Freddie Hubbard: Open Sesame (1960) austerity edition, with poll

Head to Head: A while back I auditioned a modern audiophile pressing against an original vintage first pressing, and came up with some surprising answers, and stirred up a hornets nest in the process. I count controversy a success, so back into the fray with another go, this time the mighty Music Matters goes head to head with, umm, United Artists. Why not? I’m never going to afford to win the original Blue Note – I’ve been trying for five years.

Popsike Hubbatrd Open SesameCapture

 So lets see how some of the less expensive alternatives fare, for must-have music  – hear what happens When Collectors Tighten Their Belts.

Let battle commence

Contender Number One: in the blue note corner, weighing in at 190 grams, with a huge fan-base in the audience right now, heavyweight champion of the audiophile reissue, Music Matters. (cheers, whooping, high-fives)

Hubbard-Open-Sesame-MM-1800

Artists:

Freddie Hubbard (trumpet) Tina Brooks (tenor saxophone) McCoy Tyner (piano) Sam Jones (bass) Clifford Jarvis (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, June 19, 1960

Music:

This is a must have album, it is almost impossible to pick one track as they are all very fine. Hubbard is at his best form around this time, and you get Tina Brooks in generous measure. That is a winning formula and is also one of the most collectible titles in the Blue Note catalogue.

Selection: Gypsy Blue (Music Matters, stereo 45 rpm)

Label Forensics

It’s got an ear – around 1 o’clock. I do love that touch. But no RVG, of course. 47 West 63rd NYC label , attention to detail, but the pressing mark is I think a standard Capitol 32mm die impression not the regular 75mm Plastylite DG/ or non DG die impression. – it would never be seen on an original Blue Note. Could this be one faux-pas too many?

Hubbard-Open-Sesame--label-forensic--MM-1800-LJC

Hubbard-Open-Sesame-labels4-MM-1800

Two 45 rpm, that’s a lot of exercise going to and fro the turntable, but its good for you.

Gatefold Cover

Got to love that gatefold cover, truly amazing archive photography, beautifully printed. Why aren’t all records like this?

Hubbard-Open-Sesame-Gatefold-MM-1800

Whoa! Not so fast! Unconvincing liner notes! Pull over – traffic citation. These are shiny like the front cover; liner notes were never laminated, that was reserved for covers. Too luxury I feel. I think it would have looked better as thin paper paste on, catalogue number Blue Note 4040 but with the large gold STEREO sticker. There is something about seeing that stereo catalogue number that puts me in mind of a few less than satisfactory vintage stereo mixes.

Hubbard8--back-cover-MM-1800

Contender Number Two: in the cyan corner, The Div,  weighing a mere 131 grams, Division of United Artists. An early Seventies reissue, still standing at 42-years old  but can The Div  punch over its weight? Can classic original mono hold its own against the fancy footwork of the new Stereo Kid on the block? Lets hear it for the underdog ! (boos, stamping of feet, whistling, “get it over with MM,  the beer’s gettin’ warm’!)

We will find out…

divua-hubbard--frontcover-1600

Selection: Gypsy Blue, mono, Division of United Artists, remastered by UA engineers circa 1972, pressed by UA subsidiary All Disc Records.

All settings unchanged apart for speed 33 1/3rd rpm

Label Forensics

Oh dear! Something funny happened on the way to the printers… Get Quality Control down here, my office now, tea – no biscuits. Two UA engineers who worked on the Div UA series initialed their masters –  NB and EcK – this one is anonymous, merely a UA in the run out. You wonder if the re-mastering work was just parcelled out to everyone? Not usually a good sign.

Hubbard-S1-DoUU-label-1000-LJC

Hubbard-labels-UA-1800

Rear Jacket – that’s better, authentic paste up liner notes with the large friendly catalogue number – mono. High Fidelity. Yes. I like my Fidelity high. This is good.

divua-hubbard--rearcover-1600

Poll Time – what’s your verdict?

You get a great package with the MM, Apart from the wrong pressing die and the glossy liner notes, what’s not to like? Lets take that as read, so just the mastering and pressing. One’s mono and the other stereo, so that’s going to make it a bit harder. And you are going to pay a lot more for one than the other – two to three times  more than for the UA. Is your listening preference the little guy or the big guy? Or may be can’t decide. Show time. Vote now.

(Yeah yeah I know there are the Japanese and lots of other editions, but that is going to be the subject of the next few  post, so hold your fire, you are in for a little friendly Sumo Wrestling, then some Tag, all in good time)

Collectors corner

Unable to win auctions on original Blue Notes? Join the club. What’s a collector to do?

 If you can’t be with the one you love, honey, Love the one you’re with

– Crosby Stills & Nash

The quest for quality must go on, picking a little more through the alternatives in search of the good stuff. You’ve got a friend. Were all in this together. Just remember, if it comes down to just you and me – hands off buddy,  I saw it first.

UPDATE:

A Cheapskates Guide to Collecting the Unaffordable

Recently expanded Label Guide: the Blue Note United Artists Years, to give more coverage of the affordable alternative vinyl possibilities for Blue Note. Work in progress. With original vinyl in top quality increasingly impossible to obtain, some of this could be useful to know.

searching-for-Blue-Notes

Controversy Alert! – the chronology of United Artists Blue Note releases alluded to in this post is open to question: see comments below, at length, and in the postscript to the Blue Note United Artists Years labelography

 

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150 thoughts on “Freddie Hubbard: Open Sesame (1960) austerity edition, with poll

  1. Me again – with regards to Bob’s list of Blue and black Liberty / UA releases, I’ve had most of these on blue and white division of Liberty labels. I have a theory that both labels were being used at the same time. This was suggested by one of Andy’s earlier posts – Roots and Herbs – which I think he had an ‘Audition’ copy on blue/black, but this also definitely came as a DOL in Blue and white on release.

    • Things were getting a little tight down there!

      I was going to run off a laundry list of titles I have seen with blue labels and the newer lowercase “b” logo, but then I realized that I don’t know if they were specifically your label #3 and not either #5 or #6.

  2. I have a few MM, MOFI, Japanese and other reissues, and in each case they do not compare to a well cared for original. It may be the age of the tapes, but I also suspect the production chain. Many reissues are cut using later transistor based tape replay, mixing decks and cutting amps. Plus many use more modern cutting heads than the old Westrex Mono’s and Grampian’s. A lot of the difference is in there. We are installing an old school Westrex/Sculley street in our pressing plant for reissues of 50’s and 60’s records,and hopefully also an old Neumann or Lyrec one for European records.

    In addition, it feels like some of the ‘audiophile’ reissues are aimed at making the records sound more audiophile and this changes the character significantly. To me it all starts to sound like an attempt to make old Blue Note’s, Columbia’s, Atlantic’s, Riverside’s and Contempory’s sound like they were produced by ECM. Clean and flat.

      • 100% agree with Boukman. I’ve always felt that the entire production chain has a lot to do with it. Everything from the electrical grids used back then to wires to consoles, etc. Each piece adds up. Not a whisper of digital back then.

        I might say that the modern chains lend themselves to modern audiophile ears even if not intentional.

  3. Hi Bob. Let me just say that I was never trying to infer that the CD was the correct and valid point of reference. I said that I took it “as a point of reference” because that’s what you need if you want to compare speed at all, right? So what I wanted to prove in the first place was that LJC’s rips were done at different speed, leading to all those metaphysical speculations about different “pace” and such. The measured speed of a CD can never be taken for “the 11th commandment”, BUT in most cases I would be confident that a CD master made from the original master tape will be more or less reliable. I have no objection against your taking the earliest available pressing either. Moreover, if the key sounds right to me (with 440 Hz as a point of reference), chances are that the speed is OK. But one never knows if that piano in the studio was tuned the way it should be.
    In theory, CD players can vary in speed – or can they? Though I have never been faced with the problem, I would appreciate any further information on this topic.

    • Hi Ed:

      Your point (“hat’s what you need if you want to compare speed at all, right”) is somewhat awkward. Why do you need a CD to measure the speed of the record? Isn’t this like using a clock to measure temperature?

      Secondly, your assumption that “CD master made from the original master tape will be more or less reliable” does not stand, and it does not stand for one simple reason: 99% of all existing CDs out there are NOT mastered from the original master tapes, and, in any event, as I explained in my previous post, the master tape ITSELF lacks the proper point of reference unless (a) we take into account the frequency and the tonal scale values, which most people do not do and will never do or (b) we take the word of the guy who originally mastered it at face value. Any which way you look at it, the whole thing is more intuitive and subjective than a matter of simple physical measurement. Sadly (or otherwise), most music lovers out there are so tone-deaf that they wouldn’t know 16Hz from 20,000 Hz, rendering our entire discussion, in your words, a “metaphysical” exercise.

      • Hi Bob. – Well, yes, the way I put it, it really sounds a bit awkward. Now why did I take the CD as a reference point? Because I wanted to know the pitch of a (supposedly) reliable source as compared to LJC’s rips.

        Why am I convinced it is a reliable source? Because

        1) it is the RVG edition, and – more significantly –

        2) “Gypsy Blue” was obviously played in B flat minor (not uncommon with brass and reeds), and what we hear is B flat minor indeed. LJC’s rips, in contrast, are somewhere between B flat and B. (Here I must admit that a little mistake occurred in my original post. The rips – as we can see/hear – are faster, not slower, than the RVG, by the percentage(s) indicated. Oh for those reciprocal values… I’ll always get trapped in things like these. – But they still ARE different in speed. Bad luck I didn’t save the samples I made. Might repeat the procedure some time soon.)

        Now to a statement you made in your previous post, saying that “contrary to the popular belief, CD players CAN vary in speed, both over time and model-wise.” Do you really mean they can differ in PITCH? I was unable to find any relevant information anywhere, but perhaps you could elaborate on this.

        • HI Ed:

          CD players’ speeds do vary, although most certainly not by design, and this is a pretty well-known and established fact (on the upside, those variances are probably not significant enough to be audible to most human ears). I am not sure how such variances could not affect the frequency output. To me, it sounds like a technical and physical impossibility.

          Mind you, pitch is, by definition, a subjective perception beyond measurement and quantification. Clearly, this perception rests on perception of frequency, If your ear can detect a difference in speed, i.e. in tone frequency, odds are that your brain will perceive such variance as a pitch shift.

          • Sorry Bob, but this doesn’t convince me at all. First, we have to distinguish frequency range from pitch. And secondly, to a technician, pitch is NOT, by definition, a subjective perception but one of the hardest facts, defined by measurement and quantification. It is this aspect I am talking about in the first place – and then we can go on to talk about subjective perception.

            “B flat major on my CD player might be A flat major on your CD player” – IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT TO IMPLY? If it isn’t, then I’ll be completely satisfied, because the rest of it is a matter of audiophile religion, and this is a field I will not touch upon.

            • Bob, I’ve been doing some more research on “pitch error”. Pitch error – which means that you still get a STABLE (!!) pitch, as opposed to wow and flutter! – in a CD player typically does not exceed 0,1 per cent. Which is about one-tenth of what is deemed acceptable for a vinyl turntable. Wow & flutter in a CD player is below measurable limits.

              Now such readings are absolutely negligible. The notion that “CD players do vary in speed” is a gross exaggeration, to say the least.

              So when you listen to a CD made 1:1 from master tape (which may happen rarely, I admit), it is as if you were listening to the master tape. As I said before – the rest is a matter of faith.

            • Quote:

              “Pitch is an auditory sensation in which a listener assigns musical tones to relative positions on a musical scale based primarily on the frequency of vibration. Pitch is closely related to frequency, but the two are not equivalent. Frequency is an objective, scientific concept, whereas pitch is subjective”

              End Quote.

              – Wikipedia.

              • All right, Webster’s Dictionary says something to the same effect, somehow implying the subjective element: “…the property of a tone that is determined by the frequency of the sound waves producing it : highness or lowness of sound”. But they all say “pitch error”, not “frequency error”. No one would understand that. And the Columbia Legacy edition of KOB, according to the liner notes, has the “pitch corrected” version of Side A. Even if it’s wrong, it just seems clearer in meaning, doesn’t it?

                In the case of the CD player, “speed” would be very misleading, because what we mean is the speed and “pitch” of the music (closely connected with the precise speed of the quartz), not the CD drive.

  4. Dear Andy, Dean, Rich & all:

    Heeding the sage advice of our beloved fearless Webmaster, I am posting, for everyone’s indescribable pleasure and infinite joy, a brand new, top-of-the-heap comment in all its wide-screen glory, so as to avoid getting further squooshed by the blog’s statement-and-response format, which threatens to compress my words to a width of a neutrino (which, on second thought, would be no great loss for the humanity).

    But before I proceed. I must apologize to you all for suffocating this thread with my endless musings, many of which – had English been my mother tongue – could have been expressed more eloquently or at least condensed in a much more concise and intelligible form (well, maybe not: I am about as verbose in my own native language). I assure you all that being the loudest and the most obnoxious voice in the room is about as much fun as testing the electric chair in person.

    The essence of our discussion thus far – with some minor detours, such as whether Open Sesame is a great album or merely mediocre or whether Music Matters actually matters – focused on the age (inception and termination date) of the Blue Note’s “Division of United Artists” label, in its various forms and variations. To make the proceedings of this discussion easier to follow, I am specifically focusing on WHITE Blue Note label with with “Division of United Artists” inscribed along the label’s edge in the top right quadrant of the label. IN PARTICULAR, I am referring to the BN/UA mid-’70s reissues of the Alfred Lion-era titles (mostly in mono, a handful in stereo), such as the Freddie Hubbard specimen Andy reviewed here. New releases on this label are NOT specifically a topic of our discussions, although they have to be mentioned for argument’s sake.

    So, folks, while you are reading this, bear the following in mind at all times: we are dealing ONLY with the Blue Note reissue series of the mid-1970, mostly in mono. Nothing else.

    For the sake of convenience, allow me identify these labels visually: these are labels nos. 9 & 13 in Andy’s Blue Note ‘cheat sheet’ chart, or third and fourth from the top, respectively, in the left-hand column.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I should add that I do not – correctly or otherwise – make any distinction between these two variations: one with the artists names listed on the label (third from the top), the other without them (fourth from the top). To me, they look like a minor pressing plant variation, not significantly or substantively different from each other to be considered separate subspecies. I believe Andy correctly identified the latter version (without names) as originating from 1975, but I am not sure he has it right on the former. I would cautiously place both labels in the year 1974/75, give or take a few months.

    Other labels (black & blue Liberty/UA. various incarnations of all-blue UA labels with the “note” logo, and 1966-1970 Division of Liberty labels, etc) fall outside of the scope of my comment, except tangentially, or by accident.

    We were able to identify three distinct arguments and schools of thought in regards to how old this (BN/UA) reissue label may be, and these are as follows (please feel free to correct me if I inadvertently misunderstood someone or omitted something).

    [1] Andy, our Webmaster feels that these BN reissue labels are of the 1972-73 vintage, based on the perceived logical sequence of the labels, copyright information on the labels and the covers, legal information in public domain, thickness of the vinyl (which , at cca 130 grams, remained relatively consistent throughout the entire Liberty/UA era) and based on his belief that throughout the entire UA period – EVEN the period when other labels were issuing thin ‘dynaflex’ pressings (UA included) – a sole UA pressing facility kept BN releases at steady and reliable thickness and rigidity. In essence, according to this view, the trends in the industry at the time (keeping vinyl cheap and ugly) did not apply to Blue Note because UA’s sole pressing facility gave their new subsidiary (Blue Note) a preferential treatment it felt was deserved. Fair enough.

    His view is seconded – more or less – by Dean, who also feels that these BN reissue labels are of the 1972-73 era, and adds that, contrary to my initial assessment, Blue Note/UA imprint was quite active in the two critical years we are discussing here (1972-73) , so he feels that the label’s historical reissue program was probably active as well. He substantiates his view with a string (of about seven, give or take one) NEW releases BN/UA had over the said 24-month period.. I initially disagreed somewhat with his assessment that seven titles in two years constitutes an “active” release program in any sense of the word, but this is a different train of thought altogether.

