Tag Archives: blue note

Blue Note’s Classic Vinyl Reissue Series

One of the great pleasures of listening to vintage Blue Note albums on vinyl, along with the incredible, groundbreaking music and the sumptuous tones that legendary engineer Rudy Van Gelder was able to capture in his famed Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey studio, is looking at the striking black and white images taken by Francis Wolff, Blue Note’s resident photographer and partner with fellow Berliner Albert Lion of the hallowed jazz label.  As producer and Blue Note archivist Michael Cuscuna noted, “He not only preserved a major part of jazz history, but with his remarkable eye he captured amazing candid portraits of great artists that reveal the joy and intensity of jazz at the point of creation.” Added Herbie Hancock, “Francis Wolff’s images of musicians at work are so relaxed and intimate that they capture the spirit not just of the moment but also the era.” 

But beyond the beautifully crafted packaging, featuring Wolff’s photos and Reid Miles’s signature design style, a look that continues to be imitated to this day, is the timeless music, the likes of which represents some of the greatest in the history of jazz. The label’s latest rollout, the Classic Vinyl Reissue Series, is a continuation of the Blue Note 80 Vinyl Series, which was launched in 2019 to commemorate its 80th anniversary. The series, comprising many of Blue Note’s most enduring titles, was newly remastered directly from the original master tapes by Kevin Gray of Cohearent Audio with all-analog 180-gram vinyl pressings done at Optimal in Germany. The Classic Vinyl Reissue series runs parallel to the acclaimed Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series.

The series kicked off in December with two important titles that definitely merit the term Classics. First up is Lee Morgan’s 1964 The Sidewinder, a commercial hit for the great trumpeter on the strength of the irrepressible, boogaloo-flavored title track, fueled by Billy Higgins’ syncopated backbeat, Barry Harris’ funky piano comping, Bob Crenshaw’s buoyant bass line, and the taut harmonies and interplay on the frontline between the trumpeter and Blue Note regular Joe Henderson on tenor sax. McCoy Tyner’s The Real McCoy, the great pianist’s 1967 Blue Note debut featuring saxophonist Henderson, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Elvin Jones, his former partner in the legendary John Coltrane Quartet, includes such timeless Tyner originals as the energetic “Passion Dance,” the somber “Search for Peace,” and  the earthy, oft-covered “Blues on the Corner.”

Horace Silvers Song for My Father

January saw the release of Horace Silver’s Song for My Father, a 1965 release which contains his best-known composition, the memorable title track, along with a rousing hard bop staple in “The Kicker” and his melancholic ballad “Lonely Woman” (not to be confused with Ornette Coleman’s song of the same name from 1959’s The Shape of Jazz to Come). Wayne Shorter’s Speak No Evil, the tenor saxophonist’s 1964 masterpiece, features stellar performances from trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, resident Blue Note tenorman Henderson, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Carter, and drummer Jones and such memorable Shorter compositions as “Witch Hunt,” “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum,” and “Infant Eyes.” 

The sound on the first four releases in the Classic Vinyl Reissue Series is remarkably clear, allowing for top-notch dynamics. The low end is outstanding, producing a warm, woody presence from the upright bass and a resounding depth in the low register of the piano, while the high notes issuing forth from trumpets and saxes are swathed in a very natural blanket of sound. Regarding the drum kit, the nuance of brushwork on the snare, as Roger Humphries demonstrates on Silver’s “Lonely Woman” or Elvin Jones delivers on Tyner’s “Search for Peace,” registers with clarity and adds an alluring quality to the mix. And the ride cymbal, the veritable heartbeat of these swinging jazz classics, rings out with authority, particularly when Jones is fueling the proceedings. Overall, the sound is gorgeous on this Classic Vinyl Reissue Series. 

The rollout, which will see two releases per month through 2021, continued in February with Cannonball Adderley’s Somethin’ Else, which featured a rare sideman appearance by Miles Davis, and Joe Henderson’s Page One. March saw the release of Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers’ Moanin’ and Hank Mobley’s Soul Station. Other Blue Note classics to be released in coming months include Jimmy Smith’s Back at The Chicken Shack, Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch, Freddie Hubbard’s Ready for Freddie, and Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage. Along with appealing to veteran Blue Note fans eager to fill gaps in their collections, the remastered Blue Note vinyl is pulling in younger record collectors who more recently discovered the joys of listening to historic jazz recordings on vinyl.

