I have been trying to pace posts to one a week, but this is one of those cases where I didn’t want to delay. No original comparator to hand, but hot on the heels of the Tone Poet release, better to be timely. LJC doesn’t just collect records, he collects something more valuable: knowledge. Knowledge helps make all choices better in future, so it is a valuable companion.
A wise saying attributed to Mark Twain: “Good judgement is the result of experience, and experience… often… the result of bad judgement“. This not a paradox, but a win:win situation. You get either what you want, or the knowledge to help get what you want next time.
. . .
Previously written, I’ll merely repeat for completeness.:
This is a fabulous Blue Note, if you don’t have it, you need it, go get it. The Mobley side is great, the McLean side is great. The common thread is Donald Byrd (obviously) and Duke Pearson, who has a knack of penning memorable compositions – these tunes will be going around in your head for a a long time.
Vinyl: BST 84048
The Byrd TP has landed. Inky-black near silent noise floor, ultra-wide perfectly balanced sound stage, solid dimensional instrument placement, this was Rudy at his best, beautiful recording, beautifully mastered. This is truly a masterpiece, certainly the best Blue Note modern stereo reissue I have heard. I can’t compare it with the original, not on my shelf, but it is a very satisfying listen, pairs beautifully with a good single malt, with the lights turned low.
Many writers address the music, the abilities of the artists, and the qualities of the vinyl. You have also paid for that cover. Let’s show some appreciation of the art direction?
I thought I recognised the TP Mobley picture. Well, I was half-right. Looks like from the same Francis Wolff photo session used for the cover of 4080 Workout. Same pose, just shot from a different angle.
Every picture tells a story, some pictures tell it better than others. The shot selected for the Workout cover tells a story. The TP shot, apparently similar, is all loose ends. But it offers a useful comparator, an A:B, as to how the Workout picture works.
Props! A pair of shades, likely just out of frame in the TP photo. Shades in a darkened studio? Hipness, of course. A bottle of soft drink (Coca Cola), and a pack of cigarettes (Winston). Connection: the first track on Side 2 of Workout is entitled “Smokin’ “. Mobley is drawing on a recently lit cigarette, an atmospheric puff of smoke. The Workout shot is dynamic: Hank is smokin’. On the TP shot the cigarette is unlit , drooping in his left hand. His right hand is raised to his lips, but Hank is visibly not smokin’.
In the TP, Hank’s tenor recedes into the background.On Workout, Hank’s saxophone is in the foreground, casting a dramatic shadow on the studio floor. The shiny surface reflections make it a focus of attention. A visual relationship is established between the musician and the instrument. Hank has put down his sax and takes a well deserved break for a smoke, and a soft drink, because he has been working, playing hard.
The visual elements are all present in the TP shot, but not connected. The Workout cover shot brings them all together, to tell that story in just one picture. Art direction!
Finishing touch, red text on black and white tells you Hank’s session a hot hot hot. (Which it is!) Reid Miles genius (not forgetting Francis Wolff).
Declaration of Interest: none, full retail personal purchase.
A:B; A:C; B:C – all rips on latest system “level playing field”. Sadly. no original Blue Note for comparison
Byrd In Flight was overlooked in the early Toshiba era (1968-77). King made the first Japanese reissue, in its Blue Note Masterpiece 150 series (1977-80). Toshiba’s first release from Japan was this edition in 1990, 4 to 5 years into the digital and CD era.
. . .
A:Repeat of the Tone Poet, 2020 for final comparisons:
. . .
. . .
A: Repeat of the Tone Poet 2020 for final comparisons:
. . .
Caveat: The full Hi Fi system playback has a quite different character: room filling 12 feet between speakers, wider dynamic and tonal range, better timing, with added room acoustics. Playback in this post is limited to 320kb stream via internet and PC soundcard and speakers/headphones.
Observations: The TP is absolutely gorgeous on the big system. The 1970’s United Artists certainly packs a punch, very bright and forward presentation. The Toshiba is noticeably the weakest, sounds “slower”, which is always a bad sign. That is my take but you may have a different experience, through different equipment, delivering different results.
What do you think? It’s OK to differ. Another wise quote, this one attributed to Oscar Wilde: Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.