Amancio D’Silva: Konkan Dance (1972, unissued) The Roundtable 2021

Selection: A Street In Bombay

.  .  .

Track List

A1. A Street In Bombay 10:36
A2. What Maria Sees 7:49
B1. A Song For Francesca 10:50
B2. Konkan Dance 8:46

Artists:

Amancio D’Silva, acoustic guitar, electric guitar; Don Rendell, soprano saxophone, Tony Campo, bass; Alan Branscombe, piano, electric piano, flute, vibraphone, alto saxophone; Clem Alford, sitar; Keshav Sathe, Mick Ripsh, tabla; recorded at Lansdowne Studios, London, 1972

Music

1960s, East Meets West, Beatle George Harrision studies sitar with Ravi Shankar, musical ambassador for Indian classical music, who performs at the Monterey Pop Festival, as well as a set at Woodstock in 1969.  Tail end of the 60s everything’s coming up Maharishis.

The British flirtation with indian jazz fusion music led to some more successful than other mixes. Like cocktail mixes, it all depends on how much of each ingredient go in the mix. Some Indo-jazz fusions were large measure Indian,  small  measure jazz, some the opposite proportion. To my ear, Harriot’s double-quintet outings are dominated by Indian instrumentation, don’t work for me.

The more jazz-dominated sessions with a sprinkling of tablas in the rhythm section, Amancio’s guitar a rhythmic component, and a strong brass front line work much better. Hum Dono has been a monster DJ acquisition since forever, and Integration another  much sought after rarity. 

D’Silva’s Konkan Dance sits more successfully in the middle, led by jazz bass and piano (now electric), and Don Rendell’s pied piper straight saxophone flow, while tablas  take on the percussive underpinnings, with occasional sitar background colouring.   

Why was Konkan Dance unissued? Perhaps EMI decided Indo-Jazz Fusion had run its course, moved on to growing commercial interest in jazz-rock fusion, leaving the floor to Mahavishnu John McLaughlin, and Shakti (LJC  bows head, hands pressed together point to third eye, heady days of Eastern Mysticism, I was there).

Vinyl: Roundtable SIR021 ©2020 

“Unreleased material” recorded at London’s premier recording studio, Lansdowne (engineer Adrian Kerridge) , in 1972. Transfer by JRP Music Services, (engineer James Perrett) “remastered from the original (1/4″) master tapes”. Sounds promising, but all is not as it seems, the vinyl detective turns his attention to sources again, adjust attention-span, another deep dive, buckle up. 

British jazz reissue label Vocalion released an edition of Konkan Dance on CD in 2006.

The same year, 2006, (coincidence?) Italian DJ QBICO (Enrique Bettinell) issued a vinyl edition. QBICO claims his source to be “¼” stereo  master tapes transferred by JRP Music Services”. Both credit piano (incorrectly) to Stan Tracey. I believe in spycraft that is called a “leak tracer” 

There is no indication JRP cut a lacquer from the original tapes, the gold standard audiophile all-analogue process. My guess is that back in 2006 JRP created a digital master from the Lansdowne tapes ( high resolution 96kHz sampling rate with 24 bit resolution, or more likely for 2006, straight CD standard 44.1Hz 16 bit audio), That source was commissioned by British label Vocalion for its 2006 CD release of Konkan Dance. And the same source used by DJ QBICO for mastering his vinyl LP edition

Unless JRP was re-employed to create  a new higher resolution master (possible but unlikely) or it was originally remastered at higher resolution than required for CD (possibly) I guess the same digital file was supplied by The Roundtable to GZ Media, who cut the necessary metal with which to press this vinyl edition Analog at each end but with a digital intermediate step.

However even more caution required. GZ Media boast their use of Direct Metal Mastering technology to generate pressing metal, mastering directly onto a copper disk. It is not audiophile enhancement technology , it is a  manufacturing cost-cutting process, different purpose.

End result, all credit to The Roundtable, you get vinyl playback of decent quality at an affordable price, of interesting music that plays well on vinyl.  And you can’t compare the original vinyl because there wasn’t one. It is not “unreleased material”, just materiel that was not released at the time of the recording session, granted a little wriggle-room.

“Original tapes” sounds the proof of authenticity. Lansdowne was a top tier professional recording studio. Professional standard studio recording tape 1970’s was usually ½”  two track tape (half left channel half right channel, one direction only). Professional tape speeds were 15 ips or 30 ips, equipment accommodating large reels. ¼” tape was considered suitable for domestic use, running at 7½ ips. Or so one hifi tape enthusiast told me.

