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  Delta Music -
  52 006
  Duke Ellington - Alhambra, October 29th, 1958
  "Alhambra, October 29th, 1958"

Duke Ellington
Track listing:
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Recording info:

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Reviews: 4 show all

Review by analogue March 17, 2009 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I was very surprised and delighted by the quality of this sacd. It truly gives the listener a very good idea of how Duke Ellington and his band sounded live back in the day. The "live" feeling of this recording is top notch and is actually a little surreal. From Duke's voice to the cheering and clapping of the audience.............the vitality of the recording really comes through.
It does not sound like a recording that is 51 years old. It almost gives the feeling of being yesterday. This is the biggest and most important aspect of this sacd that is worth the price. This recording gives us a very good indication and feeling of being at a live event with the master.

The overall sound quality, although a tad bright and perhaps a little loud is very good also. It's the trumpets, saxaphones, clarinet and the up front instruments that really shine and take this recording to a new level.'s the freshness and the Aliveness that makes this sacd a winner. Sure the sound stage could be a little wider and the other instruments could be better described........but all in all this is a highly recommended sacd.

I expected some tape wear and some hiss but I did not really hear this. It's the force and power of the music that comes through in spades. The tapes are in very good condition.

If you are a Duke Ellington fan and admire his music I must really ask you to give this one a try. It's one for your Ellington collection.

You will not be dissapointed at all.

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Review by miguelito54 February 6, 2008 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
There is not much to add to GregM's in-depth review - though the sound is very good, and the sources treated with care, not suppressing the unavoidable tape hiss and leaving the dynamics of the original sources intact it leaves the question why they had to compute surround and not leave it in good old mono, which still profits from the high resolution transfer.
Only complaint is that this SACD is a little on the bright side.
The band was in top form that evening and plays with all the passion and excitement it was capable of. You won't get a better sounding live recording of the 1958 Ellington band.

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Review by GregM October 20, 2003 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This German import is a paradox--a multichannel/hybrid SACD sourced from mono radio broadcasts from Oct. 29th, 1958 recorded live and preserved for posterity on quarter-inch tape. Don't ask me what motivation Delta would have for producing a 4.0 mix from the mono. The SCD-1 cannot access multichannel content, so much to my dismay I won't be reviewing that (although if only audience noises were relegated to the rear channels, it wouldn't be bad--but how is that possible from a monaural source?). Another reason this disc is a paradox is because the label--known for cheap knock-offs of rare, live and/or poorly recorded material--chose to start making SACDs. The announcement of Delta's first batch surprised me as much as an announcement by McDonald's that they would be serving big macs, fries and shakes on solid silver platters and handing out only the finest silverware to their patrons. What would be the point with food that's processed, prep-cooked, assembled and heated fresh out of the freezer?

From the first moments, as "Take the A Train" fades in, it became clear that this silver platter had a more direct relation with fresh food, so to speak. The source material does not give the producer a whole lot to work with, but the work was done right and with enough care so that I can recommend this very highly. As the notes declare--in both German and (mercifully) English--". . .there may be slight artefacts on account of the age of the tapes. These minimal background and audience noises were deliberaely left in place on the high-resolution SACD in the interests of faithfulness to the original soundtrack." The equipment used in the DSD remstering included dCS 904 A/D and dCS 954/955 D/A, the Pyramix and Sonic Solutions editing systems, Focusrite blue 330 compressor, Sontec MES 62 C9eq, GML 8200, 9500 masterig eq's, Manely massive passive stereo eq, t.c. electronics system M6000 fully equipped with 5.1 applications, and Weiss EQ-1. B&W N801 was used for monitoring, which may explain why this music imaged deep and luscious on my N802.

Through the consistent tape hiss, this really sounded good. There was a natural quality to it, a roundness to the bass and a bite to the brass that impressed me at times as much as the Sony production of Basie/Duke's SACD, which was recorded under much better conditions in Columbia's New York studio. Everything is there--the drums, the incredible horn section of Cat, Ray and Clark, and the reeds which at first were a bit under-mic'ed. Duke's piano sounds front and center. And his voice was palpable on the song intros, in all its charm and nobility. The orchestra of this period, with Gonsalves and Nance, was top notch and this music should be sought out by Duke fans regardless of the sound. The only real problem came at the very end of the disc, after nearly an hour's worth of classic Duke performances. Track 14 ended with a series of digital-sounding deep crunching noises that lasted two seconds. It certainly jolted me out of my seat. But the disc overall is a definite keeper, barring my discovery of a version without the last-second defect.

So to wrap it up, the performance gets my highest rating for an hour's worth of one Duke's most legendary bands in top form. In terms of the sound quality, it was excellent given the source material, but that material was by no means recorded optimally. The original tapes seem to have aged gracefully, and the tape-to-DSD conversion was done with care. Four out of five. In absolute terms it would probably be lower, but frankly I was tempted to give it a perfect score considering this is a budget label working with source limitations. I couldn't be happier with it except for that jolt at the end.

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