Zuill Bailey

July 20, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

Man oh man alive, have we got something amazing to delight your ears.

World-famous Grammy-winning cellist, Zuill Bailey, sat down alone in the massive Mesa Arts Center’s sonic wonder-hall and played his heart out for Octave Records.

Prepare to be amazed. The instrument, the performer, and this recording are musical treasures

Zuill’s one-of-a-kind cello was built when Johann Sebastian Bach was but 14 years old. In itself, it is a treasure. When in the hands of the master, magic happens.

This once-in-a-lifetime recording was captured in pure DSD and is now available as a double SACD/CD/download.

The entire Bach Cello Suites.

This is one collection you must own. If you’re already clued in to this magical masterpiece, click here to grab a copy before they vanish.

If you’re unfamiliar with Zuill and this masterpiece, click here to watch the video, itself a treasure to behold.

Whatever you do, do not miss out on this amazing work of art.

Available right now on Octave Records.

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53 comments on “Zuill Bailey”

      1. I think Julian Lloyd Webber got the cello fusion thing going.

        Not that these suites need to be played on the cello, there are versions by Bach for the lute and I have recordings on guitar, marimba, viola and violin.

        In fact the recent violin version by Rachel Podger won multiple awards and contributed to her winning Gramophone Artist of the Year in 2018. It was recorded in DSD256 and won NativeDSD’s Album of the Year in 2019.

        p.s. Why does Octave persist with this excessive download pricing, the same whether or not with a physical disc? I clicked to download, $29, seemed OK, then saw it was for only for the first 3 suites. Sorry, not paying $58 for a download of the Bach suites, let alone by someone I’ve not heard play or even heard of. Octave is charging double or more Podger and other DSD/HD versions.

        1. Ever hear of the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin by Sigiswald Kuijken? This Belgian Violinist is a lifelong student of Bach. He holds his violin (Mittenwald) up to his chin without resting it on his shoulder. This was the style of playing in Bach’s time. His reading is sensational. And yes there are other period Violinists that perform the same piece extremely well.

          1. I’ve not heard of him, and my wife is Belgian, so perhaps I should have done. His wiki page has him playing the cello de spalla in on his shoulder/chest, which is theorised was the intended instrument for the sixth suite.

            I’ve listened to many performances of the sonatas and partitas. Podger played 5 of the sonatas in her first post-lockdown recital with audience last September, which was excellent. We have a dinner evening of sonatas and partitas coming up in a couple of weeks, Nicola Benedetti is the violinist. The chef also plays Bach sonatas, but not as well as Nicola Benedetti. Alina Ibragimova is also likely to be there playing, her recordings of the partitas is magnificent. They are very close friends – almost like sisters – Benedetti was taught violin by Ibragimova’s mother. Very different styles, my wife calls Ibragimova force of nature.

        2. I have not had the pleasure of hearing Rachel Podger’s playing these works. I do have the excellent SACD of her performance with Arte Dei Suonatori of “La Stravaganza” 12 violin concertos by Vivaldi. Other SACDs in my library by ‘new kids’ of note are Hilary Hahn (3) and Joshua Bell (1).

  1. A great piece of music composed by JS Bach performed by an incredible Cellist, Zuill Bailey in a fiery, passionate performance on an incredible period instrument in a spectacular music venue by a masterful recording team.

    This recording isn’t just a “Cherry Picked” demo for an audiophile music system, it’s an historic musical work performed in a remarkable recording.

    What I heard on my iPhone while watching the video setup of the recording session was so good that I snatched up a copy immediately. I have to admit that I asked Paul a while back if he would be able to make this recording on Octave after seeing video of Bailey that Paul recording in Boulder a while back. I’m sure Paul already had it planned in his “To Do” list but I had to ask. I LOVE The WORKS OF JS BACH!

    This recording is more than a collectors item, it’s an incredible music experience.

    Just one man’s passionate opinion.

