Van Gelder 1961 and 1983: Toshiba, Pathe Marconi and Uptown

Compare The Vinyl: “Philly” Twist (Dorham) first recorded  by Van Gelder 1961 for BNST 84063 Kenny Dorham Whistlestop .

tom-selleck-magnum-hawaiian-shirt[1]No original pressing on this one, sadly,  but unpack the Magnum, P.I. Hawaiian shirt and fix on moustache, it’s ’80s night at LJC!  Presented here, compare what Rudy did with Philly Twist in 1983 for Uptown. Philly Twist, with reissues from France 1984 and Japan, on the cusp, 1990, all (semi) vintage vinyl, bonus: ’80s cloudless blue skies and ultra-bright smiles!

Kenny-Dorham-Whistlestop-cover-1800-LJC

 Selection 1Philly Twist – Toshiba-EMI Japan, 1990

Artists:

Kenny Dorham (trumpet) Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone) Kenny Drew (piano) Paul Chambers (bass) Philly Joe Jones (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, January 15, 1961

Music:

Dorham compositions are well-rounded and memorable. The highlight for me, aside from the distinctive  phrasing and glittering tone of Dorham’s trumpet,  is the presence of Hank Mobley’s malted tenor and no less, the bubbling comping of Kenny Drew steering things along, while Chambers and Philly Joe stoke the engine room. This is bop with firmness of purpose and belief in itself from 1961,  a sense that was not to last.

Blue Note Vinyl from Japan

In late 1983, Toshiba-EMI  replaced King Records as the EMI Blue Note release partner for Japan, and over the following decade and a half Toshiba issued over 600 Blue Note releases, in two waves – the first 1983-5 and then a second in  1989 through to the mid ’90s.  Just a few titles were issued in the intervening years, and further releases continue to the present day, though mostly in the form of “fake vinyl” ie digital transfers.

Two hundred of the most desirable Blue Note titles were reissued in the first wave, and many went on to have second reissue in the later wave, so some Toshiba reissues may be an early Toshiba pressing or a later Toshiba pressing. Others titles, like Dorham’s Whistle Stop were reissued just the once, and only in Stereo, in this case in the second wave in 1990.

Though I have never been able to compare early and late Toshiba for same title directly, my impression is that  earlier Toshiba are the “good stuff”, and later pressings are increasingly over the years  infiltrated by digital processes. Some might assume that to be a good thing, I wouldn’t be one of them.

Selection 2: Philly Twist – Pathe-Marconi, France,  re-edition1984

Kenny-Dorham-Whistlestop-cover--Pathe-Marconi-France-1800-LJC

Selection 2Philly Twist  Pathe-Marconi,  France 1984

 

Reminder:Philly Twist – Toshiba-EMI Japan, 1990

 

Blue Note Vinyl from France

Clearly, in the early ’80s orders went out from EMI on high to exploit the Blue Note assets sitting in the vaults under EMI ownership, nearly four years after their acquisition. That is “exploit” in a good way, creating something people want and will happily pay money for, thereby create wealth, as opposed to wealth reduction –  sitting on their ass(ets).  The reissue vehicle for Europe was the French EMI subsidiary Pathe Marconi, mirroring the Japanese initiative through Toshiba EMI and the belated ’80s Capitol Manhattan US programme.

No-one has documented the Pathe Marconi schedules as have our friends in Tokyo for the King and Toshiba years, bless Japan, but most Blue Note titles can be found relatively inexpensively with decent facsimile artwork on French reissues. In some cases (BN 1542 Rollins Vol 1 case in point) comparing Liberty and Division of United Artists reissues, Pathe Marconi are the best of the bunch. In my experience the quality of French reissues is unpredictable and variable, some very good, some not so good. Time may come this information is useful to you.

Around 1986 the French reissues were ensnared in new technology, the German/Decca Teldec Direct Metal Mastering process (DMM) , a good theory with poor results, I can’t recommend vinyl DMM, though the pre-DMM is often quite acceptable, if not up to the standard of fully vintage vinyl – hey, you are not paying for original quality. We are below the salt here.

The Pathe-Marconi reissues were, I have to assume, remastered by French house engineers from copy tapes despatched from the US, much the same as did Japanese engineers at Toshiba. I assume they did the best they could with what they had. The interesting thing here is Japanese engineering vs French engineering from the same source copy tape. If there is a difference, break out the flags. If they are the same and very good, great. But if they are the same and both not very good, the finger of suspicion points to the quality of the tape EMI/Blue Note sent to both of them.

