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06/19/2003 8:20p ET
Brett Rudolph - Reviewer

I have to admit before going any further with this review that this album was as much a surprise to me as any I have done in the past. I don’t mean this in a bad way, but quite honestly, I had no idea what to expect. After all, taking one look at the album cover and you're not quite sure you get the sense of what the music is all about, let alone what type of music it might be. However, after hearing it several times, I can honestly say it is quite enjoyable.

Misha Mengelberg is a Dutch pianist, composer, and according to the notes, a humorist as well. I guess knowing that it isn’t all that surprising since the album cover has a bit of humor associated with it. In fact, the humor doesn’t stop at the title, though the music is somewhat difficult to classify, I would have to say it is an upbeat form of jazz perhaps mixed in with a bit of “new Dutch Swing,” something else for which Mengelberg is known.

The title comes from Songlines, a Canadian record company specializing in what they term cutting edge jazz. From the selections I have heard I think it fits them to a tee. This particular album was released from them as a hybrid stereo SACD, sort of the best of both new and old worlds. It contains not only a version that can be played on most standard CD players, but a second version that can be used on the higher definition, high fidelity SACD players available today, both in stereo format.

To fairly review this album I started by listening to the standard red-book layer, CD, version of the recording. Without going any further then the first track, “Hypochristmutreefuzz,” it is already evident that there is a great deal of work that has taken place to insure the clarity of the instruments. Unlike other recordings I have heard recently, Dave Douglas can be heard playing the trumpet with such clarity that you have to wonder if you are hearing it from a CD or across the room. The upper treble which tends to sound somewhat analytical on many CDs has no such qualities on this recording.

The other cut that really needs to be pointed out is track four, “Die Berge Schuetzen Die Heimat,” Not only is it a great example of the improvised music, but the recording seems to have an almost limitless ability to vary from one frequency range to another without sounding the least bit constrained. This makes the already bright music seem lifelike without making it seem as though it was overdubbed in the mixing stages of the record’s production.

Before moving to the SACD version of Four In One I need to make one thing clear. This is one of the few recordings I have heard in the recent past that stands out as a great CD even without the SACD version included. Its full ranged, full bodied sound makes it a worthy purchase even if you don’t have an SACD player.

The SACD layer of this recording just adds more precision to what is already present on the CD layer. There is a far greater depth to the already impressive music which allows you to not only hear the attack, but the decay as each note is played as well. This in turn allows the music to be far more expressive in its presentation. For example, on track five, “Four In One,” the entire quartet comes together in an involving presentation, which brings the listener closer to the music than one might think possible.

Track four, “Die Berge Schuetzen Die Heimat,” which already might make you laugh and smile if you listened to just the CD version, will definitely succeed in the SACD version. You find yourself a part of the entire experience as you are able to sense and experience some of what might actually be going through the musician’s mind as they recorded the track. It is definitely something you won’t soon forget.

Basically, if you are looking for an all around great jazz recording that not only possess all the basic requirements of a great recording, but goes further, you need look no further then Four In One. The disc not only possesses one of the best CD recordings of a jazz ensemble that I have heard for its modernity, but the SACD version adds more to the color of the music as well. It is definitely worth listening to and adding to your collection. If you are looking for something you will want to hear over and over again without ever tiring of it, Misha just might have a note that tickles you.

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212 Frech

Misha Mengelberg Quartet

Four in One

SACD Quality

Released: March 19, 2002
Origination Year: 2001
Tracks: 11
Produced by: Dave Douglas
Engineered by: Joe Ferla
DSD Engineer: N/A
Mixed by:N/A
Mastered by:N/A
Style: Studio
Format: SACD
Enhancement: DSD
Label: Songlines Records
Band Website:

Misha Mengelburg Quartet:

Misha Mengelberg:

Dave Douglas:

Brad Jones:

Han Bennink:

Track List

  1. Hypochristmutreefuzz
  2. Reef
  3. Kneebus
  4. Die Berge Schuetzen Die Heimat
  5. Four in One
  6. Monk's Mood
  7. Criss-Cross
  8. Blues After Piet
  9. Kwela P'kwana
  10. We're Going Out For Italian
  11. Poor Wheel