  2. Bach is too difficult for 99,9999% of the music lovers.
    It’s like listening to an “explanation” of rocket science or quantum theory, instead of listening to a beautiful poem.
    It’s good you confessed that you’re the instigator of this release, stimpy2.
    Now you have to live with it.

    1. I think the opposite. The prelude to the first suite is widely used in film and TV work. these suites are sets of dances that are joyful and full of light and shade (not sure about “fiery”). They are frequency used for dance and ballet, I heard part of two of the suites this weekend at a dance show. I recently saw the complete set played as part of a dance performance, a hugely successful production that toured the world. The same company has also done shows with complete live performances of the Goldbergs and the Brandenburg concertos. Much of his religious output used texts that were well known by his Lutheran congregation in Leipzig.

    2. Gladly jb4.

      Do you have any idea how many composers and musicians through history have made use of the Golden Ratio and Fibonacci Series in composing their music? Bela Bartok and John Coltrane to mention a few… this is also incredibly complex use of mathematics in music composition. and I doubt it’s 99.9% of people that can’t understand Bach.

    3. This post really points out what Octave Records is up against. As a retired Ph.D. physicist I realize that 99.9999% of people find anything about physics as boring as watching paint dry. I want Octave Records to succeed but I am not going to buy Bach cello music because, like FR, it is not what I enjoy. What worries me is that Steven is not going to buy this because he says your downloads are too expensive. I do not do downloads, but I have about 600 SACD’s. Thus I know that your $29 price for the SACD’s is a typical price for SACD’s. What is a typical price for downloads?

      1. tonyplachy,
        I’ve been buying a lot of near mint condition 2nd hand Bob Ludwig Redbook
        CD & HDCD remasters lately from anywhere between AU$3 to AU$9 on
        Discogs & 2nd hand shops.
        To me that’s a goldmine of high quality music, since I don’t do SACDs.

      2. Yo-Yo Ma’s recent set is about $22 (24/96 PCM), I have the magnificent Richard Tunicliffe set from Linn at $30 (24/192 PCM) or $23 (16/44 PCM). The Podger set is £21/$27 for DSD64, but you can have anything from 16/44 to DSD512 and 2 or 5 channel.

        So $58 is way off the charts price-wise, which I refuse to pay on principle. I’d rather give the money to charity. What irks me is that every other label or distributor gives you the option of what format to buy, but Octave Records pushes DSD down your throat at an ultra-premium price, even if you don’t want it.

        I buy music, not formats. I’d like Octave to succeed, but most studios are formed by producers with a roster of artists or artists themselves, and most classical labels don’t need studios at all. DSD recordings can be done with lightweight portable equipment. We were discussing elsewhere that Steven Wilson does his superb remixes as it fills in time when touring and all he needs is a laptop.

        The way I see it is what artist is going to want their recordings sold at sky high prices with limited SACD production such that very few people buy it? Most people making new music put it on platforms where the buyers often get to choose how much they want to pay. There are lots of independent studios, labels and distributors that have been very successful long-term, but they all seem to be based on core talent. Often it is artists, but near me Air Studios (founded by George Martin over 50 years ago when he bought a church) has become one of the world’s biggest producers of film soundtracks.

        I suspect this Bach release could be very successful and bring attention to Octave if it were available for say $20 in 16/44 and $25 in 24/96, and I would buy it, even though Mr Bailey is unknown to me.

      3. Then there is the problem that many classical music fans will, like me, already have 3 and 4-thirds, or more, complete sets of the Bach cello suites, plus access to literally scores more via streaming. Choosing among the preexisting offerings would be exhausting.

        But, this is the first Octave release to appeal to me and having accidentally acquired a respectable DSD capable DAC, I coughed up the money and ordered the download to see what Paul is so excited about. (One volume took about an hour, incidentally.) Nice album, but it really came alive when I played the 192kHz PCM version via my multibit DAC. So evidently to enjoy the DSD magic properly I am going to have to invest in a better DSD DAC. Sadly, my aging ears are degrading faster than my bank account is expanding so the affordability proposition is diverging.