Here’s one poster’s take on French EMI,  and another on the Connoisseur ’90s editions, on an interesting Hoffman forum thread:

” I really like that album (New and Old Gospel)  and only have the French EMI reissue from the 80s, which all sound a bit flat and lifeless compared to what we are spoiled with now…(MM)”

 

“I have that same LP pressing (Connoisseur)… and I think your description “fairly good” hits it right on the head. It’s certainly inoffensive, in terms of EQ and having a reasonably quiet surface, but it’s really lacking in dynamics – the music just sort of sits there, lifeless, very little analog magic.

Although they say “mastered from the original analog source” I don’t know if that means an all-analog chain, or that they used a digital master made from the original tapes (rather than higher gen copies) – to my ears it sounds more like the latter.”

Good to know similar conversations are going on in other quarters. Means we are in the same ballpark.

Selection 3Philly Twist   Don Sickler – Music of Kenny Dorham – Uptown Records 1983 – RVG

 

Artists (1983)

Don-Sickler-Kenny-Dorham-Music-of---cover-1800-LJC

Don Sickler (trumpet) Jimmy Heath (tenor) Cedar Walton (piano) Ron Carter (bass) Billy Higgins (drums). Recorded at  Englewood Cliffs ,November 12, 1983 by Rudy van Gelder, mastered by RVG.

The arrangement is more refined and a fairly different Van Gelder presentation, much more polished and balanced, though one needs to push the volume up a little, it is slightly lacking punch – modern vinyl is often more quiet than early pressings, for reasons others probably know.

Critics Choice

Judge-LJCMy take is that, on this occasion, the French reissue is more articulate and lively than the Japanese reissue, which is a little woolly and less informative. You can make up your own mind. Both are fairly acceptable alternatives, though they are both lacking the  excitement I know the original will have. But that is not on the cards.

I love the Uptown dynamics, even if Mobley is missing.

That’s the thing with compromise, it’s always on the one hand, but on the other… Whatever the outcome, I have enjoyed rediscovering Kenny Dorham, and Joe Henderson, more of which is to come. That is an outcome more important than audiophile-chest-beating. It’s great music, however you reach it.

 

Collector’s Corner

I was in a record store earlier in the week when a young man in a hurry was asking after the Blue Note 75 edition of the Sonny Clark most wanted title, Cool Struttin’.

Manager: Sorry, it’s on order but we don’t have a copy right now.
Young Man: It costs thousands as an original, incredible prices
(Overhearing, and trying to be helpful, I point him to the second-hand section)
LJC: There a nice Japanese copy there. King Records.
YM: I’ve seen it, it’s very expensive – thirty quid. Why are they so dear?
LJC: Well, That’s not an unreasonable price, it’s the going rate. It’s vintage, early ’80s  and they are very nice. 
YM: Too expensive, and I want the Blue Note 75, I believe they are  from the original tapes, and less than twenty quid.
The store manager and I exchanged a pained expression.
Manager: Digital transfer more likely. If they were sourced directly from the original tapes don’t you think they might say so? Anyone else would…
LJC: Everything is sourced from the original tapes, “originally” – but at some point…

Clearly not ready for this conversation, the young man huffed, and left the shop.

With Blue Note original pressings increasingly rare and unaffordable, collectors have to consider a compromise, though exactly how much of a compromise is often an unknown quantity, and what you should expect to pay not always well understood. Here at LJC we do a lot of comparative listening and have built up a general Rule of Thumb about what we think of the audio quality of vintage alternatives. These are a general guide, there are often situations in which actual comparison surprises, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.

The good news is that if you have only the one copy of a recording you may never know how it compares with an original, and often it’s a very acceptable listen. Ignorance is bliss Some hi-fi are very forgiving of quality variation, others are ruthlessly revealing. Same goes for listeners. I’m at the revealing end.

The bad news is that for the most part original Blue Notes have a fire and forcefulness that defies comparison: they simply sound much much better than anything that followed. Once you have heard it, there is no way back…

I reckon US Blue Note original  for Whistle Stop (47 West 63rd label mono, top copy) would set you back up to at least $500. (It’s Mobley’s presence drives the price, I think)  If an original is not an option, what’s the alternative? Option 2 around $50-75 (if you can find one), Option 3 at $45 and Option 4 at maybe $20. Samples with this post are Options 3 and 4.

