4090 Art Blakey “Mosaic” (1961)

Track Selection:


Freddie Hubbard (tp) Curtis Fuller (tb) Wayne Shorter (ts) Cedar Walton (p) Jymie Merritt (b) Art Blakey (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, October 2, 1961

Music: BN 4090

a fabulous sounding record. Fresh and bright, and Blakey’s workout on the drumkit sounds awesome. And its a great line up and the laminated cover in excellent condition, looks beautiful.

Collectors Corner

Experience is the best teacher. Some times it is a lesson you would rather not have, but most lessons are valuable – not always recognised at the time, as their payback is probably at some time in the future. This was a fairly inexpensive lesson.

This nice Art Blakey Blue Note looked in very good condition, and I had wanted an original for some time, as my Liberty reissue sounded absolutely horrible: dull and hollow, probably last off the worn stamper.We all examine vinyl for damage – usually scratches across the surface left by heavy record playing arms of the Fifties and Sixties. Pretty easy to tell which will sound with the fingernail test so it was a surprise to find a needle sticking point, in the middle of  a really great track.

First learning point: it’s the best tracks that were played most often, and therefore most at risk of damage.The cause? What a dealer tells me are called in the trade a “tramline” – a scratch that runs in the direction of the groove. He confessed he had been caught more than once by one of these. An nasty fault, as the stylus often can’t skip over the scratch and sticks, in permanent repetition. And very hard to detect by inspection.

It is not like you can take it back and change it for a new one. It’s nearly fifty years old. So this Blakey requires  little mild excercise at one point to lift the tonearm over the scratch whenever you play it. A nuisance, but not fatal.

What causes a tramline?. Probably pressure applied to the cartridge to force it through a prior needle stick, who knows. How to spot one in advance? Difficult, but expect the unexpected, always check for scratches with the groove as well as across the grooves, especially on an expensive record.  You know, like you always check to see the record isn’t warped?

6 thoughts on “4090 Art Blakey “Mosaic” (1961)

    • thank you Sir LJC. you definitely deserve to be knighted. really trust your input, opinions & reviews. ok ill try to see if the mono NY label mosaic is still available

  1. dear LJC, have u compared this mono to the original stereo? from what I have read online, rvg only perfected stereo later on after the mid 60s?

    • Lots of different opinions on this.

      Van Gelder had a penchant early on for putting the lead instrument hard on one channel, usually the left, then a hotchpotch of decisions where to locate the rhythm section, and any other soloists, like second horn player. Anything stereo between 1957/8 and 1960/1 can be uncomfortable listening for those of us used to a more balanced soundstage.

      Particularly annoying are reissues in stereo of early titles which were recorded to two track but never issued in stereo nor intended to be stereo. They always sound “wrong”.

      I find Van Gelder stereo pretty OK from around 1961/2 onwards, but it does depend on title, and the group format (trio/quartet/quintet/sextet), it’s often safer to opt for mono. By 1963/4 everything sounds pretty fine.

      No accounting for taste, some people say they have no problem with “primitive stereo”. I do.

      • im contemplating between mono or stereo (both NY labels) for this title now LJC. I do own the stereo but just digital. trying to search for a mono digital version but cant find any online. thank you for your kind reply LJC

      • just to add, I recently ordered a liberty copy of Horace silver the best of (think its the 1st issue) online. it does sport the rvg in the deadwax but im not havin hi expectations as its quite cheap. think its mentioned that side 1 is rechannelled stereo or something like that. umm since you have the mosaic in mono, do you feel the need to hunt down a stereo original? or are you very contented with the mono. thanks again LJC

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