    In hindsight, though, I must agree that BN/UA did. in fact have an active program of new releases in 1972 — because (this is critically important for our story) — Blue Note maintained TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PRODUCT LINES WITH TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SERIES OF CATALOG NUMBERS IN 1971-72 (think corporate schizophrenia, which is probably where Wayne Shorter’s album’s title came from). In short, it wasn’t only the seven titles with UA catalog numbers BN-LA that were released in 1972 (see below for the full BN-LA listing): In addition to those, BN also released other new titles with old (BST) numbers throughout the year 1972, which appear to have been scheduled for the release in 1971, bringing the total of all 1972 new Blue Note/UA releases closer to 16 than to 7. This is a respectable, if not overly ambitious, release program: about two titles every three months. I’ve seen worse.

    These additional BST- titles released in 1972, from what I could determine, were as follows (additions and/or amendments welcome!)

    Ronnie Foster – The Two Headed Freap
    Grant Green – Shades of Green
    Elvin Jones – Merry-Go-Round
    Grant Green – The Final Comedown
    Bobby Hutcherson – Natural Illusions
    Horace Silver – All
    Bobbi Humphrey – Dig This!
    Marlena Shaw – Marlena
    Gene Harris – Gene Harris of the Three Sounds

    [2] Rich, a/k/a DG Mono feels that these BN/UA labels were issued in a wide time span of about five years. starting around 1970 and ending around 1975. I easily and without much ado dissented from his 1970 inception date assessment, based on the fact that, in 1970, Blue Note was still very much a part of Liberty (and Liberty itself was not operationally integrated into United Artists), and that, in the year 1970 BN was still using labels two generations older than the one we are discussing here. However, I can easily and uncritically endorse his view of the 1975 end date.

    [3] Yours truly, based on personal and historical perspective, deep and profoundly intuitive insight, minor premonition, benefits of the age, experience, wisdom and infinite personal humility (not to mention: flipping through tens of millions of dusty and otherwise contaminated record albums in his lifetime), steam outburst from Pythia’s stone crack (oracle, that is), Beelzebub’s arrow, the Vinyl Philosopher Stone of one John Dee, the secret books of Rudolf II, dried bat wings, coffee grinds and ten record-collecting commandments engraved in stone tablets, feels very strongly that these BN/UA reissue labels could not possibly have started earlier than 1974 (or late 1973 at the earliest) and that the most of them were issued in 1975 AD, possibly even a few months later.

    ***

    Before I proceed, a historical perspective:

    Prior to 1974, record-collecting as we know it today simply did not exist, certainly not in this country. The year 1974 was the ground zero, the year 1 AD of the modern era of American record collecting. before 1974 people were collecting records, of course, but vinyl-collecting had a completely different nature, outlook and purpose: the collectors would buy and keep items because they were interested in the artist or his/her music per se and wanted to own much, if not all, of his or her output, pretty much solely for their own musical enjoyment. Monetary value of the collections or other non-artistic considerations were well outside of the scope of record-collecting impulse, and for two very solid reasons: firstly, in the year 1974 many (today exceedingly rare) items and pressings were either still in print or relatively easily available, and therefore of not significant material value or they were, so to say, materially immaterial (from what I am hearing, one could buy a NM copy of Johnny Burnette’s Rock & Roll Trio for less than 100 pre-Jimmy Carter bucks), and their market value was a far cry from what they can fetch on the market today; In other words, the monetary value of the collections was an abstract, metaphysical value, simply because there was no point of reference. Nobody knew back then what their collections were worth, because nobody thought of vinyl as a particularly valuable asset (hence, most of the vinyl from the 1950s and 1960s comes to you today scratched beyond recognition – their owners simply did not comprehend, or care to comprehend, it’s future value-appreciating potential). Yes, folks, record-collecting is a very young and fresh pursuit. In fact, yours truly may be considered somewhat of a record-collecting fossil: I started collecting in 1972, a few years before the vinyl hit the fans in earnest.

    Secondly, there was no such thing as a “completist” before 1974, certainly not in today’s sense of the word. Only the most a*ally-retentive Tom Jones, Annette, Connie Francis and Johnny Mathis fans cared to own ALL of their records, so “collecting” focused not on rare, not on valuable, but on cute, sexy, likeable and/or charting.

    This all changed in 1974 when a tsunami wave of record-collecting mania swept Japan, boosted, no doubt, by the Japanese collectors’ newly-discovered love and affection for all things Blue Note. I was pondering very often and hard why Jazz – Hard Bop in particular, and Blue Note Hard Bop specifically – established such a fierce and resilient bridgehead in Japan, whereas being relatively popularly ignored in its own home country. To this date, I found no firm or persuasive answer: perhaps Bill Evans’ liner notes to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue sum it up rather nicely: Jazz encapsulates Japanese aesthetic of spontaneity and naturalism better than any other occidental musical genre (which is rather odd, given that in the neighboring Korea, as staunchly a Buddhist nation as Japan – if not more so – Classical music still reigns supreme, Gangnam style notwithstanding). Then, there may have been another, subliminal, motive: having lost the WW2, the fine Japanese people found it much easier to identify themselves with the music of the social underdogs, and Jazz was then, and still remains, the ultimate underdog music: music created of non-elites, by non-elites and for non-elites (the elites and various assorted Jazz snobs jumped onto the Jazz bandwagon much later, when classical singalongs became passe). Finally, there may have been the third, the most trivial, reason: Uncle Sam’s occupation force needed a powerful cultural decontaminant in order to mentally detoxify the fiercely militaristic and traditionally unaccommodating and culturally insulated occupied nation, and they were pumping American Jazz (as a cultural antidote) into Japanese society with wild abandon (it did help somewhat that this was a 100 million-strong captive market with deep pockets and propensity to absorb, pretty much at gunpoint, huge quantities of abstract art in exchange for large $um$ of money).

    All of a sudden (pretty much within space of a few months in 1973/74) there was a massive surge in the demand for original American Blue Notes in Japan (the demand, as you can see on eBay, persists to this day (Thank you, oh, mighty Amaterasu!!!) with no sign of abating any time soon). Record companies – specifically UA – found themselves in a very awkward position of not being able to satiate this new overseas demand, particularly in view of the fact that mono masters have been either relegated to languishing and collecting dust in godforsaken archive facilities, or destroyed outright (Elektra, for example, is known to have destroyed their original mono masters as soon as stereo became the industry standard, circa mid-1968. from what I am hearing, Elektra’s heirs have been banging their heads and pulling their hair ever since).

    Enter United Artists.

    This dearth of vinyl for the overseas markets resulted in the first-ever organized and systematic reissue series (Commodore’s Swing and Traditional Jazz reissues of 1949-1955 notwithstanding), which is the BN/UA mono reissue series of 1973-75. It also resulted in the founding of the Goldmine Magazine, the once-upon-a-time Bible of every record collector in this nation. Neither event would have taken place without the ignition spark from the unexpected Japanese demand. All three events combined marked the beginning of the modern record-collecting history in the United States.

    Why is this historical tidbit so critical for our proceedings?

    Firstly, it is – to me, at least – abundantly clear that the United Artists’ initial Blue Note contemporary series of 1971-73 (titles released BEFORE BN/UA historical reissues we are talking about here kicked in) was woefully inadequate, both commercially and artistically, and that UA was struggling with what to do with the BN name and imprint it grandfathered along other (sizable) Liberty assets it acquired in 1970.

    I am almost certain that, had sudden Japanese demand (and charting success of Donald Byrd’s ‘Blackbyrd’) not saved the BN name, United Artists would have strangled their Blue Note baby in the cradle, or at least turned it over to such abominations as Mitch Miller or Mike Curb to manage, resulting, probably, in Kenny Dorham, Horace Silver and Hank Mobley playing as a session men for Tammy Wynette , Engelbert Humperdinck or the Carpenters, or, worse yet, posthumously overdubbing Jim Reeves’s unreleased recordings.

    Secondly, it is pretty clear and self-evident to me that it would have made zero sense for United Artists to do a major reissue line in MONO (albeit some of the reissued BN titles were done in stereo, such as Jackie McLean specimen captured on Andy’s cheat sheet), knowing that the industry had deliberately abandoned mono format some six years earlier, that some reissued mono titles were previously available as true stereos during the Liberty years (1966-70), that even the Latin labels, typically slow to react to the market trends (such as Fania and Tico) had given up on the mono releases some two years earlier, and that the demand for mono recordings in the United States circa mid-1970s was slim to none, zero to subzero.

    With all this in mind, I am firmly and without hesitation linking the Blue Note/United Artists reissue line of 1974-1975 strictly to the unexpected Japanese demand. In fact, I am arguing shamelessly that whatever copies found their way to the domestic (US) market were merely leftover copies for which BN/UA could not find a buyer in Japan. Being that this (Japanese) demand went largely unnoticed and undetected prior to 1974 (or late 1973 at the very earliest) it would be very difficult for me to accept that UA – for no discernible rhyme or reason – suddenly decided to throw good money after bad and start issuing what nobody in United States was buying at a time.: carbon copies of the original Blue Note mono releases from the Alfred Lion era. No, folks, I assure you that, in the age of Carpenters, Bay City Rollers, ABBA, John Denver and Olivia Newton-John, American buying public had better and more constructive things to do (like: drive hippie Volkswagen vans around the nation, snorkel cocaine, smoke weed and copulate with boundless gusto) than to rediscover Tina Brooks or Thelonious Monk. This was the age when Jutta Hipp, alas, was decidedly UN-Hipp.

    So, from the perspective of the purely circumstantial evidence, it would be difficult to see how BN/UA reissue labels could have kicked in before late 1973 AT THE VERY EARLIEST. Of course, it would be almost too tempting to assume that the United Artists’s marketing department simply went a little insane overnight and decided to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks, (after all, these corporate types are not exactly known as models of impressive collective IQ or brilliant reasoning and logic), but, in reality things do not work quite that way. United Artists simply would not have had a budget large enough to reissue the entire BN catalog without any thought given to it’s commercial potential. And they didn’t: if you look at the BN/UA reissue series, you will notice that less than one quarter of the entire Alfred Lion output was reissued during this era – mostly the titles that have been out of print for almost two decades.

    Then, we have an interesting label development here (my earlier question Dean didn’t care to respond to).

    If you look at the Blue Note’s UA labels on Andy’s Blue Note/UA cheat sheet:

    you will notice that there is one very important label variation – essentially, two years’ worth of Blue Note output (1971 and 1972) – (gasp!) MISSING!!!.

    Namely, there are two very distinct white/blue BN/UA label variations: those with print at the core of the label , around the spindle hole (track listing, album title, player credits) in BLUE letters (essentially emulating the original Blue Note layout and appearance)

    = and =

    the brand-new, United Artist-specific labels with the print at the core of the labels in BLACK letters. This is NOT, repeat: NOT a pressing plant variation. This is a completely different, heretofore undiscovered Blue Note label species (oh, I am sure you have all seen it before, it’s just that I get to receive a Nobel and Pulitzer for the rediscovery).

    Here’s how the black-core BN/UA labels look like.

    My initial (wrong) assessment was that ONLY the new BN sessions and titles, or newly-signed-up (as of early 1972) Blue Note artists (such as Moacir Santos or Alfred Mouzon) received these new “black core” labels, and that they were in print between the 1972 and 1973. This assumption was based on the fact that ALL SEVEN of the titles released with the new (BN-LA) United Artists catalog numbers were pressed on this “black core” labels.

    These seven titles, again, are as follows:

    BN-LA 007-G Moacir Santos – Maestro
    BN-LA 015-G2 Elvin Jones – Live at the Lighthouse
    BN-LA 024-G Lou Donaldson – Sophisticated Lou
    BN-LA 037-G2 Grant Green – Live at the Lighthouse
    BN-LA 047-F Donald Byrd – Black Byrd
    BN-LA 054-F Horace Silver – In Pursuit of the 27th Man
    BN-LA 059-F Alphonse Mouzon – The Essence of Mystery (thanks for adding this one, Dean)

    In fact, my initial assessment was DECIDEDLY, ALMOST COMICALLY, WRONG. This (black core) label was in use much earlier and much longer, for nearly two years, and IMMEDIATELY (!) followed the black and blue “Liberty/UA” labels (1970-71). As bizarre as it may sound , the NEW (emphasis on “NEW!”) titles releases on the “blue core” labels appear to be either reissues or the second pressings of the 1974-75 vintage of the titles originally released between 1971 and 1973 on “black core” labels, or aberrant pressings of some sort; in any event, I was able to identify ONLY TWO such “blue core” specimens (although more probably exist): Ronnie Foster’s ‘Two Headed Freap’ (1971) and McCoy Tyner’s ‘Extensions’ (1972). In fact, upon deeper research, I located BOTH titles on ‘black core’ labels. Yes, they do exist and yes, they are both, in my view, first pressings. “Blue core” pressings are, almost certainly, later presssings.

    If the assumption that NEW TITLES released on “blue core” BN/UA labels are later pressings (which makes sense because only a handful of these exist, and they must – by definition – be reissues, because most period titles only have one – “black core” pressing), then NOT ONLY BN/UA HISTORICAL REISSUES BUT EVERY SINGLE BN/UA PRESSING WITH THE ‘BLUE CORE’ FALLS INTO THE 1974/75 ERA AND SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A REISSUE, A SECOND (OR LATER) PRESSINGS OR HISTORICAL MATERIAL OF SOME SORT.

    Not only that! It also means that the “blue core” BN/UA labels chronologically almost completely OVERLAP with the all-blue labels during the years 1974-75. In essence, there was NO point in time when the “blue core” BN/UA labels were the only or principal BN/UA labels. They were ALWAYS auxiliaries, in print in conjunction with other labels, concurrently, in combination with, alternating, or overlapping. And why would that be, you might ask? That’s easy to answer: these labels were SPECIAL LABELS SPECIFICALLY INTENDED FOR THE JAPANESE MARKET. *** They only made their way to the US market by accident *** .

    We can identify five (count ’em) subtypes of the BN/UA white and blue labels in use between 1971 and 1973/74:

    (a) NEW titles by BOTH OLD AND NEW artists with old (BST-) catalog numbers (such as Bobbi Humhrey’s Flute-in) with BLACK CORE (there are about nine, possibly ten, such titles, as listed above)

    (b) NEW titles by BOTH OLD AND NEW artists with new (BN-LA) catalog numbers (such as Moacir Santos’ Maestro album (BN-LA-007-F) with with BLACK CORE (there are ONLY seven titles on this label – as listed above – of which ONLY ONE was positively and certifiably released in 1972; the rest were almost certainly pushed into 1973)

    (c) Second pressings of the earlier BN/Liberty titles (ONLY VERY RECENT RELEASES!) – by OLD artists with old (BST) numbering system and with BLACK CORE (Lou Donaldson’s Cosmos. possibly others)

    (d) NEW titles by BOTH OLD AND NEW artists with BLUE CORE (for example: Ronnie Foster’s Two Headed Freap, BST-84382 and McCoy Tyner’s Extensions BN-LA 006-F). This variant, for reasons just stated, almost certainly is a reissue/second pressing. If there is any doubt, check out the catalog numbers: the former has the old BN numbering style (BST-nnnnn), the latter has the new UA-styled number (BN-LA-nnn-X). Assuming that these two titles were printed on “blue core” labels at roughly the same time, then AT LEAST two years separate the original release of ‘Two Headed Freap’ (on “black core” label) from it’s second pressing (on the ‘blue core’ label ); we know this for sure, because it’s younger sibling, McCoy Tyner’s album came out one year after the ‘Freap’ and it (Extensions) almost certainly would not have been reissued on a different label for AT LEAST another year after it’s original release (meaning that Freap would have been reissued TWO years after it’s original release, at the earliest): this simply would not make any sense.

