(Last updated: November 22, 2016)
The 9M etching found in the run-out of 10″ Blue Notes, many of the 1500 series pressings and a handful of the early 4000 series title.
The variety 9M is uniquely found on Blue Note and not any other alpha-numeric permutation.
Blue Note wasn’t the only label Plastylite pressed. In the early days they also pressed for a number of record labels including Prestige, early copies of which also bear an additional etching which follows the same numeric/alpha pattern. Each code is likewise uniquely associated with that record label and found on no other label.
Plastylite, (or a supplier to Plastylite) is the common connection with these codes, which are additional to and do not form part of the matrix code of that record
UPDATE November 22, 2016
Eagle-eyed reader Jesse P has spotted more custom-codes:
Photos courtesy of Jesse P
An 8J seen on New Jazz ( 8J has been seen before on Prestige titles, usually with the tail of the J facing the wrong way, here it is seen facing the correct way. Prestige is associated with the 7E custom-code, so the significance of the 8J is unclear). 4Y found on the Circle Sound (of NY) label, and 5H on the Vox label
Including those pictured above, and Riverside 14 capital I, that gives us a total of 9 distinct custom-codes.
Plastylite/ Prestige: 7E
Below, an early Prestige title with “ear” and code, 7E
Interesting variation on Prestige 7E, appearing on Esquire pressed in UK with the same metal as PRLP 7001. Whilst the RVG and matrix are very small and faint, the 7E is in a different hand, large and well formed, probably not applied at the time of mastering.
Plastylite /ESOTERIC: 10Z.
Riverside: 14 i (capital i as in Indigo) added Jan 2015.
Found on a 2nd pressing of RLP 12-223 Bill Evans New Jazz Conceptions (1956) utilising original master metalwork. “14 I” noted on both sides in the familiar “9M” format, number on top, alpha below, in an open hand. The “I” has a bold seriph top and bottom. There is no Plastylite “ear” since the ear was added at pressing, and this Riverside second press from early ’60s was not pressed by Plastylite, however carries the code from its 1956 original acetate.
Further confirmation that the 9M found on Blue Note was but one of a number of “customer codes” assigned uniquely to a number of record labels, now known to include very early Riverside.
9M was one of a range of numeric/alpha codes identified with metalwork destined for various labels pressed by Plastylite, possibly others, applied at some point in the chain of manufacture either by a metal-plating department of Plastylite or a supplier to Plastylite if plating was done externally, to them and maybe others.
9M etching ceases as a fairly continuous run at the beginning of 1959 at BN 4001 Sonny Rollins Newk’s Time, though there are a dozen or so titles beyond this beyond this point as high as BLP 4106 (Jackie McLean Let Freedom Ring, released April 1963).
BN 4001 Rollins, Newks Time.
9M appears on both sides of this RVG STEREO master, discovered on a United Artists re-issue dating from 1975 (legacy RVG metal used for pressing by United Artists, )
The last 9M (or so I at first thought, wrongly)
BLP 4067 Jackie McLean’s Bluesnik, released in 1961
UPDATE April 24, 2016: eagle-eyed reader Jim R finds 9M on another, later McLean title, BLP 4106 Let Freedom Ring. Is this just coincidence, both these outliers are McLean titles?
Latest Discovery: BLP 4106 highest catalogue number with 9M
It’s a stretch to figure how this appeared as late as April 1963. My thanks to JimR for his discovery.
The 9M found on some later reissues of early Blue Note titles
Unlike the Plastylite “ear”, which disappeared in 1966 when pressing was moved from Plastylite to new Blue Note owner Liberty’s plant All-Disc, the 9M continued to pop up occasionally on Liberty reissues of Blue Note 1500 series, an exact matching copy of all etchings and stamps to the earlier pressing (apart from the Plastylite factory-applied ear) It seems Liberty had access to legacy metalware (acetates, mothers, stampers) which of course bear all the original etchings ie matrix codes, RVG/ VAN GELDER stamp, and 9M. It’s great when you find these things, because you know you are listening to vinyl pressed from the original Van Gelder master.
