JazzTimes 10: Great Jazz Albums to Test Your Stereo With

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

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

Trilok Gurtu: Living Magic (1991, CMP)

I mentioned before the ability of a good stereo system to place sonic images far behind the speakers. A great system can put them behind the listener too. The best demonstration I’ve heard of this is “Once I Wished a Tree Upside Down,” the third cut from Trilok Gurtu’s Living Magic, in which Gurtu and fellow percussionist Naná Vasconcelos apparently circle the stereo microphone with shakers, rain sticks, and bell trees while Jan Garbarek’s alto sax holds down the center. Electrostatic speakers and open-back planar magnetic headphones, in particular, will make the percussion and Daniel Goyone’s keyboards seem to fly around your head, enveloping you like a swarm of benevolent buzzing insects.

Preview, buy or download Living Magic on Amazon!

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.