Selection: Milk train (Knepper)
. . .
Freddie Hubbard, trumpet; Jimmy Knepper, trombone; Jerry Dodgion, alto sax; Eddie Daniels, tenor sax; Pepper Adams, baritone sax; Roland Hanna, piano; Richard Davis, bass; Louis Hayes, drums; recorded at MPS Studios, Villingen/Black Forest, December 9th, 1969, engineers Willi Fruth and Rolf Donner.
Freddie Hubbard on tour in Europe, 1969, glorious sessions in the Black Forest studios of MPS/Saba. Licensed to a Japanese label, in the same way another of these sessions was licensed to UK Decca, released as Hub of Hubbard (reviewed 2017). Freddie is pictured in the same astrakan hat, roll-neck and medallion, holding court. Quite why it was not billed as a “Freddie Hubbard” album is unclear but probably had to do with licensing agreements. Freddie is billed as a guest artist. “Richard Davis” is under the radar compared with Freddie, and has only a small number of titles under his own name as leader, perhaps here a quid pro quo.
It’s a very high energy session, each of the name-players get into the spotlight, and credits for compositions.
Jimmy Knepper is welcome on my turntable anytime, he has a very distinctive voice and turn of phrase honed with Mingus, on an instrument that had moved a long way from it’s marching band home.
Vinyl: UL-X 14 P Teichiku Records, Japan, test pressing (1974)
Original: “Musik Produktion Schwarzwald” (Music Production Black Forest)
Extraordinarily dynamic, high gain recording, so unlike many Japanese reissues, this comes at you from all directions and very hot. The contrast with Toshiba and King could not be more dramatic, shows how those engineers played safety-first. And this copy has the advantage of being a test pressing, first batch off the stampers, has the dials bouncing all over the place.
It is not my first encounter with Teichiku Records. They were responsible for the similarly dynamic Japanese edition of Tommy Flanagan’s Overseas, also a licensed overseas recording. May be they didn’t get the memo to tame it down, it is likewise loud and hot. Teichiku were at one time associated with RCA Victor, Japan, though the geneology is muddy and not necessarily helpful. The sleeve notes are not on the sleeve, but on an insert in Japanese, a release for the domestic market, not one we were intended to see.
The Hub of Hubbard – BASF/MPS – selections from the same Black Forest recording sessions (Hat-tip to Rich for reminding me many of these musicians were accustomed to playing together in the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra)
Everyone in a suit, except Freddie. But oh those striped pants. And if you want to get ahead, get an (Astrakhan) hat.
Muses for Richard Davis has a varied reissue history, starting with an original BASF/MPS issue in 1970, then a series of other international releases, including Japan, USA (PAUSA label) and other Europe, with differing title and artwork.
BASF/MPS own the recording, it is a great recording, and license it out to whoever want to reissue it.
Collector’s Corner Japanese Supplement
Some readers recent questions about King and Toshiba vintage Japanese pressings prompted more thoughts about Japanese pressings, and by an interesting video from Ana(Dia)logue – who, like LJC, believes in comparative listening to understand audio quality (and uses Audacity). He has gone one better – added some measurements – about modern audiophile pressings and made a comparison between modern Japanese audiophile pressing and our friends, Analog Productions.
LJC recommends the ANA(DIA)LOGUE Youtube Channel – Hi-Fi Listening: information and philosophy – thoughtful videos dedicated to the listening factors in high fidelity music reproduction.
Watch this whole video here
Ana(dia)logue’s analysis compares the volume of the range of frequencies of a Japanese audiophile pressing with a comparable US audiophile pressing, of the same recording, Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters. He’s also adjusted for overall volume differences, to render them comparable.
I’ve superimposed above a screengrab of the two histograms, which is more revealing than side-by-side. They have the same shape, but not the same pattern of volume.
Firstly the Japanese audiophile pressing has a dead silent surface, while the Analogue Production issue has a degree of underlying surface noise, revealed by the bump at around 40kHz – when the music has effectively ceased, surface noise continues. Nasty.
