The Retro Jazz Quintet
Here we go again. Mark Waldrep's AIX Records continues issues of outstanding audio and video recordings in the DVD format playable as stereo or multi-channel surround but not on your CD player. All is done in the 24-bit/96kHz resolution format that would be the only new format if one of the major labels had been bold enough to go where AIX is now going. It does seem as if others are starting to slowly follow, very slowly. Here again are a group of musicians with great resumes, well known and respected by others in the business but not famous or household names. In the world of the performing arts, a "handful" share almost all of the fame or notoriety and not just musicians.
This time the song list was not very familiar to me and "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise" received full-blown jazz treatment with variations for each instrument. As is common, the number of instruments heard and seen here exceed the number of instrumentalists. Walt Fowles on trumpet and Larry Klimas on tenor sax seem to beautifully complement each other and harmonize almost perfectly much of the time. With leader David Garfield, Ernest Tibbs on bass and Oscar Seaton on drums, round out this fine quintet. Though this is, by definition, a rather small group, much of the time they almost have that traditional "big band" sound and ably aided by the outstanding (and relatively close-up) recording. Putting the surround sound channels to use adds quite a bit to that big sound. Do remember that a group of this size can fit into most of our listening or living rooms.
The experience is still fairly new to me and I still am routinely affected by the excellent accompanying video. I find it difficult to not watch the excellent visuals of the performing musicians and watching seems to make a person's auditory sense less critical. So far, so good, and for many listener/viewers extremely large television sets or monitors are not a necessity. Never advertised, be aware that a new (16:9) ratio 42-inch screen does not result in a bigger picture, for example the face of your favorite television news reporter, than with your old (4:3) ratio 35 or 36-inch screen. In that typical example, only the diagonal measurement actually gets larger, not objects. Much of this jazz quintets' musical emphasis is definitely right in the middle of traditional jazz, bop and even easy listening jazz at times.
Sound quality is, once again for AIX, simply superb. I need to mention that I am in the process of upgrading my multi-channel system where in resides the DVD-Audio player. Some of the almost affordable needed components are still in a back order mode but I am on the waiting lists. The reason for this mention is simply that a few question marks have subtly arisen with this outstanding disc's audio quality, specifically the very high frequency range. Watching what is happening has me questioning, at times, if all of the "cut through" quality of struck cymbals and rim shots are as sharp, clear and prominent as in real life. I question nothing else about the superb audio quality at this time. When I am able to be reasonably sure about that extreme high frequency range, I will report on it to you.