    (e) NEW titles by OLD artists with old (BST) numbering system, with BLUE print at the core (for example: Lee Morgan’s Memorial Album,, BST-84901) (also, seemingly, a reissue, although UA’s management may have thought of an anthology by a deceased master as a “reissue”, which, technically speaking, it isn’t)

    Urrrrgh! Speaking of total mess!!!

    What, if anything, can we deduce from this Blue Note labeling chaos of 1971-73?.

    My first assumption – apparently false – was that the introduction of the new, white and blue labels with BLACK print at the core simply signified a separate BN product line with newly signed artists and their initial offerings for the label, which were assigned directly to the new parent company (United Artists) to handle, rather than to the old subsidiary (Liberty) team, and that the “blue core” labels continued to be issued concurrently, containing only old and historical releases.

    If this assumption held true, then Andy’s and Dean’s theory (that white and blue BN/UA labels of ALL variations were in print not later than 1972-73 would definitely hold true as well: : this would simply mean that Blue Note did “black core” labels for the original releases, while keeping the “blue core” for the historical and other reissues, such as the Open Sesame specimen we are discussing here. In short, this would be a firm and conclusive evidence that white and blue UA labels (with both black and blue cores) were in print well before the end of 1973.

    On second thought, that theory proved untenable.

    Here’s why:

    EVERY SINGLE NEW title released on the Blue Note imprint between 1971 and 1973 originally came out on “black core” label. There would be no corporate sense or reason to print the NEW titles simultaneously, on both (black core and blue core) label variants . Although it is hypothetically possible that one of these two (probably “blue core”) was an aberrant pressing or aberrant pressing plant variation, it is not likely that such aberrant variation would have taken more than a year (between the release of ‘Two Headed Freap’ and ‘Extensions’) to catch and correct. Therefore, we must deduce that BOTH labels were designated as intended, and that one series must have followed the other. Because a huge number of the NEW Blue Note/UA releases from this period (practically all) exist on the “black core” label, but only two or so exist on both), it logically follows “black core” labels precede the “blue core” labels and that “blue core” labels are of later vintage.

    It is entirely clear that the “black core” labels were a brainchild of the United Artists, a telltale signature of the parent company and it’s own, separate product line. The moment when the first “black core” label appeared (most likely Bobbi Humphrey’s Flute-In) marks the exact historical moment when Liberty was finally, at long last, operationally merged with United Artists and became the integral part of the company.

    The new, merged company (BN/UA) appears to have decided very early on to separate their releases in two groups by using the date and the nature of the recordings as a standard: everything that was brand new, all newly signed-up artists and/or new material received “NEW” (black core) labels; all other material (historical reissues, unreleased sessions by deceased artists, second and later pressings of the titles currently in print was considered “OLD” and was reissued – most likely a few years AFTER 1973 – on the “blue core” labels, and other later BN labels. Ah, but there is one problem: UA would not have had any profit motive to reissue Alfred Lion-era material before the surge of the Japanese demand in 1974. In essence, the ONLY labels reissued on “blue core” labels prior to (and including) 1973 were the then-recent “black core” originals, deemed commercially viable enough to be reissued. And because precious few of them were commercially viable before the Japanese torrent of demand had hit the Blue Note, only a handful of contemporary “blue core” reissues seem to exist.

    From the moment of acquisition of Liberty/Blue Note by the United Artists, there was a fierce intercompany struggle as to who was going to control and manage the joint entity’s Jazz catalog (which, for all practical purposes was Blue Note catalog alone, although UA had it’s own Jazz catalog and acquired a few smaller Jazz labels, such as FM, throughout the 1960s). Liberty simply refused to die or be dissolved into the joint management, holding UA’s BN release program hostage and not allowing the new parent company to fully take control. This obstruction on part of the old Liberty staffers, in all likelihood, resulted in the separation of the product lines to the Liberty’s (BST) and United Artists’s (BN-LA) catalogs, and led to the separation of labels: Liberty/UA historical reissues and later pressings with the blue core, UA proper new titles with black core. In essence, Blue Note became a two-headed corporate monster: two heads, zero brain.

    Sensing a power play at work and feeling that they would soon be left jobless (because historical reissues did not have a tendency to chart), Liberty people then essentially stopped cooperating with the parent company altogether, and UA went ahead alone with their own production line (the seven BN-LA titles listed above), which sank fast and furious, like a proverbial Titanic. In fact, had it not been for Donald Byrd’s Blackbyrd, the entire UA output would have been one big disaster on steroids. By late 1973, the UA release program was in tatters. For this reason, and this reason alone, many sessions recorded during the 1971-72 period were delayed until much later, and until Liberty people re-established their dominance at the company (Shorter’s Matto Grosso Feio, Ronnie Foster’s Sweet Revival, etc)

    In late 1973 and throughout 1974, Japanese cavalry mysteriously and rather unexpectedly rode in to United Artists’ rescue (well, perhaps not so mysteriously: my crystal ball once told me that a prominent member of the Tokyo branch of the Trilateral Komish once told Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka that a prime piece of American entertainment real estate (United Artists) was in danger of going belly up, at which point our Japanese friends suddenly started buying imported UA Blue Notes as if on cue, most likely because Yakuza told it’s retailers that they would lose all of their fingers if they did not sell enough American Blue Note imports), which had an immediate impact on the United Artist’s Jazz catalog (and more importantly, corporate earnings) as well as wonderful American-Japanese bilateral (or trilateral?) relations. The rest, as they say, is history: United Artists spent the rest of the decade laughing their way to the bank, successfully packaging and repackaging, branding and re-branding the Blue Note product, the BN label was mythologized past any good taste and sense, and, thusly, the Legend of Alfred the Lion and his Holy Baby Blue (Note) was born.

    I will be the first to admit that there is no strict science to my argument, and that there is no forensic evidence behind it either. My argument definitely does not rise to the X-files level. Strictly formally speaking, my argument may not have met the threshold of the judicially admissible evidence (that these labels originate from the 1974-75 era). And yet, the preponderance of circumstantial evidence is overwhelming and, cumulatively speaking, should constitute a meaningful proof. And given the fact that I have already conceded that the earliest specimens of the BN/UA reissues may have appeared in the last quarter of 1973, I really don’t think we have much of a disagreement here. We can PROBABLY reach the final agreement: that the BN/UA labels were in print between the last quarter of 1973 and the last quarter of 1975 – a period of about year and a half, give or take.

    In order of probability, this is how the “blue core” chart looks like.

    1970 – impossible
    1971 – extremely unlikely, practically impossible
    1972 – unlikely
    1973 – somewhat possible
    1974 – extremely possible, almost certain
    1975 – somewhat possible
    1976 – not likely, but hypothetically possible.

    Then, there is one other, minor, argument in support of my theory. These 1974-75 reissues of the Blue Note’s classic years (1956-66) look, feel and SMELL like 1975. The cheapsh*t, shoddy, lo-fi, crudely cut, lamely printed, poorly constructed and easily worn 1974-75 Blue Note covers replaced the luxurious, finely textured covers like Elvin Jones ‘Live at the Lighthouse” (1972) or the laminated cover of the Ronnie Foster’s ‘Sweet Revival’ (1973). To me, personally, they have “I am born in 1975” birth certificates attached to them (and no, I do not need the official birth certificate issued by the State of Hawaii to tell me where and when they are coming from).

    Why is this of major significance?

    Significance? What significance?

    THERE ISN’T ANY SIGNIFICANCE IN ANY OF THIS.

    NONE WHATSOEVER!

    NEVER WAS. NEVER WILL BE. ZERO. NADA. ZILCH.

    Allow me to explain.

    I spent a few hours composing this comment with one and only one goal in mind: to explain that everything I told you is unfathomably irrelevant, surreally banal, mindbogglingly trivial and insignificant beyond belief and that you would have been better off spending five minutes listening to ANY Blue Note session than 20+ minutes reading my pointless mental meanderings. Consider yourselves thoroughly repriminded.

    The ONLY thing we can conclude based on evidence on hand is that the record-labeling in general, and record-labeling during the transitional periods (acquisition of one label by another) in particular is no exact science, and that corporate confusion, incompetence, lack of proper intra- and inter-company communication, etc., more often than not produce periods of overlapping labels, inconsistencies, bizarre label and pressing plant variations, labeling non-sequiturs and alike – stuff that, generally, no reasonable person should spend a significant amount of time trying to sort out. Not EVEN the lifelong record collector. In fact, PARTICULARLY NOT the lifelong record collector.

    At the time United Artists acquired Liberty was still fresh, relatively speaking, from acquiring Alfred Lion’s original Blue Note, and EVEN that acquisition produced a significant, yearlong label confusion. In the ensuing 4-year period from 1966 to 1970, Liberty reissued old titles under same catalog numbers, unreleased sessions under new catalog numbers, changed formats (from mono-only to fake stereo and from mono-only to true stereo and eliminated monos altogether (some pre-1957 titles notwithstanding), thus creating a new sequence of catalog numbers or amending the old sequence, assigned new numbers (and in few cases, even new jackets) to the old BN titles, and otherwise did everything in it’s power to confuse Jazz collectors and aficionados to the max. This, already confused and confusing, body of work was then merged with United Artists, thereby creating a corporate entropy and unmanageable chaos of galactic proportions. I submit that it took United Artsists at least six, possibly as much as eight, years, to tie-up all the loose ends and cut all the Gordian knots stemming from it’s acquisition of the Liberty/BN catalog . In some ways, the confusion – case in point – reverberates to this day. Early seventies were a period of particularly intense and all-encompassing BN labeling chaos, and if you look at various Blue Note online discographies, not any two will agree on the exact recording and/or release dates of any particular BN title released during this period (and for the good reason: nobody REALLY knows for sure and with ANY degree of certainty when some title were ACTUALLY released): labels were used concurrently or were partially overlapping, out of sequence, with gaps between titles and/or labels, catalog numbers were assigned opaquely, erratically and without much intrinsic logic, etc. If you are looking to write a case study on corporate inconsistency, incompetence and idio(t)syncracy, seek no further. Congratulations! You got yourself a case!. With Blue Note/Liberty/United Artists, you should have AT LEAST ten years’ worth of material for your hard studies. Best of luck, let us know when you are done! (myself, I have a different project in mind, which involves leggy brunettes with blue eyes, aged Chambertin and mounds of Belgian chocolate, not necessarily in that order).

    Which , then, finally, at long last, brings me to my final point. I promise.

    There is no such thing as “label cut-off date” or “label inception date”. In fact, there is no such thing as label “date” at all. The labeling is merely a very, very loose, very approximate and highly inaccurate way the record-collectors SHOULD BE (but aren’t!) looking at the timeframes – not specific dates or sequences – of specific pressing. In record-collecting, the logical paradoxes, such as the latter label seemingly preceding the former, can and do happen (albeit not very often) — a wonderful example of recursive, Lewis Caroll-ian logical system at work.

    In addition to corporate chaos, there is also a myriad of other, purely technical, reasons why labels are highly inaccurate and very imprecise standard for measuring the age of the pressing, and it involves the technicalities of the production process, the whims of storage, the relationship between the recording label and the distributor and even the retailers. If anything, the label will tell you one thing and one thing ONLY: when the disc was DISTRIBUTED or shipped to the retailer, rather than it was actually pressed.

    Thank you everyone for your inordinate effort in following my numerous streams of thoughts (many clogged with mental debris and detritus) and for the privilege of granting me your time and attention.

    I am outta here. Or, to paraphrase Jimi Hendrix:

    “If I don’t meet you no more on this thread
    I’ll meet ya on the next one
    And don’t be late
    Don’t be late”

    (Sorry, Jimi)

    PS: If I do not get evicted from this blog by then, I may elect to respond to Dave Beckwith SACD-related question, which I so cruelly and inconsiderately left unanswered. My apologies, Dave, hopefully the Webmster will give me another chance.

    • I tried, I really did, but I just couldn’t get through the whole thing :\

      I made my original comment about the date range of the labels casually based on what both you and Andy had said. I don’t really have any stake in this, as I don’t collect these. But I can understand you, Bob, take pride in this stuff and being accurate about it as a dealer.

      I will say that your theory about the UA monos being made to appease a new Japanese market is interesting and would explain why these were done in mono. But to be clear, you haven’t provided any evidence to support the claim that this market appeared suddenly in 1974.

      That’s it! I’m out! Hands down on the table, I do not wish to instigate here or encourage debate 😉

      • Rich. I have other, much more meaningful, accomplishments in life to take pride in. Record labels and pressings are only a minor lateral pursuit, and I don’t even claim to be particularly good at it (life forced me to familiarize with them, this definitely isn’t a labor of love). However, this is something many people around the world take passionate interest in, and I am most happy to oblige.

        I think I DID prove that BN/UA “blue core” labels were issued in 1973/74 (this is specifically addressed in one of my earlier points), which essentially places the ENTIRE BN/UA mono reissue program in this two-year period.

        No, I do not have corporate memos evidencing that UA started their reissue program in direct response to surge in overseas demand, but if you can think of another reason why UA would all of a sudden start reissuing Jutta HIpp’s 20-year-old records (which did not sell in large quantities domestically even when they were first released) at the time when everyone was listening Paul Anka and Olivia Newton-John, you are my biggest hero.

        Don’t get out just yet! This blog needs good people!

        • In mentioning what I perceived as your lack of proof, I wasn’t referring to the date range of the UA labels, I was addressing your theory that Japanese collectors suddenly became interested in mono Blue Notes in 1974. Where’s the proof of that? Your argument that the UA labels began in ’74 rests significantly on that “if”.

          • The only way the magnitude of Japanese demand can be measured and quantified today, 40 years after the fact, is by the volume and duration of the UA reissue program. There is no other usable method. Perhaps some trade association in Japan has the stats on American vinyl imports from the United States, but I am not aware of any. Being vaguely familiar with the Japanese worldview and outlook (five years of working for the Japanese bank), I think I can comfortably say that Japanese importers almost certainly do have such information in their possession. How difficult it would be to extract it is a different matter altogether.

            I did not say that the Japanese collectors “suddenly became interested” in Blue Notes in 1974 (this would be patently foolish and untrue), nor did I, for that matter, insist that such demand crested specifically in 1974. On the contrary, I was VERY flexible throughout my entire comment about the timeframes involved: I said that they “suddenly started buying them, as if on cue”. There is a very major difference between the two statements. Clearly, the seeds of Japanese interest in Blue Note were sown well before the mid-’70s.

            When you present to the court the abundance of circumstantial evidence (which is why my comment is so long, structured and tedious), it should should serve – cumulatively – as a substantive material proof. Whether the jury of my peers will accept any of the submitted material or dismiss it all outright based on visceral and instinctive resistance is entirely up to them .

            More than push myself into the forefront of visibility on this thread, I wanted to make some order and sense in the part of the Blue Note album discography very few collectors (yours truly included) know – or care to know – much about. This turned out to be an agonizing task, but I do believe that some progress has been made — if only readers of this thread would focus on my data and my reasoning, rather than the messenger himself, who, after all, tried to be present himself as moderately funny in order to make himself more palatable to the discriminating and sophisticated audience..

            .

    • Thanks for the thoughtful post, Bob. I’m immediately jumping in as devil’s advocate with one question – where does 1974 come from as the start date of Japanese Blue Note mania? Is that based on your memory alone, or is there evidence for that? I don’t doubt it, just curious.

      • Hi Joe:

        Goldmine mag (which I mentioned in my article) started operations in September 1974. You can be absolutely certain that the wouldn’t have selected this point in time for no rhyme and reason. They detected that the time was right (although, I am sure that, if you ask them, they would deny the allegation).

        There was no matching uptick in American vinyl demand until around 1975/76 (you can check Billboard stats for confirmation: of the top-7 top-selling LP albums of all time, only one was recorded in the pre-1974 era). For about a year, the vinyl demand (and Jazz vinyl demand in particular) was a purely Japanese phenomenon.

        Say hello to the horned guy…but please don’t bail him out!

