Monster Music Releases Miles Davis' 'Sketches of Spain' SuperDisc DVD

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Monster Music announces the release of its SuperDisc version of Sketches of Spain, the critically acclaimed album recorded by Miles Davis in late 1959 and early 1960 that is considered one of his best collaborations with arranger and composer Gil Evans. This new DVD includes a DTS encoded 5.1 mix (which Monster calls "Monster High Definition Surround") and a high definition stereo PCM "audiophile" version remixed by "Head Monster" Noel Lee and three-time Grammy Award–nominated engineer Dave Rideau.

The most widely recognized track on the album is Joaquin Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez", which highlights the Spanish flamenco theme that inspired the album. Evans assembled an orchestra comprising around two dozen musicians for the recording sessions. The album was originally recorded in New York City in Columbia Records' studio on 30th Street onto three tracks, over the span of four sessions in four months.

With permission and support from Sony Music and Davis' family, Lee and Rideau were granted access to the master reels of Sketches of Spain. Lee, Rideau and Vince Wilburn, Jr.—Miles Davis's nephew and drummer during the 1980s, and a representative of Davis' estate—agreed that the goal in making a surround version of this classic recording was to try to re-create the experience of being in the studio with Davis. To translate the three original tracks into a 5.1 format, Lee and Rideau devised a method of filling the surround landscape with derivatives of the original three tracks. The process took the same amount of time to accomplish as the original sessions.

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Dave Rideau

Monster Music's project began in New York City at Germano Studios and concluded in Los Angeles at Rideau's Cane River Studios.

"We used photographs of the recording dates in 1959 in Columbia Records' 30th Street studio to figure out the physical location of the various instruments and of Miles himself," Lee says. "We wanted to take the listener in a virtual time machine and the end result is the most realistic."

"When I heard the Monster remix of Skecthes I actually felt like I was sitting right there in the middle of the orchestra," says Wilburn. "I know how that can be, sitting in that sweet spot behind the drum kit. It's very emotional, and this remix re-creates that feeling."

Rideau notes, "Gil Evans does a count off at the start of 'Concierto', and you can hear the rustle of the sheet music as the musicians get ready. This has never been heard before, and certainly not with this clarity or detail. This is extremely dynamic music; it can go from a whisper to a roar several times in one piece, and using the best of today's digital technology, this surround sound remix captures the range of the performance more completely than ever before."

Lee adds that ultimately the HDS remix of Sketches remains true to the authenticity of the original recording. "We took three analog tracks and translated them to 19 in order to create as complete an audio picture as is possible, but without processing and absolutely no digital tricks. The idea was simply to allow the music to breathe anew."

Find more information and order Monster Music's Sketches of Spain SuperDisc DVD from Monster Music's Website.

Visit Rideau's Cane River Studios at www.caneriverstudios.com/Welcome.html.

Visit Germano Studios at www.germanostudios.com.

Read Kevin Becka's blog about this project from October 2010.