Modern Vinyl Jazz Reissues


LJC BREAKING NEWS: Blue Note Records 75th Anniversary Vinyl Initiative

Blue Note

“Two years ago, we decided to begin remastering the jewels of the Blue Note catalog in hi-def resolutions of 96k and 192k. In order to develop a guiding artistic philosophy for this delicate endeavor,  we donned our lab coats, ran dozens of sonic experiments and carefully referenced every generation of our reissues. Ultimately, we decided that our goal would be to protect the original intentions of the artists, producers and engineers who made these records and that, in the case of pre-digital-era albums, these intentions were best represented by the sound and feel of their first-edition vinyl releases. Working with a team of dedicated and groovy engineers, we found a sound that both captured the feel of the original records while maintaining the depth and transparency of the master tapes… the new remasters are really cool!

While these new versions will become available in Digital Hi Def, CD and the Mastered for iTunes formats, the allure of vinyl records is WAY too potent to ignore. This year, Blue Note – along with our friends at Universal Music Enterprises – is launching a major 75th Anniversary Vinyl Initiative that is dedicated to the proposition that our catalog should  be readily available at a low cost – featuring high quality pressings and authentic reproductions of Blue Note’s iconic packaging. Beginning in March 2014, we’ll start rolling out five remastered vinyl reissues every month. Although this program begins in celebration of Blue Note’s 75th Anniversary, our catalog runs so deep that we will faithfully be reissuing five albums a month for many years to come!

—Don Was, President, Blue Note Records

Full schedule of reissues here


Modern Vinyl Reissues: readers thoughts

LJC reader Robert has been nagging me to do a feature on modern vinyl reissues. Anything for a quiet life.  I am on record as a skeptic when it comes to modern reissues, but hey, it’s not all about LJC: I am inviting your opinions –  what have you found that you can recommend to other collectors.

These are the Jazz Vinyl Reissue labels I am aware, there are probably many more below my radar

Analogue Productions
Classic Records
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab
Mosaic Records
Music Matters
Music On Vinyl
Original Jazz Classics
Original Recordings Group (ORG)
Pure Pleasure
Speakers Corner
Wax Time

I am not thinking of reissues from the major record companies and subsequent owners of those ’60s catalogues, or ’70s and ’80’s “vintage reissues” like King and Toshiba, but the modern specialist vinyl reissue labels (modern in the sense of the last decade or two).   Many of these labels claim “audiophile” status, 180 gram (naturally), virgin vinyl ultra quiet pressing sourced from original tapes, some even claim to be “better than the original pressings”.


Mosaic are something of a special case but their unique and often out-of-print box sets deserve consideration on both the audiophile and collector front.  There are many semi-vintage reissue labels like Jasmine, which are probably too numerous for me to mention, though you might want to. It’s probably too early to make a judgement on the actual Blue Note 75th Anniversary official reissues at the head of this post, but very intruiguing all the same.

Scorpio I include because they are commonly found, eminently affordable, and some people do like them despite being just a cd transferred onto vinyl. Being “sourced from the original tapes” does not exclude digital encoding and decoding in the transfer. How many reissue producers can replicate an all-analogue production chain including  tape decks?

Inevitably people are going to have personal favourite titles, like Kind of Blue or Saxophone Colossus, for which they have a particular reissue like the Classic Records 200 gram edition, but in the first instance  let’s get a few facts on the ground – which labels you have, and which you would recommend, in general. I think LJC readers would appreciate recommendations what to look for, irrespective of title. You are very welcome to comment about individual recordings in response to the post.

ljc dunce 120pxDisclaimer

If I’ve made any glaring errors or omissions, I’m happy to update as we go along, this is not a subject I know a lot about or have much experience with. Not that that has ever stopped me having opinions and sounding off.

First, which vinyl reissue labels listed do you own any titles on?

Second, which of the reissue labels in the list would you recommend to a friend? At least someone you would like to remain friends with after they take your advice. If you haven’t got any friends, pretend. Works for me.

And finally, based on your experience, any labels which you have tried which didn’t live up to your expectations? That’s not to say they are “no good”, but that they were a disappointment. Could be your expectations at fault of course, but this is a “post-modern” site, all opinions are right.

UPDATE: Very fair point made by Adrian, that a reissue can exceed expectations as well as fall below them. Interesting how my own “prejudices” unconsciously led me to overlook that point of view. Additional poll added below in the interest of balance, now open for voting.

(For each poll, remember to cast all your votes in in one session before pressing the “VOTE” button. Poll Daddy won’t allow you back to add more votes or change your mind.)

Comments welcome at LJC, though if you work for any of the labels in question, declare your interest. Gushing industry PR is easy to spot and may be held up to ridicule.  And remember, we have an army of lawyers here waiting to take your calls 😉


I’m a cracked record on this subject but thinking about how people are convinced this or that edition is the best, I commend readers to consider the “Village Venus” effect, an ineffective thinking habit described by writer Edward de Bono, (who coined the expression “lateral thinking”). White Belt Blogger describes it well (de Bono original works are unfortunately hidden behind a paywall)

The “Village Venus”:

“Imagine you are living in a remote village — without being exposed to the world outside. In your village, there’s this girl — let’s call her Katarina; she is the daughter of the village chief. Katarina is a beautiful girl — in fact the most beautiful girl in the village. Since you haven’t seen any other girl prettier than her, you assume that she is the most beautiful girl in the world.

Are you right? Yes … until the day comes that you have to venture in the outside world, and during your journey you see girls who are far more beautiful than Katarina.

There are times when we think we have seen it all — when in fact we have only seen the tip of the iceberg….. The next time  you think you have seen the prettiest girl in the world, consider, outside your village, there may be girls far prettier than Katarina.

I summarise this in the politely-intended throwaway question: “How’s the wife?”  I answer: “Compared with whose?” The problem is the claim that x is “the best” or “really great”. Until you have tried them all, how would you know? The more honest position is that “it sounds great to you”. No one actually knows what you hear, you can’t be called out on that.

On a more serious note, it is a confounding issue that some RVG recordings sound better than others. Even a poor reissue will capture a glimmer of that original quality, and it will sound “great”, though the original will almost certainly sound greater still.

You can’t separate out what a recording sounds like from the system you are playing it on. I have records which have sounded progressively better as my system improved, and others which I remember sounded great in the early days which are revealed now as below par. You change as well, as your cumulative experience expands. I have grown used to how much better things now sound than they used to. They don’t “sound great to me” any more, though they once did.

Where I part company with modern day audiophile re-mastering industry is the involvement of digital processing to enhance and improve sound. It can’t. Just because you can change the characteristics of sound with the latest technology doesn’t mean that you should. The best you can do is not monkey with it. Just my point of view.


187 thoughts on “Modern Vinyl Jazz Reissues

  1. Over the course of a year a group of us conducted comparisons of original pressings(Blue Note, Prestige, Riverside, Columbia, Atlantic and Impulse to modern reissues (Mobile Fidelity, Analogue Productions, Music Matters and ORG). The results varied from title to title in my opinion and in another listener’s opinion, but the third participant who provided the originals always preferred the originals.

    Some of the comparisons:
    It Serve You Right- John Lee Hooker – Impulse Mono vs AP 45 rpm reissue
    I thought the reissue was jawdropping until I heard the original. It just sounds so right and generates high levels of foot tapping.

    Sunday at the Village Vanguard- Bill Evans- Riverside Mono vs AP 45 rpm reissue
    The AP 45 is one of the best sounding records and will put you in the second row of tables at the club by comparison the original was lackluster.

    Out to Lunch- Eric Dolphy – Blue Note Stereo vs MM 45 rpm
    Another top reissue that beats the original for overall you are thereness.

    The Youngbloods- Donald Byrd and Phil Woods -Prestige vs AP 200 gram
    Close, but the winner was the original pressing.

    What Is There to Say- Gerry Mulligan – Columbia vs ORG vs Columbia House Record Club 70s pressing
    The original was the best with lots of sax spit, followed by a 70s reissue (purchased sealed for $8 in a record dungeon) and finally a lack luster ORG 45. The ORG was praised on Analogplanet, but in the shootout was found lacking.

    Go- Dexter Gordon – Blue Note vs MM 33 rpm
    The original sounds too tizzy and hot (my take on original Blue Notes in general) while the MM sounds more natural. If you have listened to the original for 50 years I could see why the MM 33 might sound lacking if you like the (overly) tizzy sizzle of originals. Alfred Lion definitely was aiming for a certain sound.

    RVG definitely gave the labels what they wanted. Blue Notes have a certain sound and the Impulses have a different certain sound too.

    The real question is whether you are a record collector who wants the original pressings at any cost? If you want the best sound in the $10-35 price range then OJCs and Japanese reissues can be purchased for reasonable prices at record shows and sound great. In the $30-50 AP and MM 33s and 45s offer good value compare to records that cost hundreds if not thousands. In all fairness if I had deep pockets I would love to own the originals, but weighing all the factors I am satisfied with the AP and MM reissues.

    • ‘Tizzy sizzle’ sounds like distortion from groove wear. As time goes on it seems more and more apparent that the heavy tonearms of the day couldn’t handle Van Gelder’s cuts, and I find that it is extremely difficult to find truly near mint copies of his originals without groove wear.