        • As I have written elsewhere, there are two types of knowledge: that you can act on to improve your outcomes – “I’ll have that one over there – no not the 1973 edition, the 1975 one next to it, they are much better” and the type of knowledge that is knowledge for its own sake, valuable but which has no utility. “It was released in 1973″ ” “Oh no it wasn’t, it was 1975!” And so? I’m right. No I’m right.
          There is of course a third type of knowledge. “That’s interesting…”

          I think we are in Category Three right now. I would love anyone with an insight into Japanese culture to suggest why the love of jazz in Japan. I struggle to believe these things happen in one year: culture evolves slowly. There is something in the psyche, more fundamental.

          • I do not see knowledge fragmented like that. To me, all knowledge is of one cloth and will be utilitarian — eventually, sooner or later. When I was in my teens, I thought that my Latin classes were the biggest waste of time in history, As it turned out over the past four decades, I could not have survived without them, for which I am thankful to the old Romans. Much of the utilitarian nature of knowledge comes from how WE decide to use it. Knowledge which rots inside of is worse than ignorance.

            To me, this whole debate is a technical ephemera or surprisingly little relevance. It DOES have marginal significance, but only if one is capable of applying the information discriminately and with a sense of pragmatism and flexibility. Taking these technical and historical tidbids literally, as cast in stone or without critical distance can (literally) drive you crazy.

            Which is why I must reiterate: believe your eyes, your ears and what you have in between. Do not trust anything and anyone else whose “expertise” runs counter to your judgment, not EVEN your trusted eBay seller.

          • That has been bothering me too – perhaps it was 1974 when American companies began to notice a rise in international interest in jazz; but it surely did not suddenly start then.

            • You are right. It did not start in 1974. We have all seen American “for export” titles intended for sales overseas, although all major Jazz markets (Western Europe, Japan, Australia, North America) DID have their own national manufacturing facilities by then, and Jazz was well known, well liked and mass-produced in all major parts of the world by then (except for those that, ideologically, did not approve of it). This is why you CAN find original Japanese Jazz pressings from as early as 1952.

              However, the years 1973-74 were THE FIRST TIME that a major American corporation set out on a massive reissue program specifically intended to meet the demand of one particular international market. This was a sea change in how American recording markets saw the cosmology and the needs of another market, and how they reacted to it’s surging demand, and this is the first time that that the piece of vinyl was seen as valuable not only by marketing executives, but by the general public itself. Never before have we seen a record label reissue dozens of it’s old titles in sequence, and in mass quantities, all essentially intended for foreign markets. This was a very major, systematic campaign, and it resulted in much more than simply saving United Artists Jazz catalog.

              The exact duration of this episode, it’s starting and ending points are not of any real significance. One can say that the “surge” started at some point in 1973. Did it ever end? Probably not. In some ways, it continues as we speak. But the initial apex was probably reached at some point in 1974.

              • Sounds very plausible to me, I’m getting convinced.

                I have just the one problem with Blue Note later output . I put on Horace Silver’s Running Man this afternoon after reading all the input. Euch! Brecker Brothers, yakety sax, horrible, I won’t be collecting these any day soon. I hated it from the minute I bought it, still hate it today.

              • Well, I suppose it’s reasonable to conclude that American businesses started to notice in the late ’60s, as Japanese students protested regularly against the (then aging) WW2 generation, and began to embrace modernity and “hipness,” which included American jazz music. As that embrace became tighter, demand would have probably risen. That is not based on much actual knowledge, just basic history and a lot of Murakami. But it seems reasonable enough.

                That desire, combined with the Japanese demand for “authentic” products, would explain a fastidious mono reissue program. (The demand in Japan for “authenticity” is hotter than ever today, as seen in men’s wear; seriously – if you don’t know about this trend, check out Buzz Rickson’s or Mister Freedom made by MFSC. Awesome stuff, but it’s slightly surreal to see a young male Japanese public ravenously buying Japanese-made coats which are precise replicas of WW2-era US military wear. End of tangent).

                However, this is a westerner talking. Would love to hear from any of our Japanese friends to tell me I’m on the right path or completely full of it.

                • HI Joe:

                  There was definitely a confluence of factors that led to unexpected Japanese Blue Note demand, and I think you hit the nail right on the head.

                  I would prefer not to comment on the second part of your post, but I assure you that your post contains enough legitimate questions to ponder for another 10 years.

                  B/

    • Ok Bob, I gave your argument a chance and I read (about 80% of) your post. The most interesting point you make is about the black and blue cores used for newer 70s titles. This does suggest that the black and blue cores were not printed concurrently (for newer titles at least), and that therefore the earliest they would have appeared is 1973. This seems to also be–according to Andy’s research–the year that UA stopped writing “A Division of United Artists” on their labels and started writing “United Artists Music and Record Group Inc”.

      But at the beginning of your post, you (nonchalantly) dismissed any potential difference in the time of pressing between the classic blue and white UA labels with the personnel listed and the classic UA labels reading “United Artists Music and Record Group Inc”. To me, it still seems possible that, when Div. of UA became UA Music and Record Group Inc, they started the blue cores for new releases, but had already been doing classic mono reissues for the Japanese market with classic blue and white labels with personnel for a couple years, but when they became UA Music and Record Group Inc in 1973, they started using the blue and white labels with “United Artists Music and Record Group Inc” for those same classic titles instead of the ones with the personnel. I would be led to believe that this makes perfect sense, but what about those pesky blue labels with the black “b” reading “A Division of United Artists”? Those must be from 1973 or earlier if they changed their name in 1973, right?

      • PS – why would those blue and white labels with “United Artists Music and Record Group Inc” in place of the personnel still read “A Division of United Artists Records, Inc” along the circular indent? Can’t we assume that the template for that label was made before they changed their name UA Music and Record Group Inc in 1973?

        I honestly want to ask one more question to Andy and Bob about the legal documentation and how valid the date of 1973 is for the name change, but I am indeed getting to the point of ‘who cares’ haha. It’s been fun!

        • I am not ignoring these suggestions, I am persuaded of the need for greater latitude in the dates I initially stated in my Cheat Sheet. There will be an update in the near future, thank you all for your input. At the end of the day none of us knows anything first hand. Its conjecture, happenstance, fragments of evidence and working hypotheses. How else?

          • Never a truer word written.
            I thought I’d gotten this down because the label design used for these UA reissues was only used in 1972 & 1973.
            However I then noticed two further things.
            1/ That all post 72 Blue Notes have a P. date on them – this is to do with the US copyright law. None of these reissues do.
            2/ The labels on the reissues are the same design but not the same printing – they are darker blue.

            What this means I don’t know.

          • Thank you, Andy. You can rest assured that I would not have wasted a nanosecond of my time – let alone more than a day – on this matter had I not recognized the valiant nature of your effort.

            I did not expect you to change your Cheat Sheet based on my comments, I did not ask you to, nor am I doing so now. Because of largely speculative and circumstantial nature of my comments, I would not be offended if you elect to completely ignore them. Most of my reasoning is pure conjecture, although I did try to make a persuasive fact-based logical case.

            However, there is one glaring mistake in your chart, which is black/blue label, which absolutely, categorically (if your chart is chronologically sequenced) cannot remain where it is now. It needs to be pushed one place earlier, immediately following the “Division of Liberty” label. Of this I am certain, and I fully stand behind this statement. Everything beyond this point in time remains uncertain and subject to debate and dispute.

            • I am convinced. Up until this thread, I had never seen Division of United Artists label with Black Font. Not one. All sixteen of my Div of UA are Blue Font. This variant was not even on my radar, yet this hitherto missing piece of the jigsaw unravels my original thoughts on timelines.

              Having witnessed at first hand several corporate mergers, the resistance to and assertion of control between old and new is all too familiar. I am convinced the variations in label design and catalogue numbers are a symptom of what must have been difficult times for the individuals involved. It all makes a sort of horrible sense, though the detail is still sketchy in places.

              I am “out of the office” for a few days but changes will be made in due course. My thanks to all for the new insights.

        • Rich, let me answer your questions:

          [Q:] “Why would those blue and white labels with “United Artists Music and Record Group Inc” in place of the personnel still read “A Division of United Artists Records, Inc” along the circular indent? Can’t we assume that the template for that label was made before they changed their name UA Music and Record Group Inc in 1973?”

          [A]: There was no such thing as a “template” of the BN label. The label, it’s basic layout, the content, the legal disclaimers, etcetera, varied wildly from one incarnation of the label to another. Only the basic white/blue color convention and, to a certain degree, typeset remained relatively unchanged throughout the years. However, when the black & blue Liberty/UA label was introduced in 1970, all semblance of “template” went out the window and the label completely lost it’s visual or technical continuity with the previous BN labels and designs . UA Music Group label can only be considered an attempt at “retro” (or self-parody) label rather than an iteration of the existing template. And given the nature of this label (this was a United Artists’ Japanese mono reissue series), the “retro” moniker makes perfect sense. After all, UA was trying to make these labels as indistinguishable from the original pressings as possible.

          Secondly, the United Artists Records, Inc. and “UA Music and Record Group” are by no means mutually exclusive: the two existed and operated concurrently and in tandem, at least for much of the former’s life. United Artists Records was a wholly-owned subsidiary of UA Music and Record Group (which, in all likelihood, included other subsidiaries such as radio and broadcast-licensing group, cassette, tape and 8-track manufacturing group, media marketing etc), and it is safe to assume that it continued to operate under it’s own distinct name long after US Music and Record Group was formed (and may, in fact, have survived it). Because UA Records PRECEDES UA Music and Record Group, it is only logical that labels without “Music and Record Group would be younger than those without it.

          It was absolutely normal, even expected back then that the recording company’s name would appear on the record label along with the parent company’s name, or along with a larger division withing a corporation (there may have been some legal or accounting rationale behind it, I am not sure). .For this reason, you will find on, say, Warner/Reprise’s 1967-1970 releases a line which reads: “Warner Bros (or Reprise), a subsidiary and licensee of Warner-Seven Arts, Inc.” (Warner-Seven Arts being a parent company, obviously) You can find similar duality on MANY other labels, such as Colpix, Harmony, Sunset, etc, The retained name “United Artists Records” on BN labels will not tell us anything particularly useful or precise about the date of the pressing, other than give us a wildly wide timeframe of about 10 years or so..

          I have spent much time trying to sort out and to explain why the labels with “UA Music and Record Group” could not have preceded the “black core” labels. You can find my reasoning in the section D of my earlier comment.

          https://londonjazzcollector.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/freddie-hubbard-open-sesame-1960-austerity-editions-with-poll/#comment-17599

          Being that YOU YOURSELF objected to my identifying this label (UA Music and Record Group) with the earlier “Division of UA” label with artists names on it – a point I honored and incorporated in my summary – I really don’t see much sense in your rephrased and reiterated question now.

          [Q] “I honestly want to ask one more question to Andy and Bob about the legal documentation and how valid the date of 1973 is for the name change, but I am indeed getting to the point of ‘who cares’ haha. It’s been fun!”

          [A] I never claimed to possess the legal documentation and I never claimed to draw my inferences from it, although it most certainly holds significant value for what Andy is trying to accomplish. My summary was drawn from the following sources: Wikipedia, Discogs. Jazzdisco, Popsike, eBay, Gemm, Google, my personal database of images and text files and my own experience.

          Good to see that you are having fun. May the fun continue forever!

          .

          • Well FWIW, that theory as to why those labels mix “UA Inc.” and “UA Music Group” makes a lot of sense in light of the fact that “UA Inc.” operated under the ownership of “UA Music Groups” for some time, I didn’t know that. I wasn’t trying to imply anything about the dates of those labels, just confused, that’s all.

      • Rich, for the sake of simplicity, let me summarize what (I think) I said and what I believe chronological sequence of the BN labels between 1970 and 1971 may have been. This is NOT a categorical or beyond-dispute statement.

        I will also refer to the labels by using Andy’s “cheat sheet”, by numbering them in sequential order: the oldest on his cheat sheet (top left) will be label # 1, the youngest (bottom right) will be label # 20.

        The critical segment we are discussing here are his labels 8 through 13 (plus two which are not shown).

        (A) 1966-1970 – White and Blue “Division of Liberty” labels, fairly consistently in use, no significant LABEL variations (Andy’s label # 8)

        (B) 1970-1971 – UA acquires Liberty in 1970 and the chaos begins. Black and Blue labels with Liberty/UA introduced circa late 1970, significantly overlaps with old “Division of Liberty” labels for about 9 months, possibly as much as a year (I am best-guessing between late-1970 and mid 1971)..(Andy’s label # 10)

        (C) 1971 (probably mid-year).- BN/UA introduces white and blue “Division of UA” labels with BLACK print at the core, which remain in print through, probably, late 1972, used SOLELY for “new” releases. About 9 NEW titles released on this label. . These overlap with the previous (black/blue) labels for a short while, probably about three months (BUT ONLY ON HANDFUL OF REISSUES OF FAIRLY NEW – LESS THAN A YEAR OLD – TITLES) , Issued with BST-prefix ONLY. (not shown on Andy’s cheat sheet, but you can find a link to it in my original post: Grant Green’s Final Comedown soundtrack)

        (D) Late 1972: This label (C) changes slightly: essentially remains the same, , uses same layout and design as before, but now starts using UA’s BN-LA prefix instead. Seven known titles released on the label, which remains in print between roughly October 1972 and the fourth quarter (???) of 1973.. (not shown on Andy’s cheat sheet)

        (E) mid-to-late1973 (rough estimate) ; BN/UA introduces what you call “classic” white and blue “Division of UA” labels with BLUE print at the core, exclusively intended for the reissues, second pressings and a few titles of historical and compiled material, All titles in on this label EXCEPT ONE seem to use OLD (BST- ) numbering system, essentially retaining their original numbers under which they were initially issued. This is the label variation WITH artists printed on them VERY FEW titles ever released on this label, probably not more than 10, if even. (Andy’s label # 9). This appears to be the most controversial label of all.

        (F) 1973-197? (starting more likely in early 1974 than 1973)., BN introduces ALL-BLUE BN label with “black” note logo (Andy’s label # 11), which remains the principal BN label for much of the rest of the decade, The end date of this label remains indeterminable, but I am guessing it was closer to 1978 than to 1975. (Andy’s label # 11). Remaining titles from the label (D) era – scheduled for the release, but not released in it’s lifetime – now finally see release on this all-blue label (Wayne Shorter’s Matto Grosso Feio and Ronnie Foster’s Sweet Survival), then the regular BN release program continues. It appears that both new titles and reissues were issued on this label concurrently (please correct me if I am wrong) and that the label was using BOTH BST- or BN-LA catalog numbers, depending on the nature of the release.

        (G) 1974-197? Concurrently with label (F), possibly COMPLETELY overlapping with it’s life span, we have BN/United Artists’s Japanese mono reissue program (Andy’s label # 13), with mono catalog numbers BLP-. You are absolutely correct: contrary to my earlier assessment, this label should NOT be confused with Andy’s label # 9 and is a completely different species. (my bad), Starting with THIS label UA Music and Record group starts appearing – temporarily – on BN/UA labels The lifespan of this label (G) remains indeterminate. After much mental weight-lifting, I would like revise my initial assessment of 1973-75 to probably 1974-76.

        With this in mind, I am proposing the following changes to Andy’s cheat sheet:

        – First eight labels remain unchanged (from the inception of the label to ‘Division of Liberty’ label. No arguments here.

        – Next position on his chart (#9) should be what is currently Andy’s label # 10 (black and blue label)

        – Next position on his chart (# 10) should be my label “C” (“black core”, with BST-prefix), currently not shown on Andy’s list.

        – Next position on his chart (# 11) should be my label “D” (“black core”, with BN-LA-prefix), currently not shown on Andy’s list.

        – Next position on his chart (#12) should be what is currently Andy’s label # 9 (“classic” BLUE CORE label with artists listed on the label)

        – Next position on his chart (#13) should be what is currently Andy’s label # 11 (all-blue label with black “note” logo)

        – Next position on his chart (#14) should be what is currently Andy’s label # 13 (mono reissues for Japanese market with BLP catalog numbers) .