Blue-Note-Vintage-Preferences-chart-LJC

This order of preference is my take, you may well have your own ideas, bring different experiences to bear. Works for me most of the time, fails around 10%.

Vinyl Upgraders

If you are a jazz / vintage vinyl fan, start anywhere you can, at the bottom if necessary, upgrade a step at a time. Leapfrog a grade if the opportunity arises, or shoot straight for the top. I don’t go lower, and a personal aside, I don’t go “modern audiophile” other than very exceptionally, and even then only latest Music Matters or OOP Mosaic, not by preference. The Evil Silver Disc™ is the place of last resort, where nothing exists on vinyl or you have abandoned hope.

Keep those turntables turning.

Postscript:

There are other options, including late ’80s/ ’90s, “Finest in Jazz Since 1939”, Blue Note 75, and probably many others, without first hand experience, I can’t offer any opinion.

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53 thoughts on “Van Gelder 1961 and 1983: Toshiba, Pathe Marconi and Uptown

  1. Late (as usual). I have Toshiba and Connoisseur copies of this title, thus my interest in the thread.
    Toshiba sounds better. Tighter stereo spread, more articulate bass, cleaner brass and treble.
    Pathe Marconi is not bad, and is actually quite good in the abstract, but fails in direct comparison.

    Also levels are not perfectly matched; Toshiba is louder.

      • One of the false flags in comparison is volume. It is more noticeable earlier than other sonic differences. The gain on the USB audio capture device is adjusted between the two rips, to ensure they both use the full available dynamic range equally , but it seems that does not fully compensate for the underlying difference in volume set at mastering. A tweak at playback is a workaround.

        • Another data point…..I recently acquired a Toshiba copy of Donald Byrd Fuego, hoping it would be an upgrade over my black B reissue. 30-9-92 is printed on the back of the OBI. I performed a quick comparison by converting the first track of both pressings to digital at 24/96 using Vinyl Studio, normalizing volume, then comparing FR graphs in Audacity. The black B graph shows a gentle downward slope, with sonic content still present between 20khz to about 27khz before descending in to background noise. The Toshiba graph looks very different. Identical to the black B to about 7khz, then substantially higher in level (+10db at 15khz !) such that the response appears to plateau between 8k and 17khz, then a large response spike at 18khz, and another response spike at 22khz, then response falls off a of a cliff into background noise. I suspected digital conversion based upon the graph results, so I opened went back to Vinyl Studuo to confirm. Yup. The Toshiba spectrum exhibits a hard ceiling line at just over 20khz with nothing above. The black B shows normal ebbs and flows, with visible content above 20khz. Sonicaly, the Toshiba sounded a little “clearer” probably due to higher levels in treble. But treble also sounded brittle; cymbals crunched instead of shimmered, brass sounded spitty at the upper end of the range. Background lost some air and sense of space. The background was muffled by silence which is a digital artifact. Lesson learned- ALWAYS check the release date when considering a Japanese Toshiba reissue !!

          • Outstanding detective work rl1856, thank you, promotion will be recommended at your next performance review.

            The 20khz hearing “ceiling” is a major fallacy in digital unicorn world. The super-tweeters of my Linn 242’s apparently handle over 30khz – stuff “you can not hear”, but it makes a significant difference in the upper register reproduction of vinyl. Never mind what lab tests claim, experience says otherwise. Stuff that has been capped at 20khz sounds radio-broadcast dull, you recognise it very quickly.

  2. I was initially ripped off on “Whistle Stop.” It sounded poor with almost no high end. My son confirmed my suspicion. It was a dreaded “Scorpio.” He saw the markings in the dead wax. My next one was a “Liberty.” What a difference! It’s really a great session. I was just lucky to snag the “Liberty” for a very low price. I don’t think some eBay vendors know what they’re selling.

    My local record store’s jazz collection is now made up of 70% new “Scorpios” for about $16 each. At least they code it SCP on the bottom the the jacket. I’ve noticed an increase of U.S. eBay sellers with new, sealed jazz records. It’s a great gimmick that lets them write, “No returns on sealed records.” As eBay his no knowledge of vintage jazz records, the buyer may get stuck. I’ve made it a rule to stay away from anything that’s sealed.

