Pyramid pieces 1, Australia (1969-79) compilation, The Roundtable 2020


Selection: People Make The World Go Round – Peter Gaudion’s Blues Express (9:15)

Artists – selection; PG’s Blues Express

Peter Gaudion, trumpet;  Richard Miller, saxophone; Mal Wilkinson, trombone; Vic Connor, Piano; Derek Capewell, bass; Allan Browne, percussion; recorded in 1979. at Mole-Richardson Studios and Victoria Hotel, Albert Park; engineers Max Hull, Bill Hawtin.

That bass player is my hero, on a mission, he holds the groove without compromise. Great. All the tracks are interesting. I left the shrink on, outdated habit.

Compilation Track List 

A1  Jazz Co/Op  A La Coltrane (R. Frampton)
A2  The Alan Lee Quartet – Sunflower (F. Hubbard)
A3  The John Sangster Quarte t– Exploration Of The Sun (J. Sangster)
B1  Galapagos Duck – Kate Did  (D. Levy)
B2  The Brian Brown Quintet – Wildflowers (Brian Brown)
B3  Peter Gaudion’s Blues Express – People Make The World Go ‘Round (T. Bell)

The Roundtable: Bandcamp full track list streams

Compilation –  Original Record Sources

These exist merely as Discogs entries, none appeared to have any copies offered for sale, or any sales history. A very inward-facing indigenous record culture, but its good that The Roundtable have let us take a peek behind the Antipodean curtain. You won’t see them anywhere, and despite a shared aversion to “compilations”, it’s the only show in this town.


I enjoyed the second Pyramid Pieces sufficiently to go back to the first compilation in the series. Forget the  “Australian” reference, there is nothing especially Australian about the music, no kangaroos or crocs, its just good interesting modern jazz, a child of of its time, 1969 – 79. 

The title of the compilation series “Pyramid Pieces” took some tracking down. It is taken from the composition “Pyramid Piece”,  by American saxophonist Howie Smith,  who recorded with the Jazz Co/op in Sydney, Australia in 1974. Smith plays soprano saxophone on his Pyramid Piece track, and is the tenor saxophone voice on the compilation track, A La Coltrane. Returning to the US, Smith later became a member of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra in Ohio, and many other later collaborations, then disappears from internet view.

The Peter Gaudion’s Blues Express piece, with its unpromising title, People Make The World Go ‘Round  had me completely hooked. Having listened to a few dozen different  LPs at the time, one tune/arrangement kept circling in my head for days, but I was damned if I could place which of the dozen LP  I was currently playing it came from. Eventually I tracked it down, and was shocked.. People Make The World Go ‘Round  – sweet Philly soul, The Stylistics, 1972, reimagined, with the sweetness replaced by a grittier loping  jazz groove, and a great Knepper-like trombone excursion.

Amazon say: 

This compilation is a showcase of this period and the various forms of modern jazz indicative of the scene, from modal and deep spiritual jazz through to avant-jazz film soundtracks and the unique sub-genre “Eco Jazz” , a distinctive style which drew vivid inspiration from Australia’s natural environment.”

Eco-jazz? That’s a new one on me, feel-good embroidery?

Vinyl: The Roundtable (2020 compilation)

Produced by Pirates Press (mastering), pressed at GZ Media, Czech Republic

Harry’s Place

Harry M, the Jazz Paparazzi, has the photos, all the way back from Sydney, Australia, 1973: Galapagos Duck (Tom Hare, Roger Sellers, Col Nolan, Jon Helman);  Howie Smith, and John Sangster:

  Hat-tip to Harry M, great music/photographer who documented many crucial jazz performances in the golden years, and contributes these photos from his personal archive, not elsewhere available. Lovely black and white film quality, our answer to Francis Wolff , in a demanding live setting.

Photo Credits © Harry M

Collector’s Corner: Audiophile Tune-Up

Have you checked your tonearm anti-skating settings recently? 

I hadn’t for probably five or six years, umm, or possibly longer. The system’s been sounding great, why look for problems? Because you don’t know if it can sound even better.  It can, if performance is being held back by sub-optimal alignment of the tonearm anti-skate setting.  If it is, you have a great upgrade at virtually no cost. 

