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Positive Feedback ISSUE 37
may/june 2008


Beethoven in Jazz, Ray Kennedy Trio
by Robert H. Levi


It's been tried before, but not like this. Start with Ray Kennedy, a solid jazz pianist and top arranger [who obviously loves Beethoven], add Tom Kennedy and Miles Vandiver, first rate bass and drums, journey to Skyline Studios in NYC with state of the art gear, borrow world renowned I. Hirakawa to produce, have Koji Tanaka master the session at the amazing JVC Mastering Center in Japan… and WOW! With jazz beats and creative melodies even Ludwig would have loved and sonics that remind me of Sheffield Direct to Disk efforts of the past, you will love this CD to death! Available for the first time in the USA at EastWind Import, the liner notes are in 100% Japanese, but the music is in your language.

The 12 cuts represent Beethoven's best melodies. Symphonies 3,5,7,9, The Emperor Concerto, The Pathetique Sonata, Minuet in G, Fur Elise, and more. Delicious, toe tapping melodies that are artfully brought into the 21st Century jazz repertoire. The worst cut is better than any previous jazz effort I know.

I think it is Holt's Law that states that the better the music, the worse the sound quality. Not this time. This is the very best jazz trio recording I have heard on CD to date. Period. No equivocation. The piano is natural, sweet, smooth, alive and in the room. The drums are just right and full of energy and snap. The placement is just behind the right speaker and they never smear or wonder. The bass fiddle is dead center and is perfectly mic'ed. It goes as deep as can be and sounds tight and woody. When it blooms, it pressurizes the room in a stellar manner that is just plain awesome. The background is black! The ambient cues are totally right… no detectable sweetening or added ambience. All is natural and organic. This is a reference CD of the highest order.

If you are an audiophile and are always searching for a rather noncomplex yet entertaining acoustic instrument disk to judge your system setup or just show off your toys to your friends, the Beethoven in Jazz CD is for you! I am astounded at its mellifluousness and harmonious verve and the purity of sound. You will be looking around you as the inner ambience floats forward from your two channel system like you had hidden rear channels. This is great jazz, fabulous melodies, and outstanding sonics. The best of the best. Buy it and enjoy your system like never before.

Performance: A

Sonics: A+++ [Best of the Best]