  3. First, a question: the Connoisseur series reissue of Whistle Stop uses “electronically re-channeled’ artwork. What about these?

    Second: some 1980s US Blue Notes say DMM on the cover but they are not. If CAPITOL is stamped in the deadwax, it’s not DMM.

    Third, the French DMM pressings do often sound thin and grating. IMO the one here is bright–so much so that the reverb on the drums at the beginning sounds ridiculous. The smoother more blended sound of the Japanese sounds superior.

    Fourth, the 90s US series (Connoisseur, mostly cut by Wally Traugott) and “Top Ten” (Ron McMaster) are credible but not terrific. They have a kind of chocolatey sound, a bit muddled in the bass and smooth in the mids. McMaster, as per usual (not just on Blue Note) tends towards brightness on top and a slightly harder sound. Classic (mastered by Bernie Grundmann) did a much better job for what at the time was only about 6 bucks more, and many titles were available in mono. I also prefer King pressings which are similar but have a bit more color to the sound.

    Fifth, though the current 75th series is from 24/192 digital, I think this is about the fifth most important aspect of them. First, they are cut by Bernie Grundmann, who is a jazz head with good ears who got his start mastering for Contemporary Records in the golden age. Regardless of what he starts with, the result will be pretty good. Second, they are making the effort to match the sound to Van Gelder originals–the only series to make that claim, for better or worse. Third, in the US they are using the worst pressing plant available, which means lots of non-fill and background noise–lucky to get a VG+ play through from a brand new record, but in Europe they use Optimal (excellent) and GZ (better than United and at least capable of quiet vinyl). Fourth the price in the US is about $18 street, just $2 more than the Top Tens were 17 years ago–though the vinyl is lousy. In Europe you might get a better deal with better pressings.

    If you are buying reissues, you should definitely focus on Music Matters which though much more expensive are all analog, with unmatched artwork, and limited edition that will hold value. My trial balloon in the Don Was 75th series had non-fill, which is common to LPs pressed at United. Since most of the Blue Notes I covet are more progressive titles that aren’t so expensive for VAN GELDER stamped copies I doubt I’ll buy any more. But if I had access to European pressed Grundmann mastered versions at local prices, I think it would probably be worth checking some out.

    • Your explanation of DMM pressings helps me understand why some of mine sound good. I was expecting the worst and was very pleasantly surprised by a couple of DMM pressings that I bought by accident.

      I have a number of the new re-pressings, from “Music Matters” and from Bernie Grundmann, I honestly prefer some of the American twofer pressings. Now, I realize much is a matter of taste and I would never denigrate anyone’s favorite repressing.

      I grew up in the NYC jazz clubs, listening to some of the greats that have recently passed away. (I just missed seeing Coltrane by a few years.) There is a dynamism and presence to some of the Blue Note re-pressings that come closest to the authentic Blue Notes. The real one’s capture the experience of sitting in a small club and feeling your hair stand on end when those cats would come on full force, and miraculously connect with each other. I’d hear yelling in the background, when they would be urging each other on. There was no competition. They worked as a single unit and wanted their fellow musicians to play their best. Some of my twofers, admittedly, sound poor. It’s a matter of luck. But they’re cheap enough to gamble with.

      The new re-pressings sound too balanced and perfect for my taste. The real improvisation experience is about making mistakes and turning them into art. Have you ever listened to “The Who’s “Live At Leeds” album? On “Young Man’s Blues,” there’s an error in the second measure, where the guitarist plays flat. If anyone dared correct that error, we’d hear the fans yelling. That error belongs in the song. Perhaps this is a poor analogy.

      I have two extraordinary twofer re-pressings that cost me very little. They are both Jackie McClean albums: One is called “Jacknife” and the other “Hipnosis.” (Hipnosis is on “The Blue Note Jazz Classic Series.) These two albums come close in sound quality to some of my original stereo “Blue Notes.” I have no idea why. Maybe they were at the beginning of the pressing queue. The song “Hipnosis,” by the way, was supposedly written by Grachan Moncur III. IMHO, it’s a masterpiece.

