Today I re-listened to EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION, the okkadisk CD released this year. I listened to it in the context of the nature of the recording: live or studio. Since I originally wrote about this CD, I have reviewed and heard other live recordings and have resultantly become increasingly aware of the way in which they are mastered.
EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION is a live recording. I did not remember being annoyed by the humming of conversation and the clanking of glasses and bottles in the background at the onset of the the CD. And the reason why is that it does not take long for the music to override the residue of ambiance and I cannot hear the audience noise anymore, because I would say that the audience was actually listening to the music. Who knows? Maybe Hamid Drake and Joe McPhee blasted the audience so that its members would listen. And the insertion of GOD BLESS THE CHILD re-instills the recording as well as the performance with a balance; the tune is perhaps a return to familiarity and calm for both the audience and the musicians. Sure there is applause in between and the announcements of the two musicians by each other at the end of the title tune, but this is followed by yet another sensible piece that could have been an encore. The whole CD works... it just does.
I can compare this to what does not work, Kali Fasteau's VIVID, which I reviewed recently and which pales to the aforementioned because it is so cut up and pasted together that there is no continuity.
And then, the new Cadence TRIO X CD is a highly refined live recording to the point that the music becomes the only concern. The audience's presence introduces itself only once and the sound of the applause therein is nearly like a bridge from the drum solo to the next instrument barline.
Other recordings that come to mind that are taken from live performances have distance from the music and I cannot become involved with the music as much as I would like to because of this very fact. There is one recording I know of made at a concert which I attended. The concert was not that outstanding but to hear it on the recording it was fabulous...that is the result of the way in which it was mastered.
In general, I do not eschew live recordings. It is a chance for people to hear music that they might not have had the opportunity to hear otherwise. And live recordings are often the choice for vanguard musicians to get their music out. However, I am now adopting higher standards for listening to another level because my ears have developed new sensibility.