Kenny Dorham: Quiet Kenny (1959) New Jazz/ Craft Reissue 2021

Sound Check:

Lotus Blossom (Dorham) Craft Reissue 2021/ Kevin Gray mastering (£34)

.  .  .

Lotus Blossom (Dorham) Carrere French Prestige reissue, circa 1976 (circa £10)

.  .  .

Carrere pressings are generally considered the bottom of the heap, so it shouldn’t be hard to beat

Artists

Kenny Dorham, trumpet; Tommy Flanagan, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Arthur Taylor, drums, recorded Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, November 13, 1959

Billboard February 22, 1960 3 of 3 stars “good sales potential”

Music

All Music 4½ stars: “Cool and understated might be better words for what the ultra-melodic Dorham achieves on this undeniably well crafted set of standards and originals that is close to containing his best work overall during a far too brief career.”

Most notable for Dorham’s purity of tone, quietly understated voicings, and the crippling cost of an original pressing (price corrected, hat tip Frederik, the collector’s collector)

Vinyl: Concord Music Group/ Craft   CR00347 Reissue (2021) of New Jazz NJLP 8225 (1959)

Full marks to Craft for a mono edition, though the description of the source as from “the original mono tapes” is creative fiction. Van Gelder was almost a year into recording everything to only two-track tape, having abandoned the use of simultaneous full track tape at the end of October 1958

Kevin Gray mastering and cutting, pressed at RTI, familiar packing grooves to the outer circumference.

Archival Quality Inner Sleeve ▲ up 100! Yesss, this a very good idea from Craft!

Harry’s Place

Tommy Flanagan, Pablo reception, Montreux 1975

Collector’s Corner

Popsike top auction $4,500, for a mint original preview copy.

With over sixty entries in Discogs, Quiet Kenny is one of the most frequently reissued jazz classics, with several premium editions.

Pete Hutchinson’s Electric Recording Co. has issued both mono (150 copies) and stereo (150 copies) mastered by Hutchinson’s team from the hard-working original Van Gelder tapes.. One stereo copy I saw was asking $1,100, more than double the issue price of these ERC very limited editions. Because they sell out immediately, I have not heard a an ERC edition, interested if anyone can add a comment.

2021 Record Store Day mono edition

“Limited to 3,900 copies worldwide, this exclusive reissue boasts all-analog mastering from the original mono tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and was pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI. Quiet Kenny comes housed in a classic tip-on jacket, replicating the original packaging”

This Record Store Day edition has already been bumped on Discogs to over $100. It follows the familiar pattern of throttled supply (record stores receiving only one or two copies) and flippers cashing in.

“Up for sale is a SEALED 2021 RSD collector’s edition pressing Kenny Dorham — Quiet Kenny (1-LP; 180-gram vinyl)

 

However Discogs commenters have highlighted some copies with pressing problems. though I should add these were a minority of comments, most are entirely positive.

HEADLINE: Side A – Awesome. Side B – Disaster. Was SO excited to grab this during RSD considering the store I went to only received 2 copies and I was pretty far back in line. I finally found time where I could really appreciate this record to give it a spin. Side A is sublime. Loud. Live. No issues at all. Really sounds like you are sitting in the studio.

 

Side B on the other hand – the last 2 tracks have non-fill issues, Old Folks is really bad almost to the point of being unlistenable, which is really a shame It seems like a run of these have Side B problems, potentially the ones like mine that came in a generic poly sleeve. Have to wonder if they were rushed to get these on shelves .”

 

“The album itself sounds fantastic, quiet, soft, beautiful. Shame about my pressing though – Side B is full of pops and clicks particularly on the first two songs and inspection of the surface showed a number of hairline scratches”

Is the appearance of a generic poly sleeve a clue? This doesn’t equate with RTI’s reputation for quality pressing, and I wonder if there was some sub-contracting  to increase capacity. 

Using Record Store Day as a distribution system is not a great idea. I was fortunate to have a friend queue up for an hour to bag the one copy send to his nearest record store. My hero, Man-in-a-Shed.

Having A:B’d the Craft pressing against a French and a Japanese pressing, there is not so much difference to get excited about. An A:B with another listening buddy The Vinyl Detective actually scored a preference for the Japanese pressing over the Craft, a result I find difficult to explain, but you hear what you hear.

The Craft is not a sonic game-changer, though it makes a great value play-copy, unless you are unlucky enough to have one with a Side B problem..  

DG Mono has the full story on Quiet Kenny, Van  Gelder’s approach, and the OJC first stereo edition, with an excellent review which I defer to, rather than repeat, apart from this little quote:

“The first track on Quiet Kenny that stood out to me was “Lotus Blossom”, the gentle, uptempo opener. Art Taylor’s solo shines here, the gorgeous sound of which is a combination of the drummer’s well-crafted, finely-tuned kit, Van Gelder’s EMT reverb plate, and the natural ambience of the engineer’s custom-built cathedral-like studio.”  Yesss, I hear that.