  4. My first Blue Notes were a couple of DMM pressings purchased at the end of the ’80’s. I was convinced by the marketing and the assertions about sonic quality. I can also remember making cassette copies of pressings from the collection at my local library- I’m sure many here probably did that too if they were listening to our music at that time. However, I then started to buy Blue Note CDs. As LJC points out, unless the listener hears a comparison between two pressings, then the initial and untutored assumption may be a belief that what you have is as good as it gets.
    My main current collecting route is to buy an initial copy of something I’ve not heard before cheaply on CD and rip it to a FLAC file. If I like what I hear I will occasionally consider a vinyl copy. I am now of the opinion that the slowly emerging MM33’s are the best current affordable Blue Note option for me, though if an early pressing in acceptable condition comes my way at a reasonable price, I may be tempted- but my ceiling is low (@ £75 max for something exceptional).
    I’m not particularly interested in crate digging for bargains although I will have an occasional foray. I find flipping through hundreds of dog-earred sleeves that are likely to house vinyl in poor condition a somewhat depressing exercise.
    Thanks to LJC for helping me towards this informed choice.

    • I would encourage people to hold group comparative record listening sessions. Whilst I trust my own ears, it is quite interesting to get a couple of “audiophile” friends (not jazz fans by any means, but people accustomed to evaluating sound) to sit in on a record auditioning session, ask them to offer their reactions after each play.

      Yesterday, some friends and I auditioned some different pressings of various recordings, starting with different editions of Kind of Blue: the Columbia Legacy CD, the original US stereo Columbia Six-eye, the 1st UK Fontana mono release, and a later UK CBS mono release. The order in which the listeners ranked them was an ear-opener. The CD was immediately eliminated, of the vinyl, the more expensive UK Fontana was by common agreement the next worst, which left me mortified but in complete agreement.

      The original 6-eye stereo vinyl, with all the pace and spaciousness of The Church, carried the day, but the later UK CBS mono held its own over the more expensive UK 1st release. Experience is a bitch, theory is so much more comforting, but an unreliable guide.

      We played the same game with some other multiple editions. On went the Japanese copy of Dorham’s Trompetta Toccata and everyone was singing its praises. Then I segued with the Blue Note original, and jaws dropped. “So that’s what original Blue Note sounds like. Wow!”

      It’s everyday practice with wine tasting, not so different, “vinyl-tasting”.

      • What a splendid idea. I really enjoyed the recent London Classic Album Sunday’s consideration of Brilliant Corners (see my blog). Without getting too snooty, an audition probably needs to be conducted without conversation during the playback of the source. Although I really enjoy a local Record Club- it is really an excuse for a good old chat and I”d welcome something with a bit more structure as well (I quite enjoy a chat session with the record collectors in my home town).
        The other consideration for me, at present, is that I don’t have a great deal of free time during my working week- but I’m sure that will change sooner or later.

      • I don’t own the Columbia Six-Eye KoB, but to me the Legacy CD sounds INFINITELY better than the Six-Eye rip posted by you, LJC. Sorry, but that’s how tastes can vary.

        • I suppose you are asking LJC, but in case I am the person addressed: No turntable involved, sir. It’s LJC’s MP3 rip I was listening to.

        • I think the KOB 6-eye MP3 rip originally posted here was done on my old $100 Numark USB turntable, which I subsequently ditched.

          The value of the current turntable set-up is a closely guarded secret. Everything has seen considerable change recently (for example everything now runs on balanced mains) , though whether any of this are audible through the sausage machine that is an internet/ PC is an open verdict.

          What I will do (when I find time!) is to re-rip some KOB samples to 350 kbps MP3 off the main TT, in various editions, and convert a FLAC from the legacy Edition 2009 CD to the same format, just for fun. I know how these compare in full system audition, but how it holds up as mp3 heaven only knows.

          The TT part of the system is probably has had three to four times the investment than the CD streaming side, (you would wouldn’t you) so nothing is going to provide a completely fair comparison. Let’s hear what it shows.

      • A group of us does this on occasion. I’m trying to convince my record store owning friend to convert a back storage room to a venue for just this sort of activity.

    • Downwithit: “I find flipping through thousands of dog-eared sleeves…a somewhat depressing exercise.” I couldn’t agree more. I used to do this at record fairs but eventually found the sheer volume of trashed records and rubbished sleeves made me feel as if I was burrowing through a skip. For some years now I have only bought by mail order from a single trusted dealer, with full rights of return on anything and everything that doesn’t meet expectations. I have also a made maybe half a dozen purchases on discogs — but again only after some initial exchange with the seller to check condition.