It would be unusual, though not impossible, that the “original tapes” in question were ¼” but it’s a stretch. We know the Decca Reissue of Don Rendell’s Space Walk (2021) was remastered by Gearbox (the excellent Caspar Sutton-Jones and his vintage Scully lathe) from a 7½ips ¼” safety back up tape. That recording session was also at Lansdowne Studios, December 16th, 1970.

Was the “original tape” source of Konkan Dance the original primary studio master tape, or an “original” back up tape?  Asking for a Vinyl Detective’s  friend.

At which point I  climb out from this particular rabbit-hole, blinking, into the sunlight.

Collector’s Corner – Indian Supplement

A break from the serious business of vinyl jazz, but a segue from the Indian jazz theme: voted among the ten funniest BBC sketches of all time, the cast of anglo-indian comedy series Goodness Gracious Me parody a curry night out, in Bombay (seamless link, selection A Street In Bombay), by going “out for an English”. 

For international readers, (if any have got this far) Youtube offers a recreation of the sketch by the original actors, filmed at an Amnesty International Concert in 2014 (Curiously, the part of the waiter has been upgraded to exaggerated colonial pomposity).  The comic flow is rather stilted by the cutaway shots of the audience, roaring with laughter, but it’s still pretty funny and contains the full script with much more barbed jokes – at the expense of the English, or indeed everyone else. 

Collector’s Corner Part 2: Can we talk dirty?

My runout photography technique, designed to capture faint etchings and stamps, has instead captured the the the dirty condition of mint vinyl coming out of this modern pressing plant.

I photographed the vinyl straight out of the sealed jacket, without first running it through the ultrasonic cleaning machine. This is how it comes out of the pressing plant, some of it  dust, but mostly it’s fibres. My guess, paper fibres, originating in the packing department. 

“Printed and manufactured in GZ” which stands for Gramofonové Závody [Gramophone Record Factory], founded in 1951, located in Lodenice, Czech Republic , currently the world’s largest vinyl record manufacturer.

Michael Fremer toured the plant in 2019 (nice timing, Mikey!) and produced a video for his Analog Planet site, added here on Youtube for interest.(Shattered Illusions Alert! There is nothing romantic about vinyl manufacture. It’s just an ugly factory industrial process. The romance is in the product, and how it connects you the listener to the artist. That’s the magic). Even more interesting are some of the comments after the video. Michael attracts some pretty opinionated posters, prone to SHOUTING. (LJC posters are more refined)

One comment is particularly relevant to my dirty copy

Submitted by MrRom92 on Sun, 2019-10-06 18:21

“… historically there’s been some sort of issue with their custom printed inner sleeves. Something in the way they are either being manufactured or stored causes them to be very dirty, with a lot of paper dust and residue, and of course clean new records are being shoved into these sleeves. I don’t know if that’s still the case. I ordered their generic (black) polylined inner sleeves, and every one of them was clean as a whistle”

One good reason you should ditch unsuitable inner sleeves, even new ones,  and why even new records benefit from a good record cleaning process,  that muck ends up fouling your stylus tip, which reduces its functional performance, unnecessarily. I should add that there was also quite a lot of dust on the grooves (not pictured, as I swept it off before play). 

It looks like GZ Media haven’t addressed the paper sleeve issue at all, though it is a minor irritant compared with the issue of noisy vinyl surface and warped vinyl  other people are complaining of, not that I have experienced this myself. Fremer’s commenters are either very unlucky or very picky, or more likely, a minority of people with complaints tend to post comments, a skewed sample.

LJC 2022 Stocktake – where are things heading? 

Hopefully you found some interesting moments in this excursion, I am sure there are more jazz  fusion’s and national styles worth exploring, suggestions welcome. Polish Jazz anyone? 

LJC has now aired British jazz, South African township jazz, German European  jazz, French jazz, Australian jazz, Japanese jazz, Italian jazz, anywhere jazz can sink its roots into other cultures, now some Indian-jazz, all with an element of national culture, not just imitation American jazz. (We have the originals, no need for imitations).

Moving on from my original mission, ten , now eleven years later,  posts now give more coverage to modern re-mastered vinyl, not just vintage vinyl. The last two years have seen a massive uplift in remastered audio quality from some select producers – by no means everyone, there is still a lot of VINO churned out there, most of it without merit.

