Charles Mingus: Newport Rebels (1960) Candid

Candid-Newport-Rebels-front-1800

Selection: Mysterious Blues (Candid original press 1960)

ComparethepressingComparethepressings
(only at LJC!)

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?

mosaic-vangelder-1000Rudy Van Gelder brought in to master these great recordings for Michael Cuscuna’s Mosaic label  (My Mosaic’s are usually mastered by EMI’s Ron McMaster. McMaster: What a name for a sound engineer!)

Artists
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)

Vote Now

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

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Collectors Corner

smug-index-4-

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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
Judge-LJCNothing 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.

LJC

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16 thoughts on “Charles Mingus: Newport Rebels (1960) Candid

  1. I managed to pick up a Candid, and it is a great record. Maybe not as great sounding as the Bohemia or East Coasting, but great music. One of my top 5 Mingus’ records

  2. If the same tapes were used for both pressings the differences could well be the result of the signal path/tape machine used when mastering ie: valve v solid state.

    • Very interesting regarding the tape machine. I know nothing of such things, but as it may account for the step down in fidelity probably across a huge number of these collector/audiophile reissues sourced from original tapes, you would think these great modern engineers would realise where it is going wrong. Perhaps it’s the usual situation, where people don’t recognise there is a “problem” in the first place, so they don’t make any effort to solve it.

      • Well, there is a huge sonic difference between an Ampex ATR or Studer (found in most mastering suites) and an Ampex 300/350/ or 351 which is what most of these classic sessions were originally mastered on.

        • hear hear. and the cutting heads and their amps make a huge difference. Most reissues were done on later transistor and stereo equipment. These early recordings sound best with Grampian (the Blue Note Lexington period) and later Westrex Mono heads. With valve powered amplification in the tape deck and the cutting amps.

  3. Agree with Pete B. My 2 cents is the original is certainly more vibrant, but that cuts both ways, especially on some of the sax and trumpet solos. It occasionally borders on a harshness. I think that when we talk about old playback gear and current gear, I am not sure that the home audio market in the 50s/60s (remember those massive pieces of furniture with everything built in that everyone owned) could recreate what we can hear today. Ideally an engineer might strive to mix it “hot” to provide the best output when played at home.

    LJC: I have a Barnaby repressing that if you are anxious to hear, I can probably support a trade even though you’d be getting a newer copy than that stinky old Candid.

    • Thanks DaveS but I do have a Barnaby, and it’s pretty lacklustre. I am not racing to get another any day soon.

  4. I think the main problem you have is that a thirty, forty, fifty year old magnetic tape, however well it has been looked after, will never be as good as one that has been newly recorded.
    I was listening to the original tapes for Dexter Blows Hot & Cool this week, and they sound amazing, and the reissue of the CD that we are working on will sound the better than any that have come before, because the last time these tapes were transferred was around 1990, and the process of digital transferring has come on in leaps and bounds since then. All the Out Of Copyright reissues of this album in Europe are lifted straight from the CD of those transfers.
    But we’re still left with the uncomfortable fact that that tape sounded better when it was originally recorded.
    I think its unlikely that mastering engineers were making their lacquers sound worse to compensate for standard home hi-fi’s of the day. They would have been working for the best that they could that would still play on a record player. That would mainly be in the bass levels, before the needle would jump out of the groove – not something I think would be that big an issue on a jazz record with a large warm bass sound, maybe more so in say a Motown record with an electric bass. Maybe I’m wrong on this, but I’m not convinced today’s vinyl can contain a significantly greater amount of information than vinyl of the 50s.
    The one thing that several mastering engineers I have worked with have said, is that there is no point trying to recreate an original record, because the situation is different. If you want that sound you should buy the original record, in the meantime they will attempt to get the best from what is on the tape.

    • How did we gloss over the fact that you had the opportunity to listen to the original tapes for this session. What a treat! Did the tape box still smell like unfiltered Lucky Strikes?

      • I’m with DaveS. My stories begin with “I was taking out the trash this week…” and “I was going to the post office this week…”, never “I was listening to the ORIGINAL TAPES of Dexter Blows Hot and Cold this week…”. Awesome!

            • Ha! Thanks for the info. I have an early second pressing of Dexter Blows Hot and Cool (blue and yellow label with the DL prefix and original cover) and it sounds like a dream. I had never heard of the Dootone label except for that Dexter record, and was surprised when researching it to find that it seems to have survived on endlessly re-releasing old Redd Foxx routines. Those small labels all seem to have had some kind of interesting story, didn’t they?

  5. In almost all cases original 50’s/60’s mono’s beat audiophile re-issues. It’s the clarity, sparkle and energy of the old recordings. To me they rock (especially when played with a mono cartridge on an idler wheel Garrard or Lenco). The audiophile re-issues generally don’t rock and want me to put on my slippers, find a pipe and slouch on the arm chair with the Observer.

    I like the old vinyl sound and energy, but have no idea what is closest to the original tapes…..

  6. I have to agree that the Candid original is a lot more exciting and ‘real’ sounding to my ears even though the Mosaic has a better overall balance tonally. I know which version I would prefer! A big thanks LJC for the blog. Since I’ve been reading I’ve picked up about 60 great recordings and have regained the dry mouth excitement when entering the local 2nd hand record shop

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