    4. I wouldn’t say that. Back in 1940, Walt Disney used a transcription for orchestra of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor as the opening piece for ‘Fantasia’. The original release of that film was over a decade before my time, but even into the late ’70s, it was not infrequently shown for a week or so at a theater with the best sound system in the Greater Kansas City area. That is what I call enlightened management.

  3. “…he Golden Ratio and Fibonacci Series…”
    That’s what I mean ; 99,9999% of music lovers have no clue what you mean by that.
    Most people want to listen to music and not think of the “incredibly complex use of mathematics” in the music composition they’re listening to.
    I like a lot of different styles of music, from classical to all kinds of metal (no blues please).
    In classical music I’m a “fan” of Beethoven and Chopin, to name a few.
    Bach (and baroque in general) not so much.
    And yes, I know, there are a lot of classical themes/tunes used in modern (pop)music, but that doesn’t mean that people who like this (pop) song also like the music of the classical ccomposer who’s “behgind” this tune.
    Anyway, happy listening and enjoy the Bach cd 🙂

    1. jb4,
      The Fibonacci Series & the Golden (1:1.618) Ratio were taught in my high school along with Prime numbers, integration & differentiation.

  4. Going off at a tangent here but let’s not forget P.D.Q. Bach alias Peter Schickele composer of the soundtrack to that lovely film ‘Silent Running’ and featuring songs by Joan Baez.

    Also could try the award winning 9Bach, I believe no family relation.

    Fat Rat,

    ‘Whole Lotta Love’, I’m sure it’s on his to do list. In the meantime…..

    https://youtu.be/x8yymm3DtVA

    1. I’ve had 9Bach’s album Tincian for years since it was recommended by Peter Gabriel through his channel with B&W. It sounds wonderful, but it’s in Welsh and I don’t understand a word of it.

  5. What an amazing recording on an incredible instrument. Ordered my copy yesterday.

    Zuil is also the Artistic Director of the Northwest BachFest, in Spokane, WA; 85 miles up the road from us. He plays tomorrow and the day after. Too hot, and way too smoky for us to attend these outdoor concerts this year!

    Sigh.

  6. I can’t see the venue in the video. I only see a wooden box.
    I have no interest in DSD.
    If this is a larger venue, I am curious about the mic positioning. They seem to be above the performer, or way higher than the performer.
    I don’t think there is any evidence that DSD is “superior”. PmG should have made recordings in both methods, PCM and DSD and we could choose the download version of our choice.
    DSD is just his point of business differentiation.

    EDIT: I just “googled” some pictures of the place. Again, interested in discussion of microphone location. If the recording was done in the empty hall, I wonder what did the seen mics capture, just direct sound? Is that the difference with the 5 channel version?

      1. Thanks Stimpy2.
        I can see the video even though it doesn’t show the full site. It actually is not a square box as the walls don’t appear to be parallel. I am still quite interested in the process to place the microphones there. Is this a variation of the Decca tree?
        Based on the pictures of the place, the mics are not in places where the audience would hear it. It appears as perpendicular to the surface of the cello. Almost.

        We would never hear in a live setting the sounds reaching those microphones.

    1. Actually, CTA, that is simply not true. DSD is a superior sounding format to PCM. We record in DSD for that very reason and not because it differentiates us. Not everything is so black and white.

      1. Paul,

        In your opinion it is better. Opinions are common. Proof is different. As I wrote, there’s no evidence of its alleged superiority.
        But if you’re happy with DSD, so be it.

        1. CtA You sound like the typical garden-variety conservative Republican in Congress. You are the person who has no proof. Support your position or shut up. Do you have anything else you want to complain about today.

          1. Stimpy 2, I edited out your last line which wasn’t in the spirit of kindness. Let’s try and keep from name calling if we can. We don’t have to agree on anything but what we can do is be kind.

          2. stimpy2,
            No, I am not a republican. Quite the contrary, I am extraordinarily opposed to the nonsense of the former GOP. It is disgusting.