      It’s an age-old stereotype that audiophiles care about how ‘realistic’ a recording sounds and that collectors on the other hand are more interested in ‘colored’ sound. In light of this, I think it makes sense that audiophiles typically prefer reissues while collectors prefer originals. There’s no question in my mind that (when the master tapes are still in good shape) an audiophile reissue does a better job of ‘xeroxing’ them. And I’m not saying you implied the following because you definitely didn’t, but that certainly doesn’t mean that someone is crazy if they prefer how even an old, dusty original sounds in comparison to the crystal clarity of a good reissue. I’ve become a much more practical collector over time though and am quite pleased with the many of the reissues have.

      LJC does a great job of tolling the line, pointing out the virtues of various originals and reissues while focusing on the differences between them. Perhaps he will express a preference but he avoids objective language and I commend him for that. It’s one of the biggest reasons I love this place. 🙂

    • Interesting that you think the Bill Evans Vanguard reissue sounds much better than the hallowed original, which is renowned as one of the best-sounding jazz LPs ever.

      • I’m not a big reissue guy but I can vouch for the Analogue Productions 45rpm of Waltz For Debby (haven’t heard the AP Vanguard) is really is stunning and one of the best reissues I’ve heard.

  2. Can we talk about the (very expensive) Disk Union mono replica reissues? It seems like they’re pretty much trying to do the same thing that Classic Records did. I know from experience that the hit-or-miss reputation of the Classic Blue Note reissues is well-deserved, but the good ones are unbeatable in my book (and I must also say that I love the replica deep groove 🙂 ). I have a Disk Union reissue (DBLP prefix) on the way, and while I’m curious to see if they can match Classic’s best sonic efforts, I also want to see if they did an even better job of duplicating the packaging and other cosmetic details of the original pressings.

    It was a Classic reissue that got me into the high-end reissue game recently, but I think I have persisted because I have matured as a collector and I have come to the sobering reality that there are many of my favorite titles that I won’t be owning an original pressing of for a looong time. As I said, the Classic reissues are great because they do a great job of imitating everything about the originals, but when you see a Music Matters reissue, the truth is you can see that so much care went into the making of them that it’s very hard not to love them (with those, I especially love the high-res session photos in the gatefolds. 🙂 ).

  3. Just to mischievously stray away from the realms of vinyl on these points and in particular Don Was mentioning the remastered for iTunes thing.
    I hate to admit it but I’ve been downloading the iTunes remastered Sun Ra albums. Why? Because they are best available versions of those records. Admittedly those records were never a marvel of engineering and recording quality is patchy.
    But these digital files really are so very clearly superior to the originals and reissues.
    If you don’t believe me this enterprising and very generous chap has provided the evidence here:
    Anyway that got me thinking, I have not heard the iTunes mastered for iTunes Blue Notes – would you be willing to put one of these up against your mighty vinyl rips?
    Don’t forget that they’ve designed these files specifically for digital play through Pcs Macs etc.
    Just a thought…

    • The result can be predicted very easily: Some will prefer LJC’s rip, some will not. For whatever reason. The acid test would be to compare an original CD to its MFiT version in an ABX situation. But you can’t do this on a website.

        • Well, in the first place because you can’t listen either to an LP or a CD on a website, can you? It’s all rendered in the form of lossy data compression. Now the question is what it is that you want to compare. If it’s the quality of the mastering – well, you might take LJC’s rip and compare it with some MFiT version of the same music and get a fair idea of the differences in eq’ing, reverb and so on. But if it is the technical quality of MFiT itself you want to put to the test, you would have to turn a given LP (or CD) into MFiT and play back both versions (i.e. original and MFiT) on the same hi-fi equipment. In this case, I would like to repeat what I have said many times: Even the most discriminating listener will have a hard time telling which is which.

    • iTunes Blue Note albums sounds great. Digital will always have the advantage of “permanent fidelity” and “precision”. There’s a problem in that though in my opinion: it’s just not all that fun. Not just because all you have to do is press a button to hear it, but because digital music doesn’t have the “life” that analog music does. Records are oozing with character. My intention is not to put digital down; in my opinion, digital sound is usually great, and I would argue that digital recordings are more likely to create a “carbon-copy” of reality than their analog counterparts (this can be done with analog of course, but it’s much more difficult, which makes it that much more impressive, awe-inspiring, and special). I just feel I have reached a point where I have realized that more perfect doesn’t necessarily mean more enjoyable.

      • Records are oozing with character because they are nice to hold, they tell a story, they have a decent cover, and in spite of all their shortcomings, they are somehow “alive”. But what would you say if I told you, “Hey Rich, did you know that what you are listening to right now is not your six-eye KoB but a rip of your precious record I made the other day? OK, let’s press the analog source button again…”

        I am in no way contradicting you. I have caught myself putting a 78 RPM on the turntable although I had three “better”, cleaner versions on different CDs. But Ellington’s “Fancy Dan” just sounds so much more “genuine” while you are watching ol’ Columbia 39428 grooving its way.

        If, however, I wished to find out whether that effing bass note was in fact “eff sharp”, I’d rather pick up the CD to find the answer.

        • It’s not so much iTunes and digital files in general I was drawing attention to here but the recent addition of the MFIT files. In fact I have only found a few Blue Notes. The Blue Train stereo excerpts I’ve heard sound exceptional and I also plan to AB test the Larry Young Unity against my Van Gelder edition. It seems that MFIT has killed stone dead all the high rez sites in one fell swoop – proving that these digital files don’t need to be huge to do the job. I have copied the Sun Ra files I’ve downloaded on a slow burn and they sound very nice indeed. It’s not so much the format I believe as the mastering.

            • I understand – it’s the mastering, not (so much) the format. Very interesting what you say about Columbia / Apple.

              From what I have said, people might think I am an advocate of compressed digital formats, which I am not. (Funnily enough, some people don’t seem to include the CD format when they say “digital”. To them, “digital” is “music from the internet”, it seems.)

              Anyhow – I’d rather listen to music in high quality compressed format than from beat-up vinyl. Hm… mostly. What bugs me, however, is that you never get any decent discographical information from sources like emusic, Amazon, iTunes (I don’t really know about the latter). So sometimes when I draw music from compressed sources because I wouldn’t get hold of it otherwise, I even turn it into a CD including cover, label and all, which involves quite a lot of research work in some cases. Most people seem to be satisfied with the track info they get from small displays, but for me this just won’t do. And although CD booklets can never cope with LP covers, to me at least they represent a minimum acceptable standard.

              • I believe that in the case every edition is sourced for the original master tape or digital master.
                Yes of course there is a compromise in the MFIT downloadable files as they have to be compressed – but I reckon it might be hard to distinguish the files from non-lossy formats anyway. It’s the mastering that is impressive to me and at some point these remasters may be available in a ‘physical’ format.
                There are only of use to me when they are clearly superior to other editions or offer a reasonably priced alternative to out of reach originals – say Blue Train.

                • “There are only of use to me when they are clearly superior to other editions or offer a reasonably priced alternative to out of reach originals.”

                  This is simply put yet spot on IMO. I especially appreciated your use of the words “clearly superior”. While I find that there usually are slight differences between the various masterings of an album, they’re almost never significant enough to make me want to replace the copy I already have. I’m not really that picky in that sense. On a rare occasion, a release of an album sounds substandard to me. But I think by and large, the music that’s out there has been done by professionals and they do a pretty good job, which then brings up the topics of value and affordability, just as you said…thumbs up.

  4. Anyone experience with the DoL reissues ?
    With such a cheap price im feeling very sceptic.
    Would like to hear from people who bought.

    • They are usually crap. I bought a few which I could not hear (Eric Dolphy, Miles Davies), so please keep away. They are cheap in price and in quality.

  5. I wasn’t able to read every comment here, there are many. But have you heard the latest Music Matters 33 rpm series? There are only 12 titles, all killers. I’ve got Blue Train (which is in mono) and “Idle Moments” and both sound fantastic. Of course, I’ve never heard the original pressings. The only other high quality (I think) versions I have to compare are the some of the HDTracks.

  6. What are people’s opinions of the Blue Note 75th anniversary remasters?
    I’ve only found a couple of reviews online so far.
    LJC have you got any yet?
    Interested to know if they’re going to sound any better (that ones subjective I know) than say an early King or Toshiba press. I love my Japanese records but am I better off getting these anniversary LPs?
    Am I correct in understanding they went and cut a new master record from the original Blue Note tapes??
    Thoughts/opinions appreciated 🙂

    • From what I’ve been reading, reports have been quite mixed with most leaning towards these reissues not being as good as hoped. The majority are sourced from digital files while the old Kings and Toshibas from the late-70’s – early-80’s are pure analog. I would say if you like the old Japanese pressings just stick with those.

    • I just picked up Larry Young’s UNITY + McCoy’s Real McCoy. UNITY was surprisingly bright. The cymbals were very clean. The mids a bit so so and as the bass is on the B3 I found it tough to judge. McCoy sounded flat – like a cassette through a great Nakamichi. So far I’d say nothing special – inconsistent – etc. That said – hats off for the effort to spread the music through vinyl – an entry drug for the newbie.

    • Dear Sam,

      It’s been over a year since you asked this question, but just on the off chance you ever check for a reply… I bought four of those 75th anniversary Blue Notes when I was starting out. My experience of them was:

      Kenny Dorham – Afro-Cuban

      Really terrible. One of those “music-coming-directly-from-the-speakers”-type listening experiences, instead of a nice soundstage. Returned it for a refund the following day, even though I didn’t have another copy (just an MP3). Have since picked up a 1983 Toshiba, which I find pretty satisfying. King didn’t release this as far as I know, so a UA mono would be ideal, because I’ll probably never be able to afford an original. What a great record.

