Johnny Coles: Little Johnny C (1963) Blue Note

I think its time for another original Blue Note, just to “stir the pot”, with a sting in the tail, all will be revealed, get with the programme.

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Selection: So Sweet My Little Girl (Duke Pearson)

Artists

Johnny Coles (trumpet) Leo Wright (alto saxophone, flute) Joe Henderson (tenor saxophone) Duke Pearson (piano) Bob Cranshaw (bass) Walter Perkins (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Side 1: July 18, 1963;  Side 2: same personnel save Perkins, add Pete La Roca (drums) August 9, 1963

Johnny Coles:

Johnny Coles a name that probably raises two obvious questions: Who? followed by What ever became of…?  Another lifelong sideman, Coles made a brief breakthrough with Little Johnny C for  Blue Note, but without a follow-through, and only a handful of other titles as leader. Possessed of a clear, crisp and melancholy tone – something  in common with Miles Davis, which  Critic Stanley Crouch dubbed  the “wounded lyricism of bebop”. Nat Hentoff described Coles as “an intensely personal, thoughtful and penetrating player … part of the select lineage of quintessentially lyrical jazz trumpet players…a line of disciplined romantics that includes Miles Davis and Freddie Webster.”

Coles musical career started in the big bands of the late ’40s and ’50s –  Jimmy Heath (rubbing shoulders with Trane and Benny Golson), Tadd Dameron,  James Moody, and Gill Evans. By the mid ’60s  Coles had earned a Downbeat New Star award, an early pointer of talent but not a predictor of future success. Like fellow New Star Ted Curson, Coles’ star shone brightest as member of Mingus’s group, alongside Eric Dolphy. However his Mingus time included mostly touring and never made it to the recording studio, nor even to the completion of his Mingus tour:

“February to April of 1964 Coles was a member of perhaps Charles Mingus’s finest working group …never recorded in a studio, the band was heard in University concerts  and a tour of Europe. Sadly, Coles collapsed on stage in Paris from a perforated stomach ulcer, was hospitalized, and the band finished the tour as a quintet, and he never rejoined Mingus”

Mingus clearly didn’t have employment law obligations. Coles resurfaced in late ’60s Herbie Hancock Sextet (trumpet heard on Blue Note’s The Prisoner) but, in return for a regular pay-check, parted company to take up a seat in the Ray Charles Orchestra, and the eclipse of his New Star standing.

The following decades saw Coles return to now-ageing big bands: Duke Ellington, ’70s Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Tadd Dameron’s Dameronia, the Mingus Dynasty repertory band, and the posthumous Count Basie Orchestra. Perhaps life on the big band bench suited him, happy in making a contribution but not motivated to lead.  In the ’90s, due to ill-health, Coles returned to his home town of Philadelphia, where died in late 1997.

Leo Wright:

A capable alto and flute player, placed here to complement the hard-tone tenor of the young Joe Henderson,  Wright started out on similar pathway to Johnny Coles,  also collecting a Downbeat award, but disappearing to Europe in 1963 without making a name for himself in the US. He moved first  to Scandinavia,  settling in Berlin in 1964, and in the decades that followed, played prolifically at Jazz festivals in Germany, Switzerland, Yugoslavia and with various groups of mostly European musicians or visiting Americans. He later settled in Vienna retiring from music for a period, but his return in the late ’80s was cut short by a fatal heart attack in 1991.

Music:

It is hard not to hear this as a Duke Pearson album, with five Pearson compositions, and Pearson’s sure touch on the arrangements, essential with a sextet with three brass players and some heavily scored tunes. Cole’s plaintive slightly melancholy trumpet is the lead voice, contrasting with the hard abrasive tone of young Henderson, sewn together by Pearson’s ever tasteful accents and rippling arpeggios.

The compositions are all inventive delights, of varied tempo and presentation along the bop spectrum, ranging from the taxi-horn and fire-tender urban brio of the album title track to the tender “How Sweet My Little Girl” – a track rendered all-the more poignant by the slightly faltering placement of the prime melody horn-notes, which grabs the throat, tonal expression matched perfectly to the mood,  watchful oversight of childhood innocence.

A very complete musical LP, great performance, great tunes, one of Van Gelder’s best pieces of engineering, and spoiled for choice of six tracks to add to your playlist (…harrumph) I think any jazz fan would be short-sighted not to have this in their collection or on their wants list.

