Miles Davis: In Person at The Blackhawk (1961) Columbia/Mosaic shootout. Update: ultrasonic record cleaning

Selection: Neo (12:51) Columbia six eye

.  .  .

Different selections made from previous posts on Blackhawk Sessions back in 2012 of the Fontana UK editions. With the passing of time,  can do better.


Miles Davis (trumpet) Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone) Wynton Kelly (piano) Paul Chambers (bass) Jimmy Cobb (drums) recorded Friday and Saturday night at The Blackhawk, San Francisco, CA, April 21-2, 1961, engineer Russ Payne, whose credits include In a Silent Way and Terry Riley’s In C.

The outstanding Miles Davis in-between-first-and-second Quintet, featuring Hank Mobley in blistering form, in a live set from San Francisco’s Blackhawk. Twenty four editions are listed in Discogs, but we are in original vinyl mode with the six-eye, and pitting it against the curator’s heaven, Mosaic vinyl box set The Complete Blackhawk Sessions..


The Blackhawk Sessions  continue to hit my turntable frequently, though it tends to be in the form of the Mosiac boxset rather than the Six Eye, owing to the extended presence of Hank Mobley’s mellifluous tone ( synonyms: sweet-sounding, sweet-toned, dulcet, honeyed, mellow, soft, liquid, soothing, rich, smooth, euphonious, lyric, harmonious, tuneful, musical) All of those things in just one word. And one letter: M is for Mobley and mellifluous. And of course, for Miles. And Mosaic.

Come 1961 Mobley was  no longer rushing to prove himself: he had arrived.  Instead, confident, masterful, elegant finely-judged arrangements of notes swinging and flying , perfect offset to Miles squawking, stabbing, and restless probing horn. Mobley’s not everyone’s cup of tea, not driven like Coltrane, not boundary-pushing like Shorter, and not as witty but exhausting as Rollins. But he’s my cup of tea –  I’ll put the kettle on.

Rich material executed with excitement, which contrasts with the more lauded Miles Mosaic, the ten- LP Plugged Nickel Session, which in terms of lifting and walking offers a big saving alternative over gym-club membership. There are whole sides on that set which have almost nothing but Miles wrestling with the horn, as though struggling to give birth, though across the ten LPs it documents the forging together of the Second great quintet, Hancock-Carter-Williams-Shorter-Miles.

Neo on Blackhawk is for me the killer track, a cool modal canvas with a merciless metronomic kick from Jimmy Cobb sitting just behind the beat, one kick two kick, one kick two kick, Wynton’s chords harmonic waves rolling in and out, Paul Chambers the powerful tidal undertow, leaving the horns like seabirds to swoop over the surface. (LJC, this metaphor is beginning to run out of control, pull yourself together).

Vinyl: CS 8470

Not just any old stereo, but Columbia stereo, six eye label, 1B/1C stampers, and ultrasonically cleaned (More on that in Collector’s Corner below.) Columbia six eye are a beautiful thing to hear. Sweet, and not cramped by frequency cut-offs, but that ethereal Columbia organic stereo presentation we have come to love since KoB.

The cover I read described as Miles casting himself in cultural pimp-aesthetic, street credibility with the jazz/ underworld hustler milieu, in the shadows, dancer Frances Taylor, Wife 1.0. before he upgraded to v.2.0 in 1968, singer Betty Mabry.

Small font alert! Liner notes sponsored by Specsavers. Photographically sharpened to be readable at full screen.

The Alternative Stereo :

Mosaic Complete Blackhawk Sessions  – two nights in! You know you want to, send out for a takeaway.

Selection: Neo (12: 26) Mosaic Records

.  .  .

Vinyl: Mosaic MQ6-220 six-LP box set, fifteen years out of print. An immediate sense of being more information-rich, greater clarity, just switch back to hear Columbia.

The timings on each track and the evening set sequence is the key to what Mosaic are giving you compared with the boiled-down Columbia two-volume set.  Though the selection Neo is effectively the same, at around twelve and a half minutes (depending on how much applause you include), the same is not true for all tracks.

Well You Needn’t for example has been edited down to half, from 8:02 (Mosaic) to 4: 42 (Columbia) . If I were a Bell has been edited down from 12:25 (Mosaic) to 8:45 (Columbia) . Despite Columbia Volume II being billed as “Saturday Night”, the tracks Fran Dance and Oleo seem to have been borrowed from Friday Night and each lost one and a half minutes in the process.

