Adventures in collecting "modern jazz": the classical music of America from the Fifties and Sixties, on original vinyl, on a budget, from England. And writing about it, since 2011. 100% coronavirus-free content.
Nathan Davis: Live in Paris, ORTF Recordings (1965-7) Sam Records (2018)
All tracks except E2: Nathan Davis, saxophone; Georges Arvanitas, piano and organ; Jacky Samson; bass; Charles Saudrais; drums. E2: Champs-Elysées All-Stars : Nathan Davis, saxophone; Jack Diéval, piano; Jacques Hess, bass, Franco Manzecchi, drums.
Side A & B recorded at Studio 105 Charles Trenet, Maison de la Radio, Paris, France, November 19, 1966. Side C, D & E1 : recorded at Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris, October 22, 1967. Side E2 recorded at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France, February 9, 1965.
French jazz pianist Georges Arvanitas born June 13, 1931 in Marseille, France, died September 25, 2005
A1 The Hip Walk (N. Davis) 9’21 A2 Yesterdays (J. Kern) 8’40 (Flute Version) B1 A5 (N. Davis) 10’39 B2 Nathalie’s Bounce (N. Davis) 10’17 C1 Love Ye The Neighbor (N. Davis) 12’43 C2 Mid Evil Dance (N. Davis) 9’53 D1 The Rules of Freedom (N. Davis) 12’15 D2 The Thing (N. Davis) 13’19 E1 Yesterdays (J. Kern) 14’05 (Sax Version) E2 Blues For Southeast Asia (N. Davis) 10’15
Nathan Davis recordings for French Radio (ORTF), three locations, live settings, lots of space for extended workouts rather than studio execution to the stop-watch, broad canvas, discover the true voice of Nathan Davis, covering much of his recorded songbook.
The selection, Blues For Southeast Asia, is my absolute favourite. A modal vamp with shades of Dave Brubeck’s Take Five, (without the tricksy time signatures) gives Davis a ten minute blank canvas to find his own voice and ideas, extended lines, excursions, flurries, not obviously any other player, it grooves and swings its own course. Jack Diéval, piano, supplies the vamp, bass and drums are timekeepers, a little space for the rhythm section at the close, I’d be happy with another twenty minutes of this track, lovely stuff.
Other tracks are great too, you get over an hour and 45 minutes on the complete album set. I have not checked each track, but the final track is mono from the waveforms, definitely, but I left the rip in Stereo just in case.
Vinyl: Sam Records SR20/2
“My two great interests are jazz music and photography. In 2006 I got to know the American musician Nathan Davis personally and made a decision : I would re-release a recording by Davis from 1965 in the best possible quality available. The search for the copyright owner of the cover photo led me to Jean-Pierre Leloir, a legendary photographer who had captured on film what went on music-wise in Paris over many years. I was to be able to find who had the master tape, then have an agreement with the owner and then produced my very first LP reissue”.
(Fred Thomas, Sam Records)
Made in Germany, cutting by SST – Schallplatten Schneid Technik GmbH, German master disk cutting specialists
“Cutting is the fundamental component of phonograph disk production. It is the decisive element that determines whether an audio production will be transferred to disk in a way that is true to the original” .” SST link
The squiggle after SST is the engineer code, K, seen elsewhere attributed to Kr, Daniel Kreiger.
SST: Cutting from analogue tape
“The tape machine used for cutting to disc has two playback heads. The tape is fed first to one head, then after a loop with several guide rollers, to the second head. We thus obtain two identical but time-shifted playback signals. The first signal is supplied to the cutting machine to control groove spacing, allowing the required spacing of the grooves to be calculated in advance and adjusted. Loud passages require more space, since they generate greater deflection of the groove than is the case with soft passages. The second, subsequent signal is used for the actual cutting of the grooves
Why two heads are better than one: (a digression)
Another of the warning signs when claims are made about “from the original tapes” this timely information sheet from SST clarified what I had understood only dimly about tape machines: .