        Beyond this label, I lose interest. I can only guess that the tail end of Andy’s label #13 (Japanese mono reissues) overlapped with the beginning of Andy’s labels nos 12 & 14, which, in turn, overlapped with each other for most of the rest of the decade (probably 1977-1980). Andy should note that his label # 12 (BN reissue series, blue label with white logo) wasn’t in use only in 1975 — I am pretty sure it continued through much of 1976 and 1977.

        I hope this makes sense. Corrections, additions, amendments, burning sulfur and poison arrows welcome!

        .

        .

          • Yes, the “black core” label was DEFINITELY used for older titles, and the label was DEFINITELY in print in 1971, 1972 and possibly a part of 1973 (see item “C” in my previous comment), although I was unaware of the fact that the this label was used for reissues of titles much older than a year. I would very much like to see the two labels Aaron is referring to (Ready for Freddy and Point of Departure). He claims that the “black core” label of the Point of Departure appears in Andy’s chart, but I couldn’t find it anywhere.

            Reading back the said paragraph, I realize that there is a big contradiction in what I had said, which I would like to use this opportunity to clarify: I previously said that the “black core” label was used SOLELY for new releases, but then, in the same sentence, I say that the “black core” label overlaps with the previous one (black and blue label) on some recent reissues. Obviously, the two statements are mutually exclusive and at least one of them must be false

            What I did mean to say is that the “black core” label was intended for new material, whether brand new (such as Grant Green’s Final Comedown) or reissues of VERY RECENT old titles (such as Lou Donaldson’s Cosmos). Now that Aaron confirmed that Ready for Freddy was also made available on the “black core” label, we should be able to infer that the label was intended for ALL releases, not just new ones. However, based on extreme scarcity of such pressings, I am very doubtful that more than a handful of older titles were ever released on this label.

            A lot of conditional- and and/if and and/or propositions went into my summary. Please pardon the occasional semantic and logical error.

            Also, bear in mind the second sentence of my previous comment:

            “This is NOT a categorical or beyond-dispute statement.”

              • Got it. Buried in Andy’s post scriptum, That’s why I couldn’t find it.

                On reading the Goldmine abstract (a paragraph just above the Point of Departure label), I can’t help noting that it is 100% consistent with what I said about the “black core” label.

                  • B A M !

                    The choices you made year-wise seem to make sense based on all that we discussed, and I know how thorough you are. It’s puzzling to think that they reissued catalog titles with both blue/black labels and classic blue/white labels concurrently (72-75), but like Bob said, the mono reissue series was kind of its own beast. (I’m guessing the blue-black labels are mostly stereo…?)

                    • Rich, Andy:

                      There HAS to be more than only 12 titles on BN Black & Blue (Liberty/UA) label. The 12-count can only be accurate if this number pertains to new releases only (even this is somewhat questionable), but it is positively incorrect if we factor in the reissues and second pressings. I would not be surprised if the final count of all releases on this label (reissues included) exceeds 30.

                      This is what I am coming up with thus far: 17 titles altogether. If I think real hard, I might be able to come up with another 2-3

                      Andrew Hill – Lift Every Voice
                      Bobby Hutcherson – San Francisco
                      Chick Corea – The Song of Singing
                      Donald Byrd – Cat Walk
                      Duke Pearson – Introducing Big Band
                      Grant Green – Alive
                      Grant Green – Carrying On
                      Grant Green – Green is beautiful
                      Grant Green – Visions
                      Jack McDuff – Moon Rappin’
                      Jack McDuff – Who knows what tomorrow’s gonna bring
                      Kenny Cox – Multidirection
                      Lonnie Smith – Drives
                      Lou Donaldson – Cosmos
                      Lou Donaldson – Everything I do is funky
                      Reuben Wilson – A Groovy Situation
                      Tyrone Washington – Natural Essence

                  • Thanks Andy; I have nothing but lavish and extravagant praise for your codification of Blue Note’s United Artists years. This is now much closer to being a very credible, if not ultimate BN/UA label chart and , although I still have some minor gripes (specifically: timeframes involved; omission of BN-LA label with black core), these are to trite to dwell on or kvetch about; plus I am sure we will reach some finite conclusions in our later deliberations. Meanwhile, here’s to the master!

    • Bob

      re the Black core releases I have most of these titles with blue type.
      Certainly Blackbyrd and In Pursuit are as is Live At The Lighthouse.
      Not with my records right now but I do have several with black writing including I think McCoy Tyner’s Extensions (BNLA 006), one of the finest jazz records of the early 70s.

      Dean

  5. Giving a quick listen to both cuts, I don’t have much new to add except that the UA pressing, even if it has the disadvantage to being older and in less-than-new condition, still has all the qualities I love about old jazz records. Similarly, the MM doesn’t seem to remove those charms. I noticed Bob mention something about the “realistic” sound of the wind instruments being driven by artificially pumping up their volumes…I don’t notice that as much here…or at least it seems to have been done tastefully (I felt the same way about LJC’s Sonny Rollins vol. 1 battle). I would love to have either copy and it does in fact entice me to try to get my hands on a MM edition of desireable yet unattainable records.

    I recently purchased and promptly returned a recent reissue of Dexter Gordon “Daddy Plays the Horn” beacuse it was so poorly redone – the saxophone tone was just so overblown (say that ten times fast) I just couldn’t stand it. It didn’t help that I had an original copy of Stan Levey’s “This Time the Drum’s On Me”, also on Bethlehem and featuring DG, came in the mail on the same day 🙂 Not even close. It puts into perspective that this MM edition is much more complimentary to the original.

  6. Well, it’s astonishing to find this comment thread still going strong. Like DG Mono, who was expressing some reservations about this LP, I’m also in the not quite convinced camp. I returned to this twice in recent days following this post and each listen left me just a bit dissatisfied.

    I think it’s something to do with what I always think of as FH’s somewhat declamatory style. I tend to prefer him on other people’s records — especially Oliver Nelson’s BLUES & THE ABSTRACT TRUTH (a genuinely great record) and Dolphy’s OUT TO LUNCH.

    As Bob has said below, our tastes change, we grow into (and out of) things… But I have never thought that Freddie has quite the astonishing range and depth that Miles developed over decades. Yes, he can toss off solos of remarkable virtuosity, and there is an unstoppable youthful urgency in the early records, but I find many of the solos just a touch too ‘hot’. Even on the great track that LJC picked out, GYPSY BLUE — that sexy introduction! — I would have liked just a touch less volume, a bit more restraint, a bit more ‘outside’ in the solo….

    Personal preferences, I guess. The record is what it is and no amount of forensic analysis is going to result in a slightly differently recorded or performed version coming our way any time soon…

    • You have succeeded at describing in detail my feelings on Hubbard’s style quite well, Alun 🙂 “Declamatory” is a great word for it IMO. I also agree with your point about him as a sideman–I like him on John Patton’s “The Way I Feel” and Herbie’s “Takin’ Off”. That being said, I too have listened to the album more in the past week and it has managed to grow on me a bit.

      Finally, with all this talk about trumpeters (Bob), what about my man Lee Morgan?! 😉

    • Well, Alun. let me put it this way: if you excluded everything that its “declamatory” in Western Art as overly, how shall I put it, indelicate, overly exuberant and potentially harsh on the senses, out would go all the Rubenses, the Hemingways, the Zolas, the Rafaels and the Giottos, , the Roman statues and the Byzantine frescoes, the cave paintings, the Venus of Willendorf, the Saint-Saenses, the Handles, the Sistine Chappel and the Eiffel Tower, the Ibsens, the Shaws, the Coltranes, the Delacroixes, the Hendrixes, the Albert Aylers, the Lou Reeds ….the…the….

      In fact, one can argue that, until the rise of French esotericism. formalism and naturalism of the late 19th Century (Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Zola, etc), ALL of art was, more or less, explicitly declamatory, if not downright propagandist.

      The history of art is the history of pathos, some bolder and more aggressive, some thinly veiled and barely hinted at. On the scale of declamatory, I would dare say that Freddie Hubbard is not even in the top 1,000 entries.

      I would say: go see one of Marina Abramovic’s performance art exhibits and I assure you that will suddenly find Freddie Hubbard supremely sublime.

      • So you’re trying to point out a contradiction? So all this great art falls into the same category of “declamatory” and the only way our interpretation of Hubbard can be valid is if we have the same distaste for these other artists and their works? Really?

        You then go on to imply that all art up to a certain point in time was “declamatory” in one way or another, which makes it seem like you’re trying very hard to again prove that our interpretation of Hubbard is invalid, because the only way for it to be valid, according to your argument, would be if we didn’t like any art prior to the 19th century…?

        Sorry but it just seems like you are attacking our interpretation, trying to make a case for a contradiction like our opinion is logically invalid. You also seem to be presuming that Alun and I don’t know anything about art that might be considered declamatory. For the record, my original word to describe Hubbard’s style was “forceful”. To elaborate, I’ve always thought he had a tendency to “try to hard” to impress, plain and simple. To me, his style of playing usually does not suggest humility. He often plays boastfully in my opinion. I can appreciate confidence in art (remember, I grew up with hip hop), but Hubbard often comes across as overconfident to me. There’s nothing wrong with being declamatory in art or communication, but I think you have to have something good to say and it has to come from a genuine place. And of course, it is completely open to interpretation whether or not this is true of a particular artist.

        PS – I am not–repeat, not–making a persuasive argument. I have zero intention of persuading you to think otherwise about Hubbard and his work, so no need to explain why you disagree or why I’m “wrong”. You have made yourself very clear already.

          • I love this. We may not convince each other but it’s fun trying. The historian Tony Judt has said in a different context, “In the arts, moral seriousness speaks to an economy of form and aesthetic restraint…” Now, I’m not saying (and I imagine he probably wasn’t either) that art is only good if it has economy of form and aesthetic restraint, but what I think I am saying is that that is the kind of art I find most satisfying. And to stick with the original example, Hub just misses that bit of restraint and economy of form that I like.

            But of course, one man’s economy of form will be another’s atonal nightmare; one man’s aesthetic restraint will be another’s splashing of paint on canvas. These are not hard and fast concepts — and in many ways, if they were they would be a damned sight less interesting.

            Oh yes, but for the record, and to go back to your list, Bob (while avoiding the discussion of *all* art, at *all* times), I would on occasion level the same criticism at Coltrane and Ayler and Hendrix, but probably not Handel and certainly not the Eiffel Tower – for that has both economy of form and aesthetic restraint.

            • Hi Alun:

              I have spoken so much, so hard, so loud and so often on this thread that I am, more or less, sick and tired of hearing my own voice. At first, I tried to refrain from responding to your comment, but this would be unfair to you and, in any event, I have dumped so many words on this thread that adding a few more won’t make an iota of a difference.

              Allow me to say this: I am not impervious to the virtues of good taste, sense of proportion and artistic restraint. I am all for what Glenn Gould once summed up as this:

              “”The justification of art is the internal combustion it ignites in the hearts of men and not its shallow, externalized, public manifestations. The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.”

              Yes, BUT.

              To reach that fabled State Of Wonder and Serenity (upper case intentional), one has to factor in the following:

              “The hearts of men” is not a fixed, finite, firmly defined concept. It is a notion in flux, a vague category in a state of constant (d)evolution and permanent change, an idea in an endless quest for itself. Some hearts are mean, small and petty, some are lacking education and knowledge or are crude and primitive, some are cognitively limited or challenged, some are moderately pure and refined, some are discriminate, cultured and demanding, and some are gigantic, mighty and all-encompassing as the universe itself — and all of these “hearts” are in the state of concurrent permanent motion (more often than not in a state of collective permanent redshift).. What, for Glenn Gould was the absolutely sublime and near-mystical joy of playing Preludes #s 1 & 2 from Bach’s Well-Temprered Clavier (Book 1) would not have a snowball’s chance in hell in the hearts of other men — and may, in fact, turn out to be entirely counterproductive, even harmful. I can’t enthusiastically enough recommend reading the entire Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s speech at the annual (2008) NAACP convention in Chicago for some fabulous, first-person perspective on our cosmological, perceptional and sensory differences.

              http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/04/28/wright.transcript/

              The perception of absolute and unconditional upward thrust and spiritual aspiration of Art as a unifying, uplifting and emancipatory power of humankind (or, for that matter, perception of Art as a redeeming social force) is just that: a tricky little (mis)perception. In reality, the Art (and it’s alleged power) is about as fractured, fragmented and tenuous as any other human archetype. Contrary to popular belief, unlike our genome, our shared cultural and historical heritage is truly minuscule. The only thing 100% of human race completely and totally shares with itself globally and universally is the proclivity for nonsense, affinity to violence, and propensity to greed.

              Secondly, one has to wonder just exactly how Glenn Gould envisioned that Art would assist humans in reaching that sublime “Sense of Wonder and Serenity”. Friedrich Nietzsche – whose impact on generations upon generations of artists and aesthetics was nothing short of galactic – argued that the purpose of Art was transcendental : to transport human soul to the other reality, to the invisible half of human existence, to the mystical, ethereal, eternal, indescribable infinity of Our Being (Dostoevsky, Bergson, and even Cocteau and Jung in their own ways and words pretty much argued the same). To achieve such a lofty goal, refinement and restraint are not sufficient. In fact, they are not even desirable. Art needs restraint and balance like a plastic surgeon needs a scythe.

              Indeed, if you look across the entire history of human art – not only Western Art – you will find that artists, from the cave artists on, more often explicitly agreed with Nietzsche than with Gould. One can comfortably and without much hesitation argue that the ENTIRE history of MOST forms of human Art is, in one way or another, but an endless history of drama, pathos, exaggerations, grotesques and gargoyles, ecstatic and orgasmic religious apotheoses , contrived and convoluted symbolism, inner mental, spiritual and psychological dislocations and idiosyncracies, extreme forms of mannerisms and, starting with the 18th Century, political and religious propaganda. Take a quick glimpse at three of (I believe) greatest Western painters who ever lived: El Greco, Rembrandt and Goya: The three are nothing but an endless drama, chaos, conflict, eye-hurting chiaroscuro, pain, inner torment, agony incarnate, and God knows what else. El Greco’s Toledo before the storm and Burial of the Count of Orgaz, Rembrandt’s Flayed Ox, Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Crows, Goya’s Los Desastres de la Guerra are, simply put, some of the most extreme, radical, out-and-out bizarre, surreal, unbalanced, fractured and tormented representations of human pain, agony, death, destruction and absolute inner and outer chaos one can possibly imagine.They are joined by our contemporaries: , Tim Buckley’s Starsailor, Nico’s Marble Index, John Coltrane’s Om and Ascension, Bergman’s Cries and Whispers, Albert Ayler’s Bells or any of Kafka’s or Polanski’s works, The list is endless (and getting longer with each passing day)

              There is absolutely NOTHING even remotely balanced, proportionate or, Heavens forbid, restrained about these works of Art These are mangled, twisted, massacred balls of human flash, all agony and nightmares — and yet, they ARE Art. Despite themselves — or, perhaps, PRECISELY because of themselves – they are very much Art, . And guess what? In some strange and entirely inexplicable ways, their cathartic impact on human soul may turn out to be even greater and produce even more massive “Sense of Wonder and Serenity” than Gould ever could have imagined or could have produced with his refined and restrained interpretations.

              In short, there is absolutely NOTHING sublime or refined about Art. Yes, you CAN look for the refined, restrained, tasteful and proportionate in Art (Jazz included) and, yes, you WILL find it. But!!! You will have to look at the fringes and margins of Human Art to locate it: you will find it in indian Ragas, Japanese water colors, Byzantine frescoes, Greek temples and oracles, Roman statues, Bach’s piano works, Lorca’s poetry or Glenn Gould’s ivories.

              How mainstream are these?

              Allow me to give you a hint: an average 20-something old American thinks of “Art” as Lady Gaga, Grand Theft Auto or genital tattoo. The adults are even worse. (Did I say: adults?!?)

              Need I say more?

              Should you look at Jazz to find the much vaunted restraint and balance?