      I can’t imagine returning to the days of buying almost obsessively at record fairs. Life’s too short. Right now, I’m playing the lovely, supple, swinging West Coast sound of Stan Getz’s THE STEAMER (23th Nov 1957) on an HMV first UK pressing from around 1959. Sounds OK to my ageing ears and these HMV pressings licensed from Verve, Impulse and other US labels rarely cost more than GBP8.00 to GBP10.00.

  5. break out the Magnum, P.I. Hawaiian shirt and moustache, it’s ’80s night at LJC!

    recollections

  6. Hmm, Most Blue Notes in my collection are (according to the Official LJC Classification — which I wholly accept, by the way) ‘fourth tier’. French DMM issues from the 80s. When possible — or desirable — I upgrade these to Liberty pressings when I can.

    Where do Cadre Rouge issues fit into all this? I’ve got several — the only one I really recall at the moment, however, is the marvellous Grachan Moncur EVOLUTION. I used to love finding these — there seemed (at least to me) some additional cachet in the cool revolutionary name and the OBI strip. But I guess they are just bog standard DMM reissues from the 80s when all is said and done…

  7. The classic record version is missing the last song on Whistle Stop, Dorham’s Epitah, making it an otherwise useless reissue regardless of how approach it.

    The AP 45rpm is a waaaaay better option. Though it could stand some improvement.

  8. I bought the Toshiba re-issue brand new back in the day. I haven’t played it for ages (by which I mean years). So thanks for the prompt. I’ll aim to dig it out this weekend and reacquaint myself with an old friend.

  9. You’ve missed out another version that is perhaps not expensive (when you can find it). Whistle Stop was reissued in the 1990s under the BN Connoisseur LP series. I have this reissue but do not know how it compares with the others above. In general, I’ve found these Connoisseur LPs to be have very good remastering and the vinyl quality is similarly fine. Some underrated gems.

    The young guy at the record store that you describe is so typical of some of the younger generation (my age is showing!) weaned on the internet. They think they know it all (because everything you ever need to know can be learned from the net. Yeah, right) and will not listen to real hard-earned experience and true knowledge. It reminds me of another similar encounter I had with a kid spending big bucks on audiophile jazz reissues. Seeing his “enthusiasm” for jazz, I gently recommended him Grant Green’s Idle Moments on Music Matters:

    Me: if you like jazz, this is a great album. Very good sound too.
    Kid: Eh, ok. But I prefer horns.
    Me: Well, it’s got some great Joe Henderson on it.
    Kid: It’s guitar music, guitar is the main instrument here. I want horns…

    I gave up. Obviously some one who doesn’t really know about jazz and not really that interested. He was just keen to get the 2×45 Miles reissues.

    • Thanks for the tip, Connoisseur have not been on my radar but always happy to add potential alternatives to expensive originals. This auction result caught me by surprise – we are seeing quite fierce competition for “second division” Blue Note titles (nothing second division musically, of course)

        • I consider the Blue Note “1st division” those 20-30 hallowed 1500 series trophy titles that sit in the $1,000+ bin. Some way below are the others, more affordable to the rest of us (with ear, natch) with “only” a $100-200 price tag. Its a demarcation in my head, or in my wallet, I guess I’m a second rate collector.

          • Oh ok. That’s funny cuz I’m the same way. I can’t help but clump together the 1500s, 4000, and 4100s as ‘tiers’, because I’ve found that in general, the further you go back, the more expensive originals get.

          • So by my tiering I’m pretty much 4th tier because I can’t even really afford originals in the 4100s lol. I sure do love me some Liberty, UA, and no P Van Gelder pressings!

    • as member of this younger generation of whipper-snappers, i don’t really feel his assessment was very off-base. having enjoyed ‘idle moments’ several times, i don’t know that i would say someone who “wants horns” is going to find their itch scratched by that album, no matter how good it is. the journey into jazz takes time. when i first got into jazz i mostly liked 70’s funky and spiritual. everyone starts somewhere and then branches out. he’ll get there. we haven’t all had the fortunate experience of listening for decades by now. 🙂

      what IS odd though, is that he wouldn’t just say “thanks! i’ll add it to the list!” and avoid the potential argument. that’s what i say when the store clerk tells me to check out dave brubeck if i like thelonious monk. the eye rolls come later. haha.