Something else is happening. In the absence of access to original tapes, some engineering studios are managing to cut lacquers from high quality digital sources, on restored vintage lathes (Scully and Neumann VMS) and with the help of German and Czech super-efficient pressing plants, or US equivalents like RTI, manufacture relatively inexpensive vinyl records that stand comparison with originals, though they will never have the collector cachet, or actually sound better – sometimes close but lesser. Most music-lovers will never be able to make the comparison, and will never know, lucky them.

Japanese reissues from the 70s and 80s – the collector’s mid-price champions for many decades – are sounding a little tired, and lacking, though still in circulation, though a few exceptions deliver a lot of bang per buck. The choice in future will likely be an original at $500 (watch the collector cachet of mono), or a good modern remastered stereo vinyl reissue at $50 or less, or 50 cents download from Bandcamp or Spotify. 

Where I stay totally on mission is not the delivery medium of that music, but the music itself. Modern jazz 50s, 60s, early 70s , and the musicians that produced it, remains my music of choice. The only music that sounds fresh today is that over 50 years old.  The musicians that created it are mostly gone, a few graciously still with us, Rollins made 90, Shorter interviewed by Don Was in the latest Blue Note mailing. The happy confluence of the vinyl medium and the music have not changed. 

Tone Poet have just released an Ornette Coleman 6-LP Blue Note boxset. Not one for me, but I applaud the idea – going where Mosaic should have gone but didn’t. Instead they went for yesterday’s technology – CD box sets. Original vinyl Blue Note just gets more and more scarce, and Blue Note/Don Was/UMG/MMJ   hold the key to a brighter vinyl future. Now, about the Tone Poet Complete Hank Mobley Blue Note Vinyl Boxset… 

Music nourishes the soul. And soul needs nourishment now more than ever. 

Comments remain open as always.

LJC

UPDATE: Carlos M sent me a link to a fascinating insight into Kevin Gray’s latest project – an all analogue recording studio, and what happened to Rudy’s Hackensack home.

22 thoughts on “Amancio D’Silva: Konkan Dance (1972, unissued) The Roundtable 2021

  1. Qbico was the name of the label that first released this on LP, not “DJ Qbico.” It was run by collector Emanuele Pinotti, whose DJ name was “DJ Qbico.” I bought this when it first came out.

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    • The Vocalion notes have a number of material errors regarding personnel and instrumentation, and were written by D’Silva’s son over thirty years later. In the absence of a documented specific session date, let’s say I’m not confident which year it was recorded.

      The Roundtable date of 1972 seems based on common personnel with an actual EMI D’Silva release, Cosmic Eye’s Dream Sequence

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  2. Thank you for this most recent chapter. ‘A Street in Bombay’ is wonderful. Reminiscent of one of a number of John Coltrane’s compositions, which isnt surprising.
    Secondly, thank you for lifting my spirits after a technical failure the past weekend. My Pickering V-15 D AT-3…broke…..but not the original actual diamond-tip of the stylus from 1968. The suspension for the stylus, crumbled? disintegrated? deformed?, cant be certain. Bottom line is the stylus is swimming all over the place, not remaining in its proper position anymore. More than a half century of operating with the diamond conical tip still sharp & beautiful under 90x magnification, its a shame. No…I dont want a more modern cartridge/stylus, dont suggest one, please.
    I’m told there are apparently a few people that do this specialty repair work, for the suspension, of the stylus. Does anyone have any experience with this?
    Any info would be appreciated.

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  3. A bit harsh on Norma Winstone, Id say.
    Personally, I
    m not a fan of wordless singing / scatting by any vocalist, but NW is heard to excellent effect on Neil ArdleysA Symphony Of Amaranthswhere shes featured in 3 settings of poems by Joyce, Yeats and Lewis Carroll ; i.e. interpreting lyrics.
    Hugh Berry

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    • I nail my colours to the mast, Friends of Norma encircle. I have no problem with difference in opinion, Hugh, it’s healthy, why I have comments always open. Appreciate your input, I wish more would throw their thoughts in.

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  4. Ah! D’Silva! One of the least recognised of the cohort of great musicians on the London scene in the late 1960s / early 1970s. And to think that he didn’t come to London intended to join the music scene but rather because his son Stefano was seriously ill and needed treatment. Luckily for everybody, Stefano recovered and Amancio and his family stayed in the UK.