Well You Needn’t” The Complete vs Columbia

What’s missing in the four minutes Columbia cut from Well You needn’t?  Let me guess, it’s not Miles’s solo.  Hank’s? Yup.  In the full session after Miles, Hanks starts to fire up, followed by Wynton Kelly in typically brisk rhythmic form. Three and a bit minutes in, Columbia edit out Hank.

Imagine, if you will, Miles sitting down with the Producer in the editing suite.  “If we are to  fit the tracks onto Side 1, Mr Davis, sir, I’m afraid were going to have to cut something. We could leave off the “Fran” track you suggested. After all, it’s not actually from Saturday Night. Oh, it… dedicated to your wife, I see, well, of course, Mr Davis, sir, it stays…naturally. Miles frowns, his eyes narrow. “There’s too much of other people’s solos. It’s my album, people want to hear me. Cut them, cut the other mthrfng solos, cut the horn player Mobley out, it’s me people wanna hear, me! “. This conversation is entirely made up. However it seems to be that’s how thing work nowadays, so it’s good to go.

The first three or so minutes the Columbia is the same. (There were some clicks early on which I tried to declick, not altogether successfully, but it soon settles down).  Check how artfully Columbia airbrushed Hank out of the piece and seamlessly moved from Miles on to Wynton’s solo.

Well You needn’t – Columbia Saturday Night (4:42)

.  .  .

For fun, here’s the whole thing, get the missing half of the session:

Well You needn’t – Mosaic Complete Blackhawk Session (8: 02)

.   .   .

Another five LP’s to add to this one! No pictures please – see my agent. Six LPs in chronologically  sequence – without redundancy of repeats. The best way to hear it is to start listening on Friday night to the Friday night session, repeat Saturday night with just the Saturday night session. Voila, recreate the whole experience of April 1961 at The Blackhawk.

(The actual true chronologic reproduction of the two nights includes some redundancy of same tunes played on both nights, too hair-shirt for me, is to be found on a four cd set reissue in 2003. That’s not how you listen to recordings of this quality)

You will notice the band is a little stiff at the outset, needs to limber up, and soon they begin to swing, then they are hot. Come the final set four, on Saturday night, they have had enough, speeding up, anxious to finish the set and get themselves home back to New York. It’s just like real life only better: no queue for the bar, no-one shooting up in the toilet, and no getting mugged waiting for the night bus home. That’s convenience I can live with.

Collector’s Corner

The idea for this post came from a couple of A:B critical listening sessions in which a number of copies of the Blackhawk Sessions were pooled and thrown onto the turntable – mono six-eye  stereo six-eye,UK Fontana, to see what happens. As always, comparative listening is so educational, throws up unexpected insights.

First the hoary old mono or stereo question – which is a better listening experience, mono or stereo? A buddy has the mono six-eye, I have the stereo six-eye, both originals from 1961, common engineering, so head to head. Columbia stereo had a sublime soundstage as expected, but the mono integrated the players better and focussed on the music rather than the position of the players, This ended up a distraction from the music because instrument position invites greater attention.

The mono had just one small failing to my ear. It is a live recording in which audience appreciation is part of the live ambience. Mono places all of the audience in the centre of the stage too. C’mon guys, how do you fit 200 people on the centre of the stage without it collapsing? The ambience is the audience being all around and you being there too. It’s a small thing but the ambience is part of the pleasure of this recording.

When it comes to the stereo, Columbia and Mosaic seem to have a different vision.  Playing the same track  from the same date but the handiwork of two different mixing engineers was a type of  “horizontal-tasting” I’d not anticipated, but here it came up naturally. Mosaic’s Ron McMaster vs Mr Payne.  I’m not sure how well Neo illustrates it but  in another A:B it was standout.  Columbia stereo was very artfully “centred”, still stereo but positioned within the speakers, musicians separate but close. Perhaps they loaded tracks onto both channels with different  weights.

The Mosaic is more a panoramic very wide soundstage with lots of air and space between the musicians. As is often the case with more modern stereo, the soundstage seemingly extends beyond the speakers either side. It is a matter of preference, but on balance I preferred the Columbia approach, though nothing wrong with Mosaic, sounds just as immersive and after a while your ear settles in. Who but a fool would have two copies of the same thing and play to compare?

