John Coltrane (ts) Pepper Adams, Cecil Payne (bars) Mal Waldron (p) Doug Watkins (b) Art Taylor (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, April 20, 1957
A 1957 recording featuring Pepper Adams with Coltrane as sideman, released by Prestige in 1963, riding on the coat-tails of moved-to-Impulse Coltrane’s rising star. Dakar includes one side of a 16 rpm (the failed revolution) Baritones and French Horns LP originally credited to the “Prestige All Stars”.
Vinyl: PR 7280 mono Van Gelder.
Upgrade from my 1967 Transatlantic UK reissue blogged last October, to a 1963 US Prestige “original” (first or second cover). The vinyl is borderline VG, a trifle noisy but not unacceptably, a few short clicks, and the quintet is well on top with a lot happening musically such that its not a distraction.
I was unable to resist the opportunity to finally upgrade to a real Van Gelder Prestige, finding myself with three copies of this Pepper Adams classic session featuring the most intriguing front line of double baritone with Coltrane as sideman, my “new best friend” on piano, Mal Waldron, and Watkins/Taylor in the engine room driving things along nicely. An opportunity to put my mantra “the original is (almost) always best” to the test, and learn anything of advantage from the situation.
A game of three halves, we have three vinyl pressings of the same track, the pacy Adams composition Witches Pit, as delivered by US Prestige for its first 33rpm LP release in 1963 (mastered by Van Gelder), four years later by UK Transatlantic ( mastered by whichever engineer was on duty) , and nearly two decades later by the eponymous reissuer, Fantasy (mastered by whoever hadn’t been breathing in too much of that special strength Los Angeles “smog”)
Listen Up! – DJ VeeG-minus, of comparethepressing says:
Recorded at the same volume settings, notice how the volume progressively falls compared with the beefy Van Gelder Prestige. A tweak on the volume control may be required. Listen out particularly for the differences in the percussion – the cymbals, and the effect this has on rhythm and timing and cohesiveness of the ensemble in each pressing.
Selection: Witches Pit (Pepper Adams)
1. Prestige PR 7280 1st US “Original” (?) LP (1963) Van Gelder – 140gm
2. Transatlantic PR 7280 1st UK pressing (1967) – 166gm
3. Fantasy P24104 US Reissue (1981) – 108 gm
VFM note: Records cost money, originals cost more than reissues, its all about perceived worth and scarcity. The respective vinyl price in these three records is in the ratio 3 – 2 – 1 between the above
The Prestige original “Fireworks Label” with VAN GELDER stamp.
Liner notes courtesy of music writer David A Himmlestein, who has forsaken his some times histrionic beat journalism for a fairly lucid assessment of the players, the compositions, and the musical context. May be the New York fresh air has been getting to him.
Original American prestige 1967 with gold U.K. E.M.I. import sticker on sleeve and VAN GELDER stamp on deadwax. Sleeve is has slight damage to top left and bottom left corner and a name & shop sticker on reverse. I have played both sides without any problems. Clean vinyl with only minor marks, but obviously played several times as it is over 40 years old. Rare original jazz vinyl. Graded VG.
Harlequin record shops sticker – nostalgia – after work hunting grounds in London’s West End in the Sixties and Seventies.
We seek opinion, and we offer opinion, we live in a world saturated with opinion, from professional journalist to amateur and enthusiast online reviewer, customer reviews, trusted sources, comments on opinionated blogs, even. Given how much time we devote to garnering opinion, we need to become more discriminating as to the worth of the opinions to which we attend.
The most common opinion I come across is the “I like/ I don’t like” opinion. It is based on an impenetrable source – some unknown individuals unknown set of preferences, and is actually the least informative (no offence intended) . A friend of a friend once persuaded me to watch a film because it was “the best film they had ever seen”. I thought it was absolutely dreadful, but then how was I to know their taste ran only to chick-lit when I love guns and explosions?
Another frequently-offered opinion is the sample of one. I have a Bildengurgle pressing and its really great! Or: I have a Nagasaki II DAC and its absolutely fantastic!! Really? I recall this music-hall line:
“Hi Henry, how’s the wife?”
Henry: “Compared to whose?”
Henry is happily married to just the one wife, and hasn’t tried any other people’s wives. Admirable, but lacking in breadth of experience. King Henry the Eighth could tell him a few things about wives, he was always chopping and changing. The Nagasaki II is their entry model. The Nagasaki IX is what you want to hear..
The second-hand opinion, or meta-opinion (“wisdom of crowds”), is prey to collecting together many of the above. Until you have a frame of reference, you can not weigh the opinion.
The “multiple samples” is an attempt to move beyond these limitations, your “opinion” is tentative and open to change as a result of new and conflicting evidence. None of us have experience of every possible variation, or would want to – life is too short. AFAIK is the relevant disclaimer – As Far As I Know… I often find my expectation upset by experience. Experience is the only thing I trust. I test it often, and sometimes I have to change my opinion. Opinions are like clothes, to be changed when dirty.
The “unknown unknown” was Donald Rumsfeld’s great insight. For all I know, the Prestige might be an early press from a fresh stamper and out there are many other possible outcomes, much worse. Uncertainty is as good as it gets, beware of certainty. Keep on exploring
This time, the original outperforms the reissues. Again. Day may come when it doesn’t. Then what? Stick with experience. That is never wrong, even when it is inconsistent with what you think you know.
First or Second cover? Popsike includes examples of both the purple and a grey cover (right, referred to by Rudolf in Comments) both variously described by sellers as the “original”
One of them is, but which? Or is there another explanation? Search me.