            And I am actually correct. There is no evidence in controlled settings that trained listeners can distinguish between DSD and PCM. Paul can be “convinced” of what he says. I am pretty sure that he believes this and I am not challenging that he believes so. But in controlled settings, that has not been demonstrated.

            Science is very strict. It doesn’t care about your beliefs.

            1. I have all the Octave releases and many SACDs. I can tell the difference between the 24/192 files and the DSD files.

              I have found the free Tascam High Resolution Player (free download) to be the most transparent in my computer set up running Win 10. It will play both PCM and DSD files.

              I have also played the files in my Sony Sound Forge and it that software I have a spectrum display, a vector display that can show proper stereo spread, and it also has an EQ display so I can see the EQ Vol. levels and how much HF energy each files has. This is version 12.6. They are now onto version 15, but I did not bite as it does not have these key “displays” that are important to me and my own recording work.

              Both the Tascam and the Sound Forge can also tell me of “digital overs” that are bad and when looking at the wav form I can see if compression and peak limiting are used. To my eyes they are not in the Octave releases. One must always remember that digital overs are bad and we are not running away from a high noise floor like in tape.

              These Bach pieces are about as “live and you are there” as one can get IMHO. The other releases are equally as good.

          3. Since we are tossing political stones about political lies. For 4 years the Democrats were asked to support their position on Russian collusion. The final Mueller report debunked the entire lie. Stop being so self righteous. Democrats are not exactly Angels.

        2. Well, they say the proof’s in the eating. I don’t think there’s any proof that you would buy in a technical sense because technically, in the way we measure and judge formats by doesn’t really tell us how they sound except in the crudest sense. What we cannot know from measurements is how DACs handle signals, how that sounds, etc., etc.

          DSD’s sonic superiority must be qualified. Does it sound better/as good as PCM running at 64 times the standard sample rate of a CD? I don’t know, as I have never tried. What I can tell you is that between recording PCM at 192kHz 24/bit vs. recording at 1XDSD (64fs) there is a world of difference to be heard. Anyone would immediately identify the lack of detail one hears in the PCM version vs. the DSD version.

          But, here’s what’s interesting. If you record in DSD and then decimate that data to 176/24 PCM using a look ahead linear phase low pass filter, you can hear no difference. The same cannot be said for going back to DSD, which requires an SDM because of the added out of band noise many systems aren’t happy with.

          So, there’s nothing straightforward about any of this.

          1. Paul,

            You can say that DSD is technically different to PCM. I don’t deny this “one bit” (pun intended).

            But as you say, the proof is in the “listening”. The point is in controlled settings. Blind to what you are listening to. If you say there is a “world of difference” it should be extremely simple to show this in the controlled setting. Do it.

            For someone who claims to be an engineer, you really hate measuring and testing. It is a real pity. Or a surprise.

            1. Hah! Well, you got me there, sir. It’s not that I “hate” measuring because in my days as design engineer it was what occupied most of my day sitting in front of either my trusted HP analyzers or in later years the Audio Precision.

              What I learned and still practice from all those years of measuring is how different circuit approaches that measure the same sound different. Understanding those differences is what turned out to be the art of design. For example, a single ended amplification circuit that measures at 0.01% THD + IM through the application of negative feedback vs. a zero-feedback balanced topology that measures identically will (and do) sound dramatically different.

              On other lesson. My listening comparisons must follow some very strict rules. First, they must be precisely gain matched. Second, they must not go through a switching system, but rather use exactly the same I/Os and cabling. Third, I cannot know which I am listening to: it’s A or B and someone else makes the switch for me at my instruction. Lastly, it must be on a system I am familiar with and comfortable with in a setting I am comfortable with too.

              Hope that helps.

              1. You keep saying “sound different”.

                I appreciate your “rules”. Of course, gain matching and other parameters.

                If you are so confident, why don’t you agree to a public testing of this?