LJC hypothesis on the meaning of “9M”
The numeric/alpha additional hand- etching “9M” s found on around two thirds of Blue Note pressings in the 1500 series and a handful of 4000 series, all manufactured between 1956 – 61. It uniquely identifies Blue Note, and a number of similar unique codes (one number one letter) are found on other similar specialist record labels of the period.
The most plausible explanation is that the etching is a custom identifier on metalware, in an early stage of the vinyl manufacturing process. “9M” means client “Blue Note”, in a setting where a range of similar looking metal circular plates needed identification at client-level, be it for routing, accounting or some unknown other purpose.
The common format of all these codes – Numeric/Alpha – also eliminates another alternative hypothesis, that the Blue Note etching might be read upside down as “W6”.
The latest information from collectors identifies that around a third of Blue Notes from this period do not carry a 9M etching. There are also conflicting cases, albeit rare, where a specific title and format (mono or stereo) is found both with and without a 9M. This raises the possibility of 1st and 2nd cutting second masters, and different consumable item (acetate) suppliers.
The link between Blue Note, 9M, Plastlite, and Van Gelder mastering remains tantilisingly close. But we do not yet have all the pieces, though we have a lot more than when the enquiry set out.
Credit for research into these etchings is attributed to LJC readers, including felixstrange, Aaron, Dottorjazz, Rudolf Flinterman, Jim R and Peter A
UPDATE November 17, 2015
LJC reader and Blue Note collector Jim R has kindly contributed a most comprehensive listing from his own collection, which confirms the presence or absence of a “9M” etching in the run-out. In 75 titles between 1500 – 4001 for which we have sight (not all titles have been validated and remain to be classified – data blank)) around 50 titles are known to bear 9M and around 25 are known to have no 9M etching at all. Thee titles have 9M on only one side.
The longest straight run of titles with 9M ends with 4001, Rollins Newk’s Time, exceptionally it appears on 4025 and 4026.The last sighting of 9M is BLP 4067 Mclean’s Bluesnik and there is a cluster around that release time in 1961, between 4057 and 4067 .
UPDATE November 22, 2016: highest catalogue number with 9M increases to 4108, Lou Donaldson Natural Soul (hat-tip Jesse P)
Last updated: November 22, 2016
|CATNO||ARTIST||TITLE||Side 1 9M||Side 2 9M|
|1501||Miles Davis||Miles Davis Vol. 1||9M||9M|
|1502||Miles Davis||Miles Davis Vol. 2||9M||9M|
|1503||Bud Powell||The amazing B. Powell Vol. 1||9M||9M|
|1504||Bud Powell||The amazing B. Powell Vol. 2||9M||9M|
|1505||Jay Jay Johnson||The eminent Vol. 1||9M||9M|
|1506||Jay Jay Johnson||The eminent Vol. 2||9M||9M|
|1507||The Jazz Messengers||At the Cafè Bohemia Vol. 1||no||no|
|1508||The Jazz Messengers||At the Cafè Bohemia Vol. 2||no||no|
|1509||Milt Jackson||With the T. Monk quintet||9M||9M|
|1510||Thelonious Monk||Genius of modern music Vol. 1||9M||9M|
|1511||Thelonious Monk||Genius of modern music Vol. 2||9M||9M|
|1512||Jimmy Smith||A new sound- a new star Vol. 1||9M||9M|
|1513||Thad Jones||Detroit-New York junction||9M||9M|
|1514||Jimmy Smith||A new sound- a new star||9M||9M|
