Diana Krall: Live in Paris (Verve, 2002)
Audiophiles hate this record because they hear it nearly nonstop at audio shows—but the reason they hear it so often is because it tells you so much about a system. On Live in Paris, famed engineer Al Schmitt captured all the little sonic details of Krall’s voice and her all-star cast of players, while also conveying a realistic sense of the excellent acoustics of Paris’ 2,000-seat Olympia Hall. Krall’s voice should sound smooth with no sibilance, yet you should also be able to hear all the sizzle and sheen of Jeff Hamilton’s cymbal work. But you don’t have to be analytical with this recording; simply put, if it doesn’t sound pretty close to a live performance, something’s wrong somewhere.