The post Blue Note’s Classic Vinyl Reissue Series appeared first on The Absolute Sound.

Original Resource is Articles – The Absolute Sound

Do I Need To Be Collecting Original Pressings Of Old Records Anymore?

One of the reasons I first started collecting original pressings of LPs when I was but a wee lad in Junior High School was — believe it or not — audio quality. It was the mid 1970s and the oil crisis was on resulting in poorer quality vinyl for new releases. In retrospect, I suspect that the major labels were both growing and starting to feel the pinch of economic responsibility as they were evolving into corporate giants with profit incentives to meet.  So, corners were increasingly cut… at least so it seemed to many of us on the front lines buying records. 

Vinyl quality was often poor, records became thinner, warps more common, album graphics on older titles were compromised, sometimes with washed out printing and reduction of gatefold covers to single pocket budget line editions. 

I had grown quickly frustrated by the preponderance of cruddy quality LPs I was getting even at that early period In my life. Now, it’s not like I had a big fancy uber high end stereo system or anything folks… We had some decent gear around. My older brother had a Fisher 500 receiver and Smaller Advent speakers, for example.  My middle brother was busy experimenting fixing old amps he found on junk day. We also had this futuristic-looking Panasonic receiver with built in cassette recorder around for a while. Plus there was this great old idler drive Rek-o-Kut Rondine Jr. turntable he’d restored a bit (which I eventually used all through college, btw). Still, my ear was pretty keen and I could tell when something sounded good or didn’t sound right.

Add to that the thrill thrill of discovery of used record shops as well as thrift shops, garage sales and flea markets and soon I realized that I could stretch my nonexistent teenaged budget quite a bit. 

Then the 1980s happened and the compact disc came along (my first CD player was a Sony CDP 110). But, guess what:  I didn’t purge my vinyl!  One of the first CDs I bought was Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run and I returned it the next day — it sounded awful!  A few other CD purchases made me realize we had a ways to go before the CD would truly deliver on its “perfect sound” promise — digital disc media later improved dramatically with 24-bit mastering, and expanded capacity disc formats like SACD, DVD Audio and Blu-ray). 

Fast forward and here I am decades later still (happily) rooting around in thrift shops and used record stores. I am still collecting vinyl (and some CDs and surround sound Blu-rays when I can). I’m still enjoying the thrill of the hunt for the elusive rarity: from a Beatles “butcher cover” or some rare Blue Note jazz gem from J. R. Monterose (which I found at an estate sale for $2 just five years ago!).  

In the 1980s and ‘90s there was a great series from Fantasy Records called “Original Jazz Classics” (commonly known among collectors as “OJC”). And while those aren’t fancy packages like the new Tone Poet and Acoustic Sounds reissues, they do re-create the original artwork/ labels and tend to be of excellent quality even though they are on standard weight vinyl. From what I have heard from industry friends, much of that series was mastered in the analog realm so there is a genuinely warm and inviting sound there.

The OJC series was a great step in the right direction for creating high quality and affordably priced reissues. I still buy those periodically especially for titles that are difficult to find out in the wilds of record hunting. I recently picked up a mint used copy of a Teddy Charles & Shorty Rogers album from 1956 on an OJC reissue for $10. On all of Discogs there are exactly one original copies of that album available (and it is $200). The last one sold on Popsike went for $141. So, I think I am ok with my OJC edition which sounds terrific.

Especially in the jazz world, the quality of reissues from the major labels have proven to be generally very good in the past couple of years. Universal Music’s Acoustic Sounds and Tone Poet series are excellent as have been many of the reissues from Concord Music’s Craft Recordings series (Prestige, Fantasy, World Pacific catalogs). The latter’s recent Chet Baker reissue series was top notch.  I have been reviewing many of these here on Audiophile Review so do use our search feature to seek out those reviews if you are interested in learning more about them.

