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