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Gryphon Diablo 300

Tania Maria: "Tempo"Naïve NJ621711
Format: CD

Musical Performance: *****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: *****

You might have heard of Tania Maria as a Brazilian bombshell whose fusion performances have been spicing up jazz clubs and recordings for 30-plus years. On this album she has just one partner, double bassist Eddie Gomez, known to many for his work with Bill Evans. Tania Maria is earthier than ever on Tempo, on which her singing, piano playing, and composing skills can be easily heard.

Cat Stevens "Tea for the Tillerman"A&M/Analogue Productions CAPP 9135 SA
Format: Hybrid SACD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: *****
Overall Enjoyment: ****½

Tea for the Tillerman was Cat Stevens’s fourth album, and his second with producer Paul Samwell-Smith. Stevens had enjoyed some success in England in 1966 with his first LP, Matthew and Son (Decca), but had been dissatisfied with the production of his second, New Masters, the following year. He was leaning toward a simpler, folk-rock sound, and his producer had made an overly elaborate record that didn’t even chart. After a lengthy recuperation from tuberculosis in 1969, Stevens changed record labels (Island in Europe, A&M in the US), released Mona Bone Jakon in July 1970, and then, just four months later, became an international star with the release of Tea for the Tillerman.

Getz/GilbertoVerve/Analogue Productions CVRJ8545 SA
Format: Stereo SACD/CD

Musical Performance: ****1/2
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****1/2

In the early 1960s, after tenor saxophonist Stan Getz heard Brazilian jazz played with a new beat called bossa nova (Portuguese for “new trend”), he and guitarist Charlie Byrd collaborated on the album Jazz Samba (1962). Having gotten a taste of bossa nova in the soundtrack of the mesmerizing Brazilian film Black Orpheus (1959), US listeners and musicians were primed for something new and innovative, and Jazz Samba was one of those rare jazz albums that topped the pop charts.

Further ExplorationsConcord Jazz CJA-33364-02
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****½
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Chick Corea’s Further Explorations echoes the title of Bill Evans’s Explorations, his 1961 recording with Paul Motian and Scott LaFaro for Riverside Records. Motian, who died late last year, is on hand for this live recording with Corea and bassist Eddie Gomez, who played with Evans for 11 years. The trio worked together to choose material from Evans’s discography for a series of live performances at New York’s Blue Note in May 2010. In September 2011, Universal Music in Japan released this two-disc set of selections from those performances, and Concord has now made it available in the US.

This morning, I polished my turntable with Speed Wax, from Tirox, which makes cleaning and maintenance products for motorcycles. Speed Wax smells like vanilla and, when buffed off with a microfiber cloth, leaves a wonderful, streak-free shine.

Yes, I polish my turntable. I’m proud of the thing. I smile at it. We understand each other.

It is with intense pleasure that I find myself writing this introduction to the inaugural installment of “For the Record,” a bimonthly column in which I’ll share with you my love of all things vinyl. I’m hoping that -- as a reader of the SoundStage! magazines -- you’re familiar with at least a few of my reviews. As of 2017, I’ve reviewed audio products for SoundStage! for 16 years, and the subjects of a good portion of those reviews have been analog products. And for 40 years now I’ve owned a turntable of some sort, and for nearly all that time have played LPs.