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Jane Ira Bloom: Sixteen Sunsets / Stereophile review

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Jane Ira Bloom is a soprano saxophone specialist who has won many jazz polls and a Guggenheim. [Sixteen Sunsets] is her 15th recording as a leader and her first ballad album. The tunes are mostly classics from the American Songbook. Bloom sings them on her saxophone like someone who has internalized their lyrics, but also like a pure jazz improviser who reshapes them with idiosyncratic phrasing and bold additions and subtractions. This is a rapt album of deep after-midnight atmospheres, but its romanticism is sometimes edgy with passion. "For All We Know" is a naked autobiographical outpouring. "I Loves You Porgy," "Darn That Dream" and "Good Morning Heartache" are wistful but not entirely sad, because Bloom's soprano keeps sweeping free of their melodies with embellishments driven by the joy of spontaneous creativity.

Sixteen Sunsets is a co-release. The renowned engineer Jim Anderson recorded and mixed it in a Blu-ray 5.1 DTS 24/96 version, and also mixed it for two-channel CD. The Blu-ray captures Bloom's physical movements as she plays, and places her in a three-dimensional ambient aural landscape.The most intriguing track is "My Ship," the only solo piece. Anderson recorded Bloom's saxophone, played it back through two speakers placed under the piano, and recorded the piano resonating in sympathy with the saxophone. The final 5.1 mix creates fields of saxophone calls and ringing piano responses. The responses emanate from a distant horizon.

The CD version is a typical high-class Jim Anderson recording, clear and detailed. But once you hear the Blu-ray you won't want to play the CD anymore.