Lotus Blossom (Dorham) Craft Reissue 2021/ Kevin Gray mastering (£34)
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Lotus Blossom (Dorham) Carrere French Prestige reissue, circa 1976 (circa £10)
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Carrere pressings are generally considered the bottom of the heap, so it shouldn’t be hard to beat
Kenny Dorham, trumpet; Tommy Flanagan, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Arthur Taylor, drums, recorded Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, November 13, 1959
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.
Tommy Flanagan, Pablo reception, Montreux 1975
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: