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JazzTimes 10: Great Jazz Albums to Test Your Stereo With

A collection of sides that will reveal your system’s strengths—and weaknesses

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I only have Eyes for You by Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy
I only have Eyes for You by Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy

World Saxophone Quartet: Metamorphosis (Nonesuch/Elektra, 1991)

I’ve saved the wildest recording for last. For speaker and headphone testing, the killer track on Metamorphosis is the first one, Hamiet Bluiett’s “The Holy Men.” This dense group improvisation, with the Quartet soloing simultaneously to the backbeat of clanging African percussion, gives your audio gear a chance to show off its resolving power. If you can clearly pick out the sonic images of David Murray’s tenor at hard left, Oliver Lake’s alto just left of center, Arthur Blythe’s alto just right of center, and Bluiett’s bari at hard right, your system’s doing a pretty good job.

Preview, buy or download Metamorphosis on Amazon!

Originally Published

Brent Butterworth

Brent Butterworth has been a professional audio journalist since 1989, and has evaluated and measured thousands of audio products. He is currently a writer at Wirecutter and editor of the SoundStage Solo headphone site; served as an editor at such magazines as Sound & Vision and Home Theater; and worked as marketing director for Dolby Laboratories. He also plays double bass with several jazz groups in Los Angeles.