I have yet to find a Mosaic box set in less than perfect condition. I suspect the first couple of LPs get the most wear, and the last couple of LPs, very little.  Sets  have been produced since the mid eighties and cross over into the rise of the CD and the culture of convenience and portability over quality (Fight! Fight!).

Anyone with any insights into Mosaic box sets, welcome to share. Anyone wanting to diss Hank Mobley – Organissimo seems to have form, why not take it there?. Anyone interested in ultrasonic record cleaning,  I’m busy cleaning records right now, I’m sorry, you will have to wait, full report to follow, I hope with an LJC first – video.

Here’s a couple of vinyl Mosaic boxsets on my wants list. Mmmhm..Mobley…

 Audiophile’s Corner

And here’s a little baby that just came off my wants list…an Audiodesk Pro ultrasonic cleaning machine. The Audiodesk is less than half the cost of the current alternative Klaudio, though still nevertheless a significant investment in cleaner records. Would you benefit from cleaner records?

Bear in mind the need for record cleaning is still controversial in some parts of the vinyl-spinning community. Take for example this quote (from albeit a fairly old Discogs thread, but you read the same sentiment today):

The words “I think” may be an exaggeration, however it is a state of mind so nicely summed up in that wonderful poster for Guinness back in 1973:

Are You Experienced?

I’ve never tried it because I don’t like it” – the triumph of unfounded opinion over experience –  is an insight that won ad agency J Walter Thompson the  Design Council  Best Poster of the Year award. Unfortunately, I’ve tried Guinness numerous times and still don’t like it. I’ve also just tried ultrasonic cleaning, and I really do like it, very much. I don’t “think”, I “know”, there is a difference between those two words. The Audiodesk Pro costs a fair amount of money, but whether it’s a “waste of money” depends on what value you put on your listening experience.  In my case, it’s great value for money,  for djfrankiebones, maybe less so.

New kid on the block: Cavitation

Ultrasonic cleaning utilises a process called “cavitation” – in which  high-frequency sound waves create cavitation bubbles in a liquid bath of water and surfactant. The cavitation bubbles produce a force that cleans vinyl in a  powerful but minimally abrasive way, penetrating deep down into the grooves. Removable contaminants include dust, dirt, oil, grease, fungus, residual mould release, and whatever is the source of those white specks that lodge themselves into the groove.

Comparative listening tests confirms to my ears that it produces significantly superior results to conventional vacuum/ alcohol cleaning.

If you want to watch a record being cleaned ultrasonically (beats watching paint dry, just not much), here shot in 1080p HD with sound at LJC Studios in London, I have uploaded it to YouTube.

Audiodesk Pro Ultrasonic record cleaning machine full basic cycle is six minutes. Hear your vinyl in the cleanest condition currently possible, the only harm it can do is to your piggy bank.

The original Audiodesk ultrasonic cleaner  was launched around five years ago simply as a cavitation machine, at nearly twice the price , where the Klaudio still languishes.  The “Pro” has had five years of development, adding improvements to the cleaning cycle. As befits a product at this price, great attention has been paid to build quality. All operational parts such as filters, rollers and wiper blades are user-replaceable.

The tank is filled with 4.5 litres of purified water and a small bottle of surfactant (proprietary Audiodesk liquid, £12 a pop), which is good to clean 100-150 records, before emptying out and refilling. (One selling point of the Klaudio is not requiring surfactant. Hyuge saving.)

The six minute cleaning cycle (extendable in minute increments up to ten, if desired) starts with the water in the bottom reservoir being pumped up into the upper chamber, where the vinyl gets about five rotations in the bath with the vinyl surface agitated between two pairs of fluffy rollers. This is  followed by five rotations applying ultrasonic cavitation – blasting the grooves with powerful jets of cavitation bubbles – then to finish,  slow rotation with an air dryer. Vinyl emerges static free and dry, ready to play.

The machine can be co-located in a domestic environment next to the record collection or hifi, no liquid splashing on carpets, and sufficiently quiet in use not to disturb others in the house. Forget any thought of wholesale cleaning your collection, a thought which filled me with dread. It is operationally practical enough to be part of a listening “workflow”: select record from shelf – pop it in the cleaner – then straight onto the turntable to play (not forgetting to increment the count of records cleaned by one, and a pencilled note”date cleaned” on corner of paper inner sleeve).