    • I too would consider myself a ‘younger generation’ jazz collector, and I admittedly feel slightly compelled to defend my generation haha.

      Ironically, if he did thorough research online he would have learned that the 75th Anniversary reissues are not all-analog, information that may have been more difficult to find twenty years ago before the internet. I think the internet has made it a lot easier for new collectors to soak up knowledge of the hobby, and I am a proponent of careful, cautious use of the internet as a source of information (here we are, after all).

      I actually felt the same way as this fellow when I first started listening to jazz. I had a very specific idea of the arrangements I liked in my head and I went after records with those arrangements. My feeling is there’s so much out there it helps to have some sort of constructed preference to stick to so you can make some decisions and actually sit down and start listening. 🙂 I’m not intolerant of jazz guitar anymore (I still am of flute though! haha), but it’s still not one of my favorite instruments.

      I do however think that younger people just getting into jazz may have a chip on their shoulder–I know I did. They may think they know it all in the sense that they won’t be as willing to take the advice of more experienced listeners. But I think that will usually change over time, I know it did with me.

      On that note, what were you guys like when you first started getting into jazz?

        • When I first started listening to jazz, around five years ago, I thought I knew very little. On reflection, even that was an over-estimate.

          The more you know, the more you know you don’t know. It’s how knowledge works. Over the years the sum total of what you know grows, but in the process you become aware of many more artists, genres and formats you know absolutely nothing about. I’m much more ignorant now, and better for it.

          Its embarrassing times I have looked a gift-horse in the mouth – been offered a record to die for but turned it down in sheer ignorance, didn’t know the artist.. Example, Giani Basso – I was offered a Basso-Valdambrini original album. I just thought it just sounded like a brand of Prosecco, it meant nothing to me at the time. Turned it down. Idiot, LJC. Anyone done the same – own up?

          I find most young vinyl collectors eager to learn. It’s the hi-fi snobs I have more of an issue with. It seems to attract more opinionated types. Mind you that’s just my opinion.

          .

          • It’s how I feel now — totally ignorant. Jazz burst into my musical consciousness in the late 70s to mid 80s. It was in a basement lair with a friend, and at a time when we even smoked pipes … indoors. The local public FM radio station played some pretty nice stuff and I progressed from there.

            Now when I go into a thrift shop and thumb through LPs, considering labels and matrix inscriptions, my head spins. I do limit myself to titles and artists that either interest me or promise to expand my vocabulary, but I am kept wishing for “an app for that”. Is there no app for record labels, with all the detail that would be helpful? I looked but perhaps my search was superficial.

          • I think jazz perhaps more so than say rock or pop requires you to have open ears. The more you listen, the more you are in a position to appreciate different, more ‘difficult’ stuff. It literally took me decades to appreciate Ornette, and I don’t think I am really ready for Cecil Taylor yet.

            Of course when I was younger I had put up “barriers” around my listening e.g. didn’t like West Coast jazz or cool jazz (too ‘simple’ too easy listening), white people can’t play jazz…But I like to think that I did not dismiss a serious jazz listener’s recommendations outright.

            Yes, LJC, I think the kid I was talking about was an audiophile to start with. He was obviously looking at the audiophile stuff…hmm 45rpm on MFSL will always sound better than 33rpm…

            I often think audiophiles really don’t care for music (they just think they do). Music is the means by which they kind play with their gear.

            • no music requires any more or less active listening in my mind. you can be as engaged or disengaged as you want. sometimes you can even enjoy the music in different ways from that. we are not superior because we like jazz. it’s just our preference.

          • Now in earnest, LJC. Learning that you started listening to jazz only five years ago, I must confess that my admiration for you goes through the roof, really. I know you had been into related kinds of music before that, so you were not a genuine newcomer – but still…

    • Another vote for the 1990’s releases even if they were a bit confusing. There were multiple waves of Conn LP’s but there was also the “Top 10” series. While Conn’s focused on hidden gems (Basra comes to mind), the Top 10 were just that the 10 “best / best selling” classic albums in the BN Catalog. All claimed to be analog mastered. An easy way to distinguish Conn’s from 10’s is the catalog number. Top 10’s retained the original catalog number while Conn’s used a different catalog number. The Conn series also included the the first release of Griffin’s Congregation in stereo.