Vinyl: BST 8414 NY label, ear, Van Gelder stereo master

From the era when Van Gelder indicated the stereo Van Gelder master with  a STEREO stamp placed separately from his initials.

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Liner Notes:

84144-Johnny-Coles-OG-back--LJC1920-no-shrink

Faithful to an original artefact,  it is the real thing, the liner notes paste-up is fixed crookedly. It’s a feature of real things, faults. You wouldn’t design things to be crooked, they just turn out like that, the imperfections of physical assembly process. Only in the post-modern digital world do they create flaws to simulate false period authenticity, like DJs that add scratches, clicks and jumps to a mix in digital post-production. I believe that’s what they do to make “antique” furniture – distress it with a half-hour beating by a bicycle chain.

If you are a vinyl-preference person, this is the high-end of the auction history, top dozen auctions where the condition rules:

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84144 Popsike top dozen auctionsJPG

The top dozen auction results pitch the mostly mono edition from $150 to over $400 – not stratospheric, but not trivial. Mono is the edition of choice, my stereo is less desirable, apparently.

What’s a chap to do if an original pressing is not within their means? This wasn’t within mine either, but I try to follow my own advice, the LJC maxim in the case of “rare-thing” encounters: if you see it, buy it, because you may never see it again. It’s only money, and you can’t play money. On this occasion the advice was sound, because I never again encountered an original in the wild, (though of course they exist online)

What’s the alternative?
One alternative: Music Matters, MM33 edition

The hard-working boys at Music Matters have turned out a reissue in their 33rpm single 12″ series. Like my original copy, the MM33 has the distinction of being mastered directly from the original Blue Note tapes.

With a half-dozen Music Matters 33 titles under my belt, previously, I  had only reissues in my collection for comparison. It was therefore with some trepidation I found I had nowhere to go but head to head, to pitch the MM33 against the original 1963 Blue Note. I’ve always claimed Blue Note originals are best. Will I be forced to eat my shorts? Read on.

84144 Johnny-Coles-MM33-cv-1920-LJC
Selection: So Sweet My Little Girl (MM33 edition)

Technical note: the MM33 is relatively more quiet than the Blue Note original. The gain on the MM33 rip was increased by around 25%, until it matched the volume of the original BN rip. What difference that makes, ultimately, I don’t know but there doesn’t seem much point in encouraging the “I prefer this one because it’s louder” school of rock critic.

On the blog we can compare only digital samples through an MP3 on a computer, before some smartass quickly points that out too, I’m not sure how much validity that has, if any, but at least you know how it compares on that  level playing field, both vinyl ripped to MP3 via the same Avid Acutus Reference TT/ Dynavector TKR cart/ World Designs NOS ’60s valves/Linn solid state rig, unadjusted apart from matching volume.

I should add my critical comparisons are  based on what I hear on the full system, not MP3 digital derivatives.

Vinyl: BST 84144 MM33  – Review Copy

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Gatefold: immaculate black and white art-quality portraits of the boys in the darkened studio, courtesy of Francis Wolff. It’s not just that Wolff was a great portrait photographer, which he was, but he had such great subjects: as they say, jazz shows in the musician’s faces.

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Liner Notes – these at least are printed in a straight line-r.

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Collector’s Corner

You have had the opportunity to compare the ballad “So Sweet My Little Girl”,  a simple tune which showcases the rounded emotional quality of Cole’s trumpet, as Van Gelder and David Gray reproduce it. But what happens when you increase the complexity and layers of instrumentation, firing on all six cylinders? Lets find out. I’ve chosen the fabulous track “Jano”, which is a reference to something or someone or other called Jano (where is the fact-checker when you need them!)

Comparison Two, selection: Jano

  1. Blue Note original stereo title ( pressed 1963)

2. MM33 reissue (pressed 2015)

There are too many intervening variables here. Peversely, I prefer the computer rubbish soundcard and speakers playback of the MM33 rip to the rip of the original, but that is not how I felt in a real-world hifi audition, which was the other way around. I upload here in the interests of transparency, it is not for me to decide what you like, that’s your job.

What did the hi-fi listening panel think?

