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ARSCLIST  March 2014

ARSCLIST March 2014

Subject:

Re: Fwd: [ARSCLIST] "Why Vinyl Is the Only Worthwhile Way to Own Music"

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 26 Mar 2014 06:11:05 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (127 lines)

The OJC CD remastering did seem to be dominated by Phil De Lancie early, then George Horn and Joe 
Tarantino. I suspect that George was dominating LPs into the 90s, and then switched over to more CD 
work when LP production ceased. All three guys did good to excellent work. I think they did best 
when they had a first-generation analog source and were going directly to their CD mastering system. 
Whatever they were using, they were able to capture the sharp dynamics, especially drum hits and 
trumpet attacks. These are very present on the Pablo and Riverside tapes, and also on the 
better-recorded (ie later) Stax material. The Prestige material varies, there was some very audible 
dynamics crunching done at the source in some cases, but some of it is very punchy. The early 
Prestige material also sufffers from Rudy Van Gelder learning his craft as he went.

Of the OJC/Fantasy catalog, now owned by Concord Music Group, the sound gems are Pablo and 
Riverside, in my opinion. Consistently well recorded (discouting the early Pablo-issued Jazz and the 
Philharmonic and other 40's, 50's and 60's live recordings, which vary). Orin Keepnews was rare 
among his contemporaries in that he placed a lot of value on a higher-fidelity sound aesthetic, 
favoring a natural pickup of instruments and an ensemble mix rather than harsh, microscopic focus on 
each instrument. He also used good studios and engineers (Reeves/Jack Higgins and Plaza Sound/Ray 
Fowler) for the majority of his recordings. Norman Granz claimed to care more about the "vibe" than 
the sound quality, but he consistently worked with good engineers and studios in his Pablo 
productions. The only beef I have about many Pablo is that the style of the 70s and 80s was to 
record jazz close-in and widely spread in the stereo field, not hard-panned but stuff like 
wide-stereo piano mic'd right up inside the thing, wide-spread drums mic'd close in and then the 
horns stacked up in the middle. The problem with that is that it makes a very wide but not deep or 
high stereo image. It does work well in headphones, though. Far better than had-panned stereo ala 
Blue Note circa 1960. Keep in mind that I'm just talking about sound quality here, because there is 
tremendous music quality on all of the OJC labels.

The Impulse reissues Carl is referring to were from MCA. To my ears, MCA was just playing tapes into 
a Sony 1600 recorder, and then cutting reissue LPs from the CD master (why? but then again, OJC and 
Columbia did the same thing). Alas, most of those Impulse master tapes burned up on the Universal 
movie lot (heard from several sources in the know).

One of the better jazz reissue programs in the 80s was Japan Polygram's Emarcy/Mercury/Verve LPs. 
I've been told conflicting stories. One has the Japan guys coming over to Polygram's studio and tape 
vault in Edison NJ with early Sony PCM-F1 type digital equipment and dubbing the master tapes, then 
going back to Japan and cutting the LPs from the PCM-F1 tapes. The other story has them making 
high-quality analog dubs of the tapes and cutting the LPs from the dubs. This would be more in 
keeping with Polygram Japan's style at that time with classical recordings, so I tend to believe 
that version. The PCM-F1 story had traction within Polygram in the 90s because the Japan division 
was so quick out of the gate with CDs, the theory being "they had the digital tapes right there and 
just cut CDs from them." But, it wouldn't be very hard to just transfer those new, high-quality 
analog dubs right into a then-new CD mastering system. I tend to believe the analog-copy story 
because the LPs don't sound "early digital" at all. They do sound "Japanese" in that they are 
somewhat bright, very punchy and are much more "precise" than "warm." They are pressed on very quiet 
vinyl and almost always sound superior to the original Emarcy and Verve vinyl (less consistent 
superiority with the stereo-era titles). At the time the Polygram reissues came out, I dropped a lot 
of paper route money for some of them at J&R Music World's jazz-only satellite store. I wished for 
years that I had bought them all, but nowadays I find them, usually in near-mint condition, for a 
few bucks online and at used record stores. Meanwhile, original mono-era Emarcy and Verve 
platters -- which tend to be very noisy and have almost always been played to death on 
record-wreckers -- go for $$$.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Carl Pultz" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 5:37 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Fwd: [ARSCLIST] "Why Vinyl Is the Only Worthwhile Way to Own Music"


> Great thread. IIRC, another house on X-80s - Eastman School - was using the
> Mitsu as an A-D converter to feed DATs at around the same time. I'm not the
> only admirer of OJCs? LP and CD, they were at least decent, more than can be
> said for some of the premium releases I've owned. Compared to the Impulse
> series (Capitol?), for instance, Phil was ahead of his time. Considering how
> much great material he touched, we have to be thankful.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
> Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 8:14 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Fwd: [ARSCLIST] "Why Vinyl Is the Only Worthwhile
> Way to Own Music"
>
> Hi Ted:
>
> I'm sitting here listening to an early 90s example of good CD remastering.
> On Pablo/OJC - "Soul Fusion" by Milt Jackson and the Monty Alexander Trio."
> This is definitely a "produced" jazz recording -- very close mic'ing and
> wide-field stereo mix, so it's more wide than deep, but it's very detailed
> and pleasing. Phil De Lancie at Fantasy Studios did a good job remastering
> the 1977 recording, in 1992. I think, by then Fantasy wasn't dubbing to
> Mitsubhishi X-80 and then copying to U-Matic tapes to make CDs. So this
> would be playback of the original master tape (which was a live-to-2-track
> recording) to the CD master recorder. The good sound quality, particularly
> the ring and impact of Milt Jackson's vibes, tells me that a
> better-than-Sony ADC was used. If there was EQ used, it was tasteful. Vibes
> sound like close-mic'd stereo vibes. Piano sounds like close-mic'd stereo
> piano. Drums and bass sound like drums and bass. Typical Norman Granz
> session -- really good playing, more about the music than the recording.
>
> My point is, they could do this in 1992. So it's all the more depressing
> that 22 years later, lousy-sounding CDs still come out every day.
>
> -- Tom Fine
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Ted Kendall" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 5:07 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Fwd: [ARSCLIST] "Why Vinyl Is the Only Worthwhile
> Way to Own Music"
>
>
>> Hello Tom
>>
>> I think the rush to more top petered out naturally after a few years, at
> least in most quarters,
>> but there is still a faction to whom "impact", as measured by pinned VUs
> and bathtub curves, is
>> the prime good. If their influence is in fact diminishing, this can only
> be a good thing. As to EQ
>> for corrective purposes, I couldn't agree more - it is still one of the
> prime functions of a
>> mastering engineer, to my mind, that he can recognise when such correction
> is need /and leave well
>> alone when it isn't./ If only it were more widely realised that light and
> shade is the essence of
>> impact, be it Mahler or James Brown, there would be many happier pairs of
> ears in the world at
>> large...
>>
>> Ted
>
> 

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