Selection: Mysterious Blues (Candid original press 1960)
Meet MC VeeGee, our guest audiophile in charge of searching out and comparing pressings at LJC. Test today:
The Complete Candid Recordings of Charles Mingus
Mosaic Box Set Limited Edition reissue numbered 3,363 of 7,500 – OOP
Selection: Mysterious Blues ( mastered by Van Gelder!) 1980s/90’s?
Eric Dolphy (as) Charles Mingus or John “Peck” Morrison (b) Jo Jones or Max Roach (d) Kenny Dorham or Tommy Flanagan (p) Walter Benton (ts) Jimmy Knepper or Julian Priester (trb) Benny Bailey, Booker Little or Roy Eldridge (t) Abbey Lincoln (voc)
Don’t take anyone’s word for anything. Listen for yourself, on your own equipment, when you are able to compare records like for like for your self. The rips here are flawed in that they are not the true vinyl experience, only an approximation of it, ripped to low resolution MP3 on a USB TT that is prone to pitch variation depending on the weight of the vinyl (I have Numark figured: a pitch control is cheaper than a more robust motor) Candid is mono, Mosaic is Stereo. My judgement (at the end of this post) is based on listening to both records on my high-end system. However I will say hearing them both here here hasn’t changed my judgement.
Music: Amazon Editorial Review:
“The famous Newport Jazz Festival was inaugurated in 1954 as a nonprofit organization by George Wein and Lorraine Lorillard in Newport, Rhode Island. It quickly became a huge success attracting bigger and bigger crowds and with the success came problems and finally in 1960 the bubble burst. In that year, not only were the crowds getting unmanageable but also there had developed a resentment towards the festival by a significant number of (mainly) black musicians who left that the organizers were discriminating against them personally and black jazz-new and old.
Max Roach and Charles Mingus decided to organize their own ‘Rebel’ Festival adjacent to the Main event. Participating were the new ‘lions’ Ornette Coleman, Mingus, Max and Abbey Lincoln alongside Kenny Dorham, Jimmy Knepper, Roy Eldridge and Jo Jones. Sadly the Rebel Festival went unrecorded but Candid producer Nat Hentoff gathered many of the participants at a Studio in New York on November 11, 1960 and this album is both a tribute to everyone involved and reminder of a most significant happening in American Jazz History.”
An Amazon amateur reviewer adds: If you love Mingus, then you won’t be able to help smiling when you listen to this album. I would love to say that it’s an unexpected pleasure, but, then, when Mingus the unexpected is always expected.
Vinyl: Candid 8022 US original mono edition 1961
Source: Buy it Now/ online record etailer who also trades on Ebay, specialising in Japanese pressings, “vintage” reissues, and the occasional proper vintage. Famed for its “Out of stock – email me when another copy becomes available” button. Yeah, right. Mobley 1568, email me. However they do have vintage items from time to time and a helpful mailing “you bought this so may be interested in these items” listing. This Candid is a complete gem, virtually unplayed, and the cover has corners so sharp you could cut yourself on them.
Candid vs Mosaic shootout: The LJC Verdict
Nothing changes the fact this is the greatest music in the world. However, once again I find myself donning the black cap. I find the original pressing by Candid significantly preferable to the Mosaic reissue, though Mosaic don’t make much claim of audiophile performance. The Candid has more vitality and punch, grabs me, while the Mosiac is more reserved and laid back, despite Van Gelders touch.
Until I played them side by side, I was quite content with the Mosaic. As always in life , ignorance is bliss. Life’s a bitch, isn’t it?
Over the years, the Mosaic limited editions have flown off the shelves and command high secondhand prices in vinyl. Their content is fastidiously aggregated, in a scholarly manner, with complete integrity. Collectors have a lot to thank Michael Cuscuna for meticulously bringing together the Mosiac collections. However against the benchmark of originals, as regards sound quality, I find them lacking.
Picking up on the lines of discussion raised over the Music Matters debate, I have a theory. There are two worlds for engineers – the input, what they hear in the studio – master tapes – and the output, modern “end product” – a cd/ download / “audiophile pressing”. No reference point of original vinyl on a real world high-end audiophile rig. “Originals” are dismissed because they were “engineered to play on antique record players”, so how could they be any good? No point in listening to them for evidence based on experience. And even if one did, there is no meaningful supply of originals, so no business.
In my personal view (what else?) there is a disconnect between artistic judgement in the recording studio, and what plops out of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory pressing facility. I assume Van Gelder and Cuscuna listen to original tapes under studio conditions. They believe, quite genuinely, that they have created the best they can. And indeed they probably have with what is available to them. However on my experience so far, whenever I pit an original vinyl against a reissue vinyl even at this level, the original sparkles in a way nothing else does.
The floor is yours to disagree or agree.