Listening Panel

My listening panel consisted of  two lifelong audiophiles, Man-in-a-Shed, an inveterate tweaker who is rarely short of an opinion,  and new kid on the block, Mr Speaker!, so-called because he’s inexplicably fascinated by…umm…speakers, and seems to notice “timing” as a variable more readily than myself.

Neither are especially jazz fans, rather, they are discriminating listeners of hi fi performance and music presentation, based on several decades of listening, to all sorts of music on all sorts of equipment. In wine-tasting, it’s called a discriminating palate, you can apply it to anything, not just what you like.

Result: Call the cops! Hung Jury!

Man in a Shed preferred the Music Matters 33. He listens mostly to information-dense modern recordings and the engineering here hits all his preference buttons. Mr Speaker! on the other hand preferred the Blue Note Original, for its more assertive presentation, perhaps less polished overall, but richer in tone and texture. So there you have it, a tied jury. But what about your vote LJC?

ljc-quiz5-NEWI think it is  only fair to declare an interest: my stereo original cost me not far short of $200. Confirmation bias suggests I can’t compare this objectively, because I have a dog in the fight.Put that to one side because it’s tosh, of course you can be objective – provided you arrive at the “right” answer.

I confess I preferred the Blue Note original.  For me it has greater immediacy and freshness, the original master delivers a fuller richer tone on Coles trumpet, and slightly more emphatic capture of the delicate brushwork and cymbals on the right channel. Van Gelder’s stereo mastering gives the ensemble an organic “wholeness”.

In comparison,  the  MM33 offers widescreen stereo imaging with tight precise dynamics, something I have noticed to be a consistent feature of their productions. As often occurs with high calibre engineering, the sound stage extends well beyond the speakers, not shoe-horned in between them. The presentation is smoother and more laid back than the original, though not excessively, and the vinyl is blissfully silent, which my original isn’t. The MM gatefold offers beautiful art-quality photos

Most important perhaps, the MM3 is fairly readily available (I assume, as I haven’t looked), whereas snagging an original Blue Note requires a degree of tenacity and patience, and potentially rough pathway to acquisition: grading hazards and sometimes unpleasant surprises, which are part of the vintage collector’s burden.

 

Truth is, something doesn’t sound better because it is rare, or sound better because it was expensive because it is scarce: those are collector-issues, not audio issues. However, there are sonic attributes associated with original Blue Note (and other original) pressings, which defy replication. After many years of comparative listening, I’m still of the opinion original is best, but not by such a great margin as I would have judged a few years ago.

There is one big question remaining: how do you factor availability (and price) into any comparison? You can’t hear scarcity, though it multiplies the price significantly. Do you give extra weight greater affordability and availability, or do you hang your hat solely on the sonic qualities.  You would give different ratings but I don’t know how to do it. Luckily, it’s not my problem.

If I didn’t already own an original Blue Note of Little Johnny C, I would be very happy with the MM33 alternative. This is one of an elite band of reissues that stand apart from the crowd, the best of which are this,  the 1976-6 EMI-Toshiba pressings and the limited edition 1995 Blue Note Connoisseur series, superior to most other reissues, including those licensed by United Artists to King and Toshiba Japan.

It is almost impossible to avoid falling under its spell of this album, however you access it, I recommend you do. How, is up to you.

LJC

 

44 thoughts on “Johnny Coles: Little Johnny C (1963) Blue Note

  1. Thank you for this excellent essay on one of my favorite jazz records. I have to admit, with some shame, that my only copy is on “an evil metal disk,” because I considered an original “Blue Note” out of my financial reach. My disk, however, is mastered from the original master tapes using Toshiba’s proprietary method called: “Extended Resolution.” Personally, I hear a significant sonic improvement over an ordinary red book compact disk. (Although my son, always the skeptic, insists that any sonic improvement is due to the skills of the audio engineer and the quality of his equipment.) This series of “ER” jazz disks cost about $40 each. At the time of my purchase, I wasn’t aware that the author of this fine blog had been purchasing Music Maters MM33 records. I will try to obtain one of these for comparison. I have been avoiding new records re-mastered at 45 RPM, even though they are purported to be sonically superior. I find it difficult to get into the mood of a recording that I have to flip every 7 minutes.