      Freddie Hubbard – Ready For Freddie

      Better. Bought this at the same time as the Dorham one and kept it as it sounded okay. I since picked up an RVG-stamped Liberty copy, though, which wipes the floor with it, as you would expect.

      Hank Mobley – Soul Station

      Okay, not great but not terrible. Got a King since and it’s much better, an excellent stereo transfer. Nearly splashed out on an original in Tokyo recently but bottled it at the last minute, preferring two others instead.

      Lee Morgan – Cornbread

      Also okay, not great but not terrible. The fact that I very seldom reach for this record, despite loving the album, says it all. Come to think of it I really only ever listen to this at work, on my headphones. Will upgrade as soon as one crosses my path.

      There you go. You say you love your Japanese records and wonder if you should go for these instead, I say definitely not. They’re not even cheap! Avoid.

      • Hi DigInJapan,

        Over a year since Sam’s question I’m picking up on this thread. Your answer in the form of four 75th Anniversary Blue Note reviews is enlightening and of course a bit perplexing. My question(s) would be –

        Were any original tapes from these Blue Note sessions available; in reasonable or repairable condition? Was tape baking for restoration eschewed in favor of digital sources?

        Perhaps that information is available here at LJC, or somewhere deeper in the arcane regions of the net. But your advisory is well taken and I wondered if you might know more.

        I too LOVE my Japanese reissues of BLUE NOTE (and other labels) that hit the
        high mark throughout the Seventies into the pre-digital Eighties. Thanks to your take on those 75th Ann., I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for more BN Nippons.

  7. Are there any UK stockists of the Analogue Productions catalogue? If not, any suggestions where one might acquire the occasional 45 rpm after winning at lotto?

  8. Soooo…in recent weeks things have been a bit crazy around the house and I’ve found myself reaching for the Analogue Productions SACD’s just to save a wee bit of time. One that I’ve kept coming back to is Joe Henderson ‘Page One’ as the music is fantastic and the sound stellar.

    Tonight I put it to the test against my NY label stereo copy with Ear. I had a feeling the AP would compete admirably, but you know what? It was better. The sound on the Ear LP copy just seemed tighter and more distant. The AP copy fuller and more complex and realistic. I kept on A/B-ing back and forth and the AP always won.

    Of course, last night I put on the AP SACD of Lou Donaldson’s ‘Blues Walk’ and had to turn it off mid-way through the first song as the drums were just too bright so nothing’s a guarantee!

    • In general I find those AP SACDs sort of lifeless compared to their 45 rpm counterpart. I have not heard Page One

      • I have yet to buy any 45’s out of mostly laziness with flipping the record too many times. I would be interested to hear them on 33, but that will probably never happen. Alas.

    • Interesting, thanks for the link Belbo. The comments are also interesting. As I expected, people are coming at them from different start-points

      “…Compared to MP3s, this is HDTV…” to “I am glad I own Plastylite originals for nearly all the albums I’m interested in. Music Matters, Analogue Productions can’t touch them.”

      All valid points of view. For some people, 75th Anniversary Series would be a trade up, for others it would be a trade down. The interesting question is not whether they are as good as Plastylite or better than MP3, but how they compare with other options in the middle of the vinyl range: vintage Liberty and UA, vintage Japanese, and modern reissues.

      Not to lose sight of the equipment you are playing them on. The choice of vinyl is not the end of the game.

      • Yes, I agree that the thing to look at is more of a comparison to Liberty, UA, Japanese, etc. Don Was mentioned he was looking to capture the sound of the originals. While some aspects of the originals may be there, the consensus is that they lack fullness and punch and are toned down volume wise. For those of us fortunate to own Plastylites, they have loads of fullness and punch and are cranked up in the volume department. You barely need to turn on your volume control to hear them in their glory. While I’m sure these sound very nice, I’ll probably stick with hunting down records pressed in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s before any sort of digital reared its head into studios.

      • On Saturday I came across Sonny Rollins Vol 1 (UA) – one of the records I’m looking into buying in vinyl. Having red your comments ( I’ve had a good listen on the record and confirmed that it was not a great pressing (quite flat in my opinion). In this case I’m probably going to look into the Music Matters issue as the best option for me. I agree wih what you’re saying that there is no clear answer that works for everybody.

  9. Duh! Nothing new under the sun! An interesting post on the AnalogPlanet site a year or so back by LJC-not-look-alike Michael Fremer, on “which reissue labels to avoid“.

    Really has the knives out for Sundazed. Lot of comments too (but not as many as LJC’s 130 or more) I think PlanetAnalog were responsible for the motion-sickness inducing Don Was interviews. Seem to be good guys.


      • I don’t intend to buy one just to find out what they are like – my expectations are not high, so I am in waiting too, if any brave soul has any feedback on the 75th Anniversary series, post here.

        • They’re not out in the UK yet.
          I might try and buy one in the US next week, just to see what they are like.

        • A great big package arrived here Chez downwithit, on Saturday morning from Amazon’s dispatch centre in Kentucky. It contained copies of ‘Free For All’ and ‘Unity’. Although I had initially ordered from Amazon UK, I worried that possible European pressings would be found wanting when compared with their transatlantic cousin and cancelled. Time constraints, including a deadline for my own blog, have prevented me from comparing ‘Unity’ with my CD copy but I’m liking what I’m hearing at present- good Hammond, trumpet, cymbals and tenor sax sound although the bass drum is hiding. Of course it’s great to hear a mint pressing too and the packaging is fine.
          I haven’t been able to evaluate ‘Free For All’ yet and it is an album that I not familiar with so its unfair to comment hear other than to say that I was expecting more of the drum sound. Of course we are all waiting for comparative tests (esp. any thoughts on Blue Train). Anyway, I’ve broken the ice over these deep waters, so come on in!

            • Went to one of the recordstores here in Copenhagen to buy another record today. They had just recieved the first batch of Blue Notes. EU-pressings, 180 gr. vinyl, Back to Vinyl – stickers. I didn’t buy any though as they were charching 22£ /27€.

                • I think this is one: Art Blakey, Free For All – £19.69 (hardly free)

                  Also Larry Young – Unity:

                  No vinyl reviews yet, and they seem to be having difficulty knowing what they have got here. As you say, the label is “Decca (UMO)” ( Universal Music Organisation?) Can’t find any solid reference to this label. Decca closed their New Malden pressing plant I believe in 1979, so that gets us no closer to knowing who dunnit.

                  I’ve got an original of all the first tranche of releases so I won’t be rushing…

                  • Well, I actually “gave in” and bought Speak no Evil in a store here in Copenhagen desite the price (27 euro). It’s 180 grams, comes with a download coupon and a Back to Blue-label ( not Back to Vinyl as I wrote earlier) . The vinyl’s flat and quiet, the cover is ok but nothing special. I don’t have any other vinyl copy to compare it with but it sounds way better than my RVG-cd. No references to Decca anywhere as far as I can see.

  10. After much contemplation , I have solved the original vs reissue and which reissue Concerns.

    78’s …….. everything is original As I am not aware of any re issues lately.

    the only downside is selection …..but there are a few decades to go through

  11. “Your comments do make sense and its pretty clear that originals are still the optimum from any angle”

    I can see some of these re-issues have ruffled a few feathers, even LJC who is normally so cool and calm! But I actually disagree with this. I find the re-issues put out by Music Matters to be superior to the originals almost every time. I have come across a few cases where I slightly prefer the original but there is not very much in it and can swing either way .. depending on mood.

    The clarity, depth and sheer presence and “musicality” of these re-issues just isn’t there with the originals, as good as they are. And there is no way I would pay upwards of 5,000 € for an LP that I can buy from Music Matters for 35 € for such minor differences anyway.

    I think a lot of people here are in denial.

    • “I find the re-issues put out by Music Matters to be superior to the originals almost every time.”

      My wager is that “almost every time”, the original is worn. It may not be obvious, but those Van Gelder originals wear pretty quickly because they were cut so hot.

      “I think a lot of people here are in denial.”

      That may be true. In most of my real-life comparisons, most of the time a CD reissue beats out an original pressing. HOWEVER, that is almost always because the original in worn as indicated above.

      My testimony is that truly near mint originals can compete with any reissue.

      (PS: I don’t personally care about what Steve Hoffman has to say about Van Gelder’s limiting and EQing in the mastering process; it all sounds good to me 😉

      • It gets me upset when anyone denigrates Van Gelder’s work. Anyone who sat in “The Village Vanguard” for a good set with the masters, knows that Van Gelder captured the real sound that one would hear at a club. But there is more. Van Gelder practically lived with these great jazz artists, encouraging them, giving them free studio time, and giving of himself to an art form that he knew would become immortal. Van Gelder is responsible for recording the best jazz sessions in the golden age of jazz. His refined taste and trained ear, (No pun intended) made jazz what it is today. He should be spoken about only with the greatest reverence.

  12. Your comments do make sense and its pretty clear that originals are still the optimum from any angle (+ I’ve realized from the interview how far a reissue can be vs original artist+engineer intend, scary).

    Its not clear however where they fall sonically vs other reissues. The fact that he doesn’t rate them as “audiophiles” could be related more with the fact that he has a business partnership that he values and plans to continue (with “Music Matters” for example) and a pricing plan that target mainstream vs niche. Still considering that this comes from original tapes with high-res transfers only an audition can really tell how they compare vs MM (and i dont see why they should be defacto wordt) or other 70s/80s reissues, so I’m still interested in any comments from people who feel confident on doing this comparison.