A:B Testing: before and after ultrasonic cleaning

AB-testing-LJCBecause of the danger of confirmation bias, A:B testing was conducted with an objective listening buddy who has no investment in the machine, and no problem with challenging any existing opinion. He’s a bugger like that.

An afternoon was spent play-testing a variety of records – some never before cleaned, some twice cleaned with vacuum/alcohol cleaner, records known to have lots of surface noise, brand new vinyl, 20 year-old vinyl, sixty year old vinyl, every permutation we could think of.


First off, every record sounded much improved after six minutes ultrasonic cleaning.

Not only the expected reduction in surface noise, but a completely unexpected audible improvement in sound quality – lowered bass floor, more articulate mid-band and detail in highest frequencies.

I was also surprised by a further reduction in  background crackle, which I assumed was persistent 

There is no doubt ultrasonic cleaning does something that convention alcohol/ vacuuming cleaning does not do. It may be due to superior penetration to the very bottom of the groove, more effective removal of residual mould release, or just that more aggressive cavitation shifts matter alcohol/vacuuming doesn’t. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt The Audiodesk Pro ultrasonic offers superior cleaning performance and a significant increase in operational convenience.

A place in your hi-fi system

An ultrasonic cleaner is not just “a record cleaning machine”, it is a hifi component, just as important as your amp or cartridge. If you think of spending  £2k on an improved amplifier, high-end cables, or indeed on one rare record, you begin to see the Ultrasonic cleaner in proper perspective.

LJC says: This is an unsolicited testimonial, no inducements offered or received,  and the Audiodesk Pro Ultrasonic is my own  full price purchase. It is, I believe, an essential lifestyle accessory for a collector of vintage vinyl who has had most if not all his basic needs in life met, and is able to justify spoiling themselves with this beautiful piece of German engineering. Even if they have spelled “System” wrong. And Gläss with an umlaut.

LondonJazzCollector fashion notes: the disembodied arm at the beginning of the video, pressing the start button and engaging the record to click into the traction mechanism, is sporting a Rohan technical performance Stratum polo in vapour stripe. The material is 95% polyester, 5% elastane, light, packable, extremely versatile, quick-drying, and pairs effortlessly with tasks where you need to look cool, like record cleaning.

Look out for more fashion tips for record collectors, what ‘s cool to wear when crate-digging,  as LJC expands the LJC franchise into the online social media sector including forthcoming blogs “What’s LJC Wearing Today” and “What’s In LJC’s Fridge”, as well as LJC T-shirts, mugs and coasters.
God Forbid.Vinylgrooveelctronmicro


27 thoughts on “Miles Davis: In Person at The Blackhawk (1961) Columbia/Mosaic shootout. Update: ultrasonic record cleaning

  1. The Mosaic LP set wasn’t mastered by Ron McMaster but Kevin Hodge. McMaster did only EMI stuff for Mosaic, whereas all the Columbia boxes were mastered by engineers working at The Master Cutting Room.