As owners of the catalogs of Verve Records, Impulse Records, Decca Records and many others, Universal has hired outside experts from the Acoustic Sounds and Tone Poet boutique reissue labels to curate the reissue series. Most of these are rare enough records that I couldn’t have even begun to even consider getting them in their original form unless I found them out in the wilds of collecting (garage sales, thrift shops, flea markets, etc.).  

These new reissues are often superior to the originals – – many are pressed on 180-gram vinyl, featuring laminated covers, gatefold packaging, original label artwork and most importantly high-quality mastering and pressing, etc.

At least a couple of these reissues have eclipsed originals in my collection in terms of fidelity and almost always in terms of condition. In some instances, I am getting rid of my originals because there is simply no need for it anymore. It is a case by case thing, really. I talk about that at the end of my review of the recent Ray Charles reissue on Impulse Records (click here to read that). I have already purged my “OG” copy of The Band’s Stage Fright because the new reissue is far far superior in every way (click here for my review of that new boxed set)

My Frank Zappa collection is very interesting because the new re-issues are generally excellent, some with expanded versions of the performances, high-quality remastering, great pressing quality and original cover art and so on. Perhaps the only anomaly is that they don’t use the original label designs because those are owned by another entity… I’m OK with that because I could (and probably will) hold onto my originals of those favorite albums. However, when it comes to regular play, some of those re-issues sound at least as good if not better than my originals and will be my go-tos for basic listening.

All this raises a conundrum for me (and perhaps some of you, Dear Readers), thus inspiring this little thought piece here today here at Audiophile Review.  That question is:  with the record labels finally understanding what collectors want and mostly delivering on those demands, do we need to keep searching for certain original editions? 

I probably couldn’t afford buying a whole a whole batch of Grant Green original Blue Notes but the reissues are certainly lovingly crafted. Each sells for about $25-$30 a piece which while not exactly “cheap” (like the $10-15 OJCs) it is also nowhere near as expensive as finding certain first pressings (especially those in great condition).

Whats a dedicated collector to do?

In this instance, I think it would be wise for all of us to be snapping up these great reissues while they last. Original pressings are elusive for a reason. Many from the 1950s especially were produced and/or sold small quantities. I suspect that distribution centered on major Jazz markets of the time (NY, LA, San Francisco, Chicago and some important secondary cities like New Orleans and Kansas City). 

Many of these records were played hard, often beat up on lower quality record players and automatic changers. Many were used in party situations — if some of those albums could talk, I bet they’d have some great stories to tell! 

It is really really hard to find any that are in even halfway decent shape that are fairly affordable. Now, I personally don’t mind a light scratch or two… a click here and there, a pop, crackle or occasional snap… I’ve even written about the joys of a Mono cartridge which can minimize the surface noise of certain pre-1958 Monaural records (click here for that article). 

But, if I can get a pristine reissue that looks and feels like the real thing and more or less sounds like the real thing if not better – – and in many cases they do sound technically better because they’re not compressed as much —  then why not just buy them, enjoy them and be done with it?  It makes good sense to me. 

That said, I look forward to seeing you out in your favorite record stores picking up those latest Blue Note Tone Poets, Verve Acoustic Sounds and Craft Recordings special editions.

Grab ‘em while you can!

Original Resource is Audiophile Review

The Story Of Herbie Hancock, Vinyl Me Please Boxed Set, Part 1: The Blue Notes

Before I get into the reviews of this fine eight-album (11 discs!) super deluxe boxed set from the good folks at Vinyl Me, Please (VMP) — The Story Of Herbie Hancock, curated by the artist himself! — I thought it might be wise to address some concerns that quite a number of vinyl fans have directed towards me when I’ve previously discussed these fancy collections. Notably, there seems to be a perception that VMP sets are very expensive. On the surface, I might have agreed, but I decided to do a little informal research on the Interwebs, searching for comparable “near mint,” new or sealed original editions where possible to see how the numbers added up.  

