. . .
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
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
1960s, East Meets West, Beatle George Harrison 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.
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 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 is dust, but mostly it’s paper fibres, my guess, originating in the paper sleeve/ 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) poly-lined 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 bangs 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.
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.