    I would like to compliment the author for his excellent comparison of the original Blue Note to the MM33 record. I also want to express my gratitude for the samples. In my humble opinion, they do give a substantial idea of each pressing’s sound quality, even though they are in digitized MP3 format. I imagine it took time and effort to produce the clips and post them to this blog. I just want to let you know that your work is not unappreciated.

  2. I once made the analogy here that if RVG back in his day mastered a record that sounded like one of MM’s reissue he would think something is off just like if MM mastered a record and it came out sounding like RVG’s original they would assume something is off. Each camp have some expectations from there mastering gear and if those expectations are not met something is wrong.

    I agree there are no right or wrong on this issue simply a matter of preference.

  3. After listening to both clips, even though noisier, my preference is for the original. Music Matters makes some nice reissues (I have a couple on 33rpm and a couple on 45rpm) but I find their approach too similar to the Classic Records reissues from the early 2000s. While they do have a nicer, more cohesive overall tonality compared to Classic Records, I still find their top end, especially the ride cymbal, to be overpowering on both. I have a completely unfounded theory that Rudy intentionally recorded to the master tape on the brighter side, knowing that he was going to roll off the top end (a documented fact) when mastering to vinyl. This would help reduce tape hiss (which is more prevalent on the Music Matters releases vs. the original RVG cuts) and other high frequency noise.

    • Interesting theory, Aaron, one I never considered. I’ve read that Roy DuNann definitely did this but Van Gelder has never said that to my knowledge. I do wonder how likely it is that he did that despite having never mentioned it in any interviews (I specifically am recalling the interview in the Fred Cohen Blue Note guide where he talks about the Manhattan Records reissues done by Ron McMaster; in that interview he focuses on the mono/stereo comparison). But I wouldn’t rule it out.

    • I read your comment earlier in the day and it stayed with me. I tried to shake your observation that the MM 33s and 45s are in the vein of Classic Records reissue. I tried to understand what you meant by this statement but no matter how hard I tried it made no sense.

      As someone who is quite steeped in most things about MM, I can honestly tell you the only similarities between MM 33 or 45 anad classic records is that both catalogs were curated by Ron Rambach. That’s were all the similarities end.

      The Classic Records BN reissues were mastered by Grundman and his mastering aesthetics and philosophy are poles apart from the MM approach both on the 45s and 33s.

      Take for insistance the MM 45s mastered at Acoustech under Hoffman & Gray–there is nothing in the mastering of those records that remotely resembles Classic records BN. You don’t have to take my word for it, it’s in the records themselves, and if you venture over to Hoffman’s Blog you will find some discussions where Hoffman himself talks about what he did not like about Grundman’s mastering.

      If we talk about the MM 33s, again there is little or no similarity. What MM seem to be doing on these 33s is akin to unfurling a carpet, that is, they pack as much info as pssible from the RVG tapes into the lacquers cut by Gray. One of the observations people usually make about the MM 33s is “too much info” I call it analog sensory overload. The approach seems to be get as much of the master tape as possible on vinyl.

      For example, the MM 33 of Kenny Burrell Midnight Blue caused quite a stir when it came out among audiophiles because for the first time listeners were able to hear the pre-echo buried in the tape that previous editions did not reveal.

      Quite simply, the Classic Records BN are nice enough but there’s a sort of haphazardness in the way they were put together. The MMs are the most conscientious BN reissue that I have ever seen or heard

      • “The approach seems to be get as much of the master tape as possible on vinyl.”
        But shouldn’t that be the aim of anyone producing a record? I would really love to listen to master tapes, just for comparison.

        The pre-echo in Midnight Blue was “not revealed” by previous editions because it may not have been there. Pre-echo often occurs when a tape is stored for a long time, and later editions will, of course, have to deal with it.

      • Spencer, thanks for these observations, I have been struggling to understand the mixed parentage of Classic Records, Analogue Productions, and Music Matters.

        To complicate things, I have only recently come to grips with the fine 1995 Connoisseur Series, which sounds to me has more in common with MM than its Blue Note precedents or antecedents.

        The whole EMI-era has been poorly reviewed by me in the past, concentrating on the previous three decades.. I am trying to update what I admit was a blind spot, the modern audiophile segment.

