Dizzy Reece “Star Bright” (1959)

Track Selection “The Rake” >

Artists

BN 4023 Dizzy Reece (tp) Hank Mobley (ts) Wynton Kelly (p) Paul Chambers (b) Art Taylor (d) Recorded Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, November 19, 1959

Music

Described by Cook and Morton as “a little rough around the edges” Star Bright benefits from Wynton Kelly’s strong and distinctive presence in Reece’s supporting quartet, with the Chambers and Taylor’s unflagging rhythmic drive and Hank Mobley is never far away from the front line. Reece himself can be quite a restrained player, and Cook remarks his trump card is the marvelous band he had around him. The track selection “The Rake” sees everyone get a good outing.

Vinyl

Division of United Artists are one of the exceptions to the Linear Model of Declining Fidelity (no, not the French art-house film). Usually, the further away you get from the original performance and recording the worse the sound, but these Div of UA pressings are lively and full of energy. The fact they don’t have “Van Gelder” in the run-out like the later but sonically weak Blue Label UA pressings only deepens the mystery. In fact they have nothing in the run-out apart from the catalogue number and the letters “UA” machine stamped.

The only plausible explanation is that they are not pressed from old RVG-derived stampers at all, but have some yet to be established linkage to the original tapes, or a secret stash of Blue Note metalwork which subsequently disappeared.

Collectors Corner

OMG Dizzy Reece is expensive! Top dog is up to $4,000 for the BritishTempo, partly because by all accounts the original Tempo recording tapes were destroyed in the ’70’s, so this is all there is.  His three main Blue Notes max from $3,000 for “Star Bright”, $1,500 for “Blue in Trinity” to  “Sounding Off” more reasonable at around $500. So listen up, LJC will not be spinning original pressings of Dizzy Reece any time soon.

One of those occasions where the price of an original is driven much more by scarcity than by the quality of music. I felt quite lucky to secure a Division of United Artists pressing of “Star Bright” for two-thirds of one percent of the cost of the copy above. I guess the Tempo will just have to wait.

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5 thoughts on “Dizzy Reece “Star Bright” (1959)

  1. I just bought a vinyl reissue of progress report for 26 Euro on ebay.
    The label is jasmin. The seller states that it is a reissue from the eighthies. I wonder what the source of this reissue was if the tapes were destroyed. I will report about the sound quality when it arrives.

    • I have never been impressed with Jasmin but in many cases it is the only show in town, so I will be very interested what you think. Jasmin are “cheap” so may be a pleasant suprise.

      Some crazy japanese brothers make Blue Note and Tempo recreations, if you have not come across their handywork, its as well to be aware of them:

      http://ateliersawano.com/

      They even press deep groove in their reissues to complete the authenticity. But the Tempo I bought of their was pretty poor, and the seller admitted it hd been scraped off another vinyl because of those absent tapes. Not good.

  2. “Star Bright”… Another beauty that I have on CD, a Japanese reissue this time -no bonus tracks as is always the case with the rereleases from Japan. I’m not that happy with the audio quality though. About the master tapes: I think that when UA acquired Blue Note, they also became owner of the actual masters. And maybe they had no other choice than to create new stampers from the oldest Blue Note numbers for the simple reason that the original RVG stampers were just too worn out to reuse. So that meant: tapes back on the reel to reel machine and cut newly mastered stampers. Hence, I think, the great audio on those UA ‘early number’ reissues. My UA copy of New York-Detroit Junction by Thad Jones is the perfect example, as is the case with your UA copy of Star Bright. Maybe the stampers for the later Blue Note numbers were still in ‘reasonable’ shape, which may explain the re-appearance of the RVG initials on later UA reissues. Still it would be great to hear the real story from someone who is really ‘in the know’ about this 😉

  3. Great track. Paul Chambers seems especially lyrical–for a bass player who usually does serious walking bass!

    Perhaps someone took the original RVG recorded tapes and did as good a job as the master himself when they were transferred to stampers.

    Or perhaps not.

    Guy

    • I’ve always wondered who got access to the original tapes. We know Cuscuna did, so it is a reasonable guess others could have.
      My Div of UA pressings are mostly if not all early catalogue numbers, which would have been among the oldest tapes, where you would start if you planned to re-issue a lot of records, start at the beginning. Could be someone started the task, and gave up on it. Logical, Mr Spock.
      I guess it will have to remain a mystery, unless that nice Mr Cohen has any light to shed on it.

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