              I dunno. If you guys found Open Sesame to be “declamatory”, you should definitely give up on Sonny Rollins’ “Sax Colossus”, Donald Byrd’s ‘New Perspectives” , or any of Miles’s or Coltrane’s post-1966 works. Believe me, if you are seeking artistic sense of balance, refinement, finesse or nuance, you gonna find nuth’n there (and more, and then some). These are every bit as much, and in some ways even more “declamatory” as Open Sesame.

              To me, artistic restraint and finesse are merely a vehicle, a tool, an instrument in achieving something much higher, more valuable, and – paradoxically – more sublime than restraint itself: THE EXPRESSION. The restraint most certainly isn’t a goal in or of itself, or a l’art-pour-l’art deception. Restraint is only useful if it serves as a catalyst, as a mode of transportation for the artistic expression and message itself (ever wondered why so many Jazz albums have words “message” or “messenger” in them?). In essence, restraint and balance are a means; the expression is the end: the alpha and the omega.

              Which brings me to my closing point.

              The purpose of Art, it’s very raison d’être is the EXPRESSION, not restraint. It is the EXPRESSION that we cherish and value (and can relate to), and restraint and balance can ONLY be useful if they contribute to such expression, or – in some mighty rare cases – if the restraint itself is a an expression (which I would find difficult to fathom)

              This is why, personally, I cherish immensely artists who can articulate and EXPRESS themselves clearly, unequivocally, with great passion, directness and resonance. Their mode of expression can vary: it can be aggressive, assertive, sublime, contrived or even implicit, but they ALL share that common, shared, ability to communicate something immediately meaningful to us, the consumers of their art. This is why I value Tim Buckley, Leonard Cohen and Fred Neil more than Gordon Lightfoot or James Taylor, Kathy Berberian more than Maria Callas, Hank Williams Sr. more than Dixie Chicks, Kinks more than the Beatles, John Coltrane more than Charlie Rouse, Charlie Mariano more than Kenny G., Irma Thomas and Aretha Franklin more than Diana Ross, Billie Holiday more than Barbra Streisand, Otis Redding more than Johnny Mathis, Sam Cooke more than Frank Sinatra, Bach more than Handel, Mozart more than Haydn and Picasso more than Rothko.

              And when I want fair and balanced, I tune in to Fox TV.

              (Not)

              You found Eiffel Tower to be of “both economy of form and aesthetic restraint”? .

              Hmmm…interesting.

              To many late 19th Century Parisians, Eiffel tower was nothing but a crass display of an erect, protruding iron phallus pointing at the heavens above (no wonder, given how prevalent THE theosophical ideas of one Madame Blavatsky were at the time,and how influential her latter-day disciple, one Aleister Crowley would become one day), lacking anything even remotely economic in scale or proportion.

              Could it be that we. and we alone – over many generations of humans who were systematically TRAINED to perceive it this way – gave the Eiffel Tower the sense of proportion and economy of scale we now hold that it has? Could it be that Eiffel Tower’s graceful and elegant simplicity are not much more than a Rorschach test of something that we so desperately crave, something we wish to see outside of us, but which is not present within us…and may never be?

    • Alun, you have said it all, and DG Mono has said it all. Let me just make another tiny contribution which, like yours, is about the music and not about labels. If I want to really enjoy a Freddie Hubbard record, what do I put on? Right. Either “Blues and the Abstract Truth” or “Out To Lunch”. To me, these albums, like “Kind of Blue”, are – I must be careful here, very very careful – jazz in its purest form. If, as is the case with the Oliver Nelson record, there is the added benefit of perfect orchestration, then even such basic structures as the blues can have a smashing impact. In the case of the Dolphy record, it is the brilliance of musicians playing free, emotional yet formally fascinating music. There are too many so-called “hard bop” compositions that turn me off because… well I mean, could you imagine Miles playing “Gypsy Blue”? Or “Blue Bossa”? Horace Silver is one of those few in the genre favoured by LJC who are able to write songs that are both easy on the ear and at the same time, well – you know what I mean. Still, I wouldn’t like to hear “Nica’s Dream” or “Ecaroh” played by anyone but the Jazz Messengers. Having hurt everyone’s feelings, I’ll be back after the break.

  7. Bob
    sadly no time to go over most of your points today, however 3 quick ones.
    1/ Mea Culpa from me, as Visions is the latest title I have pressed on a Liberty blue and blue label, Bobby Hutcherson on 84376 is my first UA title.

    2/ Can’t see anything unusual in my Blackbyrd, but I may be a little slow on this. Please alighted me.

    3/ Found a copy of the Mouzon on-line with the blue and white label so we can say that is definitely the last original blue and white.

    Dean

  8. My comment will be limited to the sonics — I will leave the archeological considerations (lamination, label, ear) to those better suited to consider those details. As a saxophonist, I lean strongly towards the MM. Simply put, Tina sounds like he’s playing a tenor on the MM, and perhaps a buzzy C-melody on the UA. The bass has stronger pitch definition on the MM (i.e. sounds like a specific pitch and not, say, a marching bass drum), and the cymbals have a much more natural transient envelope (articulation and decay) on the MM. The cymbals on the UA sound as heard through a cloth hung in front of the drum set. The UA has its own charm, for sure, but the MM sounds more like a great live combo sounds. Finally, the mono gives, at least on headphones, the very disconcerting impression that Tina is standing directly behind Freddie — the sound weirdly emanating from the same source point. The stereo MM lays out the soundstage how I hear it when I sit close to a jazz group — tenor player over on the right, pianist over there, trumpet player front left, bass mid-back, etc. So, on sonics alone, the MM is the clear winner for me — though I’d be happy enough to have the UA on hand.

    • Hi Jim:

      Great perspective, no doubt, and much appreciated. Bear in mind, though, that most music lovers and record collectors do not “see” music from the frog’s perspective (i.e. with an ear barely a foot away from the sound source, like musicians do). I am sure you are aware of the fact that tenor sax sounds remarkably different when you are blowing into your own ear Vs. when you are blowing orbi et urbi. Artur Rubinstein and (notably) Vladimir Horowitz were said to be outraged by what they’d heard on some of their RCA Victor recordings, finding the sound decidedly lame, thin and inferior to what they, as performers, were hearing during their live performances. And yet, most, if not all, of those Layton-Mohr recordings are today considered absolute masterworks and gold sonic standards. Would Freddie Hubbard have been happier with the Music Matters or UA pressing? I don’t know, and, sadly, it is too late to find out. But the dilemma is largely metaphysical: Music Matters never intended the entire press run of their product to be bought by the artist himself. This is something created for the lay public of various degrees of sonic sophistication and musical education and experience.

      Most of us lowly record collectors tend to absorb and appreciate music from the bird’s eye perspective, i.e. from the audience, in front of our speakers or in front of the sound stage, surrounded by the home theater system, or at the concert arena. Things tend to sound rather differently to the audience from what the musicians themselves are hearing while performing. Is any of these two (or more) perspectives more “true” than the other? Probably not. You should go check Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Rashomon’ (or, better yet, Orson Welles ‘F for Fake’ for some perspective on human perception).

      In fact, one of my biggest complaints about the reissue labels’ “audiophile” product (not only MM’s) is audible artificial boost of the dynamic range to make instruments more, for the lack of a better term, life-like. Perhaps this does the job for the musician’s ear, but to the laymen’s brain, it all sounds too contrived and fake (not to mention: too digitally baked and computer-enhanced)..

      As for sonic archeology, I am completely with you. It is a largely unnecessary, scholastic and frivolous pursuit. Nonetheless, having spent 42 years digging the trenches in pursuit of the vinyl fossils, I am perfectly ready, willing and able (and enthusiastically so) to contribute my fair share to the crucial dilemma of human history, human fate and human evolution: how many angels can sit on the tonearm’s stylus, and how dilated spindle hole can get before it gets too loose and sloppy..

      Cheers!

      • Bob & Jim – I just did a re-listen, but this time instead of on headphones from my computer I actually connected my computer to my stereo system. I found the MM actually sounded much nicer through an actual system (no surprise there). It seemed to have more swing to my ears, more complexity. The UA still has a more natural tone in the brass solos and more of a vintage character. Both very enjoyable although this does make my ears perk up a bit more for their new 33rpm series with upgrades to the mastering process.

  9. Which one sounds better… Here at home the MM version seems to have a rounder sound with more bass, but that’s about it; I’m on someone else computer right now and the speakers aren’t ‘all that’.

    What I really wanted to say, actually, is that nobody seems to be bothered by the quality of the photo on the front cover of the MM edition. I mean, just look at the Liberty cover (where Freddie is clearly visible) and then compare it to that super dark one on the MM front cover. Wasn’t it that MM uses the original negatives to recreate to original front covers? If that’s the case I don’t understand why the end result is such a dark photo.

    I have a Japanese Toshiba reissue of this beauty on vinyl and as always when I have photos available: you can see the entire gallery by clicking HERE 😉

  10. maybe I’m wrong but I don’t agree with Four Way Street quote.
    I got my first copy of 4040 in 2006 but I must go back to 1968 for my first originals, Impulse 50 and 94. for the first 12 years on I bought mainly reissues but in 1980 I saw the Light and converted into a First Edition Fundamentalist. every record that entered my collection was strictly original and I spent long time in changing reissues with originals, I’m on duty yet. I think about 95% of my records is in the desired issue now but I’m pretty sure to know ALL NOT originals by heart. and I never succeeded in loving ’em. so I can say I can’t be in love with the (few) ones I’m with, yet. hope to have the time to love ’em all, one day or another.

  11. Love this post…great idea.

    Preface: this comparison could have been a tad more meaningful to me if both were either stereo or mono but not one of each. Also, I didn’t read any responses before I wrote this so some of you may have already beaten me to the punch on some or all of these observations.

    My impressions:

    1. The bass is more present in the original Van Gelder mono master, hands down.
    2. The cymbals are clearer, more defined and brighter in the MM copy. This isn’t a deal breaker for me personally, as I think darker cymbals have a charm to them.
    3. I have a distaste for the imbalance of classic jazz stereo mixes during solos. However, there is a charm to hearing the horns in balanced stereo during head.
    4. At times the reverb sounds more present on the RVG master, which probably has to do with the channels being summed for the mono master. In these instances I actually prefer the drier sound of the MM copy.
    5. It does sound like there is an ever so slight amount of distortion on the original RVG copy. This makes sense because it’s the last song on the side, which is where inner groove distortion happens.

    My verdict? Honestly, I can’t vote. It’s kind of like comparing apples and oranges because one is stereo and one is mono. But regardless, both have their strengths and weaknesses. I love the vintage sound of the original RVG copy, but the MM copy is very “accurate”. If I had a choice, I’d take the RVG copy though cuz I can hear the kind of “accuracy” the MM copy has anytime I want with a modern digital stereo remaster.

      • Hi Rich:

        I would take the lowly United Artists mono over Music Matters (Not) any time. Remember that these UA mono pressings were done SPECIFICALLY for Japanese market (no sane recording label was doing mono reissues in the mid-70s), so at least a modicum of quality control went into their production. Ditto the UA mid-’70s faux Blue Note 10-inchers.

        I consider Music Matters, as well as about 95% of the remaining population of reissue labels a pure (expletive deleted). My list of gripes would be enough to fill the Bayeux Tapestry, and still have enough material left to complete half of Gilgamesh. To me, “audiophile” and “analog” reissues are, by and large, a pure mirage, an illusion, a marketing ploy. In some ways, you are much better off buying a hi-rez digital format than the “audiophile” vinyl, no matter how highly and heavily laminated the cover may be. And yes, those MM labels are ugly, and that fake “ear” stamp smacks of insult to one’s intelligence. I would suggest that they consider putting a different body part in dead wax.

        Monos and Stereos can’t be compared? That’s certainly news to me. Yes, apples and oranges can be added and/or subtracted. Welcome to the genetically modified age. In the immor(t)al words of Cole Porter: Anything goes!

        • Hi Bob – Nice to see you chiming in here.I figured it was only a matter of time! I tend to agree with you on the whole audiophile reissue process. The master tapes aren’t in the same condition and the full chain of production just isn’t what it used to be even. I remember comparing a copy of The Band’s original Capitol release against the MOFI release which people on forums were raving about. I was appalled at how poor the MOFI was in terms of tape hiss and general muddiness.

          I recall you mentioning you specifically liked some SACD copies that are available these days. Curious which ones of those you still feel strongly about. A while back I compared the Cannonball Adderly ‘Somethin Else’ Analog Productions release on both SACD and vinyl. They both sounded nearly identical and my thought was that if I was going to buy these modern reissues generally might as well go SACD for the mere convenience factor. I like the overall sound of these except for the brightness of the cymbals. Of course, whenever I have upgraded to a vinyl copy (most recently a mono early Liberty copy of Art Taylor’s ‘Art’s Delight’) it has blown the AP SACD out of the water.

          I’m now slowly trying to get only first or second pressings from the original era. Discipline is key as opposed to just loading up for the sake of acquiring more things that will just sit on the shelf in my old, storage constrained house! Only getting things I’ll “want” to grab off the shelf to listen to, hence my purchases in your recent auction yesterday! :^)

          • PS – I should mention that I also had an Art Taylor ‘Art’s Delight’ on early Japanese King. I felt the SACD bested it. The King seemed tame compared to the SACD which had more presence. In my experience, the Japanese King versions are more variable than people seem to discuss. Sometimes there is no other option for us normal folk and sometimes they do hit (thank goodness). But sometimes they are too clean to the point of a bit sterile.

    • Not sure if you noticed but the mono UA is not an original RVG mastering, but was done by an unnamed engineer at a later date. In my experience, original RVG cuts beat these later anonymous masterings any day of the week.

  12. Not wanting to be picky here, Andrew, but you can’t have a non-laminated back cover with a gatefold sleeve, due to its construction, since the cover and the back are part of the same piece of paper. Blue Note had some gatefold sleeves, too (in the late ’60s) and they were front & back laminated, too, with the non-laminated liner notes on the inner. OR, just think Impulse covers.

    Actually you COULD have non-laminated back covers with gatefold sleeves if you choose to laminate only partly, but only the French and the British used to do that back then.

    OK, sorry to be so boring 🙂

    Cristian

    • I have in my hands the LAST true Blue Note, BLP 4250, The Horace Silver Quintet – “The Jody Grind”. It is I believe the first and last Blue Note gatefold as thereafter, Blue Note Records Inc was no more and became a division of Liberty Records Inc. There were records after that were called Blue Notes but I don’t consider them as “real” Blue Notes. You can call a dog a cat but it still barks, if you get my drift.

      No matter how I turn the cover to catch the light, it ain’t laminated/ glossy , it is matt paper stock and dull finish, (unlike those lovely early local Impulses which are laminated gatefolds, as you say. But even they have matt normal printing paper liner notes inside the gatefold, no? )

      I rest my case (it was getting heavy)

      • Hi Andy & Christian:

        You are both right (and wrong). Allow me to explain:

        Christian, while you are generally correct in stating that most laminated gatefolds are typically bilateral. However, while it is very hard to find laminated gatefold cover with non-laminated flip side, I have seen a few lonely examples here and there, and it has been done before, for sure. Continental, an (I believe) Impulse’s subsidiary known for their historical and archive reissues (Coleman Hawkins, Rev, Gary Davis, Charlie Parker, etc) is known for such “half & half” gatefold covers (see, for example: Charlie Parker, Bird Lives, Continental CLP-16004, mono, circa 1962/63). Yes, this is unusual, but it is not technically impossible. I believe (but I am not entirely certain) that Contact, (probably) yet another Impulse subsidiary with a knack for historical releases, (Shelly Manne, etc) also has a few of those quirky half-and-half covers (off the top of my head, none comes to mind).

        Andy, I was under the impression (correct me if I am wrong) that you were referring to the Music Matters laminated inner gatefold which has the (awkwardly placed and historically inaccurate) liner notes. Did I get this all wrong? If my assumption is correct, you are absolutely right: placement of liner notes underneath the layer of heavy lamination is definitely a touch of Jazz ignoramus and a sizable artistic deviation from the historical norm

        Otherwise, you are absolutely correct: Jody Grind was the first and the only “proper” Blue Note gatefold, although Lee Morgan’s ‘Charisma”, which was issued almost two years later, was actually recorded two months before Jody Grind.