  2. I’ve owned the A/D for about a year and a half. Here are my observations:

    When it works, it’s great. When it breaks, it’s expensive. I’ve had the A/D replaced once under warranty. There are also construction issues that vary from unit to unit. The importer was very helpful to me when the machine broke, but I’ve heard from others, some in the hi-fi biz, that haven’t been as lucky. Apparently the rate if incidents is high for the A/D. I’m not quite sure the unit is ready for prime time (or at least cleaning large collections over many years). By comparison, I’ve had my VPI for almost two decades without a single issue.
    Some records need to be cleaned on a vacuum machine first, particularly to remove organics or for contact cleaning. Gummy, sticky material and organics are not efficiently removed ultrasonically, at least without special cleaners. Hardened fingerprints on flea market records (or eBay records) are a perfect example. To remove the organics you could add a hospital grade enzyme product to the unit, but that would void the warranty. These enzyme products rinse cleanly and are very inexpensive. I’m not sure why the sticky stuff can’t be removed using the A/D with the supplied additive, but I’ve cleaned several lps on the vacuum machine after a few cycles on the A/D and can still get contaminants on the cleaning pad. My recommendation is pre-clean with hospital-grade enzyme and mechanical scrubbing using a record cleaning brush or cotton pad on the vacuum machine then finish off on the A/D.
    One benefit of the A/D over other devices is the filter. After 500 lps the filter, as well as the cleaning barrels, is very grimy. I think the filter may limit the amount of contaminants that stick to the inside of the A/D after cleaning. That said, a better solution would be to allow the inside of the device to be opened up and wiped down as in a medical ultrasonic machine. The lips of the A/D should be wiped down regularly since they attract grime. One way to avoid contaminants sticking to the inside of the A/D would be to change the fluid more regularly than recommended, but that would get very expensive very quickly. Removing the cleaning barrels and filter will allow you (if you’ve got small hands) access to clean the upper chamber of the unit. It can get dirty enough to see clearly on a paper towel.
    A stainless steel unit would be better than the plastic stuff that is used to make the A/D. Medical units are all stainless. The unit would also be more robust. Medical ultrasonic cleaners include degassing functions, frequency sweeping (for better cleaning) and other functions that would benefit record cleaning. I’m not sure if any commercial record cleaning units do this.
    If the record to be cleaned is relatively thin or warped, repeated drying cycles will almost always be needed on an A/D. This is a function of the lips of the device. Thin or warped records will frequently get cleaning solution on the labels since some fluid will not be wiped off by the lips. I haven’t had any permanent damage to labels this way, but the first few times it was scary.
    On rate occasions the A/D will not pinch the lip of an lp, but the playing surface itself. When this happens immediately turn the machine off and remove the vinyl or risk damaging the playing surface. When I found this out it was an expensive error and I still haven’t found a replacement to the record that was damaged.
    The 45 and 10″ adapters work well but spray cleaning fluid on the top of the unit. Wipe the top down after each disk to avoid staining the top of the unit.

    I’m sure there are other things to add, but this is a good start.


    • It’s got some wrinkles, good to know, I ‘ll keep an eye out for any problems. All my records (1800) have already been cleaned on my Moth Pro vacuum with IPA , some several times, so mostly the A/D is just the icing on the cake. Some icing!

      The Klaudio Ultrasonic costs twice as much, has some extras like a digital progress bar, which is something I can live without. Anyone any other experiences with ultrasonic record cleaning machines? (No. I don’t include Spin-clean)


      • A few months ago a local record store started offering Audiodesk cleaning. I tried it with a bunch of records previously cleaned with a vacuum machine. To my surprise the results didn’t convince me and I didn’t use the service again. One caveat, they only filled the tank with purified water.
        It would be interesting if you can upload an audio of a song before and after the ultrasonic clean to check the improvement..


        • I’m guessing here, but if your stylus rides higher in the groove, as some do, you’re more likely to play surfaces already damaged by previous ownership. A cavitation cleaning paired with a narrower stylus is the solution to this problem. My Ortofon M5 is fine on new records but the older ones get my Audio Technica 440ml


          • My cart is a Dynavector TKR with a long profile stylus which digs down deeper into the groove than a conventional stylus, takes information from lower parts of the groove wall which has less historical damage. That may or may not explain its response to ultrasonic cleaning.

            My experience of a hundred or so upgrades and various pinch-points in the system is that everything makes a difference, just not necessarily where you think. For example, putting in balanced mains power supply probably showed for the first time how well the valves were performing, but you never knew. Putting in Telefunken valves may have shown how well something else was performing. Some things help carry the signal from source to final amplification, other things supress the things that interfere with the signal being carried.

            Everyone’s listening environment is different, I’m not sure there is a universal “do this and it will sound better” rule. If ultrasonic cleaning didn’t sound better to you, may be there are five other things that need improving before it does. Just speculation.

            Improve A and now you can hear how much better B works. I have no answers, just advice that people need to find what works better for them.


  3. Honestly, any album recorded at the Blackhawk in San Francisco is going to sound great, thanks to the club’s acoustics. Well, all the records I own that were made in that club sound fantastic, regardless of the record label.


    • I shall have to put that to the A:B test!
      Wiki list these albums, of which I have just the first three sets:

      At the Black Hawk vol 1-4, Shelly Manne, Contemporary

      Thelonious Monk Quartet Plus Two at the Blackhawk, Thelonious Monk, Riverside

      In Person Friday Night At The Blackhawk, Complete, Volume I-2, Miles Davis, Columbia

      At The Black Hawk, Mongo Santamaría, Fantasy

      Ahmad Jamal at the Blackhawk, Ahmad Jamal, Argo

      Live and Direct, Cal Tjader, Fantasy

      Saturday Night/Sunday Night at the Blackhawk, Cal Tjader, Verve

      Any others?


