Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section (1957) UK

Track Selection 1: Birks Works

Track selection 2: Tin Tin Deo


Art Pepper (as) Red Garland (p) Paul Chambers (b) Philly Joe Jones (d) Hollywood, CA, January 19, 1957


One of the finest jazz records ever made. If you don’t have it, go get it, now. If you do have it, go listen to it, immediately.

Vinyl: LAC.10266 UK Contemporary Vogue original.

UK 1957 mono, mastered and pressed by Britain’s answer to Plastylite, New Jersey – Decca, New Malden. Remastered by Decca engineers in all probability from a second generation copy tape – as close as it is possible to get to the original studio tapes. I know little of such things but I am told tape-to-tape transfers made at very high resolution reproduce with exceptional fidelity, and Decca had the clout to insist on being sent such quality tape from the US.

The white paper stuck to Side Two – you were discretely not going to mention it, were you? – eventually peeled off. It said “Romford Market” and nothing would shift it (The paper, not the market). Lighter fuel, WD40, nothing worked and I gave up, hence it stayed for the photo-shoot. When it came to cleaning the record, some Discostat cleaning fluid splashed on the label, and the paper immediately started to shrivel and lifted cleanly off. All vinyl lovers have an invisible friend. Just when you are doing the wrong thing, the right thing comes along, taps you on the shoulder. Hey buddy, try this.

The Matrix:

The Decca engineer on the  Pepper was “E” (Stan Goodall), unlike most jazz which was mastered by engineer “B” (Ron Mason)  Nice, Stan, nice.

Collectors Corner.

Source: North London record store

I have had a stereo US Contemporary “copy” for some time but serious doubts as to its provenance. At best, a second pressing, and I am not even convinced of  that. Possibly taken from a 1959 stereo stamper and pressed at a later date. It has never sounded right anyway. The stereo is unnatural. The cover never felt right. A better mono copy was well worth it, started me enjoying it for the first time.

Though arguably Pepper’s best recording, it is not “RARE!” nor is it ridiculously expensive, unless in a moment of madness you confuse your snipe for Pepper with your snipe for Mobley 1568, or press a 2 instead of a 1,  like this poor soul:

Moment of madness, we have all been there haven’t we? No? Oh, well, just me then. But 167 copies have been sold on eBay and that makes it common enough.

The Contemporary catalogue has been heavily subjected to cloning and reissuing, Pepper’s work in particular. When you handle original pressings you just know – the weight of the vinyl, the deep groove, the ageing of 55 years in print and paper colour, the thickness of cover cardboard, even the presence of sellotape, name written on cover, the wear of normal usage. Like when they make fake old furniture, they beat it for five minutes with a bicycle chain to distress the surface. Spotless mint reissues simply shout “fake!” This was a genuine 1957 mono UK Decca heavy pressing. That is good enough for me. The vinyl sounds natural, open, uplifting, everything you want, really.

Some relatives from the US were over chez LJC and I slipped Meets the Rhythm Section on the turnable as background to the conversation. They are not jazz fans especially, but  I couldn’t help notice, within minutes, feet started tapping…

7 thoughts on “Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section (1957) UK

  1. So in addition to my original NM UK mono Contemporary Vogue and my OJC CD, I recently picked up the JVC CD and a NM 70’s / 80’s US Contemporary stereo vinyl. Interesting to compare them.

    – original UK mono Contemporary Vogue – this definitely had that old school, vintage sound. Not perfectly balanced, but raw and gutsy. Art’s horn perhaps sounds the most natural on this. The bass is pretty strong on this as well. Each note left an impression in the air. Fun stuff.

    – 70’s / 80’s US Contemporary stereo vinyl – this had noticeably more clarity and a wider soundstage than the original mono. Vinyl is much thinner as to be expected. Really clean sounding and very, very enjoyable. A bit brighter than the mono, but that’s more than made up for with the soundstage. This sounds better than one would expect from a reissue. Tough to say which vinyl is better as they are so different.

    – JVC 1980’s CD – very similar to the above mentioned stereo LP. Just a hair brighter and more compact sounding.

    – OJC 2010 CD – the most reverb out of any of these which you really get on the drums. The drums seem “taller” in sound, but not naturally so. Sound is much more compact as well. I may give this away to a friend as I’m not sure I’ll really listen to it with my other copies.

    This is one of my favorite Jazz albums. The sound is just so easy and flowing. The group was locked in from note one. Don’t we wish all sessions could be like this! And cheers to Roy DuNann for turning a mailroom into a sonic delight!

  2. Nice catch that seems to sound very fine too 😉
    I enjoy my original stereo pressing to a very high degree. I think you are quite right about the master tapes. I suspect that even some of the first pressings were made with copies and safety copies etc etc. Would you send the original tapes to the pressing plant – nah maybe not! That would make a Decca pressing just as close to an original as an american pressing.
    Can anyone confirm?

  3. God I knew the Police were busy with the Olympics recently but surely they should have been checking the bridges for South Londoners on Jazz raiding parties to our precious North London stores.

    Congratulations I have been looking for a good copy of what is one of my favourite albums to replace my dodgy JazzTracks version

    • No one else touches my turntable – I even worry about ME touching the turntable, especially late in the evening after a few glasses, when hand-to-eye co-ordination is not at its best. Relatives are permitted only to listen, from the safety of the sofa.

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