The beautiful sound makes us speechless.

February 1, 2018

By Masamichi Okazaki

I had an opportunity to visit the audition room at Audio Note toward the end of 2017. It is a domestic manufacturer mainly manufacturing high-end amps. Since Audio Note Co., Ltd. has been receiving orders mostly from overseas, its name recognition in Japan might not be as high as it should be considering its excellent products.

Intrigued by listening to the sound of much-talked-about amps hand-made with sheer persistence, I visited the office and audition room combined facility in the quiet suburban residential district. I got an opportunity to listen to the “exceptionally beautiful sound” there. It was not just simply clear or transparent, but was solid, informative and at the same time heartwarming. It was the rich music as a reproduced art, which I wanted to immerse myself in forever.

It is often said that “the beauty makes us speechless.” It is impossible to describe this sound by words. No rhetoric can explain the sound. However, no matter how wonderful the equipment and environment are, the software is the key for enjoying music. I am going to introduce you monthly the excellent recordings which must be great to listen to and cannot be lost to the equipment in the audition room of Audio Note.

#1 A Piece to Enjoy Heartful Musical Dialogue

Beyond the Missouri Sky / charlie haden & par metheny

Beyond the Missouri Sky / charlie haden & par metheny

To visit the audition room, I brought some software. The first one I played was “Beyond the Missouri Sky” by the duo, Pat Metheny and Carlie Haden. Whenever the environment changes by replacing amps, cables, electric codes, insulators and others, I make it a rule to check the sound by playing this album.

You can hear the supple sound of acoustic guitar Pat plays and the rich base tone by Haden, and this is the one that you should enjoy the space in the heartful musical dialogues the two engendered. Of course you may want to listen carefully to the impact of large orchestra and try to catch the minute sounds. However, this is the simple acoustic duo, and I feel it is rather easy to capture the changes from audio perspective.

Here Haden is playing the base as a melodic instrument, and is creating the romantic sounds by blending brilliantly with Pat's guitar. Pat plucks his guitar as we can see his fingers when he produces a great number of phrases in <Spanish Love Song>. In the plaintively beautiful <First Song> I'd like to point out the beautiful harmony created by Haden's base solo deeply going down to our soul and Pat's strings. I wanted to repeatedly listen to and immerse myself in the music. (Work in 1996)

#2 Most Recently Remastered Clear Individual Piano Touch



The Soul Note Label of “No Man's Land” recorded in the Milano studio by an Italian pianist, Enrico Pieranunzi, was newly remastered and relaunched from King International Inc. People tend to believe that every sound is superior when they hear it is the most recent remastering. However, if you think carefully, the newer the remastering is the older the master. We have to be careful not to assume that every latest remaster is always better because the storage condition varies.

With regard to this UHQ recording, I negotiated with Enrico directly. After the player was convinced, the remastered recording was carefully made bringing out the flesh sounds just as we expected. In the past in the world of jazz piano, the term “after Bud Powell and after Bill Evans” used to be used, but now “after Enrico” is also used in general. His presence is quite big.

It has the poetic turn of mind for the country of canzone and the unique adventurous stance. The trio performance can be described as the lyrical beauty due to the clear individual piano touch by Enrico. The effect of the latest remastering is enormous, and you can feel the freshness clearly comparing with the previous recording. There may be only a slight difference, but it is the real pleasure and the ultimate luxury of audio to enjoy the minimal difference of not only the hardware but also the software. (Work in 1989 and Remastered Recording in 2017)

#3 Grammy Award Winning Everlasting Masterpiece

The Thompson Fields / Maria Schneider Orchestra

The Thompson Fields / Maria Schneider Orchestra
(ArtistShare AS-0137)

This is the latest work in 2016 by Maria Schneider Orchestra, the greatest contemporary jazz orchestra today. The album should be called the tone poem of Minnesota, her hometown. She devoted all her energy and composed a number of beautiful original tracks, and they are performed by the orchestra in New York where only prominent players are collected.

The arrangement done by Maria under the tutelage of Gil Evans, the famous arranger Miles Davis was also fascinated with, showcases the future of the orchestra as well together with the exquisite ensemble, which can be comparable to the classical orchestra. I was totally amazed by the unifying power of Maria Schneider to attract this level of strong players to a single spot. This is the everlasting excellent recording which won the “Best Large Jazz Ensemble” Grammy Award. (Work in 2016)

About the Author

Masamichi Okazaki

Masamichi Okazaki

Surrounded by various kinds of music from his childhood, Masamichi Okazaki joined Waseda University Modern Jazz Club. He started contributing articles to music magazines when he was a student. He covers wide range of music not only trad, modern and contemporary jazz, but also from pops to classics. He writes liner notes for CDs and LPs, and is a regular contributor to “JAZZ JAPAN,” “STEREO,” and others. He joined a big band, “Shiny Stockings,” as a saxophone player. He is a director of The Music Pen Club Japan (MPCJ).