Secondly, the two pressing have broadly similar histograms until they reach the upper frequencies, where they part company. The Japanese pressing begins reducing the relative volume of higher frequencies from 10kHz, with little beyond 20kHz. That smells of a CD profile. Could it have been a characteristic of the Japanese audiophile source – a digital file for mastering CDs? Japanese engineers have rolled off the top-end highest frequencies, which are much stronger on the Analogue Productions issue (presumably on the original tapes). This seems to be consistent with my own impressions of King/Toshiba pressings, where the higher frequencies are missing or lacking emphasis, when compared with the US vintage originals.
Ana(dia)logue readers comments are interesting, particularly with regard to bass, differences which don’t show in the simple volumetrics.
The subject of 20kHz plus frequencies is revealed in an unusual quarter – the building of church-organ pipes, and harmonics. (I am grateful to Mr. Speaker for the link) If a note is played and simultaneously a note a 5th above, a strong harmonic of about half volume is developed an octave lower. A tone that is beyond our hearing mixes and forms lower harmonics that we can hear. If the uppermost frequencies are removed there is a resulting sense of “loss” “
Can the Japanese play Modern Jazz?
We all know the Japanese love jazz, because it has spirited away a large proportion of America’s vinyl heritage, destined for the record stores in Shibuya, Tokyo. But did Japan produce its own jazz musicians, back in those days? Is there a Japanese modern jazz legacy of their own?
I thought I know quite a lot about Japanese reissues of American jazz, I knew nothing of Japanese jazz. The subject of vintage Japanese jazz 1950-80s is beginning to gain some traction: an interesting interview with Tony Higgins, the man behind the Modern Jazz in Britain releases here in the UK, who has been mining modern jazz of Japan:
The Guardian (UK), Wed 12 Jan 2022
‘Society was volatile. That spirit was in our music’. How Japan created its own jazz.
(excerpts from the Guardian article)
“In the early post-war years, Japanese musicians were essentially copying the Americans they admired. “That’s what you do,” says Tony Higgins, co-curator of the J Jazz reissues series. “You start off imitating and then you assimilate and then you innovate.”
Higgins and his fellow curator Mike Peden, both Britons, are long-time collectors who have spent vast quantities of time tracking down records, investigating labels and poring over obi strips (a band of paper wrapped around Japanese LPs). For the past few years, the pair have worked on Japanese jazz reissues for BBE Records (Barely Breaking Even), typically drawing from the late-1960s to the mid-80s, a period of fantastic innovation when a generation of musicians found their own voice. These releases have been part of a broader wave of Japanese jazz of the era reissued for western ears on labels such as Light in the Attic, Impex and We Release Jazz.
(LJC Health Warning: The DJ community has curated a lot of 70s Japanese jazz funk, for dance grooves, under the label “jazz”, which is not “Modern Jazz”)
“It’s humbling that there’s a lot of people obsessed with this sort of music worldwide,” says saxophonist Koichi Matsukaze. Matsukaze’s 1976 album At the Room 427 is set to be reissued as part of the J Jazz Masterclass series this month, and follows the 2018 reissue of his classic Earth Mother, from 1978. “I am at an elder age and I’m still active in my music,” he adds. “All of this is my origins.”
To discuss the birth of modern Japanese jazz, Toshiko Akiyoshi provides an important base. The pianist was discovered playing in a club in 1952 by touring star Oscar Peterson and would go on to have a glittering career at home and stateside. Akiyoshi was the first Japanese artist to break away from simply copying American artists and develop a distinctive sound and identity that incorporated Japanese harmonies and instruments. At age 92, she’s still active today.
By the late 1960s, the example of Akiyoshi, eclectic saxophonist Sadao Watanabe, and others spurred young artists to evolve away from Blue Note mimicry towards free jazz, fusion funk, spiritual, modal and bebop. These daring virtuosos implanted rock and electronic elements, or took influences from Afrobeat and flamenco music….”
“The technical proficiency of Japanese recording studios ensured many of the LPs are among the best sounding jazz records ever recorded” (LJC: my emphasis added, not necessarily agreed with but its a commonly held view among those who have never listened to or compared vintage original pressings)
…“You started to sense a drift away from the short-form hard-bop numbers into more open ended, free-form music – quite psychedelic actually,” explains Higgins. “They ditched the suits and just dressed how they wanted to dress. They are influenced by what Miles [Davis] is doing in his electric music, but they are writing more of their own material, improvising more.”