And you know what? The Story Of Herbie Hancock set came out about the same and depending on which editions you bought, probably cheaper — remember that some of the albums in the set (The Piano, Live Under The Sky) were only released in Japan at the time so you’d need to add in the costs of shipping from overseas in those instances. 

Speaking of Live Under The Sky, the version in this set is an exclusive:  featuring Herbie’s supergroup V.S.O.P. (Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard and Tony Williams), the album has been resequenced with a new song added to it at Herbie’s request.  Also, if I’m not mistaken as I have not found listings on Discogs or other popular record collectors websites, this may mark the first time the collaboration with Wayne Shorter, called 1+1, has been issued on vinyl! 

Without a doubt, the packaging on these VMP editions are far superior to the originals, printed on thick cardboard stock and laminated (similar to the Blue Note Tone Poets and Verve Acoustic Sounds editions). Headhunters looks especially beautiful in that way — the cover art pops!  Additionally, you get a lovely LP sized booklet with detailed information on each of the albums.  

All eight albums in The Story Of Herbie Hancock feature lacquers cut by the legendary Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood, CA. Takin’ Off, Maiden Voyage, Head Hunters, The Piano and Future Shock were cut AAA from analog tapes. 1+1, and River: The Joni Letters, which were recorded digitally, and Live Under the Sky — again, resequenced at Herbie’s request — come from master digital audio. The albums were plated at RTI, and pressed at GZ on black 180g vinyl.

Adding to the value for the price of admission you also get access to five exclusive podcasts including talks with Herbie himself as well as Wayne Shorter and others. You also get access to AMA (Ask Me Anything) video sessions which may include special guests.  

For these reviews, I will start with the beginning of my personal Herbie Hancock journey, his landmark mid-60s release Maiden Voyage.

While I love this album, my travelogue with Maiden Voyage hasn’t exactly been stellar from an audiophile perspective. One of my brothers had an early 70s pressing on the blue-colored Blue Note label, so that is where I first came on board the Herbie Hancock mothership.  I had a later reissue at one point that was ok but then I found a somewhat better late ‘60s pressing (Liberty Records-era but with the classic blue-and-white Blue Note label, for those of you who follow this sort of detail) which sounded pretty good. Except, it had one side that was just off-center enough to be problematic (so I always planned to upgrade again at some point). 

That said, this new edition easily surpasses my original RVG pressing. It is dead quiet and perfectly centered. The mastering is a bit quieter than my old copy so I had to turn up the amp a little bit when I switched discs, but this revealed more air and dynamics without sounding awkward. In fact, Maiden Voyage here sounds exactly how it should sound: gorgeous. Freddie Hubbard’s trumpet is fat and round. Tony Williams’ drums are crisp yet they never step on the other instruments — the cymbals decay naturally and you can almost feel the tang of the brass. Herbie’s piano sounds rich and woody (and thankfully not boxy as some RVG recordings can be). 

This version of Maiden Voyage is golden as far as I can tell. In fact, I don’t think I need to keep my original anymore, this is so much of an improvement for me. The laminated cover is also far superior to the original. A winner.  

While we’re in the land of Blue Notes, I thought it made sense to explore Mr. Hancock’s debut solo album, Takin’ Off. For this, I invested a little extra time and money as (believe it or not, I really never owned this album on vinyl – gasp, I know) and didn’t have an equal point of reference handy. So while I didn’t have $500 handy to invest in original 1962 edition (click here for that), I went out and purchased one of the new Blue Note reissues (for about $27). Ideally, these records should sound the same, but actually, the didn’t. In record-collector’s rule-of-thumb theorizing, the non-VMP edition should sound better as it was pressed in Germany. It didn’t. And the VMP packaging is markedly better (laminated, thick brown cardboard stock) than the standard edition (thin white oaktag, non-laminated). 

What gives?  

Well, first off there is Bernie Grundman’s mastering which delivers a warmer more analog feeling vibe that rings true to the aesthetic of Rudy Van Gelder’s original recordings. From the opening notes of “Watermelon Man,” the the whole vibe feels rich. The horns sound rounder, the cymbals shimmer without being harsh and the piano feels appropriately woody.  On the German pressing, everything feels awash in a bit of brightness. Don’t get me wrong, it sounds good. But this VMP edition sounds great and feels more true, like the sound I would expect from a great Blue Note release. And, again, the cover art just looks and feels like a higher quality production. 