In the ’90’s possibly even earlier, digital delay lines were used to supplement the single playback head tape machines found in most studios. In the absence of a preview head, the tape machine’s single playback head would read the original master tape, adjusting groove spacing in advance of the cutting head, with the delayed digital signal behind driving the actual lacquer cutting. The lacquer was cut from the digital copy signal, not the original tape signal.
Pressed at Pallas, Diepholz, Lower Saxony, Germany.
The five digit number stamped between two long dashes (below, right) is the plating code, effectively a signature of Pallas metalware.
The Pallas pressing plant appears to be fully automated, (you could say, it operates Hans-free).
Much of our modern jazz audiophile in Europe is pressed at Pallas or rival German plant Optimal Media., and I’ve had good flat silent pressings from both, though I have read they are struggling to keep up with demand, record companies booking capacity nine months in advance.
Sam Records are currently reissuing this out of print Nathan Davis recording. The repressing is by Optimal Media using metal from Pallas (I guess the original metalware) cut by SST (I guess the original cutting source is the same) however “due to problem at the pressing plant, only 100 copies have been received. Remaining stock will be delivered in November 2021 (Sam Records)
So Optimal Media is having problems. Everyone in the record industry claims there is a world vinyl shortage, but no-one knows why or by how much, but it’s a shortage!. The cause is laid at the feet of any current bogeyman, The Pandemic, Brexit , Climate Change, or the geo-politics of oil production . It is not clear whether the problem is a physical shortage of PVC, or a shortage of pressing capacity in the face of unprecedented demand for vinyl records, I suspect the latter.
(Note to picture editor – insert photo of gaps in record shelves. Quote: “Minister says no need to panic” immediately starts panic buying )
With three LPs to hold, the gatefold adds another fold, photos by J P Leloir, some familiar shots.
Jackie Samson, Antibes 1969
Photo credit: Harry M
I have to admit I paid the current market rate for the first (2018) limited edition, which is considerably more than the forthcoming re-order price, if you want to sit it out and wait. Either way it is indeed a great production worthy of the word audiophile. The original ORTF engineers did a great job recording these location settings back in 1965/7 , and SST have delivered the goods cutting to the latest audiophile standards, good German pressing. Nathan Davis just grows in stature with these additional releases.
Up and Coming Audiophile Jazz Releases
First Flight To Tokyo 1961 – Art Blakey Jazz Messengers (x2 LP) Release scheduled November 5th 2021 – Blue Note Vinyl Classics.
Audio transfer from the original ¼” tape reels, vinyl edition mastered by Bernie Grundman and pressed on 180g vinyl at Record Technology Inc. (RTI).
Live recording at Hibiya Public Hall in Tokyo, January 14, 1961. Not likely the Messengers flew van Gelder with them, so the engineering is down to their host’s in Tokyo, it passes without mention. They don’t know, they don’t know they should know, or they don’t want you to know. It is always the omission which is the tell. Like the ear not present.
Now’s the Time (22:34) Moanin’ (13:33) Blues March (11:45) The Theme (00:33) Dat Dere (12:14) Round About Midnight (13:29) Now’s the Time – Version 2 (17:15) A Night in Tunisia (11:12)
The Theme – Version 2 (00:30).
Over 25 Blakey posts here at LJC, I don’t feel need of another Messengers album covering the same material, but possibly a good entry-point for the rookie collector or completist.
We have just had the Witch Doctor from Art Blakey on Blue Note Vinyl Classics, another 1961 Messengers line up recording as I recall. It is undeniably great music, but this “lost tapes” angle is beginning to wear a bit thin. There is a lot of not lost material desperately in need of a quality AAA reissue.
I nearly fell for a twist on the “lost tapes” angle, a newly discovered “rehearsal tape” made the day before a band went into the studio to record their first album. Recorded unfortunately on a portable in the band leader’s grandparents sitting room. Yeah, very “intimate sound”, I bet.