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Bob Brookmeyer/Kenny Wheeler Quintet: Island

John Snyder’s resuscitated Artists House label has just blown to hell all assumptions about what $16.98 should buy you in an album. Island contains a DVD with the entire recording in two audio formats: a 24-bit/96 kHz stereo mix and a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital surround mix. That same DVD also contains video: a documentary section with commentary from all five musicians and footage from the recording session, solo transcriptions and analyses and discussions of songs by their composers, in-depth interviews with all five players and spoken bios of the two leaders. If you have a DVD-ROM drive on your computer, you can access Web links and printable files including lead sheets, transcribed solos and discographies as well as encoded MP3s of the recording. As a concession to antiquarians, the package also contains a throw-in regular CD.

Of the audio formats, the 24/96 mix is subtly but consistently superior, like adjusting a focus ring just a hair and sharpening the clarity and detail. The 5.1 channel mix is yet another shot across the bow in the multichannel-for-music wars, and mixing engineer John Klett uses the technology tastefully. Properly executed, three channels across the front are more fun than two. The ambient information in the rear channels creates a convincing illusion of musical space.

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