        Over and out. Roger?

        • I guess there is a subjective understanding of what glossy “laminated” means. I have no precise scientific description, but to my eyes Jody Grind is not a laminated cover, neither is Charisma, both of which I own. Someone who understands print and paper technology needs to explain this all in proper science terms. I know what I see, but I am at a loss for words to explain further.

          • You are right. I think there is no need to delve further into the lamination controversy, as the concept of lamination is self-explanatory and rather intuitive. I should add, though, that there are varying degrees of lamination, from double- and triple- layered lamination (typically used on early Atlantic covers) to barely detectable semi-glossy lamination, which you can typically find on some early ’60s Riverside, Jazzland and Columbia releases. As the years passed by, the big recording labels cut the production costs wherever they could, and so the luxurious laminated covers went out of the window, along with rice paper inner sleeves, PVC baggies and sturdy chipboard cover bases. By the late ’60s, the Jazz covers looked no better than a typiical pop cover, which is to say, as cheap and shoddy as it could be done.

            My post was in response to your complaint about liner notes being covered with lamination, which, historically speaking, was never done and is clearly historically inaccurate. I guess Music Matters was trying to outdo themselves in the we-care-about-the-integrity-and-appearance-of-our-product-line department. Alas, sometimes too much of a good thing is just plain too much. Not to mention: too much of a good thing unnecessarily adds to the price of the product.

          • By the way….thank you for revisiting one of the Greatest Jazz Albums of all time, and my top Hubbard favorite. I assume I am speaking for most of the Jazz community when I say that this is a truly, totally indispensable entry in any serious Jazz collection. A top-10, for sure. A top-5, very likely.

            Jazz recordings NEVER get much better than this. THIS IS IT:

            10 starts out of 5.

            • Bob, I must not “get” jazz in that sense cuz I’m not a die-hard fan of this album. I think it has some really pretty moments–and trust me, I’ve tried and tried to get into it–but I can’t seem to muster the same adoration for it that most have. I’m not a huge Hubbard fan to begin with though. Is the soloing particularly brilliant? Sometimes I’m unaware of this.

              • Hi Rich:

                despite appearances, I am not claiming to speak for others, although I must say that there appears to exist a very significant and wide consensus among the Jazz buffs that Open Sesame is a masterwork of a major Jazz genius and a very large cornerstone in Jazz history itself (personally, I would rank Hubbard’s performance on ‘Blues and the Abstract Truth’ just a tad above this, but the difference is negligible), In fact, I never met any of Hubbard’s pre-1965 performances I didn’t like. ‘Blue Spirits’ would be the first Hubbard session I have misgivings about.

                Hubbard had a wonderful, sweet, emotional, clear-as-a-whistle and very highly consistent tone and timber. Among the trumpeters and cornetists, I rank him second only to Miles in terms of sheer beauty and expressiveness of his tone. In fact, in many ways, the sheer longevity and consistency of his tone rank him even higher than Miles (Dizzy Reece, Art Farmer and Donald Byrd come in distant third, fourth and fifth, respectively, at least in my book of Jazz virtues).

                Why rank Sesame so high? The album is a textbook definition of serendipity: everything clicked just perfectly: the youthful performer just reaching his technical apex; his songwriting skills blooming exuberantly, the fabulous line-up that can’t be beat and the players’ heavenly interplay which borders on surreal; the wondrous, larger-than-life Rudy Van Gelder recording and mastering, and, finally, the historical moment which coincided both with political sea change (transition to Eisenhower’s buttoned-up era to the Kennedy’s Jazz Camelot) and a major sea change in Jazz itself (a gradual shift from Hard Bop to “New” (i.e. Free) Jazz).

                Are you making a mistake in disliking the album? I don’t know. As the old Romans used to say: De gustibus non est disputandum. It is up to you. Personally, I think that it is a pure loss for you, but I do not want to impress (and oppress) my own personal preferences on others. I do have an eerie premonition, though, that at some point in life you will revisit the album. And, who knows, perhaps even get to appreciate it better. Remember: it took me close to 15 years to like Coltrane’s ascension. People change. Times change. And, god knows, through the prism of time, our perceptions change as well.

                But in case you don’t: don’t worry: we still have thousands of Jazz sessions we can probably agree on. Probably.

                • That’s all very good insight and info, Bob. I’m a big fan of the trumpet, but I’ve never been a fan of what I would describe as the “forceful” nature of Hubbard’s playing. Songwriting-wise, I’m personally not into what I hear as a latin influence on this album; latin stuff rarely hits with me. Mood-wise, for whatever reason it’s kind of lukewarm to me. Please keep in mind that I don’t dislike everything about it; I do like to listen to it. But I could probably benefit from reading an analysis of this album. Perhaps I might learn to appreciate the technical genius which appears to be present in the work, but aesthetically it will probably never sync up very well with me.

                  PS – Surprised you didn’t mention my favorite, Brownie, in your comment above.

                  • Hi Rich:

                    Brownie died young and incomplete, a myth and legend before he even got it to fully express himself, a towering presence beyond the rancor of the maddening crowd and the lowly (later) competition. He is to the Jazz trumpeters what King Arthur is to the British monarchy, a figure so abstract that he defies comparisons and can only be approached emotionally, not intellectually. This is why he is not on the list (Dizzy Gillespie is not on the list due to his wildly inconsistent, often goofy, approach to his instrument).

                    I do not see Latin influences on Open Sesame as dominant, or, for that matter, even significant. They crop up here and there for sure, a telltale time signature of their era, However, when I think of Sesame, it is not the merengue-paced title track I think of, it is stuff like ‘But Beautiful’ and a few other tracks, mostly beautifully executed ballads, that I remember. Yes, the album has at least two heavily syncopated, Latin-tinged numbers, but their syncopae do not make the album any more Latin than they make it Ska.

                    Finally, if some of the tracks today sound too Herb Alpertesque (I hear you!), bear this in mind: when this was recorded, Herb Alpert & Tijuana Grass, er….Brass…were about four years into the future. This was a sensationally brand new, unheard of, stuff back in 1960. That some of these tracks (notably the title track and Gypsy) became such tired warhorses is only attributable to Freddie Hubbard making them Jazz standards. Sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar.

                • PPS – As much of an expert on hip hop as I like to think I am, two of the most celebrated albums in the genre’s history (Notorious BIG’s “Ready to Die” and Nas’ “Illmatic”) are not in my top ten personal favorites. Are they technically brilliant? Yes. Are they favorites of mine? No.

  13. happy new year to y’all and yes that’s a great one for starters!
    well, whatever deceptive the UA may sound compared to the OG (we know but will never really know) it nevertheless remains a “genuine” blue note Lp against a reissue
    as my old ears could live happily with either copies, it’s then all about the devilish details and, heck, you lost me on the shiny back cover. i’d play the MM and keep the UA as a relic, as they’re probably the next hard-to-find stuff _phil

  14. Is the UA copy as late as ’71? I thought new mono records died out by 1969 – except for the later Audiophile Re-issues. Anyway I have just read the article and not ye listened to the samples but…..I had the Classic pressing some years ago and I sold it which probably says it all for me on that one.

    For what it is worth – My general view based on some comparisions I have done over the years ( I have accepted I will never get an original good condition BN unless a miracle happens) is that the Classic Records versions were better than the early 90’s BN 180gm series mastered by Capitol, and the revisions in vinyl (180, 180 Quiex, 200SVP etc) by Classic gave slight improvements. Then the Analogue Production issues were generally better than the Classic ones, while Music Matters had the edge on Analogue Productions – and all the reissues, while clearer etc generally don’t have the excitement and air of a good original. While all need a good clean to sound their best.

    BTW – Have you picked up on the recent rave news that MM have an upcoming batch of 33.33 Blue Note Mono’s statrting to come out soon? Yes more versions of some of the old fave BN’s. But they are supposed to sound much better as a result of a massive upgrade in KG’s Mastering Kit.

    • Definitely, between 1971 and 1973 – exactly when depends on the order in which UA engineers did the re-mastering and pressing, which no-one knows – from the # number etchingsI have seen, at least fifty titles spread over a couple of years. I have fifteen Division of United Artists , of which four are stereo and eleven are mono.

      Interesting MM are going to issue mono. I still prefer the original pressings but for many titles, that’s not realistic at today’s prices.

      • Hi Andy: UA pressings were DEFINITELY later than 1973. I would hazard a guess that these pressings were of the 1974/75 vintage, if not even later.

        One highly reliable indicator of the UA pressings’ age – short of radioactive carbon-dating – is the relative thickness of the BN/UA releases: none of these are really thin and shoddy pressings (although most of them are a far cry from the original ’50s vinyl), signifying that virtually all of them were made AFTER the big oil crisis and Arab oil embargo of 1973-74 had ended. Had these titles been produced earlier, they most certainly would have been made on the dreadful ‘dynaflex’-style vinyl, and United Artists discography from the 1972-73 period is a chockful of such dreary, wafer-thin pressings (Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels and Dory Previn’s Live at Carnegie Hall come to mind).

        Although UA reissued A LOT of Blue Note’s back catalog, they did so in a very short span of time of probably less than a year, give or take. I am reasonably confident that very few, IF ANY, BN titles were issued at all between 1973 and mid-1974 or so. Not even new titles by new artists (such as Ronnie Foster) were pressed on the UA label. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a single new artists or new title released on the white & blue BN/UA label during this period (someone please correct me if I am wrong). For all practical purposes, the label was comatose throughout much of 1973 and part of the 1974.

        • Bob.
          even without checking I can think of several Blue Note new releases released in those two years. Most notably their biggest ever hit to that point Donald Byrd’s Blackbyrd which topped the jazz charts in Billboard in the middle of 1973, leading to the first of the Mizell produced Bobbi Humphrey records later in the year. Also Horace Silver’s ‘In Pursuit’ came out in October 1973.
          Interestingly none of these came in the thin vinyl typical of United Artists albums of the time.

          • I’m open to persuasion. I go by the corporate history and the evolution of the company legal name from Liberty/UA through to United Artists Inc then United Artists Music and Records Group, as they appear on labels over that timeframe. The dates I pick up from the legal documents published regarding the protracted legal dispute between United Artists and the Record Club of America. The lawyers are pretty savvy on corporate identity, but at the end of the day I’m connecting dots.

            FWIW the 16 Div UAs I have average 132 grams vinyl weight., the same as the Blue label/black note – 133grams, and the Blue label/ white note 136 grams average. I understand UA had their own captive pressing company, All Disc Records, so if they were all pressed by the same people over the decade of the Seventies, vinyl weight is inconclusive for dating in this case.

            Always happy to run with a better story. I know nothing first hand.

            • Hi Andy: your instincts are impeccable, your impulses are right on the money, your command of the historical facts is beyond reproach. The problem (and this is something I exceedingly often encounter from my European customers): you think like a European, not like an American.

              No, scratch that.

              You think like a European music lover, not like an American corporate executive,

              Most Europeans tend to confuse American capitalism with, say, Swedish social-democracy, which, at best, is beyond funny. The more appropriate analogy would be between the modern American capitalism and the age of the Golden Horde.

              Namely, between the various legal entities, marshals, communication departments, court appeals and counter-appeals, summonses, injunctions, and the like, a legal resolution to a dispute and its final execution can – at least in this country – be delayed by years, sometimes even decades. A legal case, depending on the level, court district and the docket load can vary in duration from one day to more than a decade. The legal paper trail will tell you absolutely NOTHING about how a protracted legal dispute affected the facts on the ground, on the market, and in reality. If your documentary source says that the final legal solution was reached in 1975. in practice it can mean that the revised labels didn’t hit the market until 1976, or even 1977.

              Your assumption that ” UA had their own captive pressing company, All Disc Records” fails to account for the fact that UA did a remarkable number of dynaflex pressings throughout this period. Either the assumption itself is incorrect, or All Disc was using different pressing standards for UA’s Blue Note releases vis-a-vis label’s other popular titles. Unless the company saw some outrageously significant commercial potential of their Blue Note titles (something exceedingly unlikely), and deemed them worthy of spending more money on, I see no logic in their doing so. More likely, UA was using more – many more – than a lone ‘captive’ facility you are referring to. Mind you, at the onset of the 1970s, UA was a recording behemoth, every bit as gigantic and relevant as Columbia, RCA, Capitol or Warner/Reprise, and in some ways even more so. It would make very little sense for UA to rely on a sole pressing facility, and to depend on the whims of the facility, fate and technology to produce the quantities needed at any given time. In essence, UA would have become a captive of their own captive pressing company’ which I honestly doubt any major recording label in this country could afford to do.

              • Hi Bob
                I don’t think any of my 70s Blue Note releases are on thin dynaflex vinyl. I’ll have another look today.
                One of the articles written about the success of Blackbyrd saw a label executive commenting on how CTI’s success had changed the jazz market and that Blue Note was trying to emulate this vis a vis quality control issues. This may be the explanation for the continued use of high quality vinyl at this time.

                • Hi Dean:

                  But that is PRECISELY my point. The fact that Blue Note – in any incarnation, whether owned by Lion, or Liberty, or UA, or Manhattan, never really produced a thin, dynaflex pressing, attests to one of two possibilities: either UA pressings fall outside of the “dynaflex” era (roughly 1972-1974) or – as Andy argues – Blue Note releases were were consistently pressed ONLY by a single UA-owned facility which specifically produced them on thicker slabs of vinyl than regular, non-Blue Note UA releases.

                  I am not sure how CTI could possibly have been a role model for Blue Note, except in terms of commercial and chart success. Their product – aside from RVG’s involvement and from few select titles, such as, say, Ron Carter’s titles or Freddie Hubbard’s Red Clay – was distinctly and in every manner imaginable inferior to Blue Note’s. CTI would not be the first label to come to mind when it comes to quality control..

                  To the best of my knowledge and experience, the closest BN came to dynaflex pressings was in the early days of the all-blue label, probably circa 1974-75. Those came close to being quite ugly. Still, no match for RCA’s or Chess’ dynaflex releases.

          • Hi Dean: you are right (and this is precisely why I asked someone to correct me if I am wrong). Yes, Blackbyrd did come out circa 1973 and it was released in UA imprint. It is possible that other titles came out on this label, too. And yet, I remain skeptical about the exact date of it’s release. Allmusic claims that it was “released” in 1973, but without giving a month or date of release (or even the date of the recording), which is highly atypical of their practices. I am inclined to believe that, just like most other earlier Blue Note sessions, this one, too, languished in their marketing department while the UA management was pondering what to do with it and if and when to release it. More likely than not, there was a significant delay between the recording and the market release.

            • Hi Bob
              It topped the Billboard Jazz chart in June 1973, and looking at Billboard it looks like Blue Note had a continuous release schedule throughout 1973 & 4, and an active A&R department. Blackbyrd went Gold which at the time was a million dollars worth of sales, so there was every reason for keeping Blue Note active.
              When the UA blue and white label stopped being used is hard to say, as all those early 70s releases appear to have stayed in print with the later label. Horace Silver’s ‘In Pursuit’ certainly still had the old label.
              How this translated to reissues I can’t say, but it would make sense if the Division of United Artist releases came from this period.
              On an other point, couldn’t agree more about this album, it is one of my favourites, and I’d much rather listen to this than what I consider to be the over-rated – but still great – True Blue.

              • Hi Dean:

                First of all, a question: when you look at ‘Blackbyrd’ label (the original one, from 1973), do you see anything unusual?

                Secondly, I admit: the album (Blackbyrd) apparently did get released in 1973. Congrats, I am not the one to easily admit mistake :-). Alas, hubris comes at a price…mea culpa!

                HOWEVER!