|1515||Jutta Hipp||At the Hickory House Vol. 1||9M||9M|
|1516||Jutta Hipp||At the Hickory House Vol. 2||9M||9M|
|1517||Gil Melle||Patterns in jazz||9M||9M|
|1518||Horace Silver||And the Jazz Messengers||9M||9M|
|1521||Art Blakey||A night at Birdland Vol. 1||9M||9M|
|1522||Art Blakey||A night at Birdland Vol. 2||9M||9M|
|1524||Kenny Dorham||‘Round about midnight at the Cafè Bohemia||no||no|
|1525||Jimmy Smith||At the organ Vol. 3||9M||9M|
|1526||Clifford Brown||Memorial album||9M||9M|
|1527||Thad Jones||The magnificent T. Jones||9M||9M|
|1528||Jimmy Smith||At club Baby Grand Vol. 1||9M||9M|
|1529||Jimmy Smith||At club Baby Grand Vol. 2||9M||9M|
|1530||Jutta Hipp||With Zoot Sims||no||no|
|1531||Fats Navarro||The fabulous Vol. 1||9M||9M|
|1532||Fats Navarro||The fabulous Vol. 2||no||no|
|1534||Paul Chambers||Whims of Chambers||no||no|
|1535||Kenny Dorham||Afro Cuban||no||no|
|1536||J. R. Monterose||J. R. Monterose||no||no|
|1537||Lou Donaldson||Quartet Quintet Sextet|
|1539||Horace Silver||6 pieces of silver||9M||9M|
|1540||Hank Mobley||Featuring D. Byrd and L. Morgan||9M||9M|
|1542||Sonny Rollins||Sonny Rollins||no||no|
|1543||Kenny Burrell||Kenny Burrell||9M||9M|
|1544||Hank Mobley||And his all stars||9M||no|
|1545||Lou Donaldson||Wailing with Lou||9M||9M|
|1546||Thad Jones||Vol. 3||9M||9M|
|1547||Jimmy Smith||A date with J. S. Vol. 1||9M||9M|
|1548||Jimmy Smith||A date with J. S. Vol. 2||9M||9M|
|1549||Cliff Jordan- John Gilmore||Blowin’ in from Chicago||no||no|
|1551||Jimmy Smith||At the organ Vol. 1||no||no|
|1552||Jimmy Smith||At the organ Vol. 2||no||no|
|1554||Art Blakey||Orgy in rhythm Vol. 1||9M||9M|
|1555||Art Blakey||Orgy in rhythm Vol. 2||9M||9M|
|1556||Jimmy Smith||The sounds of J. S.||9M||9M|
|1557||Lee Morgan||Vol. 3||no||no|
|1558||Sonny Rollins||Vol. 2||no||no|
|1559||Johnny Griffin||A blowin’ session||no||no|
|1561||Sabu Martinez||Palo Congo||9M||9M|
|1562||Horace Silver||The stylings of Silver||9M||9M|
|1563||Jimmy Smith||Plays pretty just for you||no||no|
|1565||Cliff Jordan||Cliff Jordan||no||no|
|1566||Lou Donaldson||Swing and soul||9M||9M|
|1567||Curtis Fuller||The opener||no||no|
|1568||Hank Mobley||Hank Mobley||9M||9M|
|1569||Paul Chambers||Bass on top||no||no|
|1570||Sonny Clark||Dial “S” for Sonny||no||no|
|1571||Bud Powell||Bud !||9M||9M|
|1572||Curtis Fuller||Bone & bari||9M||9M|
|1573||John Jenkins||John Jenkins||no||no|
|1574||Hank Mobley||Peckin’ time||no||no|
|1575||Lee Morgan||City lights||no||no|
|1576||Sonny Clark||Sonny’ s crib||9M||9M|
|1577||John Coltrane||Blue Train||9M||9M|
|1578||Lee Morgan||The cooker||9M||9M|
|1580||Johnny Griffin||The congregation||no||no|
|1581||Sonny Rollins||A night at the Village Vanguard||no||no|
|1582||Cliff Jordan||Cliff craft||no||no|
|1583||Curtis Fuller||Vol. 3||no||no|
|1584||Louis Smith||Here comes Louis Smith||no||no|
|1585||Jimmy Smith||Groovin’ at Smalls’ Paradise Vol. 1||no||no|
|1586||Jimmy Smith||Groovin’ at Smalls’ Paradise Vol. 2||no||no|
|1587||Bennie Green||Back on the scene||9M||9M|
|1588||Sonny Clark||Cool struttin’||9M||9M|
|1589||Horace Silver||Further explorations||9M||9M|
|1591||Lou Donaldson||Lou takes off||9M||9M|
|1593||Lou Donaldson||Blues walk||9M||no|
|1595||Cannonball Adderley||Somethin’ else||9M||9M|
|1596||Kenny Burrell||Blue lights Vol. 1||9M||9M|
|1597||Kenny Burrell||Blue lights Vol. 2||9M||9M|