In the next edition of my exploration The Story Of Herbie Hancock I’ll explore Headhunters and River : The Joni Letters and more… stay tuned… 

Original Resource is Audiophile Review

Why Is Paul Chambers’ Bass On Top A Must Get Blue Note Tone Poet Vinyl Release?

Since I have started reviewing the generally acclaimed reissues from Universal Music’s Blue Note and Verve Records label imprints — the “Tone Poet” and “Acoustic Sounds” curated brands in particular — some questions come up fairly frequently from readers and participants in social media vinyl enthusiast groups.

Is it any good? 

and…  

That isn’t rare, why do I need it?

When reviewing the new Tone Poet edition of Paul Chambers’ 1957 gem Bass On Top, I can assure you that it is a mighty good album and recording. Here we find the soon to be legendary bassist supported by a sympathetic trio of Art Taylor on drums, Kenny Burrell and guitar and Hank Jones on piano. 

Musically, this album feels — bad pun intended — like chamber music, finding the bassist bowing his instrument frequently, a technique and texture that often gets overlooked in live recordings especially. Here on Bass On Top, Chambers’ brilliant work doesn’t get lost in the mix.  Beyond being considered the “Bass On Top” in musical terms — a reference explained in the album’s liner notes to Ellington’s brilliant and groundbreaking 1940s-era bassist Jimmy Blanton, who died tragically young from TB — Chambers’ playing is mixed carefully by Rudy Van Gelder, as it is both a lead and support instrument in the music here. 

What’s interesting about this album is that it appeared just a couple years after he’d made it to New York and settled in with Miles Davis’ band. He quickly became known as one of the best bassists around, winning awards and such. 

And while he was acclaimed from the get go and went on to record on many legendary albums including John Coltrane’s landmark Giant Steps — he is the “P.C.” in Coltrane’s tune “Mr. P.C.” — his own albums were probably not super big sellers or widely distributed at the time. 

Thus we get to the second frequent question: scarcity.

So, sure, there have been many reissues of Chambers’ music over the years. But, pop on to Discogs and look to see what is out there on the market in terms of similar editions of this album: high quality remasters taken off the master tape presented in a premium package that pays tribute to the original and then some.  You will find that Chambers’ original albums are highly collectible rarities commanding hefty dollar values.

At the the time of this writing, there were exactly zero copies of the 1966 Stereo edition of Bass On Top with the same serial number as this reissue, BST-81569, available.  The handful of 1957 Monaural editions begin priced in the $500 range and go up from there! Heck, there is a 1966 Mono repressing asking $400! Head over to Popsike, another collector’s website, and you’ll find that original editions of this album were selling in the $1000 range! 

So there are original copies around but they are mostly in the hands of dealers and collectors seeking premium coin (justifiably, if you are into collecting original pressings).

But now, for a mere $20-30, you can now own a premium quality reissue of this much sought after album in terrific fidelity — mastered from the original analog tapes by Keven Gray at Cohearant Audio and manufactured at RTI on 180-gram vinyl. 

While I don’t own an original pressing of Bass On Top, as we’ve seen from other reissues in this series — and just listening to the sound of the album — it is fair to reason that this sounds close to the original. And, it is likely better because of advances in mastering and tape transfer these days. They don’t have to compress the recording quite as much so you get a better dynamic range in some instances than the originals (as I found with my review of Kenny Burrell’s debut, click here to read that).

The only “difference” I noticed on the back cover is a disclaimer about the original Stereo master tape in which there were several instances of microphone “overload” on on Art Taylor’s crash cymbal. Personally, I didn’t notice it as anything super distracting — perhaps I am just used to that sound of oversaturated magnetic tape when engineers ran the recording levels hot to capture the most music on tape (and mask the inherent tape hiss along the way).  

I think this recording sounds lovely.  Bass On Top is a classic sounding production, again originally recorded by Rudy Van Gelder. 