                I would NEVER call the BN/UA 1972/73 release program a “continuous” or “active” schedule. From what I could determine the label released only about half dozen or so NEW titles during the entire 24-month period. The following are:

                BN-LA 007-G Moacir Santos – Maestro
                BN-LA 015-G2 Elvin Jones – Live at the Lighthouse
                BN-LA 024-G Lou Donaldson – Sophisticated Lou
                BN-LA 037-G2 Grant Green – Live at the Lighthouse
                BN-LA 047-F Donald Byrd – Black Byrd
                BN-LA 054-F Horace Silver – In Pursuit of the 27th Man

                The following titles bear the 1972-73 copyright date, but almost certainly were not released before 1974, by which time BN label has changed to blue

                BN-LA 014-G Wayne Shorter – Moto Grosso Feio
                BN-LA 098-G Ronnie Foster – Sweet Revival

                The following title I am not sure about:

                BN-LA 059-F Alphonse Mouzon – The Essence of Mystery

                In short, on the average the label was releasing one title every four months, of which only one charted (and of which two were double live sets containing no new studio material). Not exactly an exhibit A of the very robust and aggressive release schedule. It seems pretty clear to me that the new owner (UA) had serious misgivings about the value of their newly acquired Jazz asset and did not quite know what to do with it.

                • Bob

                  No need for a mea culpa, there isn’t enough research on this era, and as such not so much known..
                  However Blue Notes with Division Of United Artists labels stretch back to around BST 84370 – my earliest is 373 Grant Green’s Visions. All but one of these has a P date of 1972 (and one has 1971). I suspect they all came out in 1972, meaning that Blue Note was extremely active throughout 1972 and into early 73 a little less so afterwards.
                  I think the changeover point from Division of United Artists came after The Mouzon album, but only because it has the older boxed logo, not the large lower case B. For this reason you have to be correct on the later release of the Shorter album – nice spot.
                  In which case we can say that as a new release label DOUA ran from late 1971 or early 1972 through to late 1973 (Billboard shows a late 1973 release for both Silver and Mouzon).
                  With this in mind it would seem that 72/73 would be the most likely date for the DOUA reissue titles, as any other time would have required recreating old labels (unless of course they had a back stock of labels…)
                  I think the CTI comment was most definitely about commercial realities, one of those was that they were lavishly packaged, and well pressed.
                  Does (any of) that make sense!

                  • HI Dean:

                    Many thanks for your thoughtful response, which I greatly appreciate.

                    I am trying to condense what we have learned here thus far based on our discussion and I am coming up with virtually nothing of much relevance (not your fault, though — blame it on the UA corporate honchos). Pretty much the only thing we can say with any degree of scientific certainty is that that Blue Note pressings – already very inconsistent around the time Liberty bought the label (1966) got into a totally erratic gear and wildly unpredictable mode around the time UA started issuing them on their imprint . To be honest, I am doubtful that we will ever be able to fully determine the logical or chronological sequence of some of these releases because, frankly, I doubt very much that the company (UA) knew what it was doing, or what precisely it was trying to accomplish.

                    A few minor remarks (a much more elaborate post on UA labels will follow later in the day)

                    – Grant Green’s Visions (one of my Green favorites, if you can believe it — despite being totally of it’s time and somewhat dated) exists on Black & Blue Liberty label. If you are saying that you have white & blue ‘division of UA’ label, it can only be a later pressing, most likely circa 1974, give or take.

                    – The ℗ symbol (Sound recording copyright symbol) is not logically or technically related to the actual date of the release. Collectors typically assume that the ℗ symbol denotes the date of the release, which is an incorrect assumption, or at least incorrect in a surprisingly large number of cases. This symbol simply denotes a year in which the recording was copyrighted. The actual date can vary wildly from the copyright date, although it typically lags by anywhere between 6 months and a year. This is particularly the case with sessions which were recorded early (say, unreleased Blue Note sessions) but which were only released decades later. In those and similar cases, the discrepancy between the ℗ and the release date (and in some cases even © symbol on the cover) can be very significant.

                    – Even if Alfred Mouzon’s album did appear on the Blue Note/UA label (a colossal “if”), it really does not significantly change the fact that the UA Blue Note output over the 24-month period was, for all practical purposes, insignificant. Only seven or so titles in two years, of which none of much artistic or historical significance, can only be called a miserable underachievement of major proportions.

                    – You still haven’t answered my question: did you notice anything unusual about Donald Byrd’s ‘Blackbyrd” label (aside from the fact that this label variation is not included in Andy’s “post-Liberty” chart?

                    More to follow!

                    BD

                    • Gentlemen, it has been a delight following this exchange, especially as I am comfortable in the back seat with my feet up. Great. Can I suggest, before WordPress throttles the text completely, any further follow-ups please someone post as a fresh new comment? The drainpipe view gets back to wide screen. Thanks! I’m interested in this missing label variation. I don’t have any of these higher numbered Blue Notes
                      LJC

        • Your argument is convincing Bob but it certainly doesn’t prove that the UA reissues were “definitely” released after 1973. From both of your input, the best guess seems to be no earlier than 1970 but probably before 1975.

          • Hi Rich: I will take Liberty (pun intended) and dismiss outright (please pardon the misperceived arrogance) the 1970 starting point of the UA labels as a sheer technical impossibility. Hell, in 1970, Blue Note was still using the “Division of Liberty” labels, which were two generations of labels detached from the one we are discussing here (check out few surviving copies of the ‘Electric Byrd’, or ‘Everything I do is funky’, for example — I could think of a few more examples of this nature if I think real hard) There is not even a hypothetical possibility that UA labels were used prior to 1972, and almost certainly not even until the late 1973. The end date of their lifespan is open to debate, and your 1975 cutoff sounds entirely credible. But I am near-certain that they did not appear until at least early 1974.

    • Simon2013,
      I just heard a new AP Prestige 33 1/3 DG Mono pressing of Elmo Hope/Informal Jazz LP. Nice thick old style cover with glossy front (not laminated) & matt paper on the back with liner notes. And the record sounds much better than I was expecting!!! (got no original to compare). Mastering is done by KG…maybe something similar MM is planning..

    • the compression on this thread is formidable! Bob, I like the Lee Dorsey’s and Allen Toussiant’s I have been buying from you on EBAY. You have great selections, even some Zappa’s

  15. Yay for Open Sesame and way to start 2014 off with a bang! In terms of the two versions, they have very different vibes about them. The MM is clean and clear with some compression while the UA is smoky and earthy. I found the opening song structure of the song on a similar level quality wise between the two, but once Tina Brooks’ solo began there was no contest in my mind with the UA swinging and soaring and sounding much more realistic. The stereo aspect of the MM suddenly throws things out of balance here and the sax feels thinner and more compressed.

    I do wonder how the Japanese King and Classic Records sound. Normally I’d always go with the King, but seeing as how good the mono mix here is compared to stereo the Classic may have its benefits in that regard.

    • David,
      I think there might be some confusion regarding what the effect dynamic compression does to the sound as the Music Matters releases do not add any compression while the UA most certainly does.

      Also Classic Records released this in both stereo and later a mono fold-down (as they all are). An interesting test would be to take the stereo Music Matters and combine channel to see how that compares to other mono releases.

      • Sorry as I should have been more specific. I didn’t mean compression in that it was added, but just a sound that appeared more compressed.

        I’m of the opinion that the old mono copies after Moanin are not mere fold downs, but a mix that was overseen by RVG when he combined the two channels. He states in an interview in the Cohen book that the whole reason things were recorded in two channels was to make the eventual mono mix sound better. From a certain point of view it can be called a fold down, but me thinks there is a lot more to it than hitting the mono switch on a pre-amp.

        • Absolutely David.
          The thing was recorded in stereo but monitored in mono, so in no way comparable to the fold down’s that for instance happened with later 60s UK CBS releases, when the mono was created after the fact.
          It seems that this description of ‘fold down’ has been used as a justification by some labels for releasing the RVG stereos not the monos. I’m not sure why as the stereos I have sound pretty damn great.

          • Yes, I agree that modern marketing has something to do with oversimplifying the mono process. I respect the decision of MM engineers trying to recreate the sound on the master tape. However, based on this sample I still definitely prefer the old mono sound.

            Blue Train and Idle Moments are being released on MM 33 1/3 rpm this month to start. Apparently they made vast upgrades to the analog chain. I’ll grab one of them to compare against my NY label with Ear of Blue Train or early Liberty stereo Idle.

            Andrew – Blue Train is being released in mono, but all the others (which I believe are post-Moanin) are being released in stereo.

      • Aaron, compression and limiting are an essential part of any mastering procedure. True, chances are Van Gelder compressed and limited a lot more than the MM team, and the effects of that compression and limiting are more pronounced in a mono mix. But I disagree with David, as I don’t think the MM mix sounds overly compressed by any means.

        • Not necessarily the entire mix, but specifically the wonderful sax solo by Tina Brooks. It seems to soar on the UA copy while is tighter and sharper on the MM mix. Perhaps “muted” is a better term than compressed so as not to be confused with actual compression put on during the mastering process (which is not what I was referring to).

  16. The pace of the Music Matters copy sounds off, a bit slow, or it just doesn’t sound very lively. The UA has a bit more life to it. I also compared these samples to the RVG edition ESD which I have to say beets them both. But that may not be a fair fight to compare a pure digital copy to ripped digital copies of an LP via digital media.

    • Albert, That’s exactly what I was thinking. I’m sure someone on here will measure the speeds with a special internet laser gun or something, but the UA certainly sounds as if it has a touch more pace and ‘lift’ about it. But on the other hand, maybe I like it because I’ve got so damn many UA pressings that they are what I’m used to.

    • Adrian, I don’t speak Audiophile, nor can I guess what you mean by saying the “pace” is “slow” – but I know one thing for certain: If a record is slow it is because the turntable is slow. Sound quality in itself has no impact on the relative position of musical information in the signal, i.e. on the “pace”. Except, perhaps, with those utterly low-resolution MP3’s where cymbal sounds get distorted to a degree that they almost change the, well, “pace” of the drummer’s playing…

      I know, I know – it’s not (objective, measurable) speed you’re talking about. You’re quite right in saying that comparing analog recordings via digital rips may not be a fair fight, but I’m pretty sure that even in a “live” situation, you would prefer your digital RVG version to the LP versions. So would I, in all probability.

        • It could be the actual speed of the table (as Alun indicated, I am sure someone will measure the speed for accuracy) or it could be a lack of musicality that gives it a dull or lifeless sound, lacking pace. To me it sounds like someone is agonizingly pulling the notes out of Freddie and Tina on that copy. In a “live” situation, it would be interesting to see how a RVG remastered CD would compare to these UA and MM pressings, but I seriously doubt the CD would stack up to an original or even earlier Liberty pressing.

          • The speed of my Numark ripping TT has a known eccentricity by a small percentage. It has a cheap motor and I wouldn’t be surprised if a 180gm vinyl weight may have slowed the 45rpm a fraction – no strobe – but that’s not the real reason music seems to drag. I experience it all the time on the Mother of all Hi Fi, Big Sister, which has no speed issue. Most music that is lacking vitality in presentation appears to drag, because you want it to be over with and move on. No science behind that observation, but it’s a fact.

            • Andy, why you are still creating needle drops with that thing is beyond me! 😉 And as I said in my other comment, I don’t think the pitch difference is just in our heads.

            • “I’m sure someone on here will measure the speeds with a special internet laser gun or something” – thus spake Alun Severn. Well, here I am. The speed is too low in both cases. Compared with the CD version, which I took as a point of reference, the MM is 3,6 per cent too slow, and the UA is 1,6 per cent too slow. Don’t blame the Numark’s motor, LJC – all it takes is a strobe, and once adjusted, the speed will remain stable. The weight of a record has no bearing on the speed, it just may take a fraction longer to gain speed initially.

              So we are not talking about anything subtle here. No wonder “the UA certainly sounds as if it has a touch more pace and ‘lift’ about it”, Alun. It simply runs faster than the MM, though not fast enough. Adjust the speed, and both records will have the same pitch!

              Let me repeat: All this discussion about “pace” and the like has nothing to do with sound quality. It’s a simple matter of measurable, physical facts.

              • But…but…but…Eduard…? How did you infer that the CD is the correct and valid point of reference? And when exactly did the digital format become a valid point of reference for all things analogue (or, in Music Matters’ case, PRESUMED analogue until proven guilty)?

                You are assuming the unassumable: that the measured speed of the CDs is the 11th commandment, a direct word from the Acoustic Providence cast in stone tablets. In fact, nothing could be more distant from the truth. A CD is only as good as the production tape, the mastering, the digital engineer (or, for that matter, CD player itself) . Instances of CDs mastered at wrong speed are dime-a-dozen. Unless Freddie Hubbard should arise from the ranks of the dearly departed, we may never know for sure with one of the three speeds is quantifiably, measurably, closest to the Absolute Form.

                Personally, I am inclined to take the earliest available pressing as a point of reference (in this case, it would be Blue Note’s 1960 mono pressing). Sometimes even the master (session) tape can be deceptive, because it takes two components to recreate the correct speed: the equipment (hardware) and the tape (software), and even if the tape is recorded at proper speed, the tape recorder can still play it back at incorrect one (something, presumably, properly addressed at the time of first pressing). And then we have those nightmarish cases where EVEN the master session tapes were – reportedly – recorded at wrong speed (Kind of Blue, allegedly), and where the only way to establish the proper speed is to take someone’s word for it, or to measure the scalar values of the notes played (which is a rather tricky proposition), and, if needed, adjust the speed and frequency pitch manually, in which case we are entering the twilight zone of tinkering with the integrity of the well-established and well-known work.

                Also, contrary to the popular belief, CD players CAN vary in speed, both over time and model-wise.

                Unless the artist himself has expressed reservations about the speed, or, unless the notes do not audibly fall between the values of existing 12-tone scales and became semitones and quartertones = there is no legitimate reason to assume that something was wrong with the mastering of the record. Where those values differ over time, I am inclined to accept the earlier one, and discard the latter as a blatantly revisionist work.

                • Hi Bob. In order to avoid a drainpipe view, I have decided to post my answer as a fresh new comment (see above).

      • Nodding head, Eduard. And I agree, for some reason the pitch does sound different between the two. In situations like this, people probably typically prefer the higher pitched version because the lower pitched copy will sound “droopy”. But I agree 100% with Eduard: I would not be so careless as to confuse this difference in pitch with “life” or “pace”. Plain and simple, it sounds like the tape speed is slightly different between the two.

  17. I’ve the MM edition. The smples you’ve provided are very much in line with my experience of MM and UA pressings. The MM is very much cleaner , perhaps a tad harsh but there’s so much less noise as to make it no contest. The UA however sounds perfectly decent and given that it’ll be around a quarter of the cost I’d not hesitate. UA does have an additional advantage of being in the same format ( ie single 33.3 rpm) as an original pressings and takes up much less shelf space.

    Great album … next up True Blue , it’s companion piece ( of a sort).

  18. Was just listening to Hub Cap when the mail came in…haven’t listened yet but from my humble experience i׳ll always pick a King or even Toshiba over any UA. Anyway, comparing stereo & mono wouldn׳t be an easy job…

  19. I coincidentally had my MM copy on the turntable when you posted this. Great music. Happy New Year and may the eBay gods be kinder in 2014.

    • Good question, honest answer, I don’t know, because I don’t have any Classic Records. Though people speak quite highly of Classic, I reserve judgement until I have heard for myself. My confidence in opinions bandied around on the internet is low, they are too subjective. I have a rant on the subject of audio opinion, on a rewrite of Blue Note Audio Quality, written between Xmas and New Year (because it’s been nagging at me, I keep reading the “sounds great (to me) ” opinion)

      https://londonjazzcollector.wordpress.com/record-labels-guide/labelography-2/audio-quality-of-blue-note-recordings/

      Interested in any opinions on “opinions”.

      • The consensus, as I have experienced it, is that the Classic Records reissues are hit or miss. Some have significant inherent surface noise, others are super quiet. I had a single LP 33 RPM stereo Kind of Blue that sounded phenomenal, and I had a wonderful sounding copy of BLP 1541 Lee Morgan Sextet, but I had a single LP mono Blue Train that was very noisy.

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