|1598||Bud Powell||Time waits||9M||9M|
|1599||Bennie Green||Soul stirrin’||9M||9M|
|4001||Sonny Rollins||Newk’s Time||9M||9M|
|4002||Jimmy Smith||House Party||no||no|
|4003||Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers||Moanin’||no/ +9M
|4004||Art Blakey||Holiday for Skins, Volume 1||9M||9M|
|4005||Art Blakey||Holiday for Skins, Volume 2||no||no|
|4006||Dizzy Reece||Blues in Trinity|
|4007||Donald Byrd||Off to the Races|
|4008||Horace Silver Quintet||Finger Poppin’||no||no|
|4009||Bud Powell||Volume 5 The Scene Changes||no||no|
|4010||Bennie Green||Walkin’ and Talkin’||no||no|
|4011||Jimmy Smith||The Sermon||no||no|
|4012||Lou Donaldson||Lou Donaldson with the Three Sounds||no||no|
|4013||Jackie McLean||New Soil||no||no|
|4014||The Three Sounds||Bottoms Up|
|4015||Art Blakey||At the Jazz Corner of the World, Volume 1||no||no|
|4016||Art Blakey||At the Jazz Corner of the World, Volume 2||no||no|
|4017||Horace Silver||Blowin’ the Blues Away||no||no|
|4018||Walter Davis||Davis Cup|
|4019||Donald Byrd||Byrd in Hand||no||no|
|4020||The Three Sounds||Good Deal|
|4021||Kenny Burrell||At the Five Spot|
|4023||Dizzy Reece||Star Bright|
|4024||Jackie McLean||Swing, Swang, Swingin’||9M||9M|
|4025||Lou Donaldson||The Time is Right||9M||9M|
|4027||Freddie Redd||Music from “The Connection”||no||no|
|4028||Horace Parlan||Movin’ and Groovin’|
|4029||Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers||The Big Beat||no||no|
|4030||Jimmy Smith||Crazy Baby||no||no|
|4031||Hank Mobley||Soul Station||no||no|
|4032||Sonny Red||Out of the Blue||9M||9M|
|4033||Dizzy Reece||Soundin’ Off||no||no|
|4035||Duke Pearson||Tender Feelin’s|
|4036||Lou Donaldson||Sunny Side Up|
|4037||Horace Parlan||Us Three|
|4038||Jackie McLean||Capuchin Swing|
|4039||Stanley Turrentine||Look Out!|
|4040||Freddie Hubbard||Open Sesame|
|4041||Tina Brooks||True Blue|
|4042||Horace Silver Quintet||Horace Scope||no||no|
|4043||Horace Parlan||Speakin’ My Piece|
|4044||The Three Sounds||Moods|
|4045||Freddie Redd||Shades of Redd||no||no|
|4046||Duke Jordan||Flight to Jordan|
|4047||Art Taylor||A. T.’s Delight||no||no|
|4048||Donald Byrd||Byrd in Flight|
|4049||Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers||A Night in Tunisia||no||no|
|4050||Jimmy Smith||Home Cookin’|
|4051||Jackie McLean||Jackie’s Bag||no||no|
|4052||Tina Brooks||Back to the Tracks [unissued]|
|4054||Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers||Meet You…, Volume 1||no||no|
|4055||Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers||Meet You…, Volume 2||no||no|
|4056||Freddie Hubbard||Goin’ Up||no||no|
|4057||Stanley Turrentine with the Three Sounds||Blue Hour||9M||9M|
|4058||Hank Mobley||Roll Call||9M||9M|
|4060||Donald Byrd||At the Half Note Cafe, Volume 1||9M||9M|
|4061||Donald Byrd||At the Half Note Cafe, Volume 2||9M||9M|
|4062||Horace Parlan||Headin’ South||9M||9M|
|4063||Kenny Dorham||Whistle Stop||9M||9M|
|4064||Grant Green||Grant’s First Stand||9M||9M|
|4066||Lou Donaldson||Here ‘Tis||9M||9M|
|4106||Jackie McLean||Let Freedom Ring||9M||9M|
|4108||Lou Donaldson||Natural Soul||9M||9M|
At 2nd March 2016 , only one remaining mono 1500 series not verified – 1537 (Lou Donaldson 4tet 5tet 6tet)
If you can fill in information on the missing titles in the 1500 series, or have something different to add, mail me or add to comments.