                1. Oh, I have on a number of occasions. The last one was with Mark Waldrep (Dr. AIX) who claimed there’s no sonic differences to be heard between 1fs and 4fs PCM files. He graciously accepted my invitation to come hear for himself and when he did he picked out the higher sample rate version correctly every single time. When I then asked him to say so publicly I got a strange look and was told that while he heard the differences he wasn’t prepared to make a statement saying so.

                  Two things about that and then I will have to end the conversation as I tire of it.

                  First, it is human nature to reject that which violates our world view. We all suffer from it (regardless of the “truth”). This is one reason you and I are so enamored with science because these people routinely have their world views altered by evidence. Just think about Einstein’s revelation that time is relative and that a clock close to the Earth’s mass ticks at a different speed then it does away from that mass. Bizarre yet absolutely true. The point here is that no matter what evidence is presented to you or to Dr. AIX, you are so entrenched in your viewpoint you would never concede that I am right. Why? Because you would revert back to your fallback. “Prove it to me in the way I demand”. And the way you demand is not currently in the realm of practical possibilities. I don’t have a listening meter nor any desire to design one since my ears work great.

                  Secondly, I don’t really care. I have spent my life learning this art and teaching myself how to achieve the desired sonic results. They are there for anyone willing to listen. What possible reason would I have to spend my valuable time trying to convert people? Think of it like food. My tastes are not your tastes and I really couldn’t care less if you don’t understand the scientific reason I prefer one thing to another.

                  While fun to spar with you, sir, and I very much appreciate your participation on the forums and comments, I have no illusions you have any desire to learn what it is that I know. I suspect, and I am just projecting here, that what floats your boat is sparring with people and proving yourself right in your worldview. That’s not a great way to learn but it is certainly a lifestyle.

                  1. Paul,

                    If I recall correctly, Waldrep’s recollection is quite different to yours. Not only this, but he did also conduct some tests that made him change his mind regarding Hi-res audio. He changed his mind on what was his base of business. This to me is integrity. He said he was wrong!

                    The science side is what make you change your mind.

                    I was quite committed into “audiophilia nervosa” (fortunately not neurotica) for most of my life. It was when I decided to apply the more rigorous scientific method that I (finally) discovered the con. I had to go arm’s length from my “beliefs” in order to progress in audio. Reading and science are dangerous topics. We are so weak as humans and so risk averse to change that it becomes part of our huge problem. We see the downside of admitting defeat and walk away from it and decide to stick with what is comfortable. Even when we find out that it makes little sense.

                    I like the work of my old friend Thierry Poynard because he is interested in how science changes (in medicine in his case). The book I mentioned the other day, far from being a milestone, is quite illuminating on the process of changing your mind. Or as he calls it, “Think again”.

                    I actually get a kind of exhilaration on the discovery of learning something new.

                    And, actually, it was some of the things you said that provoked me to challenge MY beliefs. Wires? What about your Noise Harvester? To quote our current boss, C’mon, man!

                    I have respect for your passion, but I lose it when you stick with things that you know are not true. Stop selling the noise harvester as a start.

                    I didn’t come here to argue. I first came because I needed a new amplifier and the Stellar seemed the right fit. I also wanted a streamer, you still don’t have one. And after wasting money in an Arcam FMJ I wasn’t going to spend more money in drives. An article of yours took me to Mac Mini as a streamer….

                    1. The real question is:
                      ‘How often does Mark Waldrep change his mind, & for what reasons?’

                  2. Yes well said.

                    And it’s always interesting…to be convinced of what oneself heard is the one thing…to doubt what another one heard and oneself didn’t even try is another thing.

  7. Mr. Bailey was booked to play one of the 2-cello quintets (Schubert probably?) in town with a world renowned touring string quartet a few years back. The publicity had not been explicit about the remainder of the program and I was not greatly concerned about it. Taking my seat I was pleased to read that Bailey would open the program with the 2nd Bach cello suite. Pleased particularly that it was not the First, because as he says, it is now ubiquitous. He sat down and played the opening statement of the theme of the Prelude and stopped. He announced that he did not feel like playing that suite tonight, that he would play the First. Oh well, I enjoyed it anyway and he played it well.

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