    • Who, at this late date, can tell what was the original artist’s or engineer’s intent? As I said elsewhere in this thread, we must never generalize. A well-preserved master tape (of which there are many) can be exploited to miraculous effect, and a mediocre original pressing will remain a mediocre original pressing. You’re quite right in saying that “only an audition can really tell how they compare” – but then again, an audition by whom? With what kind of preconceived idea in mind? But, yes, please: More comments from people who have compared different versions of the same music! Comments can be revealing in many ways.

  13. Mind boggling amount of comments 🙂 I first read about this reissue program on the Blue Note homepage. I’d like to see/hold one copy one of these days, just out of curiosity. And kudos for Don Was. Nice man, great producer and heart in the right place. Let’s see where this endeavour will end. I for one have to make do with the CDs and the occasional 1st pressing when I can afford one – spending extra dough on one of these countless reissues is not going to help 😉

    • Yeah Matty, LJC is starting to blow up for real!

      It would be great to see the quality level of the 75th Blue Notes (sound and packaging) be somewhere in between the 2000s reissues with the download cards and the audiophile stuff. Also, I’m yet to see any reissue company that consistently “nails” the textural quality of the album art the same way as an original, though I doubt this will be the project to do it. I am, however, wondering how the Disk Union DBLP series fares in this regard…

      • Ah, yes, you’re right. The ‘look and feel’ of a genuine 1st press is one of those things they can’t reissue. Not to mention that lovely, decades old smell. And the Disk Union DBLP series? Good one. Anyone else maybe can share something on those with us?

    • Thanks for the link on this – (the guy from AnalogPlanet really needs to get a steadycam – I got motion sickness watching 14 minutes!) But really interesting. Grundman’s good on the technical talk – loved the anecdote on 20 hours to repair Newks Time, including “reverse engineering” missing bits of tape from the CD.

      The Was interviews says it all. For me it reinforces the value of “originals” – these guys know it but they are in the business of making affordable products for sale. Originals are simply not on the table for discussion. Don Was is quite upfront – the 75 years series are not aimed at audiophiles, but “kids”, doing what’s necessary to get down to half the price of Music Matters, which I deduce is his definition of “audiophile” (ahem). What he’s saying is “don’t expect these to be as good as Music Matters”. Not a good prognosis. Anyway, if you want cheap vinyl priced for the kids, isn’t that a Scorpio?

      Myself I think its mismarketing – “the kids” are used to paying nothing for music. What’s wrong with us oldies? Or the forty-year old with job wife two kids mortgage and now Obamacare to pay for. Always chasing the illusion of (their own) youth. God bless the music industry.

      • I think you’re wrong about the kids “paying nothing” for music. That may be true for file sharing or streaming services, but the kids are actually spending quite a bit per LP for new vinyl releases. Last year I was discussing, with the manager of a local record store, the Daft Punk LP (then just released). It sold in the shop for $33, and my friend was telling me that, the first week, the store sold over 100 copies of it. That’s a heck of a lot of money for a new (digital) record, sold in fairly substantial volume for one store.

        So, I think Don Was’ point was “if we get it down to $20, that is acceptable for kids to pay for new vinyl, but it we ‘audiophile it,’ and make it a precious artifact, AND it costs $50 or $100, they won’t buy it, and that market is already filled anyway.” So a “decent product at a decent price for a new market” is a reasonable marketing perspective, I think.

        I obviously wish they were as good as originals and only cost $20, but I also wish I could fly.

      • I was really confused by what he meant about Newk’s Time and the reverse engineering plus flying in digital from a CD. Perhaps it is the mono tape that is shot? RVG made a stereo tape during that session, but from what I understand he never cut a Newk’s stereo lacquer. The Newk’s Time stereo tape sounds ok to me, judging by the Music Matters reissue. I know Sonny walked around the studio on that session which probably caused RVG to tear his hair out. There is a mastering notes tell tale on the Hoffman board and they went into how they had to do some choice EQ’ing to make it sound good. But still I hear the effects of tape wear on many other vinyl reissues than most Blue Notes. It’s particularly egregious on some Atlantic tapes of that era. A shame that Atlantic vinyl formulation of the 50s and early 60s was not always the best.

      • Enlightening, indeed! Let me just add a few words.
        I own a small reel-to-reel tape collection dating back to the early 60’s. Some of these tapes have survived extremely well, some haven’t. Some have a tendency to disintegrate when you just look at them. Same brand, bought at roughly the same time, stored and used under similar conditions. Seems like some of the material used was different, although the company was one of the major, in fact pioneering, representatives of the industry (BASF).
        So what we must not do is generalize. I agree with LJC on the “value of originals” – including original master tapes if they are in excellent shape. And I’m sure many of them still are.

    • Sooooo glad I picked up most of Bernie Grundman’s Classic Records blue note reissues. sounds like those tapes have had it. And For the record, RTI was the one’s that was pressing Classic Records Lp’s and the quality was lackluster and atrocious after Classic Records Folded. Which plant is pressing MM Records? and for the technical people, here is the difficulties of pressing 200 Grams which is why MM chose 180. My guessing.

  14. Hello everyone,

    Really interested in hearing opinions about the new Blue Note reissues especially from people that can compare them to originals. Equally interesting I believe is the question raised on how they compare to presses from the 70s for example.

    Although not a collector by any standard myself I do buy vinyl and I tend to agree that older vinyl somehow and for unexplained reasons sounds substantially better than latest reissues. In this case however and considering how rare Blue Note records are this is really tempting and I really wish they play well. Given that I would personally end-up in 70s presses myself the comparison is highly relevant.

    Great site with a wealth of information here, congrats!

  15. I have, in my hot little hands, the reissues of Blue Train and Out To Lunch. They will spin tonight.

    Packaging is “meh”. Basic sleeve, no special treatment or expansions. I had hoped for gatefolds or even a tip-on sleeve in heavier stock. Not the case. Not surprising for the price point though. The inner is basic paper but has a visual catalog. Not bad.

  16. Who has ordered the new BN and what titles?

    I ordered Unity and Out to lunch. I have the MM 33 of blue train – waiting for reviews of speak no evil.

    • Did not buy any yet, but saw a few at a local record store last night. The inner sleeves are paper “75 Years of Blue Note,” which I thought was a nice touch.

  17. I can see this post evolving into a series of posts specific to a given label, not the entire genre. And then, it further evolving into a shoot out among the various providers. And then, it moving to a shoot out among the various pressings of one provider (ie OJC’s: with and without bar codes, analog vs digital, Fantasy vs Concord vs recent platings). And then, coming full circle with discussions centered around, “Why on earth would you spend $__ for that pressing when you could have a vintage pressing, for not much more?” And then all of us realizing this was LJC’s attempt to have us obsess about reissues while he cleans up all the originals we left behind. Well played, LJC, well played… I’m onto you!

  18. The initial UK releases of the new Blue Note LPs are now listed on the website of the best known online retailer at a shade under £17 (although I’m sure we should be supporting our preferred record shop- but that’s probably another 100 reply post here). I’m wondering whether the UK copies will be pressed and have sleeves printed here in the UK (Oh no! Another 100 reply post as the readership get to grips with any differences in quality, real or imagined). Well done LJC on opening up this lively debate. Finally, I don’t care how Don Was dresses at the office. The film shows him to be passionate about the project. He’s got what many contributors to this site would probably regard as the dream job. Good luck to him. If the pressings are inferior, which is what we are interested in, there will be a clamour of men in anoraks exclaiming and decrying. Roll on late March /early April for the first five.

    • The race is on – I want to hear from everyone who lays their hands on one.

      Re Don Was, I have total sympathy for anyone who works in the “creative” corporate world. When I worked in “straight” business there was no question what you wore to a board meeting or a client presentation. Conventional sharp dark suit, white shirt, your degrees of freedom limited to your choice of tie. Mad Men. Anyone turning up with pants hanging down and a baseball hat turned backwards or a stetson would be laughed out of the place.

      It must be more difficult to fit in with creative industries, where anti-establishment is the establishment. To beard or not to beard, that is the question, or the right amount of stubble, and the right model of converse trainer. I was in my favourite pub in Kensington the other week and some guys, I deduced from the conversation, working for the music side of Sony, were holding court. The dress code was very complex, but it certainly wasn’t “wear whatever you like”. For a start, wearing a sharp dark suit and tie would probably get them laughed out of the place.

      Don does indeed has my dream job, President of Blue Note Records. I hope his enthusiasm is supported by some equivalent of RVG, who understands where that vinyl magic comes from. I might have cause to join the queue for some copies myself.

      • I just ordered a copy of Unity. Under €20 including shipping on Will post impressions when it arrives.

        • Yes, UNITY is the one that most interests me too — never having listened to it and always having avoided jazz recordings in which organs feature…

          INcidentally, news is also floating around of five new ECM vinyl reissues which include the fabulous Sam Rivers album CONTRASTS.

          I shall check in with great interest to hear first reports of what UNITY actually sounds like.

          • Well, my advice would be to make an effort to listen to it before ordering a copy. I don’t care for it yet I really enjoy ‘Into Somethin’ – they are quite different animals.

