In the fall of 2007 I subscribed to both of the Blue Note 45 RPM reissue series from Music Matters and Analogue Productions. This is a rather hefty expenditure in great jazz, and can only be considered an investment if you plan to sell them at a latter date. I have to admit that I will probably do just that with about half of them. I sure hope they hold their value, or better yet are considered collectibles.
This column is about the Analogue Production reissues and let me start by saying how unbelievably fabulous and consistent the quality of these reissues have been. Over the last 21 months I have not received a single one that was not perfect, and by the way I just ordered them as a customer at full price and I don’t think anyone there even knew I was a reviewer. (Jack, you and I have to talk. –Ed.) My only qualm with these LPs is that after a while, a lot of the music begins to sound the same. So, I have been going through and picking out the ones I have found to be really outstanding, either because I loved the music or in the case of a least excuse, it just plain shows off how great my system is. I thought now that I have finished this fun task up to this point, I would share with you four of my favorites. The order they are listed in is of no particular importance by the way, and of course there are still more to come. Anyway, here goes nothing.
Bottoms Up, The 3 Sounds
Gene Harris (Piano), Andrew Simpkins (Bass), Eill Dowdy (Drums)
Well for me it just doesn’t get any better than this. Great songs like “Angel Eyes”, “Time After Time”, “Love Walked In”, and “I Could Write a Book”, just to name my favorites on the album. Not only are these great songs, they are being performed by three men who are having a great time.
Best of all, the recording is more than up to the task of letting all that fun and emotion come pouring out into your room. Without a doubt this one is a keeper and if you want a stereo version of it, this is the one to own. By the way it is a beautiful stereo recording, not at all panned too hard to the left and right as many early stereo recordings were.
A Caddy For Daddy
This may become my favorite Hank Mobley album. This is a straight reissue of a 1965 recording where Mobley was joined by trumpeter Lee Morgan, trombonist Curtis Fuller, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Billy Higgins. I found the title cut to be just plain fun and Venus Di Mildew was an incredibly emotional ride.
Best of all like the others that made this list, this album stands out from the rest and doesn’t just sound like more of the same. McCoy Tyner’s piano and Mobley’s sax are just beyond reproach on this album.
Blue Train is arguably one of my favorite recordings of John Coltrane. It is also considered by most as one of the greatest Blue Note releases ever. Blue Train was recorded in 1957. Colrane joined with Rudy van Gelder for this amazing recording. Joining Coltrane’s are Lee Morgan on trumpet, Curtis Fuller on trombone, Kenny Drew at piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums. The result is simply amazing jazz.
The sound of this 45 RP is transparent with a big, airy, coherent soundstage. The bass and drums sound very real and the horns have great bite, but still stay fairly well under control. This is one of the albums that stands out in this collection and will not be leaving my house. Highly recommended!
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers
Moanin’ has been one of my all-time favorite Art Blakey recordings, and I am very thankful to finally have a clean, good sounding copy of this great LP. Blakey’s great drum playing is accompanied by Lee Morgan on trumpet, Beny Golson on tenor sax, Jymie Merritt on bass, and the wonderful Bobby Timmons on piano.
Blakey is considered one of the inventors of the bebop style of drumming. He is known for his powerful and a vital style of playing. His band, the Jazz Messengers, was on the scene for over thirty years, and included many young musicians who went on to become prominent names in jazz.
The recording is very alive sounding with very good transparency. It has a nice rich tonal balance at the same time. This is simply great music that sounds very alive and natural.
Let me conclude by saying again how great and consistent the 45 RPM reissues sound. I suggest you pick your favorites and get them before they are gone.
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