The packaging is exemplary with a beautiful laminated gatefold cover which includes photos of the musicians on the sessions and what looks like original photo negatives used for creating the cover art. It is in many ways better than the original which I don’t think was a gatefold edition (again, I do not own an original!). 

If you want to hear it streaming in CD quality and have access to Qobuz or Tidal, click on the service names in this sentence and you’ll jump to them. There is one bonus track, “Chamber Mates,” which is on the CD version of the album as well.

You should grab one of these while you can.  I’m glad I did. 

Original Resource is Audiophile Review

Blue Note announces new Tone Poet series reissues and releases

Featuring jazz heavyweights including Sonny Clark, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Wayne Shorter, Donald Byrd, McCoy Tyner, and more.

Blue Note has announced new releases in its Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series.

Read more: Blue Note changed my life

Blue Note’s ongoing Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series launched in 2019 to mark the label’s 80th anniversary.

Highlights in the latest instalment include: Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers’ The Witch Doctor, McCoy Tyner’s Expansions, Chet Baker & Art Pepper’s Picture of Heath, Bobby Hutcherson’s Stick Up!

Alongside the reissues, Blue Note is also releasing Charles Lloyd &The Marvels’ new album Tone Poem, marking the first new release in the series.

Head here for more info, and check out the full list of 2021-2022 reissues and releases below.


Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series releases:

12th March 2021

Charles Lloyd & The Marvels — Tone Poem

7th May 2021

Dexter Gordon — One Flight Up
Andrew Hill — Passing Ships

4th June 2021

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers — The Witch Doctor
Curtis Amy & Dupree Bolton — Katanga!

9th July 2021

Sonny Clark — My Conception 
McCoy Tyner — Expansions

6th August 2021

Lee Konitz & Gerry Mulligan — Lee Konitz Plays With The Gerry Mulligan Quartet
Wayne Shorter — The All Seeing Eye 

10th September 2021

Joe Pass — For Django
Stanley Turrentine — Rough ‘N Tumble

8th October 2021

Sonny Red — Out of the Blue
Grant Green — The Latin Bit 

5th November 2021

Hank Mobley — Curtain Call 
Jackie McLean — Tippin’ The Scales 

3rd December 2021

Gerald Wilson — Moment of Truth 
Freddie Hubbard — Breaking Point! 

7th January 2022

Kenny Burrell — Kenny Burrell 
Grant Green — Feelin’ The Spirit

4th February 2022

Harold Vick — Steppin’ Out 
Bobby Hutcherson — Stick Up! 

4th March 2022

Chet Baker & Art Pepper — Picture of Heath 
Blue Mitchell — Bring It Home To Me 

1st April 2022

Donald Byrd — At The Half Note Cafe, Vol. 1
ScoLoHoFo (Scofield-Lovano-Holland-Foster) — Oh! 


Photo by: Chuck Stewart

Original Resource is The Vinyl Factory

Lou Donaldson’s Mr. Shing-A-Ling Jams On Blue Note Tone Poet Reissue

Some of you know by now that I’m a bit of a crate digger. Actually, I am a pretty serious one, building much of my collection from garage and estate sales, thrift shops, flea markets and antique / curio shops.  Necessity being the mother of invention, growing up I didn’t have much money so that route really helped kickstart my passion for music and record collecting. Even now as an adult, I enjoy the challenge of the treasure hunt, going out looking for bargains where ever they may arise.  It is a process that keeps things fresh for me. 

That isn’t to say I don’t like spending some money on a nice reissue from time to time, within reason. The recent Tone Poet and Acoustic Sounds reissue series from Universal Music have been inspiring developments, generally offering very high quality reproductions of classic vintage Jazz titles for a price that won’t break the bank. Many times these reissues are easily on par with the originals and in some regards they are much better. I’ve reviewed a handful so far this year and have yet to be disappointed. 

Click on the titles following to read my reviews of: Duke Ellington’s Money Jungle, Sam Rivers’  Contours and Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson, Getz / Gilberto, Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, Jackie McLean’s It’s Time! and in his 1956 debut, Introducing Kenny Burrell

One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that when a new reissue series appears, original pressings of rare albums start to appear out in “the wilds” of collecting. This phenomenon has afforded me an opportunity to somewhat affordably compare and contrast so called “OG” pressings with the reissues (as I did with some of the reviews above, notably the Kenny Burrell debut which is a pretty rare one to find in any condition).