        • – the US site only – example pre-order for Unity

          Anyone considering ordering from UK (nothing on the UK Amazon site I could find) aside from postage costs, one consideration is UK customs charges. Officially, charges are waived if the charge collectable (VAT 20%) is below £9. Royal Mail also charge some stupid amount for collecting customs charges, around £8 was my experience. Depending how “smart” US Amazon are, a single or two record purchase should escape customs charges, but buying more at one time “to save postage” could draw you into the customs net.

          Ebay sellers are generally clued-up about avoiding customs penalties for their customers, but I have no experience of buying abroad from Amazon US. Any one has, comments welcome.

  19. Thread replies reposted to escape the dreaded WordPress “drainpipe” view”
    Reply ↓

    on March 21, 2014 at 16:15 said: Edit

    Well spotted, LJC. Dusty Grooves is an excellent site to while away a few hours on — even if the collecting passions of those it features don’t necessarily coincide with one’s own… As for LJC not being mentioned… You need to ramp up your hip quotient a tad, I suspect — sunglasses (indoors), hat, cutting edge tattoos, five days’ stubble. C’mon, c’mon…

    Reply ↓

    on March 22, 2014 at 08:05 said: Edit

    Hello LCJ,

    Thanks for the link. Unfortunately this lucky guy has my nickname but he is not me (and I’m not him). I lived in Paris some years ago but now I’m exiled in southern France : more sun but more difficulties to find good records.
    Superflyrecords is a great shop. I bought some good records to them. You can find them also on Cd and Lp and maybe on discogs.
    You have to make a reclamation to be part of these “happy few”!

  20. Collecting records is much more interesting than audiophiling them.
    Modern reissues can be nice but there’s not the same magic as records that have survived 30 to 50 years to finally make on to YOUR turntable. I recently bought a few old Japanese pressings – King and Metronome – still sealed and pristine. The experience of peeling back the wrapping was exquisite – not originals but somehow closer to the source than modern reissues.
    I’m glad you included Boplicity in the list because I have some 80s Contemporary reisssues on that UK label and they sound mighty fine despite being the vinyl equivalent of Kate Moss.
    I tested a stereo Ornette Coleman album on Boplicity against the mono original and it was MUCH better. You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a nice interesting jazz collection on vinyl. I like originals but I’m not going to break the bank and seeking out bargains is a lot of fun.

    • Fun is a good reason to do anything and there is certainly a lot of fun to be had in these skirmishes between originals, reissues and resurrections. Pity a collector of fine art: is it a Caravaggio or School of Caravaggio? A Rembrandt test-drawing? How many £m? Vinyl is a game more or less everyone can play.

      I have lost all of my” sensible” bids for two weeks now.- if I was relying on acquiring originals now there would be nothing to say. However I remain a sceptic on modern reissues (but keep an open mind). Not to lose sight of the search for more interesting music. There is the real challenge.

  21. I think it’s a disservice that so often modern reissues are almost exclusively compared to the original pressings. To my mind, a $30-$50 pressing should instead be compared to other pressings available in that price range.

    I have a fair number of Music Matters, Analogue Productions, Classic, and Speaker’s Corner records. I assume they do not have as attractive a sound as the originals. But, to take Blue Notes as an example, in terms of price these issues generally compare very favorably to other pressings in their price range (Libertys, UA’s, Kings, etc).

    • Brad,
      I think this is an excellent post.
      What annoys me about Music Matters is their insistence that they have corrected the errors made by Van Gelder – I paraphrase – instead they should concentrate on why they are good modern pressings aimed at the modern listening market.
      The Blue Note sound I and so many others fell in love with was intrinsically linked to Lion’s production values, Van Gelder’s engineering and mastering choices. If you tell me that you are improving on these you’d need to be a miracle worker.

      • I ignore the MM Cultist. I didn’t buy any of their 45’s and the way its looking. I’ll probably buy few if any 33’s since I have it on Classic Records 200 Grams. Key word here…200 grams. When I hear people complain about Treble and high on originals. I just replaced my Long plate Telefunken’s with my 1950’s Blackburn Mullard 12ax7 and sit back with a smirk on my face, 😕

      • Dean, that is precisely what’s happening. Steve Hoffman has been highly persistent in sharing this opinion in his forum over the years. “He’s a great recording engineer but man is he a bad mastering engineer” is the sentiment. To be specific, Hoffman believes that Van Gelder made his mastering choices to make the records sound good on the inferior equipment of the time. This may be true, but for some reason it doesn’t seem that Hoffman can possibly begin to understand why someone might prefer the original pressings to the Music Matters pressings from a purely sonic perspective.

        This is the Music Matters sales pitch, that they are correcting the mistakes made in the past. If they didn’t make a bold claim of this sort, they wouldn’t really be doing anything special other than making high-quality copies of the titles available on vinyl at a much lower cost than the originals in the same fashion as other companies like Classic Records and Analogue Productions. I don’t mind their opinion that their mastering “sounds better”; I think it sounds great. The issue I have is that Hoffman has tastelessly criticized Van Gelder in his forum over the years. To many, a reissue will never recapture the magic and spirit of the time the same way an original does. Hoffman clearly disagrees, believing that the most “realistic” sound captures that magic and spirit best, and that is his goal. Again that is a perfectly valid claim, but my problem lies in what I have perceived as Hoffman’s negative and dismissive attitude toward Van Gelder’s mastering work and listeners who prefer it.

        • Rich
          He was criticising him as an engineer on one thread – on Charlie Byrd Jazz Samba I think – where he favourably commented on the engineer of that album against the crushed sound that Van Gelder achieved.
          It’s not just distasteful, but in my mind explains why I find MM’s releases so unsatisfactory. I don’t think there is any point in remastering if you are just going to make it sound like the original record, but the engineer must have respect for the original recordings. It seems that they don’t. In doing so they lose a lot of what I love about the original Blue Note sound, making them a less enjoyable listen than most of the CDs reissues.
          I understand that this is my point of view, and that others enjoy those choices – mastering is always a question of what distortion you prefer, and no-one ever makes a record especially, sound like a master tape – but for MM to say they are doing it better than the rubbish Van Gelder is hyperbole that shouldn’t go unchallenged.
          I’ve Blue Note master tapes, and MM are no truer to them than Van Gelder, in fact inevitably less so, as Rudy was recording them in a way that would have taken into account that he was then going to master them.

          • Your Comments are way off. I can see you despise Steve Hoffman, but I can equally see that you haven’t bothered to keep track of what they have been doing. Most what you say about Hoffman is true, but if you bothered to keep up with current info you’d realize that Steve Hoffman hasn’t been a part of Music Matters mastering since the first year. He was relieved of his mastering duties because of the very issues that you take umbrage with. MM did not like the direction he was going with reissues so all the mastering responsibilities were taken over by Ron Rambach and Kevin Gray. This is well documented fact that if you bothered to do some research you will find it online.

            If you’ve ever bothered to compare the early Music Matters 45s with the later ones you’d notice that difference but I don’t think you have cause you have an ingrained prejudice against MM or is it Hoffman? FYI Hoffman’s comments about Van Gelder were his own not MM’s, but he was right about Van Gelder compressing the originals, this too is a well known fact. Does that make Van Gelder a bad Engineer; absolutely not? You should try and separate your feelings about Hoffman from MM cause it’s clouding your judgement.

    • Actually I think original Blue Notes cost the same as these re-issues if you adjust for inflation… They were never cheap.

    • Interesting comments , does not seem to be challenging for audiophile dollars. Looking to get their catalog into the hands of music fans who are not familiar with BN at a very reasonable price . Source is not critical – tape or digital master, they want to keep the LP’s under $20.

      He’s honest
      .not to judge but he doesn’t look like a BN guy.

      • Doesn’t “look” like a Blue Note guy? What does that mean? What do looks have to do with anything. Did you listen to Was? His heart is in the right place, and he’s up against a gigantic corporation. With Yoshida and Grundman on board, I bet these will sound very good, and bring new people to the Blue Note sound. It’s all about the music, and that’s where Don Was’ head is at I believe. Give the guy’s “looks” a rest.

        • . I did listen to the interview as you can tell by my comments on some of the high points of the interview.

          The anonymous reply was from me as well, i was on a different device and thought i had entered my name.

          i am excited about listening to some of these and adding to my collection . I have marked about a 100 i may end up getting of the first batch, so i plan on supporting his initiative

          Just not my perception of what corporate officer looks like. It’s atypical .That’s all.
          NO judgement on him, his music, abilities or anything else.

          I am glad he is pushing for the catalog release. Its a great way to get jazz into more hands , especially the younger audience.

          A rising tide lifts all boats

      • Whatever he may look like, he’s an acclaimed producer and musician who grew up listening to jazz. In fact, I’m sure he’s the one who pushed for this re-issue program, as he did the recent Rolling Stones reissues. I’m not a specific fan, but this guy has been around for a long time and knows what he’s doing in the studio. Let’s give him a chance.

        • Joe,

          I don’t know his background ,thanks for the quick update.

          I think its great way to introduce jazz to another generation , and gives me /others an avenue to pick up titles , they may not find nor afford.

          It took me by surprise I think of BN and see brooks brothers.

      • Scarf, hat, dark glasses, sandals, bare feet…. It’s very bright, very hot and quite chilly at Don’s place of work…

      • Yes. Nice guy. Otis often easy to forget that real people are behind such ventures when looking at the internet. His goal to re-issue the entire Blue Note catalogue on vinyl is to be applauded. People mocking his appearance just reflects badly on them!