      • Dave Brubeck was illicitly recorded there by Fantasy in the early 1950’s (they hung mics through the ventilation system without Brubeck knowing). Those are probably the only ‘bad’ recordings from the Blackhawk.

        Jazz At The Blackhawk- Dave Brubeck
        (Later reissued as ‘Two Knights At The Blackhawk’)

        A Night At The Blackhawk- Cal Tjader

        Jazz At The Blackhawk- Cal Tjader

        San Francisco Moods- Cal Tjader (only one track)
        Those are the only other ones I can think of. I own those Tjader albums on record, as well as the Ahmad Jamal and Vol. 1 of the Shelly Manne album. I already profiled one of those Tjader albums, but your post inspired me to check out the others. Looking forward to your own A:B testing!


  4. This entry has struck a chord with with me. At the Blackhawk is one of my favorite titles. I was introduced to it approximately 35yrs ago, when it was playing in the background at a used record shop. Sublime is the only word to describe it. While this title captures MIles between great quintets, his bands of this period were never less than expertly assembled. You touch on stereo vs mono. Well for me, it is stereo all the away. By 1961 Columbia (and other labels) had figured out how to correctly record in stereo. While a live recording, one can pinpoint musicians in space in front of the audience. One can hear musicians relative to each other. For example, noting the bell of Miles’ trumpet at times comes in at a lower height relative to Mobley’s saxaphone. My preference for stereo pressings of this title mirrors my appreciation for chamber music- part of the appeal being the interplay between expert musicians. You can hear when musicians are inspired and respond to each other, and also when they are just playing. At the Blackhawk, even in truncated form in original release, shows much evidence of the band members playing with and inspiring each other. I have mono and stereo, non CBS 6 eye 1A and 1B pressings. Great part about this title is VG++ to NM copies are easily found, for almost pocket change. I missed the Mosaic box when it was in print, because I felt I didn’t need it. Your post has caused me to reconsider and I will try to find a reasonably priced copy. Though your post will probably cause prices to rise !!! I can see the hype now “….LJC LOVES this title…..get it now before collectors bid up the few copies in the market….!”


  5. I am also a U/S convert. I constructed a DIY machine instead of purchasing an Autodesk or KL. My findings are lower noise floor, to the point where the noise floor of my system can be heard above the noise floor of vintage LPs. Better transient response, cleaner midrange, better and more extended treble response. Much better reproduction of subtle low level audio cues such as the sense of air and space around musicians along with cleaner brass and string instrument decays. In many cases I no longer hear a low level shhhhh/swoosh sound from vintage LPs- just silence. I theorized that over time a layer of dirt and debris bonds to groove walls, and remains impervious to normal cleaning methods. U/S cleaning removes this layer.

    I previously used a Spin Clean, then Vacuum dry. I always noted significant debris in the SC tank after cleaning 10-12 LPs. I now use the SC as a pre cleaning step, then into the U/S tank. I -also- see accumulation of debris in the tank of the U/S machine, indicating it is successful in removing additional debris that resisted the SC scrub.


  6. Drat, drat and double drat! I was planning to eventually do a posting like this one on my blog but you’ve beaten me to it Andy, you jazz lovin’ fiend! 🙂 So all that remains for me to do is endorse almost all the observations you make about the comparison between the original Columbia six-eye stereo pressings and the Mosaic box set and maybe add a couple of thoughts of my own.

    First, this is one of those occasions when ownership of the original LPs and the Mosaic set is fully justified. Not only does the Mosaic set include all the tracks not used for the originals but, as you observe, it restores the unedited versions of them. In general, you’re right, Mobley’s solos were the main victims that ended up on the cutting room floor. But I’d also like to wave a flag for Kelly’s piano work which also got some cuts. He is, in many ways, the unsung hero of this group and the “glue” that holds everything together. I think Davis was fortunate to have him on board during this period of transition, Kelly was one of the few pianists who could both swing like Red Garland and embrace the modal ideas of Bill Evans. No easy tightrope to tread.

    Like you Andy, my (alarmingly long) experience of buying Mosaic sets both new (my first was the Tina Brooks set when it was released) and second hand is that they come in a terrific state of preservation. Your photo of the serial number had be rushing to the shelves to check mine: 671 – which I purchased from regular LJC correspondent Rudolph. And I know that he got it new from Mosaic in 2003.