Postscript: Kenny Dorham’s Lotus Blossom, otherwise known as Asiatic Raes, Sonny Rollins on BLP 4001 Newks Time

Both great versions! Not to forget Freddies pitch:

 

17 thoughts on “Kenny Dorham: Quiet Kenny (1959) New Jazz/ Craft Reissue 2021

  1. Hi Andrew, i have ERC MONO (fold down), and ETC STEREO and two copies of this RSD, OJC first press, two mint originals, Japanese first press and innumerable others.

    I have no problems with my two copies from craft. Their quality control is terrible, however.

    I A/B comparison the ERC MONO to this KG@CA RSD mono, and it is clear KG was not working with the OG tapes, his equipment had very very seriously problems note, or he intentionally did a super sh***y job for no particular reason. The ERC MONO, in the words of my good friend “American History X (film) style CURB STOMPS the RSD/CRAFT release.”

    Literally, after hearing the ERC MONO, the RSD is a f******** joke. Buy the original OJC straight transfer it is FAR BETTER, but nothing comes close to what ERC put out. Oh in case you didn’t know there are several reasons erc sounds so good that aren’t knowledge in the public domain. I can’t go into it, but let’s day they pioneered techniques before they were even considered “a thing”.

  2. To be able to finally get this in mono, without Kenny sitting way over to the left in stereo, at the retail price of $25 was pretty exciting. I’ve had two copies of the 1970s stereo reissue “Kenny Dorham/1959”, the Analogue Productions 33rpm stereo reissue and this Craft version bests them all IMHO. My copy was pressed centered, flat and free from non-fill or other pressing defects.

    • Hi aaron, the OJC OG is better, by a bit. The ERC bludgeons this RSD mono to death. The comparison is so sad is not even laughable

      • I’d hope the ERC would trounce it at twenty times the price. I have a strong preference for this in mono and there are few options besides the $$$$ original or $$$ ERC. Since we’re talking about high dollar versions, how does the ERC stack up against the original?

    • Some dodgy pressings, RSD distribution, obtuse technical source description, Concord/Craft do not seem to be on top of their game. A quick look at their website shows most of their jazz reissues are “Sold Out”. That is like when you phone your bank and they say “all of our operators are busy helping other customers” which means we don’t employ enough to help you. Craft don’t appear to have a distributor in the UK so we can’t buy them here except mail order, if not sold out. I had high hopes, not well met, our friends at Tone Poet don’t have these problems, they are showing how it can be done.

      • I wonder what shape the tape is in these days. Does anyone here own the ERC (2018) pressing for comparison. For the record (that old pun, sorry) my copy is perfect though the sound is a little less lively than I’d hoped for which I suspect is the state of the tape.

        I’m not sure all the negativity about Craft is called for, at least on the quality side of things. I’m new to buying their records; including both Small Batch and 2 of the 4 Chet Bakers and they’re all flawless. The Lateef is sensational btw. However I’m not keen at all on the business model of limited editions generally and they sure have made some enemies with the Small Batch titles.

        • Trying to purchase the Craft Yusef Lateef small batch release was a total debacle. I had the subscriber preorder code and missed out, then tried for regular preorder and missed out again. I was fully logged in, regularly refreshing the page and the checkout button, after adding to cart, was grayed out both times until it sold out in a matter of seconds.

          • Yeah it was a bummer for many but someone commented on SHF that the slowness for some may be payment method and recommended using ApplePay. That’s what worked for me (after failing with the pre-order code) on the open sale.

          • Debacle is the correct term, I tried 3 times, no chance, gone in 10 seconds and just how many were bought by flippers? Record collecting can be much less fun these days.

      • The hype sticker on the RSD release says it is made from the original mono tapes. At this point our BG was not using Mono tapes, he was only doing stereo and fold downs. This copy is a ruse, a joke, a lie.

        I can promise you after living in, listening to the ojc, the original and also the ERC versions. This is a second generation tape that’s been used. Either that or Kevin Gray has gone clinically insane, and his equipment has broken apart or he has made the world’s ********* album for no reason.

        Basically whatever version you get will be superior to this. I even recommend the CD version dubbed from a cassette. Which was recorded off the radio at 96. 16,Which is a Sonic masterpiece compared to this RSD comparatively.

        • To my ears, the same “original” tape used for the RSD mono version was used for the stereo AP 33rpm version (also cut by Kevin Gray) as the tonality is very similar. The AP version has the PR 7754 catalog number of the 1970s reissue “Kenny Dorham/1959” scratched out in the deadwax, leading me to believe they share the same tape source.

          • Based on what we all know about RVG recording after Halloween 1958, that certainly seems very possible. Without listening to the discs, it seems quite likely.

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