  22. Great topic and a relevant one for many of us. I have owned a handful of modern re-issues such as Classic Records and Music Matters all on 33rpm (45rpm is just too impractical for me). While they do sound very polite and dynamic, they just don’t have “that sound” that original pressings or early second pressings have to my ears. They are also all too often on the bright side, especially with the drums and cymbals. They are powerful sounding and perhaps do sound more like the actual tape than what was originally pressed onto vinyl, but that doesn’t mean I like them more.

    The originals always shine for me. The drums are balanced and when the instruments fly it’s like you can see the brass floating in the music. It just feels more alive. The combination of people like Van Gelder doing the recording / mastering together with the equipment they used is something that just cannot be duplicated with 50+ year old tapes in today’s world.

    • I used to be an “original pressing fundamentalist” until relatively recently. I would always seek out the earliest pressing possible (i.e., that I could afford) as experience time and time again showed me that this strategy offered the best sounding pressings. I have a fair share of original Blue Note pressings now, and my collection stands at over 300 LPs.

      That was until I heard these MM re-issues. It is true they don’t sound exactly the same as the originals, but I have found that to be a good thing! Its like the MM re-issues have lifted a veil from the music, which still has all the energy and dynamism of the originals (and thens some), with none of their distortion, compressed bass and basically thinness. Soundstage is wider, deeper and just more realistic sounding.

      Take Wayne Shorter’s – Speak no Evil. I have an original pressing of this. Lets be honest, it sounds awful. And whilst the Music Matters re-issue is not the best sounding in the world, it is miles ahead of the original. They have worked wonders. And they do this time and time again – absolutely wonderful pressings.

      Don’t get me wrong. I still love my original pressings, it is the music I love after all more than anything else, but when I have a choice I often now reach for the MM pressings rather than the originals.

      • I definitely agree that the sounds of the originals and re-issues are not the same which is fine. Van Gelder did a mix of what he felt was best with the technology at the time. The MM guys are doing the same while trying be true to the sound on the master tape. Neither is right or wrong. It all comes down to preference combined with what sounds best on your home system. If I had tubes I wonder if the drums and cymbals on my MM stuff would sound a bit softer. Quite possible. It’s also possible that my tastes may simply change a bit over time and hearing the MM stuff years later will be a great way to hear things in a new light.

        Regardless, I do agree that the MM LP’s are top notch along with the AP SACD’s. Those are tops for the re-issue camp in my book. It’s a shame the AP LP’s were not released in 33rpm.

      • David, I enjoyed reading your post, thanks for sharing!

        Tony, I appreciated your comments too. What version of Speak No Evil is your original, mono or stereo? Are you comparing an original mono with a Music Matters stereo (or vice versa) by chance? Also, what kind of condition is your original in? Is it possible that your specific copy has suffered from groove wear that might be causing distortion? I have found that a very high percentage of originals out there today suffer from this. Because Van Gelder cut his record so hot, originals are much more likely to incur distortion from groove wear than other records mastered more “moderately”. This is the gift and the curse of Van Gelder’s mastering. When near mint, it’s tough to beat. But a copy had to get pass that era of heavy tonearms and cartridges in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s to come out on the other side sounding stellar, and I have found in my experience that most copies unfortunately didn’t.

        I would agree that the stereo Music Matters LPs have a “cleaner” sound than the mono originals, even when compared to a truly near mint original, and that’s cool! I used to be a hardcore original fundamentalist myself, but I have come to accept the reality of the fact that both have their charms.

        • HI, just saw your questions… (hard to follow these WordPress threads sometimes, was a lot easier a few years ago when LJC was not so well known).

          I have original and re-issue copies of Speak No Evil in Stereo (I don’t believe in buying the monos after about 1962 as they are all fold downs from the Stereo master anyway after that date and I have personally found the Stereo copies to always be superior by then).

          Both are in excellent condition. Its a strange one, but also I find JUJU to be pretty poor quality also in the original. Sometimes RVG just had an off day….

  23. Evening gents. I too felt that the original mono of Blue Train very slightly edged the Music Matters re-issue, but Blue Train is not the sounding recording in the Blue Note catalogue. Have had another listen to Kenny Burrell – Midnight Blue. Music Matters 45 RPM re-issue tonight. This is probably the best sounding vinyl LP I have ever heard. Seriously seriously good. If only all records were made this way!

  24. You have started a great debate – and one I have with myself occasionally. I have come to the conclusion that generally the originals sound more alive and the HQ re-issues more clinical with bigger soundstage (mass generalisation) – if you can afford both go for it! I have just compared the MM and AP Idle Moments (33 vs 45) – and after a few seconds I just enjoyed the music – crap pressing get jettisoned pretty soon.

    What do people think of all these European re-issues – Doxy, Wax Time etc? I can’t bring myself to try one.

    And I know you ruled out the big labels but I think a special mention should go to Rhino – more so for Rock but they have done some good Jazz that opened the door for me.

  25. I have picked up a few of the new Music Matters 33 rpm pressings, in my opinion more hype than substance. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but I glanced through the Music Matters thread on the Steve hoffman forum and it is a bit comical how they are slamming original pressings and laying on the hyperbole about these new reissues slaying the originals. I guarantee most of those posters have never heard mono Plastylite Van Gelder originals, but go on the word of Steve Hoffman’s denigrating remarks about Van Gelder, his recording and mastering style. Some of the comments there are so over the top, ie one poster “La Roca” almost sounds like he is being paid by Music Matters.

    I think their earlier 45 rpm reissues are better than these 33 rpm reissues, which frankly sound like digital to me. Very forward, titled treble, no flow.

      • I have not had the pleasure to hear an original Blue Train! But the Music Matters sounds like an HDTRacks file pressed to vinyl. I can’t imagine that is how the Van Gelder sounds.

        • I have both an original (well, early second pressing with Ear technically) and the new MM. I wouldn’t say the MM sounds digital, but it is definitely brighter especially with the drums and cymbals. I think we often associate bright and digital together. I think the MM has a great energy to it and offers a very acceptable listening experience. Based on everything the MM guys have said (and I highly doubt they would blatantly lie) there is no digital aspect to the chain.

  26. May want to add these to the list…

    4 Men With Beards (Mostly Atlantic, I have the Monk / Blakey which is quite enjoyable.)

    Alto Analogue (German reissue label, I have an Illinois Jacquet release from there which is excellent. Their Bill Evans Riverside reissues are also outstanding.)

    Concert Vault (Technically not a reissue label, but they have started to press Jazz concerts from the “Golden Era.”)

    DCC (I have Coltrane’s Lush Life. Might be the best sounding, musically captivating album I own.)

    Rhino (Primarily a rock / pop shop, the Coltrane Vinyl Box Set is excellent. I also have a couple of the Ornette Coleman reissues which are also very, very good.)

    • I just wanted to add to the comments about Analog Productions, they seem to be getting better and better, witnessed by the fact that the Japanese want to press their Blue Note reissues there. The new Prestige mono series titles have brilliant, heavy cardstock jackets, quiet flat surfaces and dynamic sound.

  27. A good topic. Given that 99.99 percent of my collection exists on reissues of various vintage, it is probably obvious that I am not a first pressing fundamentalist. Generally speaking, a reissue has to be a real dog before I’ll pass on it or jettison it later for something better. I wouldn’t do without a record because I can’t afford a first pressing (in the same way that I wouldn’t do without reading an important book because I can’t find a first edition hardback — I’ll buy a paperback).

    Manu mentions Heavenly Sweetness, and I too have praised this reissue label before here. It’s reissue of Sam Rivers’ NEW CONCEPTION OF JAZZ, for example, sounds (and looks) fine to me.

    Analogue Productions, Speakers Corner and Pure Pleasure rarely disappoint — me, at least: others may feel differently. Although having said that, I haven’t always found Speakers Corner vinyl as quiet as the company usually claims it to be.

    Robert Lambie asked what reissues of KIND OF BLUE can be recommended. Like dotter jazz I’ve got the late-90s Classic Records issue (the straight reissue, not the extra tracks version) and it is superb – although even this changes hands for serious money nowadays.

    Reissues that I have become particularly interested in over the past year or so are 70s/80s Japanese pressings — Victor Japan, King, etc etc. I recently bought probably a couple of dozen of these, ranging from Mulligan Meets Webster to Coltrane’s BALLADS, and every one was not only marvellous, they looked as if they had left the factory just a day or two before reaching me in the mail — clean, silent, impeccable condition, crisp covers. At barely a tenner apiece, they have been real bargains.

    I have — perhaps wrongly — avoided Wax Time, Doxy and several other reissuers, in the perhaps mistaken belief that they use sources of doubtful provenance and exist in that grey market of out-of-copyright recordings that can be repressed cheaply.

    I must add that there have been occasions recently when I have replaced a recent (probably “non-audiophile”) pressing of something (Cecil Taylor’s LOVE FOR SALE comes to mind) with a 70s or 80s-era pressing, and found the latter to be better in all respects except the sleeve quality. Equally, I have also replaced mono originals on a handful of occasions (Ornette’s TOMORROW IS THE QUESTION, Taylor’s LOOKING AHEAD) with 70s/80s reissues and found them to be preferable…

      • You are correct – Wax Time, Doxy, Jazz Track, and the like are digital clones of records in the public domain in Europe. They are silent and well-pressed and well-packaged, but flat as they just sound like the CD (not surprisingly). Please note – this is NOT Sonny Rollins’ Doxy label, but rather the European Doxy label.

