady" and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" give new perspective and offer musical space in which Wilson, in particular, can roam. Wilson shows himself to be an accomplished composer too, with three originals, including the contemplative (at least that's how it affected me) title track. The sound is of reference quality, but not in a showy, blockbuster way. The panoramic soundstage, high resolution, and overall sweetness make this recording sound very here, and the cymbals give away how special the sound is -- quick attack and long decay. This CD could pass for a 24/96 DVD, and it was recorded live to two track DSD, so expect an SACD soon. Oh boy!...Marc Mickelson


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