Craig Chase

Jazz at the Pawnshop

Domernus Group, Jazz at the Pawnshop, Lim, 2006, CD.
Jazz at the Pawnshop is a compilation of several albums/CDs from 1976’s recordings of the Domernus Group. It takes place in Stockholm, Sweden at the Pawnshop Jazz Club. The entire disc is 5 talented musicians: Arne Domnerus on Clarinet/Alto Sax, Bengt Hallberg on Piano, Lars Erstrand on Vibes, Georg Reidel on bass, and Egil Johansen on drums.

It is clear from the first listen that the 5 bandmates are consummate professionals who enjoy making music together. Each song is exceptionally well recorded, and this disc, with a good stereo system, will bring a lot of the Pawnshop Jazz Club into your listening area. It is a collection that does not emphasize one song over another, and all are equally enjoyable. If you want an evening of jazz, and don’t want to venture out, add this to your collection. It’s 70 minutes of pure pleasure.

Chris Eberle

Dvorak & Elgar Cello Concerto

Jacqueline du Pre, Dvorak & Elgar Cello Concerto, Warner Classics, 1995, CD.
A friend and fellow classical music fan recently told me of a documentary about cellist Jacqueline du Pre and I was intrigued enough to obtain a copy of her legendary recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto. That it included a performance of Dvorak’s Cello Concerto was a really nice bonus.

Jacqueline du Pre rose to fame at an early age in the 1960s as an interpreter of all the great cello works, mainly by romantic composers. Her most famous recording is the Elgar from 1965, performed with the London Symphony conducted by Sir John Barbirolli. It was remastered in 1996 and had never been absent from EMI’s catalog.

Her story is unfortunately a tragic one. In 1973 at the age of 28, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and had to stop performing. She passed away in 1987, just 42 years old. Her career was all too brief, and one can only imagine what she would have done with more time.

Secrets Sponsor

Her sound is the first thing that commands attention. If you’re familiar with Yo-Yo Ma’s tone, du Pre’s is like that only more. More volume, more texture, more depth. It’s no surprise that Ma plays on the same instrument used in that recording, the Davidov Stradivarius from 1712. In du Pre’s hands though, it has a massive presence. It’s hard to believe how old her recordings are when you hear them.

There are several CDs that contain the Elgar performance but the one I obtained also has Dvorak’s Cello Concerto performed with the Chicago Symphony and Daniel Barenboim. This performance is equally sublime. I’ve always considered this to be Dvorak’s finest creation. It keeps his theme of American Romanticism but adds nuance and fragility that you won’t find in his other large-scale works.

If you’re a fan of the cello, one or more recordings from Jacqueline du Pre should be in your library. The Elgar performance is an absolute must, and it comes on several albums that include other works by St. Saens, Haydn, and others. Definitely check them out, you won’t be disappointed.

John E. Johnson, Jr.

The Saint Tikhon Choir

Vespers – The Saint Tikhon Choir – Benedict Sheehan, Conductor – Cappella Records – Released November 19, 2021.
Some time ago, I mentioned a fabulous choral music album called Hymn to the Virgin, released by 2L in Norway, stating that it was one of the most beautiful choir albums I had ever heard. Well, here is another one at that same level of enjoyment. It is very new, being released on November 19, 2021.

Vespers is an evening choir service at the Orthodox Church, and this recording was commissioned as based on traditional Russian and Byzantine chants.

It is superbly recorded with a deep articulate sound stage and is available in its original recording platform, DSD-64 (2.8224 MHz), but it also contains 24/192 stereo and DSD-64 multi-channel tracks on the disc, at a very reasonable price of $19.95. There are thirteen tracks on the SACD Hybrid Multi-channel disc, and the album-length is 59:29.

Some choir albums don’t sound quite right, perhaps because it is not easy to record so many voices at equal volume. There is one particular setup that works quite well that has the choir arranged in a circle with the microphones in the middle. I don’t know how this album was recorded, but it sounds perfect.

That is just the technical side. On the musical side, the emotion and warmth are simply exquisite. The flow of the melodies leaves the listener in a peace that is impossible to describe in a written review. You just have to hear it for yourself.