        • I’ve recently acquiesced and started buying some Wax Time, Doxy, etc type lables simply bc the prices are too good to pass up. I agree with alunsevern in that I don’t want to deprive myself of new music based on the pressing. I like the book comparison. I am a ravenous record shopper but funds are always limited. I just bought a Wax Time copy of Bill Evans “How My Heart Sings” ($11.99 is hard to pass up, I’d buy the new CD at that price) and spun it last night and I thought it sounded just fine. You know going in it’s a bargain copy and it’s not going to blow you away. But if you’re in it for the music itself, I think you do what you can. Admittedly, I don’t have an audiophile’s setup. I have decent Bose speakers that sound good in my small space and a crappy receiver that works. While I wouldn’t brag about the copy I bought like I would if I had the Riverside OG, it’s still wonderful music. Other titles I’ve bought recently include: Duke Jordan – Flight to Jordan, Sonny Rollins – Plays for Bird & Jim Hall – Jazz Guitar. Prices ranged from $6.99 to $11.99. I have no real complaints on the sound of any of them, but that’s me. I just think it’s too good a deal to pass on for adding to your jazz library. There’s nothing like a clean RVG original, but I don’t own a Ferrari either.

          • I realize this is a year old conversation – but my guilt of buying these budget labels led me to seek out how shamed I’d be on the web. I wasn’t disappointed. I’ll say this in my defense. I inherited a fantastic jazz collection from my old man. He’s the one who got me into jazz. His collection included tons of Blue Note originals (Night Dreamer, Maiden Voyage, Somethin’ Else to name a few) but also lots of OJC records he bought in the 80s – mainly Prestige titles like Jack McDuff and Benny Golson. I play all of them w/out bias. In 20 years, will I still look at these budget reissues much differently? Maybe…hope not.

            • No reason at all to be ashamed. The music is the most important thing. As long as you know what you’re getting, it’s all good in my book. I listen to plenty of streaming music that I don’t have on vinyl; it’s not the same, but it’s still better than NOT listening at all!

              • Agreed – thanks Joe! May have to go pickup some more. Been buying a few 75th Anniversary pressings too and while those haven’t blown me away – I still think they sound pretty great. Maybe it’s just the music is such high level stuff it would sound good coming out of a payphone…

  28. Currently enjoying the Music Matters 33 RPM Blue Note re-issues. Absolutely sublime. It doesn’t get any better than this.

      • hahahaha! I love your french traduction!
        I hope my english is understandable. This is the first time I commented on your blog that has an important role in my learning of young jazz record collector!

        I think you will not be able to find them in FNAC : FNAC is becoming a sort of supermarket where nothing very interesting can be found…
        Better for you to buy directly to the label site. But if you go to Paris, you must visit Croco’Jazz, rue de la montagne Sainte Genevieve, near Pantheon : the seller is a fine connoisseur and especially advises the label’s choice of reissue. A man so close to the source! He first introduced me to these reissues. I’m not a fanatic audiophile but Heavenly Sweetness make a quite honorable work. Not so good than original pressing of course but far from Scorpio reissues.

        • The HS reissue of Horace Parlan’s “Happy Frame of Mind” BN 84134 is nice. Originally planned cover art by Reid Miles. Sounds decent.

          • I bought Blue Mitchell’s Bring it home to Me on Heavenly sweetness and it started out with an awful presentation. Photocopied Cover. Yes, Photocopied not printed. The Lp came in a Thick Poly inner Sleeve. The fidelity is not what I’d expect from a $30 reissue and no where near a Classic Records Reissue. But everyone has different systems, taste, hearing and expectations so take MHO with a grain of salt. They do have two Records I’d like and of course no choice In the matter as of yet. Donald Byrd Kofi and that monster track(LP) from Andrew Hill Dance with Death.

            • Blue Mitchell’s “Bring it home to me” is not the better that you can find. This is one of their first reissue. I admit that laters reissues are getting better. The inner sleeves are now in paper. It’s not a photocopied cover but scanned. I learnt that negatives of original covers have sometimes been lost, or that they doesn’t quit USA…
              In France and Europe prices are less expansive (about 22 €). But these are limited editions so I guess prices are going to increase…
              Dance with death is awesome! Happy frame of mind is very nice, I agree.

            • Well, that’s the reason to get the Horace Parlan – it was not originally issued, but only included in the ’70s Booker Ervin 2-fer Back From The Gig. So, the ONLY form in which to get the original cover art and pressing as intended is the HS reissue. Not ideal, but better than not having it at all.

              • Actually, the Parlan was released with the original cover by Blue Note in 1986. If you’re looking for “originals,” then that’s the one. If HS is claiming otherwise then they’ve done a bit of revisionist history. While it was a DMM master under the guidance of McMaster and Cuscuna, it also sounds decent. It fares well in comparison to the Complete BN Parlan Mosaic LP box set, an analog master also done my McMaster. Very similar sonic profiles between the two.

                • Happy Frame of Mind was released in France & Japan as well, same cover art. I have the Japanese pressing & it sounds absolutely fantastic. A must have album.

                  • I just put this on the table. You’re right, this sounds very ,very good. I’m assuming the French Pathe Marconi was also a DMM master. Is the Japanese analog?

                  • About HS : the reissue of No room for squares for example is for me a very good opportunity to have this LP in good condition. Japan and original press are too much expensive and quite rare. Obviously, the sound quality is not so good as an original Van Gelder’s one and I will not spit on a good deal if I find one some day.
                    I have also the opportunity to compare a Japanese pressing and a HS one : Donald Byrd Chant. I’m not a sound specialist and my Hi Fi system is certainly not a top one but the difference between them was not so important, for me. But as someone said, everyone has different expectation about music..

                  • Well spotted, LJC. Dusty Grooves is an excellent site to while away a few hours on — even if the collecting passions of those it features don’t necessarily coincide with one’s own… As for LJC not being mentioned… You need to ramp up your hip quotient a tad, I suspect — sunglasses (indoors), hat, cutting edge tattoos, five days’ stubble. C’mon, c’mon…

                    • Hello LCJ,

                      Thanks for the link. Unfortunately this lucky guy has my nickname but he is not me (and I’m not him). I lived in Paris some years ago but now I’m exiled in southern France : more sun but more difficulties to find good records.
                      Superflyrecords is a great shop. I bought some good records to them. You can find them also on Cd and Lp and maybe on discogs.
                      You have to make a reclamation to be part of these “happy few”!

  29. This might be an interesting comment, and I know someone hinted at this but if a reissue only met or fell below expectations then you should still be able to complete the survey and not check off ANY of the boxes. In my experience, I actually had pretty high expectation for Music Matters releases and so my expectations weren’t exceeded but were still met. Of course this is pretty nitpicky terrain I guess!

    • You are quite right of course Bob. In the world of work, I spent a number of years designing opinion research questionnaires, semantic differential scales, complex cross-tabulations, the whole guacamole. Now I am reduced to working with “Poll Daddy”. Be grateful.

  30. The Music Matters Blue Train is very soft sounding, nothing like the original.
    As I understand it (I am reviewing the new reissues for, the new Blue Note 75th Anniversary reissues will come from both tape and digital sources. Time will tell.

    Anyone heard the Miles bootleg series on Music for Vinyl? A dog! But not available in the states so…JazzWax make some excellent reissues, but they pale in comparison to originals

    • I love Blue Train. Have 5 or 6 or so copies from original w63i through Stereo NY USA to later liberty and UA releases. Love them all (it’s the music baby). I put the Music Matters re-issue right up there with the original mono. Slightly different presentation. Wouldn’t call it soft exactly. Perhaps less distorted. Slightly different presentation. Love them both. The MM re-issue is an absolute steal!

      • Apples and oranges I guess. Most original BNs I have both richness and impact. Energy, very dynamic. On my rig (Kuzma/EMT TSD 15) the Music Matters Blue Train lacks visceral impact.

  31. So, do we save up until we can afford a copy of the ‘Holy Grail’ or do we spend £15ish on a modern reissue? By ‘Holy Grail’ I mean something akin to a 6 eye with an ear. Chances are, by 2014 your ‘Holy Grail’ is most likely to have squint eyed vinyl with clicks, pops and accompanying surface noise whilst the cover will be decidedly dog-eared. Of course I can understand that some collectors will always prefer to own original copies, but for me the overwhelming attraction has to be for silent surfaces and pristine covers that modern reissues offer even if the sound is not quite so good as was the sound of the original when it was new. The problem is that with so many labels offering reissues it is difficult to know what to buy and what too leave well alone. I have reissues on Wax Time, Doxy and Dol and an Analogue Production reissue at 45 rpm of ‘Somethin Else’ is in the post.

    Wax Time LPs (180g) are attractively packaged and have unfailingly silent vinyl. Price range £12 to £15. I have (in no particular order) Shelly Manne ‘2-3-4’, Bill Evans ‘New Jazz Conceptions’ Art Tatum – Ben Webster Quartet, Duke Ellington ‘Piano in the Foreground’ Sonny Rollins ‘The Bridge’, Oscar Peterson ‘Richard Rodgers Songbook’ and Cecil Taylor ‘Love For Sale’. The sound quality on all but one is excellent and perfectly good enough for me. The disappointment is the Duke Ellington where the bass and drums are too much in the background , the piano is not perfectly in tune (not the fault of Wax Time) and the sound is reminiscent of a very early mono recording. The Oscar Peterson recording dates from 2 years earlier and is sparkling.