    I’ve no desire to acquire all the Mosaic sets but there are still a few on my shopping list – the two you list among them plus the Grant Green/Sonny Clark Blue Note, the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Emarcy and few others.

    I’m looking forward to hearing about your experiences with the Audiodesk cleaner. That’s one expensive toy! I’ve been fortunate enough to operate one at my local hifi dealer because they use it for their record cleaning service. They allowed me to spend a couple of hours alone with it and a small pile of some of my records. But actually owning one of these machines is beyond my current budget.


    • Short reply- RE: Mosaic Emarcy Clifford Brown Max Roach / I purchased the set when upon release. I have 4 first pressings of the original titles for comparison.

      The Mosaic pressings are heavy, reasonably flat and exhibit CD quiet backgrounds. However in direct comparison to original pressings, some of the silence at the beginning and end of tracks may be the result of more aggressive fade in/fade out of the signal. You can hear very slight tape hiss deep in the background, but tape echo is diminished compared to the originals.

      The Mosaic remasters are noticeably louder overall, but Brown’s trumpet is not as dynamic. On the original pressings, his trumpet literally explodes out of the grooves and into your listening room. If you are listening at realistic levels, his tone has a visceral impact. Sharp transients, overtones that hang in space, a low register blat that hits you in the gut. The remaster brings up the level of everyone else so there is less of a dynamic contrast when Brown solos. To my ears this blunts some of the impact.

      The remasters have noticeably better frequency extension. Real bass, real kick drum impact and much more treble detail. Cymbals shimmer, with sharp transients and a strong bell tone. Overtones from Harold Land’s sax and Brown’s trumpet are ringing and very distinct. The bass on the originals only goes down so far, making it difficult to follow the bass line and there is no kick from the kick drum. Brown’s trumpet is explosive but the overtones are diminished. Land’s sax sounds real, but again the overtones are much lower in level.

      The soundstage of the reissue is audibly flatter than the originals. Even with greater clarity, it is sometimes more difficult to pick out individual instrument lines. On the original, there is a great sense of layering (even in mono….) and it is easy to follow the individual musicians. Maybe the increase in apparent volume level is responsible?


      • Ah fascinating. I procrastinated about buying this set new because I couldn’t decide whether it was a better option than tracking down the original pressings. By the time I had concluded that I ought to opt for the Mosaic set, the last few had sold out.

        Some questions about your originals… First, are they Emarcy first pressings with the blue drummer labels etc? If so, are they vinyl or styrene? I have quite been able to get to the bottom of this and I’m extremely wary of styrene pressings.


        • Sorry, I am not rl1856, but I have several “drummer label” Emarcy pressings as well, and these are definitely made of – quite heavy – vinyl. As rl1856 stated, these early Emarcy’s have really loud and forceful sound, somewhat comparable with 1500 series Blue Note’s.

          Not so many labels used styrene for LP’s – styrene was used more often used for 45’s. Jazz LP’s which are pressed on styrene can be found on Transition, Decca and (US) Debut. You can feel immediately if an LP is made of styrene, as styrene LP’s are much lighter (and less flexible) than vinyl ones. However, styrene LP’s – while looking ok – often play noisy as styrene easily gets damaged by playing with a worn stylus or by multiple plays…


        • Blue “Drummer” labels. Heavy vinyl. Mix of black and blue print back covers. Given that some of the titles were issued in 1954 and 1955, I suspect the black print covers would be considered 2nd pressings. Regardless, there is a visceral impact from these LPs that is not present on the Mosaic reissues. Upon first hearing the Emarcy disks, I thought Brown’s trumpet sounded and felt like bolts of lightening modulated through the bell of his horn.


  7. I don’t think anyone disses Hank Mobley. I like his playing a lot.

    It seems to me that “record collectors” tend to attach a greater value to his work, on account of the dizzyingly high prices of his original LPs, much like they do with Tina Brooks.


  8. The complete Hd Remastered Doxy digital edition is on my phone (all 29 tracks of it). With decent headphones you’re in the front centre seats at the Blackhawk. Close your eyes and try it (sorry LJC, the Devil’s Spawn is needed in certain situations – long transatlantic flights and never ending train journeys to Edinburgh are good examples) “Neo” comparisons Friday and Saturday are a cinch, done in an instant……


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