I’m not going to rip a test record. The testing requires the vinyl to be spinning on the turntable, while you sit in front of the speakers to assess the need for adjustments. 

This has to be the strangest record post at LJC.

After reassembling the hi-fi system to accommodate its new valve power amp, it was an ideal opportunity to invite over a few friends who know what they are doing, help me out, tune things up .

First off, the test LP gives you an unambiguous test, our German friends know their left from their right. Despite all the interconnects following the cabling colour scheme meticulously, the left and right channels were inverted. There is a bit of rogue wiring inside a box somewhere, easily put right by switching left and right interconnects (not opening up every box to correct it internally!) 

The speaker phasing was perfect. A wrong wire there and you lose  stereo focus, so I didn’t expect to find a problem and there wasn’t. Ah but the skating! Way way off! 

As a record rotates, the stylus tip (left, electron microscope photo) navigates the groove, collecting the musical information stored in the shape of the groove walls. The left and right channels of a stereo recording are cut into the left and right groove walls. The diagram (right) shows how the single stylus tip moves to reconcile the left and right channel information. 

Stylus tip movement is relayed by the cantilever to the cartridge, where it is translated into electronical signal by passing magnet fields.

As the record rotates, the tonearm is pulled gently towards the centre of the record. This causes the stylus to push harder on the inner side groove wall, and reduces contact with the outer side groove wall.  If the stylus tip is not riding dead centre in the groove, the left and right channel balance is compromised, the stereo image will be off centre and instruments placement out of focus, and distortion on the channel where the stylus has insufficient contact.  Tonearm anti-skate adjustment applies an opposite force, to pull the tonearm and stylus back into the correct position in the centre of the groove, and read both groove walls equally.

The stylus tip is enormously sensitive, reading changes in the undulating groove wall (aka music) as little as one thousandth of the thickness of human hair. When playing music, the listener is unlikely to pinpoint the problem of misaligned skate due to constantly changing audio dynamics. However a controlled single test tone, alternately only left channel, right channel and centre, quickly identifies maladjusted skate, as the centre tone image leans to one side, which mine did, massively. Huh, and I thought it sounded great! A quick adjustment to the tonearm anti-skate brought the tone back into the centre between the speakers. 

Putting music back on the turntable, the stereo image was audibly more solid, with a room presence that you realise had been missing.

However one more adjustment is needed: VTF, the tracking weight, the vertical force down on the cartridge in the groove. That was optimised at around 1.8 grams about eight years ago.  We will give VTF a once over and recheck the anti-skate setting at a future listening session. And maybe the VTA, not forgetting the all-important WTF?

All the hype, remastering from original tapes, 180 gram vinyl, hi-fi equipment snobbery, all counts for little if your setup is not optimal, and all that requires is a hi-fi test record, and an understanding of why you need to use it. I am grateful to Man-in-a-Shed and Mr Speaker for educating me to speak High Fidelity.

Hi-Fi enhancement secrets : a bottle of rosé.

While group listening to hi-fi, we apply a generous quantity of rosé – Cotes de Provence is recommended, wine intended to be pink, not a bi-product of making red. Over the length of an afternoon, a few glasses of rosé can improve the listening experience remarkably. However, h-ifi tweakers should note, an excess can lead to arguments (cross-talk), impair the ability to walk a straight line (miss-tracking), or even succumb to the force of gravity (skipping out the groove altogether). So take care. Happy listening.

Postscript: Mobley 1550

 Good luck adjusting your anti-skate on this one!

Holy Grail Trail

Even more luck required in securing a copy of London’s Electric Recording Company (Pete Hutchinson), the ultimate dedication to sources,  Coltrane’s Giant Steps, true mono,  cut from the original Atlantic mono tapes, 350 copies almost certainly all gone in pre-order. 




4 thoughts on “Pyramid pieces 1, Australia (1969-79) compilation, The Roundtable 2020

  1. From the samples I was able to listen to online (I think I was listening on the Juno website) I thought the first volume sounded rather more interesting than the second… I thought the idea of “eco-jazz” incorporating sounds from the natural world quite a nice idea.

    So far I have resisted buying because I rarely think to play compilations, but I may yet be tempted…


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