You can read the full article here:
LJC Soapbox Alert! Interesting that the Guardian writer seems to have no awareness of the issue of recording sources, music just sort of “exists“, like, it’s on Youtube, and …umm Discogs. The major task is securing “licensing”, no mention of sources – “trusted access to original tapes”, whether they still exist, the importance of re-mastering from the original tapes and not digital copies, or why it matters. Today’s musical intelligensia, brought up on social media and the digital age. (yes, I’m feeling grumpy) Soapbox over.
Here are BBE’s three volumes of Modern Jazz Japan. Got to love the witty use of a British OBI on a Japanese jazz title, so clever.
Curiosity has got the better of me.
Bloody hell, first LJC is trawling the modern jazz Down Under, now he’s finding the home-grown modern jazz in the Land of The Rising Sun. Wherever next?
Perhaps the reduced hf content on the vintage pressings is due to wear. Science has long described how the hf of vinyl is decreased with each play.
HI Just curious, did you find the Toshiba pressings identical to the King pressings. Many Jazz reviewers have noted a difference,with the Kings being more musical. Cheers,Chet
Short answer, yes, generalising over a the 130-odd in my collection. Some I happen to have the same title on both, it is not always so clear cut, but overall, King are better I think because they are earlier than Toshiba, which get progressively worse as we enter the digital age and more solid state equipment
Love the sample track…sounds like a terrific album. Of course most of those musicians were quite used to playing with each other as core members of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. There’s a cool video on YouTube of all these guys sans Freddie playing with the orchestra on a jazz television show called Jazz Casual. Worth a look.
I’m sure someone will mention that no one CAN reliably hear frequencies above 25kHz. This is experimentally sound scientific fact. Having said that, though, I doubt very much that those much higher frequencies do not subtlety contribute to things like tone and such in a noticeable way. But verifying THAT hypothesis is very hard. We would need to do a Fourier transform on the sounds that the average human ear perceives. And I cannot think of a way to build a filter that mimics the human ear without interfering with the sound it receives. I think all way have to rely on is experimental testing of those who claim they can perceive it.
Someday, LJC, when I have the time, I want to do a true double blind test. I’d love to come to visit for a day or two and try to do this, several times, with several examples of different pressings. You have more of these than anyone else I know. Unlike most, I don’t really care what the data would reveal. I just want to try it.
I know from listening to test recordings that my own hearing fades out at around 8kHz, tones listened to isolation. The case for higher frequencies is not sine-wave audiometry tests, that’s indisputable. it is that sound has ports of entry other than just the ears, and that the “inaudible” higher frequencies generate harmonics in other parts of the tonal spectrum which are audible, and change the character of the music in ways we can recognise if they are missing. The two views are not necessarily conflicting.
Put the boot on the other foot, what I would like is some listening endorsement that music actually sounds better when the inaudible frequencies are filtered out. If they are undetectable, why not just leave them in, or is there another motive? (Lights touchpaper and retires)
Sent from Mail for Windows
Quite right, quite right. I suspect the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Also, I think it is difficult to keep high frequencies in, as opposed to it being a case of them being deliberately removed.
Hearing and perception are two different concepts. We may not hear sounds beyond 20khz but we can perceive them. US Army researchers in the early 50s, CalTech researchers in the 90’s, and Sweedish researchers in the ’00 all demonstrated that humans can perceive ultrasonic sounds. Humans did not “hear” the content as something immediately identifiable, but were aware that something had changed when ultrasonic content was removed. Consider that the hearing mechanism is mechanical, hydraulic and electrical. Anything that can excite the mechanism will create a response. Our conscious brain (hearing) only recognizes sounds below 20khz, but ultrasonic content still excites our ears, still generates a response in our hearing mechanism, and signals are still sent to the brain. Even if we do not consciously “hear” in the sense of being able positively identify specific ultrasonic sounds, we still respond at a subconscious level to the content. As a practical matter, just about every review of an audiophile super-tweeter reports that the unit changes how normal audio content sounds. Is it another example of the emperor’s new clothes, or is this recognition that some things are still difficult to explain ?