        The updated most-read page on Blue Note is here, starting at 16. BLUE NOTE AUDIOPHILE REISSUES

        https://londonjazzcollector.wordpress.com/record-labels-guide/labelography-2/the-blue-note-labels/

        I now have a handful of each of these reissues on which to base my own observations. Others will have their own thoughts based on more titles, but my reference point is always Blue Note originals, 1st pressings where possible. I’m not sure anyone else does that, delighted to hear from any who has that comparison.

        • The Connoisseur Series was the only game in high quality Blue Note reissues at that time. They were pressed at RTI, like MM & Classic Records, but they were cut from digital at Capitol Studios. A pleasant listening experience but sonically they don’t compare to originals or later audiophile reissues as they are less resolving and have a narrowed soundstage.

      • There are quite a few undeniable parallels between the Classic Records Blue Note reissues and the ones from Music Matters:

        1) Both cut from the original master tape
        2) Both pressed at RTI
        3) Neither used dynamic compression (33MMs possible exception)
        4) Both mastered at top-notch facility by world class engineer.

        I’ve compared head-to-head stereo, 33rpm versions of Sonny Clark’s Cool Struttin’ from both Classic and MM and they sound remarkably (understandably) similar. Don’t get me wrong, I think the MM releases are really nicely done but Classic Records have in their favor more accurate reproductions of labels plus single sleeves with tip-on construction and scanned original artwork (not reassembled).

        None the less, for me the Rudy Van Gelder mastered Blue Notes are the gold standard, the modern “audiophile” reissues to my ears sound antiseptic and lack the time machine quality of the original masterings done by the man himself when the tapes were fresh (and with no print-through).

        • A lot of interesting points here. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of the Classic reissues being done without any compression or limiting…care to provide a source on that?

          I will vouch over and over again for the tremendous job Classic did with the labels. Regarding album art, I’m in the camp that actually isn’t a huge fan of the way that MM, as you said, ‘reassembled’ the artwork. A lot of people like that the photos are sharper; the way I see it they altered the original artistic intention…to each his/her own!

          Fresh tapes, no print-through, no dropouts…undeniable advantages of originals. 🙂

        • So here’s my final thoughts on this topic

          First, let me just say that no one will ever argue that the RVG originals are not the gold standard for all Blue Note record comparisons. Why would they not be, RVG was in the room recording the very music with the musicians, so he had an advantage no one else can ever have.

          there’s no way of verifying that the print through you speak of was not originally on the tape so you can’t say there was time the master tape did not have print through.

          Now then…

          You first used the phrase “similarities” but now you switched to “parallels” but I must point out that those two phrases in my book do not mean the same. In fact your choice of the word “parallels” reinforces my argument of distinction b/w MM & Classic. Parallel lines never converge.

          so let’s examine your 4 parallels…

          1.) Tape source: yes both reissues were cut from analog tape; but which analog tape? Most of what classic released was from mono tapes because they believed that most collectors wanted mono (fold downs included). MM approached things differently. they used only mono where mono was the purest choice. MM eschewed fold down monos.

          2.) RTI: Most reissues in America before QRP opened it’s doors were done at RTI. At one point even the folks who run QRP were pressing their vinyls at RTI. MM didn’t press their reissues at RTI cause they wanted to be like Classic Records, they pressed it there cause RTI made great records and cause the plant is only an hour away from MM’s physical address. Same reasons Mofi presses all their records at RTI.

          3.)Dynamic Compression: not even gonna go there for personal reasons.

          4.)Mastering Facility: again this does not prove similarities, Classic used Grundman’s services, MM used Acoustech and Cohearent. All I can tell you is Grundman’s cutting chain has different sonic properties than Acoustech or Cohearent.

          Conclusion: We cannot assume that because MM and Classic put out discs that are round and black that the philosophy and aesthetics behind these two projects are similar. I will concede to you that they did share the same objective of giving fans the music they want at a better quality than the major labels are willing to offer, but that’s a similarity or should I say goal of every serious reissue label, isn’t it?

          • Re: ” … there’s no way of verifying that the print through you speak of was not originally on the tape so you can’t say there was time the master tape did not have print through …”

            If the print-through was originally on the tape and is not heard on, say, previous editions of Midnight Blue, then either

            a ) someone must have applied some dynamic noise limiter in the original (metal) mastering, causing low levels to be wiped out, or

            b ) the mastering was so bad that it did not reflect the full sound of the original master tape.