      From the US side, the 80’s also saw two reissue series: Manhattan Records / Capitol Records series in the early part of the decade and Capitol / EMI later in the decade. Nearly all are DMM’s unfortunately. However, there are a handful of titles in the series which are the first pressing for previously unissued sessions or previously released sessions (probably LT series, twofer or in Japan) with the original Reid Miles cover art. Here to Stay, Jubilee Shouts, and Rollin’ With Leo come to mind…

    • I hunted those conn series religiously. Pretty good but I can’t remember which batch were digital transfers.

      Wayne Shorter Et Cetera is a nice pressing. Here it is with my old rig and using a conical denon 103.

  10. For what it’s worth (no pun intended), my patented Deep Groove Mono original pressing value algorithm sets Whistle Stop as a very strong title in the upper end of the $500-$1,000 range for a near mint copy.

    Though it may be hard to find at this point, I have located a Division of Liberty label mono copy with Van Gelder in the dead wax on popsike…that’s the one I would go after personally (looks like the stereo Liberty pressing isn’t pressed from original Van Gelder metal work, which would actually be the original stereo pressing of this album since Van Gelder never mastered this title in stereo).

    LJC, I have a question: Why are modern audiophile reissues out of favor with you? Just curious. My reason for going after vintage pressings is that I get the peace of mind from knowing that the master tape was that much fresher, and there’s also no question about vintage copies being all-analog. 🙂 What’s your angle?

    • Its a fair question.

      I’ve nothing against anything, in principle, I try to be empirical. I listen and try to assess my reaction to and involvement with the music. The half dozen times I have gone head to head between “180gm audiophile modern” with originals I have been underwhelmed. The one exception has been MM33, to which I get a very positive reaction.

      I understand the principle of “closest to the original tape”, I’m sure you are right. My criteria is directly experiencing quality. In a way, it doesn’t matter why something sounds better, it either sounds better or it doesn’t.

      • That’s interesting. Sonically speaking, I have found it difficult to find vintage pressings that sound good. In consideration of noise from wear, I find it easier and less expensive to seek out audiophile reissues that sound good. If the master tape is still in good condition I find near mint originals and audiophile reissues equally pleasing sonically, though I certainly prefer the excitement and nostalgia of originals (especially the quality of the packaging and the materials 🙂 ). As for ’70s and ’80s reissues, I really like their combination of affordability and vintage, though quality control-wise I don’t find they match up to originals from the ’50s and ’60s.

        • The trick with old pressings (Mono and Microgroove) is to listen with a 0.7 or 1.0 mil needle. A typical 0.5 mil stereo needle will pick up too much deep groove noise. Simple trick actually. Expensive way is to have separate cartridges, TT’s and arms. Cheap way is to have a cartridge with interchangeable stylii. One can get stylii for 78 rpm, mono and stereo play back for the humble but good sounding Shure M44. It was a revelation for me. All over sudden older and relatively worn copies started to shine again.

  11. i collect for the love of the music and sake of history. i am not an audiophile. i think these differences get lost on too many folks. the record store lad is a depressing fellow.

    • seems GTF IS dottorjazz: I couldn’t find different words to describe my way of collecting. I confess I find a little boring all discussions about quality and never set in. when you have got a good equipment, Music comes first. I never stop to the smell of a record, I bite the music. and I’m not interested if a later reissue can sound better than an original. I settle on first editions. that’s why I do not love any cd I own: they are there for documentation only. ok, this way may be a little expensive: I can give up if the price is too high, I sleep well the same. I CAN’T sleep the same way when one record in my collection ain’t original. as an example, after LJC ran through Impulse label, I realized that several of my beloved Coltranes were not strictly original. that was the beginning of insomnia for me. anyway I respect all ideas different than mine, simply I don’t change mine!

      • People ‘collect’ certain records for different reasons – e.g. rare historical artifacts, the sound, the music, completing a series, etc. Sometimes it’s a mix of reasons.

        I buy primarily for the music but I am also seduced by early pressings and sound sometimes. Occasionally I’ll get an earlier pressing or a better sounding reissue even though I already own the record on LP or CD. It’s a disease!

        The LP is nice as a piece of cultural artifact but frankly I don’t have a problem with the sound of most of my CDs. LPs are nicer, but CDs aren’t evil. LPs have their own set of issues.

        • Very much so, Hockman, very much so. I even suspect that many a vinyl lover wouldn’t like the sound of analog master tapes because they don’t sound like vinyl.

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