    On Doxy (180g) I have Oliver Nelson ‘Screamin the Blues’ and again I have no complaints. It is currently available on Amazon for just over £8 believe it or not. On Dol (140g and a Russian outfit) I have Chet Baker ‘& Strings’ (don’t laugh, you also get Russ Freeman, Zoot Simms, Bud Shank and Shelly Manne with arrangements by Johnny Mandel, Marty Paich and Shorty Rogers) but despite the excellence of the music I regret the purchase. This very much sounds like a copy from a poor source. It has to be said that Dol reissues are less expensive than most others, but I don’t expect to be tempted again. I have recently bought the Blue Note reissue of Larry Young ‘Into Somethin’ which is excellent and, as we speak, an Analogue Production ‘Somethin’ Else’ (2@45 rpm LPs) is in the post for me. It was bought on Ebay, NM/NM for £26 including postage which I hope wasn’t over the top.

    Finally, I would appreciate any of your recommendations for a ‘Kind of Blue’ modern reissue.

    • I have a double edition, bought in June 1997, manufactured by Classic Records. First LP reproduces the record as it came out. Second has three tracks (So What, Freddie Freeloader and Blue in Green) with corrected speed plus an unreleased alternate take of Flamenco Sketches playing at 45 rpm. Hard cover, beautiful sound. Columbia CS 8163.

  32. LJC,

    I am curious if the new BN reissue program will be from the analog tapes or digital masters. I have heard a few of the BN high res samples and I much prefer the sound of the Analog Productions and Music Matters LP’s. As far as reissues the finest I have seen and heard are from Atelier Sawano in Osaka, Japan. Dead quiet pressings and perfect packaging. There is some digital mastering in their chain, but the LP’s sound outstanding. Bobby Jaspar Quintet is a great record they pressed. Sawano CD’s sound outstanding too. They are a little pricey but when you consider these titles usually go for over $1000 bucks its a relative bargain.

  33. What is a Modern Vinyl Jazz Reissue? A MJVR is a vinyl jazz record that contains sound converted to analog from a digital master which in turn was made from an analog source. Now can anyone please explain why the MJVR should be preferable to the CD version which comes from the same digital master but has the benefit of showing no inner groove distortion, no eccentricity, no frequency decline from outer to inner groove, no crackle, no (potential) speed issues caused by a poorly adjusted turntable? Well all right, it is vinyl, it has a decent cover with letters printed in decent size (very important), but that’s about all that can be said. Being “digital” in part, it’s neither for the all-analog vinyl buff nor for the digital-tolerant audiophile. Why go for it?

    • Hi Eduard,

      Just a question. Why is a MJVR a vinyl jazz record cut from a digital master? I can think of three companies, (Music Matters, Analogue Productions, Mobile Fidelity) that use the original analog tapes to cut their vinyl. Are you talking about specific companies, or am I missing something?

      • Tim, I am always ready to be taught otherwise. It is true, of course, that they “use the original analog tapes to cut their vinyl” – but are you certain that no digital processing whatsoever is involved in the production? I would be delighted if you could shed some light on this. I have heard that some companies are using vintage studio technology but I have done no in-depth research.

        • Had a look at the websites of the companies you mentioned. It seems like they are really using all-analog equipment, at least two of them to be sure. Aside from that, I stumbled upon one remarkable sentence on the Mobile Fidelity homepage: “…Our lacquers are then plated in a specialized process that protects transients in the musical signal. (Due to this process, there may be occasional pops or ticks inherent in initial play back, but as the disc is played more, a high
          quality stylus will actually polish the grooves and improve the sound).” Never heard of anything like that before. Sounds like witchcraft to me – but who knows. We live and learn.

          • Hi Eduard,

            You are correct in that I don’t have any proof that they are not introducing digital processing into production. I’ve elected to take them at their word. I do believe the three I mentioned are using an all analog chain when they say they are. And yes, I’ve seen that bit from Mobile Fidelity before. I don’t know how to respond to it other than I have a few of their pressings and am happy with them. In particular, I picked up their re-issue of Miles Davis ‘Round About Midnight in mono and it sounds wonderful. I’m not one of those folks who are going to tell you that the reissues sound better than the originals. I only have a few original Blue Notes as I don’t have the funds to play in that game. What I find most interesting is that I think they is a lot of typical audiophile bluster on both sides about the sound of either originals or reissues.

            I mainly buy Music Matters reissues. They sound fantastic, period. Do the originals sound better? I couldn’t answer that. However, for me personally, it pushes the boundaries of credibility when I hear people trashing either originals or reissues for their sound quality(with exceptions, clearly). I certainly understand where personal preference comes in, but preferring an original does not make a reissue sound bad and vice versa. The fact of the matter is if you have the funds to acquire original Blue Notes, or what have you, and enjoy them, fantastic. I think for many of us, companies like Music Matters offer a really valuable service in that they make this music available at an affordable price in a really attractive package. The vinyl is pressed well, quiet, the mastering is fantastic and the packaging is beautiful. Is it the sound the same as what Rudy put out on originals? I would imagine not, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sound wonderful.

            I love reading LJC’s blog because I love his writing, I love the music and I also love it from the historical perspective. The reality is I don’t have the money to be chasing originals, so reissues will be it for me. And I’m not complaining. The reissues I buy, King, Music Matters, Analogue Productions, MoFi, etc… have done a great job. They sound great on my system and allow me to enjoy this music on vinyl which is how I prefer to listen to it. (Don’t tell LJC, but I listen to rips from the Evil Silver Disc and also a few high resolution downloads and enjoy them as well when they are done right. )

            • Hi Tim,

              Thanks for elaborating on this topic, you really seem to be showing a very rational approach towards it. I, too, like LJC’s blog because – as I have stated elsewhere – I don’t consider him a fundamentalist. After all, by inviting us to compare his vinyl rips he constantly forces us to listen to “digital” music, doesn’t he?

  34. Great idea for a poll. It’ll be interested to see how it stacks up. The only category missing would be Reissues Exceeding Expectations . For me the winner in that group which would be OJC where pressing quality belies their low price point and availability .

    • OJCs have varied for me to be honest. I’ve found the OJC reissues done in the 80s that were either Contemporary of Riverside reissues to be pretty good. I can’t say the same though for Prestige reissues I’ve heard though…

    • I picked up Donald Byrd’s Byrd Blows On Beacon Hill and it sounds good to me. Packaging is first rate as well.

  35. I’m interested to hear the quality of the Blue Note 75 Anniversary reissues and to read some head to head reviews of the new records against first pressings (won’t be writing these myself though, unless the lottery numbers line up for me). It will also be interesting to read how the printing techniques and the card quality used for the sleeves compares. I’ve taken a look at the projected reissue programme ( about 18 months listed if my memory does not fail me) but it looks quite cautious and did not quicken my pulse- and shame over shame, no Freddie Roach!
    I bought a few DMM Blue Notes in the 80’s, believing what was said of their sound quality and having nothing to compare them against- so I share LJC’s scepticism.
    The prospect of, say, buying one title a month and building up a collection of pristine sleeved pressings has its attractions (I am dismayed, perhaps even depressed) when I see racks of dog-eared sleeves.
    I await this new wine in old bottles- but only if the sound is great.

  36. The new 33 series from Music Matters is a must-own. It’s everything you can you ever want from a reissue. The sound is absolutely stellar! They are making fresh transfers from RVG’s studio masters. The vinyl pressings are dead quiet and the music is full frequency. It’s high quality all the way and not too expensive. I have the first 4 and do not regret one penny I spent on them.

    • I agree with you to an extent. I have purchased the Tina Brooks and Joe Henderson and am extremely pleased with them, however the mono reissue of Blue Train to my ears sounds very sharp in the upper highs with playback on “I’m Old Fashioned” having background noise for some reason (perhaps static from a new pressing?). Now I have the benefit of comparing to an NYC 60s plastylite pressing but even listening to this compared with a JPN reissue you will see the difference. Rather disappointing as the cover graphics, gatefold laminate pressing with stellar photos inside would have made this a def keeper if the sound matched the craftsmanship of the sleeve. Perhaps this was a one of blunder or maybe the upper highs are just too clean for my taste?

  37. Of the reissue labels mentioned above, I only have experience of Mosaic and I’d certainly recommend them to a friend. Back in the late 80s/early 90s, aside from Japanese Toshibas, Mosaic was the only practical option for owning many rare Blue Notes (and others) on vinyl and I still recall the delight at unboxing the Tina Brooks set. My biggest regret is that I only bought a modest number of Mosaic sets back then. At the time the prices looked expensive but with the benefit of about 20 years hindsight, they now look like ridiculously good bargains – if only I could have realised it then!

    The two boxes I most regret passing on at the time were the Horace Parlan Blue set and Sonny Clark/Grant Green set. At least I’m beginning to make up for the latter by gradually adding some of the Japanese King releases to my collection. In fact, “Nigeria”, “Oleo” and the later “Solid” are in a parcel that’s due to arrive tomorrow.

  38. LJC

    I am so glad you have brought this up. I am really looking forward to following the post as well as offering my comments.

    I saw the press release from Blue Note re: the new releases and have been curious as to the reaction to them as well the sound quality.

    I have more to add , but i just got to the office – will do the polls later and offer more feedback

  39. Excellent – absolutely excellent, full marks for raising the topic! Before I rush in where angels fear to tread, would it be possible to add Wax Time, Doxy and Dol to the polls? I have reissues on all these labels, though there is an Analogue Production 2LP, 45 rpm edition of ‘Somethin Else’ winging its way to me as we speak.

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