            Whether any of these options would result in the glorious sound attributed to original pressings remains doubtful.

            It’s a fact that pre-echo sometimes occurs in tapes after years of storage.

            • your points are all valid but at this point all we can do is speculate about the pre echo’s orign. However it is crucial to understand that Print through is on most magnetic tape recordings. In fact the better the tape quality the more likely it will have print through and those RVG Scotch tapes are among the best ever made

          • You seem to have totally ignored my comments regarding the apples-to-apples sound comparison I did with stereo, 33rpm versions of Cool Struttin’ from Classic & MM. Have you actually done a comparison like this yourself? I was even surprised how similar they were.

            • I ignored it cause two apples fallen from same tree are not always identical. Plus, I feel it would be rude for me to dispute what you hear from your system. I am likely to play the same record on my system and hear it differently because of the differences in our system. Who can really say which system is more faithful to the sound? You hear what you hear and that’s good enough for me. Questioning your system’s capability will shift the tone of this esoteric discussion into the domain of personal bias. I’d like to stay away from that if you don’t mind.

          • “there’s no way of verifying that the print through you speak of was not originally on the tape so you can’t say there was time the master tape did not have print through.”

            I have a NM original Midnight Blue and it does not have the pre-echo that is heard on the MM release, indicating that it was not on the master tape in 1963.

            • That’s what I suspected, Aaron.

              To add some hair splitting, one might try to check the MM 33 Midnight Blue and measure the length of the pre-echo. If it’s about two seconds, then it is adjacent groove distortion that stems from the MM lacquer. If it is shorter, it’s very likely to come from print-through in the master tape that had been stored for decades.

            • Still neither you nor I have heard the “fresh” master tape nor will ever hear it. As a matter of fact neither of us have heard the “aged” master tape–so this is all speculation. A theory of what happened or may not have happened.

            • Aaron, it is not surprising that print-through cannot be heard (as easily) on an original. My understanding is that print-through increases over time and would be virtually inaudible in the earliest days after a tape recording was made. I would also be inclined to think that a higher quality tape would be made of a material designed to fight print-through, not encourage it.

              Generally speaking, the quality of tape recordings inevitably declines over time. This is the glaring disadvantage of magnetic tape recording when compared to vinyl or digital recording technologies. The amount of decline in quality over time, however, will certainly vary on a case by case basis, and in some cases there may be virtually no audible evidence of any loss in fidelity. I don’t own either copy of Midnight Blue, but it seems highly possible that a certain amount of print-through that is audible on a reissue will not be present on an original (for people who claim to have never heard this print-through on a digital mastering, it certainly could have easily been removed). Sure, one could never prove that Van Gelder didn’t do something odd like applying a gate at the beginning of each song in order to render the print-through inaudible (the argument that an original pressing’s relative ‘lack of fidelity’ could render a volume-based phenomenon like print-through inaudible is absurd; in fact, Van Gelder’s heavy use of compression would make something like print-through more audible). So yes, we’ll never know with 100% certainty if the master tape for Midnight Blue always had print-through, but the general temperamental nature of magnetic tape technology leads me to conclude that print-through that can be heard on a reissue that cannot be heard on an original is the probably the result of aging.

              • Rich, once again you found the elequonce to clarify a situation that I struggled for words to explain.
                Bravo, Sir!

              • Someone is at it again with the whole MM is superior pachango. Yet, its common knowledge that The Expected lifespan of Magnetic tapes are 20-30 years under “PERFECT” conditions. I wonder what they used to make them sound so decent? The Originals rule. Plain and simple.

                  • If Generalizing means, The originals Sound better, Highly collectable, And are worth more and at a price that no Reissue will ever reach in our lifetime or another, than I’ll Generalize all day. And I don’t believe in your so call Commandments. Talk about generalizing. lol

  4. The MM has a wider dynamic range, but the more I hear head-to-head comparisons of originals with MM reissues, the more I realize that I like the compression Van Gelder used, where the lack of compression used on the MM series makes the music sound more laid-back and less immediate. I like that Van Gelder’s masters ‘punch’ more (you get even more punch with mono, wink, wink).