    My original pressing on Integration is one of the top gems in my collection. What a line-up! What a record! If only I could find a copy of Hum Dono to pair up with it.

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      • So is the consensus that the still available Vocalion LP issue of Hum Dono is not analogue/from the original tapes? I have an original so not too fussed about another issue but interested to know.

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        • The Vocalion Hum Dono LP reissue 2015, “manufactured in France” according to the Discogs entry, released simultaneously on CD. Unlikely the tapes will have left the UK, too valuable too risky, copy tape maybe, but where was the lacquer cut and by whom?
          UPDATED: Alun has the answer below.

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          • I’m in the office, not at home, and my Vocation reissue of Hum Dono is not in front of me, but the Vocalion website says “Cut direct from analogue stereo tapes by renowned mastering engineer Noel Summerville and pressed on 180g virgin vinyl” and I’m fairly sure that this is what it says on the reverse of the jacket as well.

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            • Great, thanks for that Alun, I was completely wrong. I eat my words.
              “180 gram reissue cut from the analogue tapes. This reissue has been cut from tape by Noel Summerville at 3345 Mastering, London. © 2015 Vocalion Ltd. Manufactured in France. Pressed by MPO – Moulages et Plastiques de l’Ouest’ . Printed in the UK.”

              Sounds pretty unequivocal. I’d rather they said “remastered from the original tapes, but that’s close enough. My bete noir, Norma sings on three tracks.

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              • Re. Norma, I would have expected to agree — but in fact, on this record (and probably on only this record), find it acceptable. As the sleeve notes point out, what she does is in fact very similar to the use of the voice in some Indian classical music… Anyway, c’mon, it’s a well-produced audiophile reissue for fifteen quid! You want all this and no voices? Damned hard crowd to please, here at LJC 🙂

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  5. Indian percussion instruments and some sitar used in conjunction with modern jazz and avant garde jazz can work really well in the hands of good musicians,composers and arrangers.

    A great example of this can be heard in the collaboration between Don Cherry and Colin Walcott on the ECM label back in the 70s.

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    • Aha, I now have a rival, The Saxophone Detective! Well spotted, Simon. I hear Don Rendell on soprano saxophone from the opening. Part way through a second horn comes in, different register, alto fits the bill, and it’s not Rendell’s vocabulary. In addition to vibes and piano, Branscome also played alto, confirms his Wiki, you recognise his voice. Don Rendell was listed as playing just “saxophone”, omitting the type of saxophone, so covering all bases.

      The personnel/instrument errors almost certainly originate from the 2006 Vocalion CD issue, which came with” well researched and informative liner notes by D’Silva’s guitarist son, Stephano” according to Chris May (All About Jazz, February 2006). I suspect the original tape box lacked session documentation, hence personnel errors and the absence of the date of the recording session.

      Game set and match, Spillett.

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  6. 1/4″ 15ips was still the standard mixdown format in the 1970s and 1/2″ 30ips only became common in the 1980s. The Ampex 440B—one of the more common decks used for mixdowns in the early 70s—was available in many configurations, but not 1/2″ 30ips two track. It’s certainly possible Lansdowne was using a 1/2″ 30ips machine of some kind, but this wasn’t yet the standard. The Great British Recording Studios book has a Lansdowne chapter, but unfortunately I don’t have a copy with me right now. That should have a list of what equipment they were using at the time.

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    • Great, I welcome more information, thank you, Justin. Anyone with the Lansdowne chapter of this book please chip in. The recordings are so good (those Columbia Magic Notes/Lansdowne Series ) I would love to know what the underlying technology was.

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      • Unfortunately the Great British Recording Studios doesn’t specifically list a mix-down tape machine for Lansdowne. A Studer A80 16 track was installed in 1972, previous to this a Scully 284-8 (8 track) was installed in 1967.

        A further note mentions the Studer A80 was produced from 1970 until 1988, and was ubiquitous in recording studios not only for its sound quality but also its versatility. It could be ordered in any tape width from 1/8” to 2”, and for any number of tracks from 2 (or half track) to 24. The most popular configurations were 1/4” and 1/2” 2 track models; 1” 8 track; and 2” 16 and 24 track models.

        Main microphones at Lansdowne were Neumann U87; Neumann U67 (both FET and valve); Neumann U47 (both FET and valve); Neumann K54s (usually used for acoustic bass) and Neumann M49s (used primarily on brass).

        Hope this is of some interest to you.

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