Mel Torme, "Too Close for Comfort" from MT Swings Shubert Alley. Great recording from 1960. Mel's voice, the band's horns.
Carmen McRae, "Poor Butterfly" from Sarah: Dedicated to You. Starts a capella, textured and mesmerizing, then the band quietly fills in.
Helen Merrill, "Don't Explain" from Helen Merrill. 1956, and I know can't believe that the first time I heard her, I didn't fall in love.
Jeff Buckley, "Hallelujah," from Grace. Mixed feelings about JB, but this sounds great. Vocals and guitar. "Last Goodbye," a rocker, also sounds great.
Steely Dan, "Gaslighting Abbey," from Two Against Nature. This may be cheating, since this sounds great on even so-so systems, but it sounds really great on a good one.
Alison Krauss, Live. I don't know which track -- how about "Lucky One." THis is the CD that convinced my wife that all this money had been worthwhile. You are at the concert, and what can you say about AK's voice?
Lucinda Williams, "Something about what happens when we talk" from Sweet Old World. Now, if you don't know LW, you must approach her first, I think, through her lyrics. But then once you know her, her voice is special and poignant. Kinda like Jimmy Scott, in a way (another recommendation I'll sneak in here - All the Way.)
Blind Boys of Alabama, "Run on for a Long Time," from Spirit of the Century. But don't miss their version of Amazing Grace.
Lyle Lovett, "Penguins" from I Love Everybody. You really could just play this track and leave it there, so far as showing off is concerned. Damn! WHile you're at it, play "I think you know what I mean" -- the opening drums.
Rachmaninov, Sonata no. 1, opus 28, allegro moderato, performed by Yakov Kasman. Do you realize what a textured instrument a piano should be? How dynamic?
Gerry Mulligan, "Just in Time," from What is There to Say? Something about GM's raspy baritone sax and Art Farmer's spitty trumpet. And just terrific jazz too.
Todd Rundgren, "Johnee Jingo" and "Honest Work" from A Cappella. Big, wide open vocals.
Finally (this could go on and on):
Bach, just start at the beginning, Sonatas and Partitas for Violin played on B-string Guitar, by Paul Galbraith. This guitar is, as I understand it, his invention, and goes deep more effortlessly than a standard classical guitar. You hear his breathing, which can distract but also makes the recording more intimate. And Back is THE peak, in my opinion.