    Frequency response-wise, the original (your original, specifically…I’m not convinced that every stereo original is this dark) sounds much darker over here, so much that if I had to choose, in this case I’d take the MM’s brightness over the punch of the original.

    Music-wise this is one of my favorite Blue Note dates, possibly my favorite. Solid compositions start to finish, and as you said, a nice variety in style of composition, a full-course meal.

    • Rich, I think you are spot on about RVG vs MM! Well done.
      I compared my MM to the Toshiba BNWorks CD and they sound very similar with the MM offering a little more shimmering highs and the CD a better low end. But they were quite close anyway.

      I have not heard an original of this title but I have several others so I know what you mean by compressed. It is loud – it is exciting-it swings! Fun but less hifi.

      You just have to decide what is your cup of tea 😉

  5. I was not familiar with Coles, so thank you for exposing me. I’ll put Little Johnny C near the top of my wish list. These discriminatory listening tests – they occur less often as I’ve gotten older. LP vs CD, CD vs 24/96 files, flac vs mp3 and so forth – sometimes like comparing audio cables; the differences are audible, but are they important and I’m often left not favoring one over the other. So which version of an LP do I like best? The one spinning on my turntable.

  6. I also saw Coles with a Mingus Dynasty lineup back in the early 1980s. He had that woolly hat and tweed jacket on which you can see on that covers photo on the Uptown CD. Danny Richmond was on drums as well, looking very dapper.

    PIcked up a mono NYC DG LP copy of this one, fortunately before original Blue Note LP prices went totally silly.

  7. I own the MM33 but it has never excited me. On my soundsystem it sounds cold, not present and kinda artificial, comparing to what I hear on your clip of the original here, where brass instruments have a more dynamic sound.
    Comparing this MM33 to MM45 editions of Herbie Hancock’s Inventions and Dimensions and Joe Henderson’s Inner Urge, I definitely like those two a lot more.

  8. The MM33 is more Hifi and does not break up in the higher register as the your original does so for this one the MM33. So I prefer the MM33.

    Perhaps it sounds a bit “duller” than the very hot and exciting mastering of RVG. I lost out on an original stereo of this title so now I own a MM33. have not played it yet though.

  9. I don’t have this in any format so can’t compare, but I would have purchased the MM33 but for etc etc etc (refer to earlier post on the subject of MM and shipping costs)… I very much enjoyed the lovely simple SO SWEET MY LITTLE GIRL, a very pretty Duke Pearson tune.

  10. I have a MM33 copy a friend let me spin. I had only listened to the first side because I never could get into Coles sound. Not to offend anyone, it’s just a bias of mine.

    I am listening to side two as I type and wish I had something to compare the MM33 to. That being said, the recording sounds full, quiet and lively.

    Thanks LJC for the nice write up.

  11. I had the good fortune of seeing him in the 80s in a small club setting with a Mingus Dynasty band which included Ricky Ford, Horace Parlan, Richard Davis and Danny Richmond. Incredible night of music with Coles playing much more intensely than I’d heard on record. I ordered the MM33 awhile back but haven’t gotten around to listening to it yet–it’ll be first up on my cue tonight.

  12. Good evaluation of a classic BN session. I have a MM45 and a NY mono. The MM45 sounds better but I prefer the NY mono for its beefy sound and authenticity .

    • do you like your MM45? i think MM45s are so silly, personally. 33 vs 45 is not really any sort of difference in terms of wave processing speed, especially mechanical, as with LPs. plus, you have to change the record twice as often!

      • Resolution is greater with 45 RPM, no debating that. Whether someone can hear it, that’s another story. The other advantage to 45s is the width of the groove can be wider so the record can be cut louder with less compression: wider dynamics with a signal to noise ratio that competes with a mastering with more compression.

        All that being said, I can’t readily hear any difference between the 33s and the 45s lol. (Bear in mind my stereo did not cost $100,000.)

        LJC says: There, fixed it, just moved decimal point one place. That’s more like it!

    • I forgot to mention above that I’ve an original mono for a few years now. I tried out the (stereo) MM33 recently and it just didn’t do it for me in comparison. I sold it on the ‘Bay. My original has a few clicks here and there but that bold mono is so nice, and no audible groove wear, another important deciding factor. As LJC said though, without an original I’d be quite happy with the MM33.

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