All that said, in 2019 I started picking a number of Lou Donaldson albums on Blue Note after years of rarely seeing these albums around. And, sure ‘nuff, it turns out some of these have been reissued via the great Tone Poet series. Most of these I’ve heard thus far have been remastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and the albums pressed on 180-gram vinyl at the prestigious RTI plant. 

Donaldson’s late 1960s albums tend to be soul jazz groove affairs and there is no doubt in my mind these albums were ideal party music for the swingin’ jazz heads of the period.  Thus finding clean condition copies is not an easy task for a reasonable price. 

Mr. Shing-A-Ling is a fun album with a pretty killer band including Lonnie Smith on Organ and one Leo Morris on Drums (aka Idris Muhammed).  My original Blue Note pressing sounds remarkably good given its age and condition.The vinyl quality was still OK at that point in Blue Note’s history, having been purchased by Liberty Records so the sound was still pretty rich as these releases go. 

The new edition, most importantly, sounds like Mr. Shing-A-Ling should sound. There hasn’t been any effort to modernize the sound or equalize it madly and that is a good thing. 

Perhaps the only difference is actually offers a bit more open high-end perspective than my original. There is some more air to the new one generally the overall vibe is really quite similar with some caveats.  

For example, on the opening track “Ode To Billy Jo” the high end instrumentation like the sizzle on the cymbals during is very nice. However, the mid ranges feel somewhat harder edged than my original. Jimmy Ponder’s guitar solo sounds a little less round than the original and drummer Leo Morris’ (aka the future Idris Muhammad) tom tom hits present a bit less of the flex of the drumsticks hitting the drum heads than on the original.  

But this kind of aural microscopy is an exercise in splitting very fine hairs folks… in general, this one sounds quite close to my original.

This is not entirely surprising but one can’t take these things for granted. The folks at Blue Note Tone Poet are clearly trying to be as authentic as possible while opening up some new vistas that may have been compromised out of necessity back in the day due to limitations of average turntables back in the day.  Since modern turntables and cartridges generally boast more wide range capabilities, there is no reason for the albums to be reigned in. 

One last thing of interest is that this is the first Tone Poet reissue I’ve seen where the cover design is near identical to the original. So don’t expect a fancy gatefold design for Mr. Shing-A-Ling which was originally a single pocket design. But it is a nice thick cover with beautiful laminated artwork, so in that sense it is indeed a better edition than the original.

All in all, this Mr. Shing-A-Ling reissue seems like another Blue Note Tone Poet winner. A fun and previously challenging to find album reasonably priced and in nice condition, now within reach for every jazz fan and collector.

Original Resource is Audiophile Review

Blue Note launches vinyl-only reissue series

With records by McCoy Tyner, Joe Henderson, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Herbie Hancock, and more.

Blue Note is launching a new vinyl-only reissue series this December, featuring iconic albums from its vaults.

Read more: Artists reflect on their favourite Blue Note Records of all-time

Classic Vinyl Reissue Series is presented as a continuation of the label’s Blue Note 80 reissue series, and features all-analogue, 180g vinyl pressings, re-mastered from the original tapes.

The series will begin with the reissue of Lee Morgan’s The Sidewinder and McCoy Tyner’s The Real McCoy, which will be followed by albums from artists including Horace Silver, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, and Herbie Hancock.

It follows Blue Note’s release of vibraphonist Joel Ross’ Who Are You LP,  this October.

Pre-order a copy of The Sidewinder here, and here for The Real McCoy, in advance of their 4th December release, and check out the list of titles below.