Secrets Sponsor

You can download the album rather than obtaining the disc if you wish. I suggest the 24/192 stereo version. What a masterpiece!

The best option for a high-resolution download pre-order is here.

The physical CD pre-order links, listening notes, and a video can be found here.

As with the Hymn to the Virgin album, it does not matter if you are Christian, Hebrew, Muslim, Atheist, or Agnostic. Just experience the beauty of this album for its extraordinary pleasure. I plan to be listening to it again during the Christmas holidays, and it will likely be part of my source material in some audio product reviews.

The Paul Bedal Guitar Quartet

Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity - Best of Awards 2021

The Paul Bedal Guitar Quartet, RTR Tape, Released August 2021, International Phonograph, Inc., $150, 15 IPS, IEC EQ.
The title of this Reel-to-Reel music tape is a bit misleading. It implies (to me) that it is four guitars, when in fact, it is a jazz quartet where the piano and guitar are the lead instruments. Paul Bedal is on piano, and Jeff Swanson is on guitar.

Anyway, it is a terrific album. You can see at the top of the cover label (shown above), it states, “Direct Copy of the Master”. I obtained this one at the $150 price, which is intended for purchasing a copy of the running copy. I did this by purchasing it when it was released. There is a short window for doing this, so if you are into tape, get on the mailing list so you will be informed when a new album is being released. After that time period, the $150 price is for the copy of the copy, and it is $250 for a direct copy.

So, about the music. This is a classic jazz quartet with guitar, piano, bass, and drums. More often, a tenor sax would be the lead instrument. Here it is piano and guitar. Actually, the piano is mainly the lead, while the guitar jumps in now and then.

The music is straight-ahead jazz, and it is wonderful. Tape yields a silky smooth sound that is its hallmark. Clarity, detail, background ambience, and silk. All there in a glorious set of tracks.

Spectral analysis shows the music has sound out to about 32 kHz. The peak at about 25 Hz is the bass drum. If this tape is ever transcribed to digital, it would need 24/96 sampling at a minimum.


If you are into classic jazz style, this album would be a very nice one to add to your collection, assuming you have an RTR tape deck.

Carlo Lo Raso


Pat Martino, Cream, 32 Jazz Records, CD, 1997.
This month saw the passing of Jazz guitar great, Pat Martino at 77 years of age. Born Pat Azzara in 1944, Martino came out of Philidelphia and was first introduced to music by his father, Carmen “Mickey” Azzara, who sang in local clubs. Pat “Martino” took up the guitar and was playing professionally by the age of 15. He left high school in the late 50s to study music under famed instructor Dennis Sandole, who also taught none other than John Coltrane. Inspired by Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, and his father, Martino developed into a formidable jazz guitar player and released several records on labels such as Prestige, Muse, and Blue Note throughout the late 60s and all through the 70s. He continued touring and recording until 1980 when he experienced a near-fatal seizure, brought on by a brain aneurism. The resulting surgery left him with severe amnesia and a loss of knowledge of his past career and of how to play guitar. He would subsequently spend the next few years re-learning how to play the guitar from scratch and in 1987 resumed his recording and touring life, almost as if he never left.

Pat Martino

Cream” is not so much a greatest hits album as opposed to an introduction to Pat Martino’s playing and style. Nine of the ten tracks are from various recordings before the surgery while one is from after, all are from either the Muse or 32 Jazz labels. Each track shows an incredible virtuosity with sometimes complex, but still accessible melodic structures and an outright infectious groove. Each song is pretty much a standout, particularly “Impressions,” and “Three Base Hit” but my personal favorite is Martino’s live version of the classic tune “Sunny” taken from his 1972 “Pat Martino Live” album. His extended solos are simply magnificent and as fluid and tasteful as anything as you might ever hope to hear. Recording quality varies from track to track but there really isn’t a bad one in the bunch. If you aren’t too familiar with Pat Martino’s playing and are looking for a good primer, “Cream” fits the bill nicely and is a beautiful tribute to an absolutely monster talent.