4 December 2020

Lee Morgan – The Sidewinder
McCoy Tyner – The Real McCoy

15 January 2020

Horace Silver – Song for My Father
Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil

12 February 2020

Cannonball Adderley – Somethin’ Else
Joe Henderson – Page One

12 March 2021

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Moanin’
Hank Mobley – Soul Station

9 April 2021

Sonny Clark – Cool Struttin’
Jimmy Smith – Back At The Chicken Shack

14 May 2021

Dexter Gordon – GO!
Eric Dolphy – Out To Lunch

11 June 2021

Grant Green – Idle Moments
Kenny Burrell – Midnight Blue

9 July 2021

Freddie Hubbard – Ready for Freddie
Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage

Original Resource is The Vinyl Factory

Blue Note releasing vibraphonist Joel Ross’ new album Who Are You

Split into two narrative halves.

Vibraphonist Joel Ross is releasing a new album, called Who Are You, via Blue Note this October.

Read more: Blue Note changed my life

Who Are You was recorded with Ross’ band Good Vibes – with Immanuel Wilkins on alto saxophone, Jeremy Corren on piano, Kanoa Mendenhall on bass and Jeremy Dutton on drums – alongside Brandee Younger on harp.

Inspired by communication and storytelling, Ross devised the album in two narrative halves: the first seven tracks provide setting and character introductions, while the remaining eight tracks introduce ‘plot twists.’

Who Are You follows Blue Note’s reissue of McCoy Tyner’s 1968 album Tender Moments.

Head here to pre-order a copy in advance of Who Are You’s 23rd October release, check out the artwork and tracklist below.

Tracklist:

1. Dream
2. Calling
3. Home
4. More?
5. After The Rain
6. Vartha
7. Marsheland
8. Waiting On A Solemn Reminiscence
9. King’s Loop
10. The Nurturer
11. Gato’s Gift
12. When My Head is Cold
13. Harmonee
14. Such Is Life
15. 3-1-2

Original Resource is The Vinyl Factory

McCoy Tyner’s Tender Moments reissued on Blue Note

Featuring tracks dedicated to John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk.

McCoy Tyner’s 1968 album Tender Moments is being reissued on vinyl, as part of Blue Note’s Tone Poet Series this November.

Read more: Artists on their favourite Blue Note records of all time

Tender Moments was Tyner’s second album for Blue Note, recorded with Lee Morgan on trumpet, Julian Priester on trombone, Bennie Maupin on tenor saxophone, James Spaulding on alto saxophone/flute, Bob Northern on French horn, Howard Johnson on tuba, Herbie Lewis on bass, and Joe Chambers on drums.

Blue Note’s Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series is curated and supervised by Joe Harley from Music Masters, with all reissues mastered from the original tapes.

Tender Moments follows the reissue of Herbie Hancock’s 1963 album My Point of View.

Head here to pre-order a copy in advance of Tender Moments’ 20th November release, check out the artwork and tracklist below.

Tracklist:

Side A

1. Made To John
2. Man From Tanganyika
3. The High Priest

Side B

1. Utopia
2. All My Yesterdays
3. Lee Plus Three

Original Resource is The Vinyl Factory

Blue Note classics reimagined by Nubya Garcia, Jorja Smith, Shabaka Hutchings and more on new comp

Reworking tracks by Herbie Hancock, Donald Byrd, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner and more.

Blue Note and Decca Records are releasing a new album of classic Blue Note tracks by UK jazz, soul and r’n’b artists, titled Blue Note Re:imagined, this September.

Read more: Blue Note changed my life: 16 artists pick their favourite Blue Note records

The album features Shabaka Hutchings, Ezra Collective, Nubya Garcia, Mr Jukes, Steam Down, Skinny Pelembe, Emma-Jean Thackray, Yazmin Lacey, Poppy Ajudha, Jordan Rakei, Fieh, Ishmael Ensemble, Blue Lab Beats, Melt Yourself Down, Alfa Mist, and Jorja Smith.

While the full tracklist remains unknown, Blue Note Re:imagined will feature new versions of tracks by artists including Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Henderson, Donald Byrd and McCoy Tyner.

Blue Note Re:imagined follows the label’s release of Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers’ Just Coolin’ album on vinyl for the first time.

Head here to pre-order a copy in advance of Blue Note Re:imagined’s 25th september release, and check out the artwork below.

Original Resource is The Vinyl Factory